Active or Passive Usage

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johnk
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Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:26 pm

Active or Passive Usage

Post by johnk » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:37 pm

Hi There,
Is it better in Italian to say:
- Ero sposato con una donna francese
or
- Sono stato sposato con una donna francese
In English I would say "I was married to a French woman" but I can't determine which is correct Italian
Thanks

Geoff
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Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:55 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Active or Passive Usage

Post by Geoff » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:25 am

It depends upon on what you are trying to say. If you mean that you were married to a french woman, in the sense that you used to be married to her, then Ero sposato con una donna francese is correct.

If, however, you mean that you got married to a french woman, it should be Mi sono sposato con una donna francese or Ho sposato una donna francese. You can also say Mi sono sposato una donna francese, but not in formal speech or writing.

johnk
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Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:26 pm

Re: Active or Passive Usage

Post by johnk » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:44 am

Thanks very much.

Tom S. Fox
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:10 pm

Re: Active or Passive Usage

Post by Tom S. Fox » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:09 pm

Geoff wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:25 am
It depends upon on what you are trying to say. If you mean that you were married to a french woman, in the sense that you used to be married to her, then Ero sposato con una donna francese is correct.
That is completely backwards. If you wanted to say that you used to be married to a Frenchwoman, i.e., you aren’t any longer, the correct choice would be, “Sono stato sposato con una donna francese.”

Ero sposato con una donna francese,” doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not you are still married to her, unless you add a phrase such as “una volta,” “un tempo,” “prima,” etc.

This can be easily proven by looking at usage examples:
Sono stato sposato con lei per sette anni …

I was married to her for seven years…
The fact it says “for seven years” doesn’t leave any doubt: They aren’t married anymore. Hence why it says, “sono stato sposato,” rather than, “ero sposato,” which would be ungrammatical.

One the other hand, we have sentences such as…
If we translate this under the assumption that “era sposato” means “used to be married,” the result is blatantly self-contradictory nonsense:
*The director also said that at the time of the supposed “infidelity,” he already used to be married to his current wife…
Incidentally, “ero sposato” and “sono stato sposato” are both active. The difference is that the former is in the imperfect tense, while the latter is in the present perfect tense.

Geoff
Posts: 249
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:55 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Active or Passive Usage

Post by Geoff » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:24 pm

Fair comment. Thanks.

Dylan Thomas
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:08 pm

Re: Active or Passive Usage

Post by Dylan Thomas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:44 pm

Tom:
That is completely backwards. If you wanted to say that you used to be married to a Frenchwoman, i.e., you aren’t any longer, the correct choice would be, “Sono stato sposato con una donna francese.”
“Ero sposato con una donna francese,” doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not you are still married to her, unless you add a phrase such as “una volta,” “un tempo,” “prima,” etc.

(1) I’m afraid you are not correct, Tom. In Italian “Sono stato sposato con una donna francese” and “Ero sposato con una donna francese” mean the same thing. I personally prefer the latter.
Moreover, “Ero sposato” does not need any of those phrases; the “imperfetto” (ero) by itself usually means that I’m not married anymore.

If I say, “Mi hanno detto che eri sposato con un’americana”
(“I was told you were married to an American woman”)
I don’t need to add anything else, the context being understood (two years ago / before you married a French woman).

It’s true, however, that we sometimes need context to clarify things:

Ero sposato con la mia ex moglie quando la nostra casa di campagna fu svaligiata.
I was married to my ex wife when our country house was burgled.
[I might be living alone now, but also married to another woman]

Ero sposato con la mia attuale moglie quando la nostra casa di campagna fu svaligiata.
I was married to my current wife when our country house was burgled.
[I’m clearly still married.]


Tom:
This can be easily proven by looking at usage examples:
Sono stato sposato con lei per sette anni …

I was married to her for seven years…
The fact it says “for seven years” doesn’t leave any doubt: They aren’t married anymore. Hence why it says, “sono stato sposato,” rather than, “ero sposato,” which would be ungrammatical.

(2) I’m sorry Tom but your line of reasoning is not correct. The time expression “per sette anni” always requires a “present perfect tense”. That is why “ero sposato” would be ungrammatical.

Sono stato sposato / Ero sposato con una donna francese quando abitavo a Roma.
I was married to a French woman when I lived in Rome.
(Honestly, I would always use “ero sposato”.)

DT

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Peter
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Re: Active or Passive Usage

Post by Peter » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:57 pm

Excellent post, Dylan. Very clear, very logical. Thank you.

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