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"I did not know that you were sick."

Translation:Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana.

June 11, 2015

43 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fantomius

When I was a child (speaking English), I would often say things like "Yesterday he said he will arrive tomorrow" intending to say that he will arrive today (because today is yesterday's tomorrow).

However, I was always corrected, because I was supposed to say the day as it relates to the current day, unless I'm quoting. (And if I'm quoting, make it very clear I'm quoting, or else people will likely misunderstand me.)

Now that I'm learning Esperanto, I see that it uses a relation similar to how I spoke as a child; namely, if the second verb happens at the same time as the first verb, the second verb stays in present tense.

Which means that if the sentence takes place in the past, only the first verb uses the past tense.

So when we read the sentence:

Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana.

we know that the speaker is referring to a time when the listener was, at the time, sick/ill.

But put estas in the past tense, such as:

Mi ne sciis, ke vi estis malsana.

we know that the speaker is referring to a time even earlier, after which the listener (presumably) recovered.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

This answer needs more upvotes!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ScottBoggs3

so "...ke vi estis..." would translate more as "...that you had been..."?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rendorHaevyn

If this is so, then estis is appropriate in this instance. Without further conversational context, this entire discourse is moot.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

1 - this is so.

2 - The right answer is "estas". No more context is needed.

  • "I did not know that you were sick."
  • Translation:Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana.

"I did not know that youwere sick" can only be an answer to "I was sick - why didn't you do X" or "I am sick, why didn't you do X". In both cases, you would say "estis" because indirect citation is different in Esperanto than in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndressaAndrd

What an AMAZING explanation! Just gave you 10 lingots for that! Thank you very much! =D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bryanhumano

Couldn't you interpret this sentence being about the person being sick in the past? I said "...ke vi malsanis" and it marked it as wrong. Like "I just got cured!" Oh, I didn't even know you were sick


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BradfordBowman

I believe that the tense of the first verb (sci/i in this case) sets the temporal point of view from which the second verb's tense is taken (unlike the usual sequence of tenses in English). The the speaker in this case is describing the state of his knowledge in the past. The object referred to by the second verb must then described as though one were speaking from that same point in the past--when the object was still sick--so the present tense is used. I am describing this very poorly. A better description with examples is found in Professor Jordan's Being Colloquial in Esperanto here: http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/eo/colloq/colloq120.html#sec12-1-1


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Turteltaube41

But without being able to use "malsanis", that would leave no way to distinctly express "I did not know (presumably until you just told me) that you were sick (in the past; presumably you are healthy now as we are having this conversation)". Could someone weigh in on this ambiguity? I am fine with "malsanas" being correct, but I am not sure "malsanis" is wrong either.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

This has to do with how indirect citation works differently in English and Esperanto. "Mi ne sciis" presumably refers to a certain time. If you use present tense in the indirect citation, then that present tense refers to the same time as "sciis."

  • Mi ne sciis ke vi estas malsana - I didn't know that you were sick.
  • Mi ne sciis ke vi estis malsana - I didn't know that you had been sick.

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Turteltaube41

Dankon pro via mesaĝo - bone klarigita. Mi nun komprenas. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Camsbury

I'm not seeing a good answer for this. I saw somewhere that the tense actually needs to agree, so it seems wrong that "estas" would be used.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

The "good answer" is by Fantomius -- which he posted a week ago. Sorry you had to wait so long for a good answer. Check it out.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AjxojLerni

Can you link to where you saw that? I'm not sure if this helps but consider that the translation is En->Eo not Eo->En; the problem sentences in either language are written more or less in the way that speakers commonly--but not via ungrammatical slang-- express the idea. In this case, it is acceptable in English to say "I did not know that you were sick", when one means "I did not know [until you told me] that you [are currently] sick"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bmatsuo

I think the text is question is in the Tips & Notes for the section on Past/Future (verbs).

https://www.duolingo.com/skill/eo/Verbs-Past-Future

But that text is actually specifically talking about future tense.

I do agree with OP though; the translation is confusing. If the person is indeed still sick it seems like saying "you were sick" instead of "you are sick" in english makes little difference or is context dependent. I think the translation should just use present tense to avoid confusion.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bjoholm

is "mi ne konis, ke vi malsanas" technically incorrect here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luis_Domingos

"Malsanas" is perfectly fine, but you can't use "koni" for factual knowledge, only "scii".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jcreed

This is to a first approximation true, that basically you use scii for knowing propositions/facts and koni for people-knowing, but I do see a lot of occurrences of koni with facts as well, and the dictionary backs me up as it being legitimate but having a slightly different meaning --- it seems more like "to be familiar with" than scii's crisp "to know".

http://www.reta-vortaro.de/revo/art/kon.html

has:

[3.] Havi pli-malpli kompletan kaj klaran ideon pri io aŭ iu. Vidu ankaŭ: scii, koncepti.

koni bone la staton de la aferoj

mi ne konas lian nomon, tiun fakton

La klarigo fare de Sergio Pokrovskij pri ĉi tiu temo en tiu paĝo ankaŭ interesas


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

The first order approximation, as you said, is that scii is for facts and koni is for people. The second order approximation is that koni means to be familiar with.

If you learn those two approximations, you will pretty much have the whole thing down.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dilly_dallyer

Mi ne sciis ke vi estas malsana , would be best translated as ”at the time”, I didn't know he was sick (currently sick at time in past).

Mi ne sciis ke vi estis malsana, would be best translated as "at the time", I didn't know he had been sick (previously sick than time in past).

I believe.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GreyPhoenix

I read all the comments and the excellent explanations in this thread about why "estas" is used instead of "estis" in this sentence, and I think I pretty much understand it now. I do, however, have a question.

Since the sentence "Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana" means "I didn't know that you were sick" (at the time that I didn't know about it), how would I say "I didn't know that you are sick," as in, the person still hasn't recovered. Would I need to add a word like "ankoraŭ" to clarify?

Based on the rules discussed here, it seems like the sentence "Mi ne sciis, ke vi ankoraŭ estas malsana" would mean "I didn't know that you still were sick" (again, at the time that I lacked knowledge of the listener's sickness), which doesn't make sense and isn't what I want to express at all. This meaning (of not knowing in the past that someone was, and remains, sick) is something I need to express frequently in my current circumstances, so I'd greatly appreciate any input from experienced Esperantists. Thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

My notifications stopped working for a while so I"m just seeing this now. This is a great question. I think you're on the right track. I wonder, though, how you would make this distinction in English.

If I became sick and you didn't know -- then you found out -- and I'm still sick today... how do you say in English that you didn't know? Would it be different if I had gotten better in the meanwhile? I don't think English makes that distinction and I don't think Esperanto does either. It would need to be clarified some other way.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kayzels

I don't know, as I am a learner, but I think you could say: "Cxu vi ankoraux estas malsana? Mi ne sciis." Essentially, "Are you still sick? I didn't know"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TreyEHarris

So Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana could be said to someone who is currently well or currently sick? But mi ne sciis, ke vi estis malsana could only be said if you had recovered—“I did not know that you had been sick”?

In my idiolect—and apparently dialect, having just asked my chat buddies from back home—“I did not know that you are sick” is something you’d only say to a sick person—but it is something you absolutely could say in our dialect.

Yet, “I did not know that you were sick” is something you’d say to a well person, but also could say to a sick person, particularly if you were talking about a past event: “I didn’t see you at church Wednesday night, will I see you there tomorrow for Sunday service? Oh? I didn’t know you were sick. Get well soon!” The word are there instead of were would be weird, bordering on wrong—again verified by a few folks down home. Because I was talking about my knowledge as of Wednesday, that was when you were sick (regardless of whether you are sick now).

So (again, in my dialect at least) the English overlap is on mi ne sciis ke vi estas malsana: “I didn’t know that you are sick” and “I didn’t know that you were sick” could both be translated this way, but mi ne sciis ke vi estis malsana would be something like “I didn’t know that you had been sick.”

So the distinction my dialect makes: “I didn’t know that you were sick” vs. “I didn’t know that you are sick” would have to be disambiguated with something like

  • Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana.
  • Mi ne sciis, ke vi ankoraŭ estas malsana.

Or, if you really wanted to hit the exact translation of my dialect’s “I didn’t know you were sick” as said above by that concerned coreligionist—as weird as it is in Esperanto—you’d need something like:

Mi ne estis scianta ke vi estas malsana.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

This is a very long analysis. I would encourage you to start with real examples of real things that you really want to say in Esperanto and try to figure out how to express them. Otherwise, you'll end out in the weeds.

So Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana could be said to someone who is currently well or currently sick? But mi ne sciis, ke vi estis malsana could only be said if you had recovered—“I did not know that you had been sick”?

Yes, but context matters.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Olena.D

"were" = "estAs". Why is it so here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luis_Domingos

Because the first verb (main clause verb) is already in the past. There's an explanation in the Tips & Notes for this lesson.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Olena.D

I didn't find the explanation neither in "Adjectives" nor in "Past/Future". Anyway I have already understood. I just was confused, cause the sequence of tenses in English and Russian is different.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

It would be helpful if you mentioned which lesson "this lesson" is -- and maybe even include a link. It's not always obvious.

Edit: I have come to the conclusion that Luis_Domingos is simply mistaken when he asserts that there is an explanation of indirect citation in the lesson. I looked and did not find it. Olena.D looked and did not find it.

I did find this: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/eo/Verbs-Past-Future

But it does not include an explanation of tense in indirect citation. If you read Esperanto, you can read more here:

http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/subfrazoj/nerekta_parolo/verboformoj.html

There is also an explanation in English here -- scroll down to 12.1.1.4. Sequence of Tenses & Indirect Quotation

http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/eo/colloq/colloq120.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luis_Domingos

I'm sorry, but I'm not in any way affiliated with Duolingo, so I have no obligation to provide you with information you can look for on your own. If the lesson is about the past tense, maybe you should look for the lesson that first broaches that subject... that sounds logical to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

Wow, what a weenie response. If you don't want to be helpful, then don't post answers. If you don't want your answers to be helpful, then keep them to yourself.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MunchingMachine

I think this sentence is way too ambiguous. We are all making up explanations but... Could it be that the esperanto team just made a mistake? In my native language a sentence like this would call for the subjunctive ( I speak Spanish and Portuguese) so "estus" should be the conjugation of the verb in this particular sentence, but alas, it's not accepted either.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

Certainly the Esperanto team has made many mistakes. They've been busy finding and correcting them for as long as I've been on Duolingo. In a few cases, experienced speakers might even disagree about what is correct. This is certainly not a mistake. It is also not a case where Esperanto usage is unclear.

Esperanto differs from English in how indirect citation works.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/letruca

I have a doubt about to write "Mi ne sciis, ĉu vi estis malsana"; "Mi ne sciis, ĉu vi estas malsana" "Mi ne sciis, ĉu vi estus malsana"; "Mi ne sciis, ke vi estis malsana"; "Mi ne sciis, ke vi estus malsana" "Mi ne sciis, ke vi estas malsana"; What about this? Can you give some solution?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

The correct translation is in the original post above. I provided some links elsewhere in this thread -- i'ts the one that says:

If you read Esperanto, you can read more here:

http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/subfrazoj/nerekta_parolo/verboformoj.html

There is also an explanation in English here -- scroll down to 12.1.1.4. Sequence of Tenses & Indirect Quotation

http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/eo/colloq/colloq120.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CharlesGoli1

How I understand this sentence: writing: "mi ne scias, ke vi estas malsana", means to me that the person I am talking to is still sick. Writing: " Mi ne sciis, ke vi estis malsana", the one I am speaking to is no more sick. DON'T COMPLICATE THINGS !


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

Read the answer by Fantomius and my other comments in this thread. You have misunderstood this sentence. The sentence means that the knowing and the being sick were happening at the same time. It's not complicated. It's just different from how English works.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EsperantoEthan

I do not understand why you would say this but not "mi ne sciis ke vi estis malsana." the event happened in the past and should get the past tense. Any help?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

The fact that 'estas' is in present tense means that the knowing and the being sick are happening at the same time. See Fantomius's answer and my other comments in this thread.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EsperantoEthan

maybe CharlesGoli1's answer is better. I think that the person is still sick.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

CharlesGoli1 is wrong. See Fantomius's answer and my other comments in this thread.

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