"Did he tell the police that he was guilty?"

Translation:Ĉu li diris al la polico, ke li estas kulpa?

June 4, 2015

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I'm confused here, too. Perhaps I just need to review the notes, but I thought (estis / was) should be the correct answer?


Hopefully you've gotten an answer in the last year, but in case anybody else has the same question, I explain it in my latest YouTube video. The link below is a direct link to the the topic you asked about here.



I saw your video salivanto...so basically you are saying that when we convert direct speech to indirect in esperanto, only the pronouns change and the tense remains the same... also i assumed that you would speak with a hispanic accent but u dont!


also i assumed that you would speak with a hispanic accent but u dont!

Interesting. Why did you think that?


Wouldn't this be "estis" or "estu"?

Why is it in present?


Well, in English I suppose, but in reality he was guilty and still is now.


In Esperanto the verb in indirect speech has the same tense as it would have in direct speech.
Here you would say directly: “Ĉu li diris al la polico: ‘Mi estas kulpa.’?”, therefore you must use the present tense in indirect speech: “Ĉu li diris al la polico, ke li estas kulpa?”.
You would get ‘estu’ only when it is a wish or demand or similar. For instance: “Mi deziras, ke vi estu diligenta.”; Directly you would say: “Mi deziras: vi estu diligenta.”.


ActualGoat, that is not definite from the sentence. He conceivably could've been telling the police he was guilty of being a harsh parent to his children, but has since made amends. Of course, your interpretation would be more natural, but it should not be considered exclusive. Right?


Yeah, That confused me too. It says "was" which is clearly past.


This is great since it helps me to also learn specifics of English better (by learning Esperanto:) English isn't my first language, thus sometimes it is nice to have a recap on grammar


Note to self: Why "Ĉu li diris la polico ke li estis kulpa?" was marked wrong: ^al [^^estas] In salivanto's video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3MqOXULZb4&feature=youtu.be&t=8m32s at 09:38 to 10:06 into the video, it is explained with the following chart:

He said (that) he was waiting for his suitcase. Li diris, ke li atendas sian valizon.

09:38 . Indirect, we would say: "He said that he was waiting for his suitcase ." Notice that the words that came out of his mouth were, "I am waiting for my suitcase; but when we talk about it indirectly like that, we change it to "was waiting."
This is it in English: "He said that he was waiting for his suitcase," but in Esperanto you don't change it. So, it's the same whether it's direct quote or indirect quote: "Li diris, ke li atendas sian valizon." Thank you, salivanto.


Wow. It warms my heart to know that people are still getting value from this video.

You're very welcome.


Ok. How to translate a phrase "Did he tell the police that he IS guilty?"


I don't really understand what your English sentence is supposed to mean, so I cannot translate it.

Maybe have a look at this site: https://www.studyandexam.com/indirect-speech-for-tense.html

It explains how the English verb in the dependent clause changes for the indirect (reported) speech when the main clause is in the past (they / she / he said / told). There is no case in the list where the present is used in the dependent clause.


"La polico" vs. "la policoj?" Is there a reason that the singular noun is used instead of the plural in this sentence? In my thoughts, "the police" is always plural, because it refers to the group of individuals who have that taken that profession and translating it as plural seems to make the most sense in that regard.


While English mainly uses plural verbs with “the police”, Esperanto does not. It considers “polico” an organisation, whose members are “policanoj” or “policistoj.”

Mayxbe compare that with “the fire department”, “the army”, “the navy”, “the air force.” According to Google Ngrams they use singular verbs more often than plural.

Btw, the English word „police“ is not in itself plural (no -s); it is just used with plural verbs. And since Esperanto verbs are identical for singular and plural you are free to think about the verb „venas“ in „la polico venas“ as a plural verb.

The plural form „policoj“ could refer to several police organisations, e.g. from different countries.


Thank you. That explanation helps a bit.


ke li estis kulpa...


Indirect speech should always have the same tense as direct speech in Esperato, so it's estas, not estis, despite the fact that English uses the past tense.


I interpreted this sentence as him confessing his OWN guilt to the police. Why isn't "ke si estas kulpa" an acceptable answer?


Because si is a reflexive pronoun. That means that it refers back to the subject. Whence it cannot be part of the subject of any sentence. One should understand from the sentence that it is his own guilt he is confessing. (You don't really confess someone else's guilt anyway, but you rather report them etc.)


Nu , Sinjoro Salivanto , mi provis " Ĉu li diris la policojn , ke li estis kulpa ? " La sekvanta fojo , ' li estas kulpa ' , sed estas " li diris la policojn " malĝusta ?


Oni diras ion al iu.

  • "Did he tell the police that he was guilty?"
  • Translation:Ĉu li diris al la polico, ke li estas kulpa?


I fully agree but I just was marked for a "typo" -- the answer should be "diris la policon." My answer was "Cxu li diris al la polico, ke li estas kulpa." I used "Cxu" as a substitute for the supersigno, and it was underlined as a typo, too.

I keep noticing that DL accepts x instead of supersignoj only if the base letter is lower case, so not at the beginning of a sentence. Yes, I realize that x-alternatives need to be entered manually by the contributors. A great thank you to them.

However, a (missing?) accusative would not be a typo but a blatant error.


Typo detection is a function of the Duolingo software and not under the control of the course creators.


Rejects cxu at the beginning of a sentence but does accept sxu.


I went to website and they use Estis! what now?


Could you explain your question in a little more detail? I'm not sure I understand. I have a guess at what you might be asking - and that question has been explained elsewhere in this thread. You might want to read through some of the other replies.


Is this sentence potentially ambiguous as to who he is saying is guilty? Could it be that he (a suposed criminal) is telling the police that he himself (the criminal) is guilty? Or could it be that he (a judge perhaps) is telling a police officer the he (the officer) is guilty? According to others, the pronoun "si" can not be used here to clear up ambiguity. I guess it just depends on context?


I think the Esperanto sentence is precisely as ambiguous as the English one. It's simply a translation. I would not use “he” / “li” twice in this sentence to mean different persons so for me it is not ambiguous. For other people it might be. But that's not a question of the translation.


Grammatically it is indeed ambigous, but as Renardo_11 points out, you would not use li twice like this if it weren't clear it was about the same person (or when the context clearly shows that they are indeed not the same). To clear up ambiguity, you can use li mem for the second instance to mean himself, or use tiu to refer to someone else, that was mentioned earlier.


I'm not sure that mem clears up any ambiguity, since it's basically just emphatic.


Hmm, yes, you're right that it doesn't clear it up entirely. I reckon it is at least less ambiguous.


I see, I guess it makes sense that the English equivalent is just as ambiguous. I find it interesting how in many cases Esperanto seems to make such an effort to clear up ambiguity with "si/sia", but in some cases it's not considered correct, and the ambiguity remains. Not complaining, just an observation. Ambiguity is a common and natural thing in most languages.


Exactly, ambiguity is normal in human languages; Esperanto is not Loglan/Lojban but just does its best to be easy to learn. In order to avoid the mentioned ambiguity one could say:

  • Did he declare himself / him guilty…
  • Ĉu li deklaris sin / lin kulpa…

In fact I would consider it a restriction on Esperanto's capabilities if it could not form ambiguous sentences. ☻


Yes, imagine all of the jokes/puns that would be impossible if ambiguous sentences were not possible!

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