February 24th, 2010


Italian Grammar - Impersonal Construction

I'm in a second-level Italian class and just learned the uses of impersonal constructions using si. I understand how and when to use these constructions, but had a few questions about the grammar.

First, are there any other cases in a Romance language where the main verb must agree with its direct object in number, when the object comes AFTER the verb? For example, La mattina si beve il caffè, but La mattina si bevono il caffè ed il tè. Are there any other linguistic constructions, impersonal or otherwise (it was unclear in my original post about whether I was making a direct comparison to French) wherein the verb agrees in number with its D.O., without the D.O. coming before the verb?

Second, although the impersonal construction is formed by si + third-person singular or plural of the verb, when a reflexive verb is used, the reflexive pronoun is ci, the first-person plural pronoun. For example, Quando fa freddo ci si mette una giacca. My professor said she guessed that this developed because the third-person S/P pronoun is si, and constructions such as "si si mette" sounded bad, so the sound changed into "ci." Does anyone know for sure?

First question edited for clarity.


Hi, linguaphiles.

What's the difference between "disculpe", "perdon" or "perdoneme" and "lo siento"? When you use one and when the other? Maybe there is difference in different country? If so, please tell where are you from.
(I know there should be acentos in "perdon" and "perdoneme", but my keyboard doesn't have it, sorry.)

Thank you.
Edit.: Stylistic difference maybe? Something like "educated people prefer to use this variation" or "young folk tends to say that"?
And if there are mexicans here I would be very glad to know their opinion.

Sustainable well-being

Hi! Linguaphiles!

I've been translating this article, Science and Technology for Sustainable Well-Being. Some parts are rather difficult for me to understand. Could any of you be kind to let me know the meaning and put it into another easy sentence? Thanks in advance!


Although these are daunting numbers from the standpoint of sustainability, the problem is not that the world is running out of energy. It isn't. But it is running out of cheap and easy oil and gas, and it is running out of environmental capacity to absorb, without intolerable consequences, the impact of mobilizing these quantities of energy in the ways we have been accustomed to doing it.

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