"You are their son."
Translation:Du bist ihr Sohn.
I also had not learned to use "deren", except as a relative pronoun. So I asked my sister-in-law. "Du bist ihr Sohn“ is preferred over "Du bist deren Sohn“, but both are correct. When I remarked that I had learned only the relative use of such pronouns, she replied, "Das brauchst du auch nicht wissen, das sind Feinheiten, die kaum ein Deutscher beherrscht." So, learn it for Duolingo to avoid losing a heart in the "Select all correct answers" exercise. Otherwise, don't worry about it too much.
In English, a relative pronoun always has an explicit antecedent to which the pronoun refers. There is no explicit antecedent here. In English, "their" in this sentence is a possessive adjective modifying "son." Is this an idiomatic use of the genitive relative pronoun in German?
I believe it's functioning as a demonstrative pronoun here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_declension#Demonstrative_pronouns_.5B4.5D
This thread is old, but continues to trouble me. Words like "prissy" and "pedant" are hurtful. A language evolves, yes, but not everyone evolves with it. Also a language may evolve in different directions in different countries or regions. Just because something doesn't sound right to you, doesn't make someone else's speech pattern wrong. Dagnabit, I've been speaking English for nearly 6 decades; people still seem to understand my way of speaking. I'll put up with evolution, but request some courtesy from the more evolved beings using this program.
This is an odd comment from someone who repeatedly called "It's me" incorrect/improper elsewhere in the thread... If "It is I" and similar usage is natural to you, that's fine. As the ngram I linked to shows, while "it's me" has been more popular for at least a century, it was only in the past 50 years or so when "It is I" really went out of fashion.
Nonetheless, even if for some people the usage is natural and not pedantic, it is likely to be perceived as overly formal, old-fashioned, etc. I don't think Duolingo would be best serving its users, especially non-native speakers, to portray "It is I" as correct and "It's me" as incorrect. It should accept the former as a variant, but not suggest it.
Just googled "deren Sohn" and got this explanation: http://german.stackexchange.com/questions/7079/difference-between-ihr-and-dessen The point made on the website is that both "ihr" and "deren" would be ok in the sentence, but that "deren" would be preferable when there are two pronominal referents and thus a need to disambiguate between them. The site explains the point much better than I could. But it still doesn't explain why DL would ask for "deren" here when "ihr" would be much simpler and probably much more commonly used.
You mean "Du bist ihren Sohn"? This wouldn't work because "Sohn" has to be in the nominative case here; it's the subject, not the object (English does the same thing: "It is I" is correct in English, while "it is me" isn't). So the sentence would have to be "Du bist ihr Sohn." ("Ihren" would be for the accusative case.)
A better example for lenvm's original point is "How tall am I?" In this sentence, "I" is in the nominative case. "How tall am me?" would be incorrect. (This is a better example because in this case, "technically correct English grammar" and "English as actually spoken by most native speakers" match perfectly, as they do in the German sentence that we are trying to explain. And, like the German sentence, it is an "equational sentence": the word that is in the position where in an English sentence an object would usually be found is in the nominative case because the verb is a form of "to be.")
Confimed. We English speakers do not always use good grammer. Common usage doesnot make it correct. Turn it around: It is I -- I am it. Then there is this one: She sings better than I (do). Many U.S. people say "than me", but they would not say "than me do". Disclosure: I am a fussy science editor, but I still make mistakes. English is hard too.
Can't say it's making my life any easier, as from what I see, there is no common view on the matter even among English native speakers themselves, let alone foreigners like myself. Anyway, thank you, Clara_Elizabeth, and everyone who has responded. Looks like no language can be considered an established formation, but should be treated as an eternally developing organism instead.
In real life English it's very easy, you always say "it's me" unless maybe you are talking to a really prissy english professor, and how likely are you to do that? In duolingo you have to learn what they want, as you do with any learning programme. It's slightly annoying sometimes but it's FREEEEEE and massively better than many of the paid ones. :)
How is one to get it correct in writing if one doesn't learn it through speaking? I don't go around correcting people's speech; I'm not qualified and that would be rude. However, a language learning program should not teach improper grammar (especially this program, which exists to train people to translate written work). Imagine the poor German student complaining to Duolingo that "it is me" doesn't follow the rule.
Mmmm. Not convinced that teaching people something that is completely out of use except in high academia (if there) is really doing anyone any favours. But it doesn't really matter. Non-native English speakers will quickly learn that saying "it is I" is not the way to blend in to an everyday American - or even British - conversation. Do I criticise Duolingo? No. I am super grateful for the free language lessons, let them have their quirks. But I will continue to tell non-native speakers that "it is I" is only technically correct and completely and totally not in use, really anywhere. It is better to be happy than to be right.
If only pedants would say it, how can it be considered correct? Language evolves . "It's I" isn't particularly common in writing either:
This strange thread has gone way off the rails. I apparently touched it off by giving "It is I" as a simple example of grammatical case, not as a prescription for how people are always supposed to talk. "It is me" is of course preferred in everyday English speech, but it makes the concept of case harder to convey. If I were to express the same thought in German, the subject could at the end of the sentence, but this subject would still need to be in the nominative case.
This helps one to understand why, when Germans express this thought, they always say one of two things:
-"Das bin ich" (it is I) NEVER "Das bin mich" (it is me), or -"Ich bin es"
As a side note, the change from "das" to "es" looks confusing on the face of it, but I suppose it's the same in English with "it" and more especially in French with variations on "ce" providing a kind of introductory word.
In English case is often irrelevant because sentence order matters in a way that it doesn't in German. So, sure, you can say "It is me" but it's helpful to know that "It is I" is technically correct -- helpful NOT BECAUSE we all must speak "proper English" but because it'll help you to understand one aspect of German.
I picked up some of this from a book I looked at ages ago called "English Grammar for German Students." The premise is that English speakers should reflect on English grammar so as better to learn German grammar. In learning to speak one language better, you learn to speak others better as well.
In German, sentence order matters for style and tone more than for grammar: thus Germans generally tend to put the most important information in a sentence at the beginning, whereas English speakers generally put the important information last. "Das bin ich" is what you would say to identify yourself casually on the phone: "yeah, it's just me, but you already know that." "Ich bin es" is what you'd say to single yourself out from a range of other possibilities -- as, for instance, to confess to a murder in a detective novel.
Look at the lovely discussion of "The Position of the Nominative Subject" at this page:
My point was just to explain the concept of case by providing an English example. I should have just picked something that everyone would agree on, e.g, "Take I out to the ballgame" would sound funny during the seventh-inning stretch.