"Ich weiß nicht, wessen Sohn er ist."

Translation:I do not know whose son he is.

February 15, 2013

This discussion is locked.


"...wessen Sohn ER ist" so why "whose son is HE" was marked incorrect?


"whose son he is" sounds better to me...


'...whose son he is' is an exact translation, complete with unchanged word order, and is conveniently the correct way to say it :)

To end a statement with '...whose son is he', which is in a question format, would not be great grammar.


you can't say "whose son is he" in a subordinate clause


In a subordinate clause, the conjugated verb ALWAYS comes last (but before any additional verbs in the infinite form). In case you are having trouble working out the subordinate and independent clause, try saying both out loud without context. In this case, the independent clause, "Ich weiß nicht" = "I don't know", sounds alright by itself. But the subordinate clause, "Wessen Sohn er ist" = "Whose son he is", doesn't sound right at all.


I agree. 'It' should not be used for masculine gender in English. Furthermore, in German also, they decline pronoun according to noun gender, isn't it?


Yes, the phrase here uses 'er' correctly :). But I agree, 'he' is much better than 'it' for the translation.


I agree, we would not describe someone's son as it!


i don´t know why HE is incorrect



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@Hefflegump : What do you mean? 'weiß' comes from 'wissen' = to know. Also 'weiß' = white.


The Owl doesn't introduce or identify homonyms like "weiß" unless you roll over them. It will show it to you one time for whatever definition it gives you first (so it shows "weiß" meaning "white" in Adjectives), and then it never gets around to showing you the other meanings (as a form of "wissen").

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@TheRealMaestro : True. I recommend also using http://en.pons.eu/ which is a very good dictionary.


Personally, I use http://dict.cc for definitions or http://canoo.net for different forms of a word.


I'm with you. Never came across this in the lessons before but now I know (weiss)


Would it be correct to write "Ich weiß nicht wessen Sohn er ist" without the comma between "nicht" and "wessen"?


I have been told that separate clauses in German always need to be separated by a comma (unlike English).


Interesting, can someone confirm this?


This source explains it somewhat well. In English we only need to put a comma in if the subordinate clause comes first (although that is dying out too). For example, "After I fed the cat, I brushed my clothes" compared to "I brushed my clothes after I fed the cat". But in German, there is a comma regardless of which clause comes first.


Also, interestingly, note what else they say. German doesn't insert commas where there is a pause like in English. So don't fall into that trap!


At the risk of starting a comma debate... If you're being completely correct with your English you shouldn't insert commas in where there is a pause either.


Yeah, you are right. But I think we get taught it in school because there are many, many uses of commas in English, many of which are too complex to be taught as a young child. For example, most people have never heard of the concept of non-coordinate/coordinate adjectives, but know to put a comma in "That is a large, heavy bag" but not in "That is a large steel building" simply because we tend to pause in the first one.

German has no such rules, there are much fewer reasons to use a comma than English.


Is it right if I consider "weiß" as having knowledge about something whereas "Kenne" as having met someone or introduced to someone before?


Sounds about right. The key difference is that "kennen" always requires an object, but it's optional for "wissen" depending on the meaning.

Consider that "Ich weiß wer er ist" means the same as "Ich kenne ihn." So you can't say "Ich kenne" because it's missing an object.


That's a great way to think of it. 'wissen'=knowing facts, information; 'kennen'=knowing people, places, languages, being familiar with, etc. Think of the English terms we get from those two: 'wit' (a witty person knows so many clever things) and 'kin' (the people you know, your family).


I think "Whose son he is" should be accepted here ....


So report it. (P.S. your translation worked for me)


Great for you! ;)


My mind is in the gutter I suppose. Didn't pay attention to the period so I thought it read, "I'm not white, whose son is it?" Cheating spouses are never fun.


That comma seems odd. I question you Mr. Owl.


The comma is separating the subordinating clause, and is very appropriately placed in this German sentence. The English translation doesn't need a comma, though.


What I found interesting is that the alternative answer given by duolingo was "I do not know whose son it is." Why would using it be right? First a son is not an it, and second, shouldn't the word have been es instead of er?


why does "Ich weiß nicht" translate to "I don't know" instead of " I am not white"?


Aside from the fact that the second clause would be out of place, you're missing the "am" -- that would be Ich bin nicht weiß....


But why "er" is translated "it". Shouldn't be "he"

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Translating context, and not word for word, it could be both "it" and "he".


I don't know = Ich weiß nicht. I don't know = Ich kenne nicht. WHAT???


When you're saying 'I don't know (or even if you do know)' in relationship to facts (what tomorrow's weather will be, if Jill is coming to the party, the difference between off-white and eggshell white when choosing paint colours...), then you want the verb 'wissen' (ich weiß (es) nicht). The verb 'kennen' generally refers to knowing people (related to the English word 'kin'): 'Ich kenne Herr Schmidt. Ich kenne Frau Schmidt nicht.).

In this particular phrase, 'whose son it is' is the fact that is known or unknown.

So to summarise: wissen = to know facts, information kennen = to know people, be acquainted/familiar with

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