Italian Language/alto

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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Can you please tell me if I have correctly translated the following sentences.  

I am especially wondering if I am correct to translate the singular word “montagna” in sentence #5 as the plural English word  “mountains”,   and if  it is correct to translate the singular verb “è”  in     sentence #5  as plural English verb “are”.

[1]   L’aeroplano è alto nel cielo.
  The plane is high in the sky.

[2]   Io sono piuttosto basso, ma mio fratello è molto alto.
  I am rather short, but my brother is very tall.

[3]   Le sue aspettative erano davvero alte.
  Your expectations were really high.

[4]   Sei molto alto per la tua età.
  You are very tall for your age.

[5]   La montagna che vedi all’orizzonte è molto alta.
  The mountains that you see on the horizon are very tall.

Can you also please tell me if I am correct in thinking that the meaning of the predicate adjective “alto” can only be determined by the context of the sentence.  Sometimes, the predicate adjective means “high” and at other times it means “tall”.

I hope that you will not mind one more question about the adjective “alto”.    Just to make sure    that I have understood correctly – can you please tell me if the adjective “alto” is  placed after a    person to talk about height as in “uomo alto” (tall man) , but placed before a thing such as a mountain or a building to talk about height as in “alta montagna” (high mountain) and “un alto    edificio”  (a tall building)?


Thank you.


Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

first of all it is  correct to translate the singular word “montagna” in sentence #5 as the plural English word  “mountains”, and  thus it is correct to translate the singular verb “è”  in sentence #5  as plural English verb “are” that agrees with the English plural subject noun “mountains”

As for the other translations, they are  correct, apart from the adjective "tall" in the sentence #5 ,where I think that you should say: “The mountains that you see on the horizon are very  high” instead of “The mountains that you see on the horizon are very  tall”, and the sentence # 3 “Le sue aspettative erano davvero alte” whose correct translation would be: “His /Her expectations were really high”, unless someone is  talking with a person he is not familiar with, as in e.g. “Mi congratulo per il Suo successo, dato che le Sue aspettative erano davvero alte” (I congratulate you on your success, since your expectations were really high”.

As you can see, you are correct in thinking that the meaning of the predicate adjective “alto” can only be determined by the context of the sentence.  Sometimes, the predicate adjective means “high” and at other times it means “tall”.

Lastly,  the adjective “alto” is placed after a person to talk about height as in “uomo alto” (tall man), but usually placed before a thing such as a mountain or a building to talk about height as in “alta montagna”, while we can say either “un alto edificio” or “un edificio alto”, depending on the context, as in e.g. :“Si vedeva in distanza un  edificio alto” or “Da lontano potevamo scorgere un alto edificio che sovrastava le altre costruzioni”.

Best regards,

Maria


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

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you for explaining to me that “alto” is usually placed before a thing such as a mountain or building, but depending on context, can also be placed after the word “edificio”.

Would you please be able to explain to me what is the difference in context between the following two sentences that allows for “alto” to be placed after “edificio” in the first sentence, but before “edificio” in the second sentence:

Si vedeva in distanza un edificio alto.
A tall building was seen in the distance.

Da lontano potevamo scorgere un alto edificio che sovrastava le altre costruzioni.
From a distance we were able to see a tall building that dominated the other buildings.


I have tried, but I am not able to understand the difference in context between these two sentences.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

actually  there is no difference between the use of the adjective “alto” placed after “edificio” in the sentence “Si vedeva in distanza un edificio alto”, but before “edificio” in the sentence “Da lontano potevamo scorgere un alto edificio che sovrastava le altre costruzioni”.

In short, the different placement of “alto” in the  above-mentioned sentences  depends only upon the speaker/writer’s choice.


Kind regards,

Maria  

Italian Language

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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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