E' pentito di aver trascurato sua moglie

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Diddl, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Diddl

    Diddl Senior Member

    Italian -Italy
    Hello everybody,
    I read a short story issued in a well-known magazine for English learners. As I noticed there are some reading comprehension exercises available on the website of the magazine, I downloaded them and tried to do some.
    The short story is about a woman who wishes her husband didn't take her for granted. Therefore, she arranges for a florist to deliver her a rose and a small romantic card each week, so as to make her husband feel jealous. This trick seems to work, and she actually succeeds in reawakening romance between her partner and herself. As a matter of fact, her husbands starts cherishing her by writing her poems and inviting her out to dinner.
    Back to the comprehension exercises, one of the questions was about what state of mind the husband was in when he asked his wife to go out to dinner with him.
    I would like to reply something like: "E' pentito di aver trascurato sua moglie", but I am not so sure about the tense the verb in the subordinate clause should be in.
    Here are my translation attempts:
    "He regrets/repents neglecting his wife"
    "He regrets/ repents having neglected his wife".

    Actually, I can't come up with the solution. Could you please tell me what tense is more appropriate, given the context?
    Thank you in advance
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  2. elfa

    elfa Senior Member

    Bath, England
    Both of these are fine - the only difference is the degree of formality. The first is slightly more informal than the second in my view.
    I wouldn't use "repent" though - this is a false friend in this particular context. In English, it has the meaning of deep remorse and isn't generally followed by a verb. A sentence using "repent" might be

    The sinner repented of his sins.
  3. MicheleAmericano New Member

    No, elfa, there is no difference in formality. Regrets neglecting and regrets having neglected are both equally "correct" and equally formal (i.e., not marked for formality). That is my opinion as a Ph.D. in linguistics and after having taught (or teaching!) English as a foreign language for 30 years.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2013
  4. rrose17

    rrose17 Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Just to add that I know that often Italians, when speaking English, mix up repent and regret. Elfa is right, of course, that we hardly ever use the word repent and it has a biblical sound to it. But in this case I think we might use regret, but more natural to me would be
    He felt bad/sorry for having neglected his wife.
  5. elfa

    elfa Senior Member

    Bath, England
    Well, it's a matter of feel, Michele - just my own opinion (and I did add "in my view" ;))

    Yes, or
    He felt bad about neglecting his wife.
  6. MicheleAmericano New Member

    No, not a matter of "feel." A matter of usage.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2013
  7. elfa

    elfa Senior Member

    Bath, England
    I am a user of the English language as much, I imagine, as you are. Please beg to differ by all means, but allow me to express how and in what context I would also use the two phrases mentioned by Diddl.
  8. joanvillafane Senior Member

    U.S., New Jersey
    U.S. English
    One more vote for "feel" from a native English speaker, Ph.D. in Linguistics, and ESL professional. I totally agree with Elfa that the sentence with having + past participle is not used much in spoken conversation in English and would probably fit more appropriately in a written or formal context. One of the benefits of this Forum for non-native speakers (of both languages) is to learn these nuances.
  9. Phil9 Senior Member

    UK English
    Yes MicheleAmericano, I can see you are quite new to the forum and may yet have something to learn about being sensitive to the fact that there are other opinions apart from your own brand of English, presumably AE. Your comments do come across as rather dogmatic and supercilious I'm afraid.

    I'm also with Elfa. In matters of language there is rarely one absolutely right answer to the exclusion of all others.
  10. Diddl

    Diddl Senior Member

    Italian -Italy
    Thank you all. The discussion I have involuntarily triggered is very interesting, even though (unfortunately), it is too high-level for me.
    I go along with Rrose 17 about Italians mixing regret and repent up. Actually, that must be because both verbs are translated into Italian as "pentirsi", no matter if we are talking about a religious reflection or an every-day issue. I will keep the difference between the two of them in mind. I am also going to practise using constructions such as: he feels sorry/bad about neglecting his wife, which sounds very good.
    Thank you all again, including MicheleAmericano, whose views on this grammar point are also valuable.
    Goodbye, take care

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