Just got this again and 'this can be improved' was accepted - 03-Jan-2016
Online translation dictionaries are not always accurate.
"It can improve" is not passive voice - it is the subject. What is the subject in the sentence doing? Having the ability to improve. Puede mejorar would be the best translation.
"It can be improved" - by what? "it" is being acted on by an un-stated agent, so it is passive voice. Se puede mejorar would be the best translation
Megan, I appreciate your explanation; however, when I hit the drop-down hints, it was given as a whole construction "se puede mejorar" with the given meaning, "(he, she, it, you) can improve." Of course I felt Duo was teaching me that 3-word set, AS a subject-verb, leaving me to choose which pronoun for context as the subject, and with "this" left over, so I used it as the object, wondering about the word order. This was 4/8/16, so I feel the top hint was totally misleading. Yes, I remember "se" being used as a reflexive, but what should I trust, my memory (NO!), or some idiomatic construct Duo was trying to teach me with the drop-down hint? In my mind the "se" could have been understood so the sentence read, "He (himself) can improve this." I'm NOT trying to argue that what I thought was meant was correct, but to show how many of us could have been led astray by Duo's own hint.
Absolutely Duo's hints can be misleading because they are not really created sentence by sentence. They can sometimes include meanings which are true meanings but totally inappropriate for the current situation. You have to bring to bear everything you know about language in general and Spanish in particular to interpret the hints. Only those presented and highlighted as new words will be correct for the context. Spanish is a language that doesn't require subject pronouns and therefor stated subjects in many sentences. But Esto is clearly the subject of this sentence. Esto can be an object word, but when it always follows the verb or verb phrase. There are some sentences on Duo that are so straightforward that if hints are given, Duo is indeed giving you the answer, but that is not really their intention. The intention is to show you what each piece means so you can see how Spanish sentences build their meaning. Since this presentation of different sentences which demonstrate Spanish vocabulary, grammar and syntax is basically the only way that Duo teaches, this is required. It is not important as that you get the sentence right as that you understand how Spanish puts together the puzzle pieces we call words and meaningful phrases (like verb phrases or verb +preposition phrases) into sentences that convey an intended message. I think it is the reason for all the strange sentences. People are always trying to translate them differently so that they make more "sense", but in reality most of them are not ambiguous. As you begin to understand Spanish more you understand whether it is something that Spanish says differently from English or just a somewhat strange thing to say. But use the hints sparingly and only in context of the words around it and what you have learned of Spanish grammar and syntax.
Lynnettemcw, gracias, and I agree; I try to use the drop-down hints sparingly, and extrapolate from what I see compared to what I've been taught already. And you clarified the doubt I had about the word order, too. As we know, simple sentences Duo must work with to teach beginners cannot support much context! I do enjoy this program, and am glad I started it and "hung in there" through the most frustrating weeks, and through Duo losing two of my long streaks!
I just used 'this can be improved' and it was accepted. (01-Jan-2016). This can be a 'meaning translation/loosely translated' thing and not a direct translation, if that makes sense.
This use of se is not reflexive in the English sense. We do not consider things having the ability to improve themselves. This is the second passive voice. Spanish has two passive voices. The more formal one is similar to ours and is formed with the verb ser and the past participle. The se passive is more common in Spanish, but is still translated into our passive voice. The se passive is not actually implying that anything is improving itself, moving itself or that a language can speak itself although that is what the structure suggests. It is simply a way to avoid attributing the action to a particular subject or doer.
Alright, I think I understand what you mean. Can you give me more instances where the "ser" passive voice is used, for better understanding? And could you give me other instances where they use this but have other subjects/objects in the sentence, like, "He can improve this for you", would that be, "(Él) Se te puede mejorar esto"? Also, which comes first with that, se or te? Thank you in advance.
The sentence in the more formal passive voice can be something like La tarea fue logrado rápidamente. The task was accomplished quickly. We don't know for sure who accomplished it, but it's done. (In my first post I had said Ser and the present participle, but I corrected that above. It is ser plus the past participle.) . An other example would be El pan es comido diariamente en cada país. Bread is eaten daily in every country. You can add a prepositional phrase which identifies the agent of the verb with the preposition por. La sopa fue cocinado por mi madre. The soup was cooked by my mother. This does identify the agent of the action, but the agent is not the subject of the sentence.
One of the most common things you might see with the se passive voice is signs in stores that say Aquí se habla español. Spanish is spoken here (but literally here Spanish speaks itself) . But most English passive voice expressions with can be will use the se passive. I don't think I have ever seen the formal passive used with a modal verb like poder.
As for your last question, it is by definition impossible. You cannot have a passive voice sentence with other subjects or objects. You can take any active voice sentence with a transitive verb and make it passive, but the passive voice sentence makes the direct object of the active voice sentence it's subject and there can be no direct object in the passive voice. So We wear new clothes for Easter becomes New clothes are worn for Easter with an optional prepositional phrase by us. In Spanish (Nosotros) llevamos ropa nueva para la Pascua can become either Ropa nueva es llevado para la Pascua or Se lleva ropa nueva para la Pascua and either can have the optional Por nosotros phrase. He can improve thus for you is an active voice sentence, so there is no se. Él te puede mejorar esto. Or if you change this to it Él te lo puede mejorar or Él puede mejorartelo. He can improve this is one of the possible active voice sentences for which this exercise is the passive version.
I not getting this sentence. I did say "this can improve' just like others said as well. How? Puede mejorar = 'she/he/it' can improve. But we have the determiner 'esto'. So it's 'this can improve'. And because of the 'se' can be literally. 'This itself can improve'. So my conclusion is 'be improved' in fact doesn't seem right.
There is room for flexibility with this phrase. Here are some examples I found
Ha estado bien pero se puede mejorar. That was good but we can do better.
No obstante, siempre se puede mejorar. However, there is always room for improvement.
Creo que se puede mejorar la situación. I believe that the situation can be improved.
Best just to consider it a common phrase/idiom.
It is dangerous to assume that a Spanish reflexive verb is at all reflexive in English. Some are understandable as reflexive even though not correct like me lavo las manos- I wash myself the hands. Others would be either confusingly wrong or impossible. Translating me voy as I go myself or I am going myself has a totally meaning in English than the Spanish which essentially just means I am leaving. And then you have the one that I can't get my head around. Él se murió. He died. The se isn't always there and I am not quite sure what it does when it is. It just KILLS me lol. And of course the se passive construction like se habla español. If Spanish could really speak itself it would be a lot easier! Mejorarse has that passive voice feel with objects since we don't consider they have the ability to improve themself. Ella se mejora could mean either improve (any ability) or improve herself depending on the context. It most often means simply improve. But a desk neither improves or improves itself. It is improved (passive voice)
Yes. After I finished my message I thought about situations and the weather. I think wine is a somewhat special use as the improvement is like something ripening: it is an assumed function of time on the wine barring untoward circumstances. It is a natural process and not the product of anyone's efforts. Weather improves, but doesn't improve itself. The agent, again, is nature or God. We do speak of a situation improving itself as well as simply improving. But a situation is not only not an object, it is not a concrete noun. A situation is the intersection of various factors and forces which are not specified. I can't think of anything that is called a situation that isn't impacted by human forces. So if you say the situation will improve itself you are generally saying that if the factors and forces continue along their current trajectories, the intersection will be better. But ultimately whether you say the situation will improve or improve itself, you are saying that the NEW situation will be better than the OLD situation. To a certain extent I guess this is true of anything that improves, but not as fundamentally as something like the situation (or I guess the weather)
Se has a lot of uses, including passive, impersonal, and reflexive, but I believe this is not a reflexive case. Reflexive is where the subject and object are the same. For example, He cleans himself uses the reflexive pronoun himself. In Spanish this would be Él se limpia, and se is the reflexive pronoun. But in this exercise, the this is not improving itself, so it is not reflexive. Another use of se, however, is to make a sentence passive voice (the subject of the action is not identified). An example of an english passive voice is The ball was thrown. The thrower of the ball is not identified as it is in the active voice He threw the ball. I believe in this case se is making this sentence passive in that the person/thing doing the improving (of this) is not mentioned. Active voice He can improve this becomes passive voice This can be improved.
See this link for a description of the uses of 'se': http://spanish.about.com/od/pronouns/a/introduction_se.htm
Why isn't "you can improve this" accepted? "you" in this case doesn't refer to the 3rd person and is often how we refer to people in general. For example, the translation of "no se puede fumar aqui" would be "you can't smoke here", not referring to you(2nd person) but you(people in general)
That's right, the se is there for a reason. But it does not make "it" the object, that would be "lo". Esto lo puede mejorar = This can improve it (or him).
The use of the reflexive "se" (or 'me' for 'yo' or 'te' for 'tú) makes the subject also the object of the sentence (Me veo en el espejo = I see myself in the mirror) or can be used to make a sentence passive. So "Esto se puede mejorar" = "This can improve itself." (object is same as subject) or "This can be improved." (passive)
This can improve it. = Esto lo puede mejorar. = Esto puede mejorarlo.
It's my understanding that the "se + él, ella, Usted conjugation" intends to reflect a generalized statement without a clear subject, accompanied by a passive voice.
For example, when companies want to tell their prospective clients that they speak Spanish, they rarely use "Hablamos español" which translates to "we speak Spanish." Instead they opt for this more general usage "Se habla espańol" which translates more closely to "Spanish is spoken."
So "esto se puede mejorar" instead of being something definitive like "He can improve this" uses this passive voice and generalization to give us "This can be improved."
I think the only answer is that you were told wrong. I can't think of anytime that those words have accents. It might be a regional thing although I am not aware of regional writing conventions being different. I am not a native speaker so that it is possible that there is a more complex set of circumstances under which that may be true, but not as stated. Este es mi coche. Ese coche es rojo etc are all without accent.
Eshewan-- Poder is generally used as an auxillary verb " Poder means to be able and is used in Spanish when in English we use to be able to + an infinitive or can + infinitive." therefore in this context it isn't reflexive. On the other hand 'se mejorar or mejorarse' is used as reflexive here.
I had an argument with myself about whether it was reflexive or was 'se' being used as the 'impersonal se'. Then I realized to be impersonal the sentence could not contain a subject but 'esto' a pronoun is the subject so it eliminated that idea.
So my next test is to say to myself "can I insert .self into the sentence and have it make sense. So "This 'itself' can be improved. " works therefore it's a reflexive pronoun.
This makes sense to me and I hope it helps you.
That is changing the subject of the sentence. In the Spanish, esto is the subject and the se makes it the object as well, or serves to turn the sentence into passive ("This can improve itself." or "This can be improved."). "One can improve this." would be "Puede mejorar esto." or "Lo puede mejorar."
It is used for the formal you, but not as a subject pronoun, like the "you" in your sentence. The se makes the subject also the object of the sentence (Usted se ve en el espejo = You see yourself in the mirror) or can be used to make a sentence passive. So "Esto se puede mejorar" = "This can improve itself." (object is same as subject) or "This can be improved." (passive)
What translates to "we can"? The verb, puede, is in the third person singular form, not first person plural. And the se makes it reflexive, so the subject is acting on itself or it is in passive tense. That means that "esto" is the subject, and it is able to improve itself or is able to be improved (passive).
That would be something like "esto lo puede mejorar" (lo - him) or "esto le puede mejorar a él"
The "se" is often used in passive voice constructions, like the one in this example.
"Se puede mejorar" would be "he can improve himself" but adding "esto" to the sentence changes what is going on.
There are.two problems with your suggestion. First, if the subject were they, the verb form would be pueden Second the subject is actually "This" and.the.verb is reflexive so.it couldn't actually reflext back to any.person This is an example of the Spanish passive se construction. This construction is actually very common in Spanish a lot more common than the passive voice using ser and.the present participle It actually reflects the.verb back on an inanimate subject. Aquí se.habla español This literally means Here Spanish speaks itself, but is translated.using the English passive voice as we only have one So it becomes Spanish is spoken here and our current sentence becomes This can be improved
Using "one" in English is somewhat similar to a passive voice, but it is not considered passive. The agent of the action, while not specified, is represented by the pronoun one. In our passive voice, and in both the formal and informal passive voices in Spanish, the agent is quite commonly not referred to in any way. Despite the fact that there are "neuter" demonstrative pronouns, Spanish does not really have an equivalent to either the subject pronoun "one" or "it" when it relates to some amorphous "it" that doesn't have a gender (the equivalent of esto as opposed to este). The best translation for either the se passive or the formal passive is our English passive voice.
No. While that is a similar idea, you are ignoring a couple of significant grammatical aspects of this sentence that demonstrate a different translation. First of all, yours is a simple future sentence. It is declaring what WILL happen. For that you would see either the Spanish simple future or the phrasal future. It would be Esto mejorará or esto va a mejorar. This sentence uses the modal verb poder, so it's about what CAN happen.
The other issue is that pesky little reflexive pronoun se. English speakers tend to almost ignore them because there are so many reflexive verbs or reflexive forms of standard verbs that we don't think twice about them. But this is actually not a reflexive verb. This sentence is an example of the se passive voice in Spanish. We don't have two separate passive voices in English however. In the English, the only way to form the passive voice is with some form of the verb to be and the past participle in the verb phrase. So that makes this This can be improved. Normally get better is a good substitute for to improve. But to use that in a passive voice is very awkward in English and would never be said. That would have to be This can be gotten better, which I can't imagine hearing from a native speaker.
If your task had been to translate the English sentence, This can be improved, to Spanish you would have had two choices. You could have used the se passive which is used conversationally, or the formal Spanish passive voice which resembles the English passive voice. That would be Esto puede ser mejorado. These two sentences mean the same thing in Spanish.
Because it is a verb, not an adjective or adverb. Mejor is the adjective/adverb. If you know mejor, it doesn't take much of a leap to assume that to make a verb out of better you would get "to get better or to improve)
This is an example of the se passive voice. You can improve this, using the usted form and esto before the verb would be Esto lo puede mejorar, or with the direct object after the verb, which you find more often, Puede mejorar esto. But in this passive voice sentence you have poderse not just poder. Esto in THIS sentence is actually the subject. That's standard for passive voice sentences which take the object of an active voice sentence and make it the subject of the passive voice sentence. The purpose here is to NOT say WHO can improve it but simply to say it can be improved. Spanish has another passive voice that is more like the English passive voice. For this sentence that other passive would probably not be used at all.