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  5. "La víctima no sabía nadar."

"La víctima no sabía nadar."

Translation:The victim did not know how to swim.

October 17, 2013



But why sabía and not supo?


The imperfect refers to things that happened continuously in the past. For example, the program "No sabía que estaba embarazada" is called "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" in English, which means "I used to not know I was pregnant" because knowing/not knowing how to do something is a continuous action.


Some verbs change meaning in the Preterit, and saber is one of them. Look at this link: http://www.spanishdict.com/topics/show/63:

saber | to know (Imperfective) | to find out (Perfective)

Imperfective Aspect- Present tense, Imperfect tense, Progressive tenses, Future tense, Conditional tense
Perfective Aspect- Preterit tense, All perfect tenses (present perfect, past perfect, etc.)

"La víctima no supo nadar" would translate "The victim didn't find out how to swim".


Saber before a verb usually means "to know how" to do that action.


to know how to write, to know how to sing,...


Potentially a very dark sentence, no??


Yes. It's like "the victim didn't know how to swim, so they planned to capsize the boat".


Yes, it suggests that she drowned.


It says a correct solution is "The victim used not to know how to swim." Am I crazy or does that seem incorrect? The word flow does not seem structured properly. The "used not to know how" is what really confuses me and makes me think it's wrong.


No, you are not crazy and that doesn't make much sense in most contexts. People don't suddenly forget how to swim unless they've suffered some horrible disease or accident.


How about: "the victim knew not how to swim"- it is old timey and clunky english - but I think it should be correct


I believe that it would be better to teach both the preterite and imperfect tenses together in the same statements because they are often used together to describe past events.


why is this an acceptable answer ? the victim did not know how to swim

should it not be: the victim did not know to swim

could anyone explain please


Saber is used with abilities and skills that are learnt like Conducir (to drive), pintar (to paint) etc. To say you know how to do something, one would use Saber + Infinitive.

The use of saber in the duo sentence means 'to know how', thus: La víctima no sabía nadar=

La victima=the victim

no sabía= did not know how

nadar= to swim

Here is a reference: (look at C under saber) http://www.spanish.cl/Vocabulary/Notes/Conocer_vs_Saber.htm


Well now we know how the victim died.


Not necessarily, "The victim did not know how to swim but waiting for the plane to land would take too much time.

So... thump! crash! bang!

Now there is enough fuel to make it to the landing strip.


The victim could not swim.


Maybe. That's interesting. Also, your interpretation translates back as "la víctima no pudo/podía nadar".


Correct is "The victim was not able to swim" ... how to swim means, it did not know to swim slow or fast maybe


Pero ahora ella ha aprendiendo.


No, porque ha muerto. Era una víctima, sabes.


También, necesitas decir "Ella ha aprendido" porque tu frase está diciendo "she has learning". O se puede decir "ella está aprendiendo(lo)".


I had "The victim never used to know how to swim". This was considered wrong.


never = nunca

Duolingo is a bit picky about adding words that aren't there. Keep it simple.


I was marked wrong for using "used to" instead of "use to". Maybe my English is what I should be working on. Haha


Well, I am glad you brought this up because I have always used 'used to' for both past affirmative and past negative. It seems that in the negative, we are suppose to use 'use to". If you care to read, here is a reference:



That is only the case for the word "didn't" because it is already conjugated. If there are other negative words; like "never", "nobody"; before "used to"; it doesn't make sense, grammar wise, not to conjugate that verb in the past because those negative words aren't verbs.

For example, "did you use to swim with your girlfriend?", but "I never used to eat paper when I was a kid".

I think the main reason why it didn't accept their answer is because they used "never", which would be "nunca" in Spanish, instead of "didn't". In that case, it would be "use to" like I mentioned previously.


Is "The victim was not knowing how to swim" right as well, even if it is not the best translation and not (yet) accepted?


In this thread "know" is a stative verb (state verb). There are 2 basic rules for stative verbs.

  1. Generally stative verbs are not used in the continuous form
  2. Some, not all, stative verbs can be used in the continuous if there is a need to show the temporary nature of the verb

Unfortunately your translation breaks both these rules thus your question itself is mute


I don't know about 'to know how' being a static verb, but the Spanish past imperfect indicative is used in several ways and one of them is setting the stage for another event such as:

Yo leía cuando entró mi papá. I was reading when my papa entered. (note that "entered" is preterite) The Duo sentence as written doesn't seem to be setting the stage, but I think it might be possible. Also the imperfect indicative is also used to describe something in the past. This sentence might fall into this category. We can translate into English the past imperfect indicative when we are describing an event which does not have a definite start time or end time. It is like a general statement, such as:

I was working in the agency during the day. Trabajaba durante el día.


Hey JFGor,

Your reply may be correct but has no bearing on my comment above, which is a direct reply to soderdaen post ref. "The victim was not knowing how to swim"

In other words the sentence "The victim was not knowing how to swim" is not correct in English, thus can not be used as a translation of the Spanish.

The reason it is incorrect is that the primary verb is a stative verb and is subject to a different set of rules than action verbs such as "run"


Native English speakers, tell me, please, do you really say "know how to do something"? Why not "The victim could not swim"?


"I can not fly" = I do not have wings so I cannot fly. "I do not know how to fly" I do not have the knowledge to fly a plane. Hope this helps.

But, personally "the victim could not swim" would mean the same as "the victim did not know how to swim", but thats my thoughts.


It is not worded in your suggestion. The Duo example is very common in English.


Yes, we really do say, "didn't know how to do something." Search on "didn't know how to" and you will get hundred of millions of results.

However, the victim couldn't swim is fine too.


What about "the victim had not known how to swim"? The sentence seems to imply that they used to not know but now they do.


Wouldn't we need to insert "como" in there?


No. In Spanish, to say "to know how to do something", you use the construction "saber + infinitive". Literally: to know to do something.

Sé leer Sabes caminar Saben descargar el documento.

etc,... It's one of those things that are just different across languages. Direct translations aren't always correct.

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