"An empty glass contains nothing."
Translation:pagh ngaS HIvje' chIm.
Bit confused here. How does one determine which order the noun and the descriptor go? It seems whenever I think it should translate to "chIm HIvje'" (empty glass), I get told it should be "HIvje' chIm" (glass, which is empty). And whenever I think I've got it figured out I get told I did it wrong. What am I missing? Also, is there any way I can go back to previous questions so that I can find evidence for what I'm having trouble with? I'm starting to feel really self conscious about asking questions and not being able to show examples of what I'm talking about. I feel like I'm starting to become an annoyance for the experts that have been so helpful.
Have you been reading the tips and notes? If you are using a mobile app, you might not even be aware of them.
On the website https://www.duolingo.com/, after selecting a unit, click on the lightbulb icon to access the tips and notes for that unit:
(might look a little different for you; they occasionally change the appearance of the website)
Specifically, have a look at the tips and notes for the Adjectives unit: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/kl/Adjectives/tips-and-notes
In brief, Klingon doesn't have adjectives as a separate class of words -- Klingon adjectives are verbs. chIm might be translated as "be empty".
Also remember that the default word order in Klingon is object–verb–subject.
So chIm HIvje' has verb then subject; this is a complete sentence meaning "the glass is empty".
When such a stative verb (or "be" verb) comes after a noun, it acts like an English adjective: HIvje' chIm "an empty glass".
(This cannot be an object–verb sentence; "he is-empty the glass" makes no sense, and such "be" verbs cannot take an object anyway.)
The treatment of word order in the Adjectives tips and notes is perhaps a bit brief; do you have some suggestions for how to make it clearer?
is there any way I can go back to previous questions
I don't think it's possible to visit specific questions deliberately -- only to repeat a unit as a whole, though since the system randomly picks sentences from the unit to give you, you may or may not see the same one again during any given practice.
Finally, "glass which is empty" would be chImbogh HIvje', using the suffix -bogh "which; that" which is taught later in this course.
I will add, too, that there is a different order when using a noun as a descriptor, so that can also cause confusion. When using a "be" verb to describe a noun it follows the noun, but when using a noun to describe another noun, it precedes the noun it is describing. mep means plastic, so mep HIvje' would be "a plastic cup" and mep HIvje' chIm would be "an empty plastic cup". In the same way, a tlhIngan HIvje' is "Klingon cup" and a torgh HIvje' is "Torg's cup".