Italian Language/translation

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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

My question is about the following paragraph from a novel that I am reading:

The phone rings on Gram’s nightstand.  She reaches for it.  “Ciao, ciao!”  “Il matrimonio è stato bellissimo.  Jaclyn era una sposa straordinaria.  Troppa gente, troppo cibo. La musica era troppo forte, ed erano tutti anziani.”  She laughs.

Would you please tell me if my following translation is correct:

“Hello, hello!”  The wedding was beautiful.  Jaclyn was an extraordinary bride.  Too many people, too much food.  The music was too loud, and they were too many old people.”  

I am wondering why the author stated - “ed erano tutti anziani” (and they were too many old people).  Could this be a mistake?  I am thinking that maybe the adverb of place – “ci” should have been included as in saying – “ed c’erano tutto anziani” (and there were too many old people).  Would you please tell me if I am correct or not.

I am also trying to understand why the imperfetto was used when the author states - “Jaclyn era” “la musica era”,  and “c’erano” -   but the passato prossimo was used to say “il matrimonio è stato”.

Would you please tell me if these are correct uses of the passato prossimo and of the  imperfetto.

I am thinking that since the imperfetto is used to describe something that does not have a specific beginning or ending point in the past, and that since the passato prossimo is used to describe something with a specific beginning or ending point in the past  -   that the passato prossimo should have been used instead of the imperfetto.

Would you please tell me if it would have been more correct to say:

Jaclyn è stata una sposa straordinaria
La musica è stata troppo forte
ed ci sono stati tutti anziani

I am thinking that “being a bride”, “loud music”, and “too many people” are all things that had a specific beginning and ending point in the past , and therefore the passato prossimo should have been used.   But, I very much realize how much I need to learn about Italian, and I am hoping you will not mind explaining this to me.

Thank you so much for all of your great help.

Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

I think that the best translation for “ed erano tutti anziani” would be:”and all of them were elderly”, not “and they were too many old people”, while the rest of the sentence is correct.

As for your doubts about the phrase “ed erano tutti anziani”, I have to tell you that it is correct as the speaker wants to point out that all of the guests were aged.

So, you are wrong in thinking that the sentence should have been “e c’erano tutti anziani” (not “ed c’erano tutto anziani”).
 

With regard to  the reason why the imperfetto was used when the author states - “Jaclyn era” “la musica era”,  and “c’erano” -   but the passato prossimo was used to say “il matrimonio è stato”, please note that:

1-the “imperfetto”  is a tense that we use to talk about the past, just to describe  here the bride and the  wedding mood.
It expresses an action which began at some unstated time, continued for an unspecified period, and is now over.
We use the imperfetto to narrate  a simple act or state in past time representing it as in progress or continuing.

2-The “passato prossimo” indicates that the action of the wedding  happened in the recent past, though it still has ties to the present. Anyway, it represents the action of the verb as completed in present time, and corresponds to the English perfect with 'have'.

3-Therefore  the passato prossimo and  the  imperfetto have been correctly used in the paragraph that you mention, for the imperfetto is used to narrate something, so that in Italian we call it “imperfetto narrativo”,  while the passato prossimo  is used to express  something with a specific beginning or ending point in the past.

To conclude, it would not have been more correct to say: “Jaclyn è stata una sposa straordinaria”, “La musica è stata troppo forte”, “ed ci sono stati tutti anziani”, because we used the "imperfetto narrativo" to describe something such as the wedding in this case.


Hope I made myself understood, though the matter is not so easy.

Best,

Maria


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you for your help with this question.  

Can you please tell me if “tutti” is being used as an adverb in the following sentence:

“Erano tutti anziani.”
They were all elderly.

If “yes“ can you also please tell me if the adverb “tutti” is being used to modify the adjective “anziano”.

I was also wondering about the following sentence:

“Era tutto sbagliato.”
It was all wrong.

In this sentence – can you also please tell me of the adverb “tutto” is being used to modify the adjective “sbagliato”?

Finally, can you also please tell me if I am correct in thinking that - when used as an adverb to modify an adjective, that the adverb “tutto” is always placed before this adjective?

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

in the sentence “Erano tutti anziani” the word “tutti” is being used as a subject pronoun,not as an adverb.

“Tutti” (masculine plural) is in fact the subject of the verb “erano” (3rd.person plural, indicative  “imperfetto” of “essere”), while “anziani” in the masculine plural is a predicate adjective related to “tutti”.
See also:” E’ stato tutto inutile” where the pronoun  “tutto” is the subject of the verb “è stato”.


As for “Era tutto sbagliato”, the word “tutto” is being used as a subject pronoun of the verb “era”, if “Era tutto sbagliato” stands for “Tutto era sbagliato”.
If on the contrary “Era tutto sbagliato”  stands for “Era completamente sbagliato”,as in “Parlò a lungo, ma il suo ragionamento era tutto sbagliato”, the word “tutto” is used as an adverb meaning “entirely”/ ”totally”  just to emphasize the adjective “sbagliato”.
See also ”Era tutto contento” where “tutto” is used as an  adverb that emphasizes the adjective “contento”.

So, you are  correct in thinking that - when used as an adverb to modify an adjective- the adverb “tutto” is always placed before this adjective.

Kind regards,

Maria

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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