"Est-il sûr ?"
Translation:Is he sure?
No, I don't agree anymore, at least not if gaining competence in French is your ultimate goal. It is absolutely annoying and frustrating and seems unfair-- all of which would also seem to make it stick in one's head better than if it came right after Duo had introduced in a written example with a "hint" 10 seconds earlier. That's imho, after making it through the tree. If it doesn't annoy you enough to make you quit Duo, then it might actually be pedagogically effective.
Only if your "it" in the question "Is it safe?" refers to a specific object (or animal). Here's a THEORETICAL example:
It's a beautiful neighbourhood = C'est un beau quartier
But is it safe? = Mais est-il sûr ?
I say theoretical, because it's little likely someone would phrase it like that. "Est-il sûr ?" sounds too much like "Is he sure / certain?", that we'd rather re-use the specific noun : "Mais est-ce que c'est un quartier sûr ?".
But if the "it" is a general reference, or about a situation, then you must use "ce":
- Is it safe here? = C'est sûr ici ?
Yet, again, "sûr" is so much perceived in the sense of "sure / certain" that we don't often use it like "safe" is used in English. So the example just above would rather be expressed like this:
- Is it safe here? = On est en sécurité ici ? (word per word "Are we in safety here ?").
Ignoring the odd pronunciation, I'm puzzled by the fact that sûr is given as the correct form of the masculine adjective for this example, but when I picked sûr from the drop down list for an earlier sentence (Mais comment être [choice]?) DL said that was wrong, and that the correct answer was sûre. So when is the masculine for "sure" sûr and when is it sûre?
The previous example you mentioned required feminine sûre when it was not grammatically necessary to use feminine. In that case Duo was wrong and has yet to correct it. That construction you posted allows either masculine or feminine (sûr/sûre)
In this example, the presence of il in est- il does grammatically require a specific gender. Il being masculine, sûr is the required form. Here, Duo is correct.
Thanks, northernguy. I went back and found the discussion of the "Mais comment être sûr[e]" and I see that the problem was reported a long time ago. Odd that it still hasn't been fixed. Usually DL jumps on these things right away (particularly for problems with the French modules).
I'm not so sure they do it right away but that one has been hanging around for a couple of years. Since Duo is a great, free service I cut them a lot of slack. but after such a long while even I wonder why no one has either corrected it or posted a surprising explanation for the apparent discrepancy.
Maybe it is waiting for what was described at the Academy Awards last night as ...gender confirmation surgery.....
Agreed about how "en" works here as a pronoun. What is confusing that that I saw this exercise (without "en" and the English without "about it"), just after seeing another exercise with "En sommes-nous sûrs ?" translated as "Are we sure?" (not "Are we sure about it?"). Seems like Duo is being inconsistent.