"Ella le tocó el hombro."

Translation:She touched his shoulder.

5 years ago

82 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/bobsledred

This sentence doesn't say whose shoulder she touched, just that she touched the shoulder.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lisagnipura

Hola Amigo bobsleded: In Spanish, we use the article (el, la, los, las, un, una) when referring to body parts, NOT the possessive pronouns (his,hers, their). So that is why it says "EL hombro". Now, how do we know whose shoulder she touched? "Le" indicated "to him", "to her", etc., so we know it is somebody, but in this Duo sentence we do not have the context to know if it is "him" or "her" (or could be "you"), so Duo just picks one and it ends up meaning "She touched HIS shoulder", although it could mean "HER shoulder" or "YOUR shoulder". ¡ciao!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Furbolg

So, because it is a body part, we cannot use "su"?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/journeyman171

yup. The body parts are not seen as "theirs" in the same way

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/leavitt82

thanks that helped

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/martinlus
martinlus
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Top tip. Thanks.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/foreign_dictator

So.. any possessive could be a correct English translation? "his" or "her" or "your" shoulder, as long as there is the possessive (which is implied in the Spanish)?

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amble2lingo

Yes. Depends on context.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/farkydoodle

Very nice explanation. I often wonder if I'm supposed to know whose body part we're talking about when it really doesn't seem clear.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/trevzilla

thank you, that clarified things very nicely.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gapana76

Thanks, definitely! Confirms what I was thinking. :-)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maryzita1

Thank you v much

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rocko2012
rocko2012
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I thought "le" tells us it is someone else a he or she?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lisagnipura

Hola Rocko: Not necessarily someone else: "le" means "him", "her" or "your". But without context we do not know which one it is. In real life, we probably would know because we would be in a conversation and would know who we are talking about. Without context, the above sentence could mean: "She touched her shoulder", "She touched his shoulder", or "She touched your shoulder". CHAU

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nmstuart
nmstuart
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My understanding is because we use the article with body parts el hombre - and not the possessive pronoun su hombre - the literal translation is actually she touched the shoulder of him ella le tocó el hombre and we translate that to she touched his shoulder. Hope thats right! !

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nmstuart
nmstuart
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ie. Le being the "of him/her" indirect object pronoun

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ir236
ir236
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I guess if she touched her shoulder we woukd use se instead of le?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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Hey Rocko. This has kind of been asked below, but not answered. Why is "le" included at all. There is no indirect object in the English translation, so why does the Spanish require "le" here?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rocko2012
rocko2012
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I'm not sure. My guess is body parts In Spanish don't usually have possessives unless they are needed for clarification and without the "le" it would make the sentence appear to be she is touching her own shoulder.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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Maybe. I get your reasoning: the "le" could be giving a direction to the touch, but in other examples it is not required. "She touched the dog" for example, is just "Ella tocó el perro" and another DL sentence: "Yo no la toco a ella" uses the direct object pronoun, but not the indirect. If the indirect object pronoun is being used in this case to give the touch "to" somebody else's body part then this would make its usage very specific. Hopefully someone can elaborate.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Daniel-in-BC

Hola jellonz. Me cuestan muchos los pronombres de objetos directos, objetos indirectos, y reflexivos.

Indirect object pronouns are required, whether or not you specify in the same sentence. This requirement is very often the biggest stumbling block for us Anglophone learners -- even more so because in English we very often use objects of the preposition (to him, for you, at them, etc.) instead of "true" indirect objects. (Same meaning, different grammatical structure.)

Direct object pronouns are generally not used when it is specified in the same sentence.

Then you have reflexive pronouns, which can look like indirect object pronouns, but are an integral part of the verb (regardless of their placement). Many times we learners do not understand why they are needed in some sentences.

Add to this that the indirect object pronouns le and les become se if used before the direct object pronouns lo, los, la, las. Which makes it even harder to distinguish from reflexives. (I think of it as the no "L-L rule".)

"I give the ball to her" (or "I give her the ball") = Le doy la pelota.. "I give it to her" or "I give her it" = Se la doy. (not Le la doy.) Even if we specify Mary, we still need the le/se: Le doy la pelota a Mary. or Se la doy a Mary.

To my knowledge, direct object pronouns are not used when the object is specified. (So, above, you don't see the la before the verb and the la pelota after the verb in the same sentence. It's one or the other.)

With body parts, they mostly (though not 100%) use reflexive verbs and then the article before the noun rather than the possessive that we use in English. (Thus, "I wash my hands" = Me lavo las manos.) (And, oddly, manos is feminine, so something else to remember in this "simple" sentence.)

I have literally (literally literally) put my head down on the table when I've yet again used the pronouns wrong.

Class dismissed. :-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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Gracias por ese consejo Daniel. The obligatory usage of indirect object pronouns I was aware of, but why there was an indirect object in the Spanish sentence when none existed in the English version had me baffled. As you point out, it is due to the way Spanish treats actions on body parts. I got some very helpful advice about it at the time from a couple of native speakers, one of whom I have paraphrased below. The way she explained it helped me stop banging my head on the table :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rocko2012
rocko2012
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The dog/ella examples are not body parts though. It is not ambiguous we know there is someone else in the sentence that can be touched. With the way Spanish handles body parts if no one else is mentioned as the owner it is assumed the persons own body part is being mentioned. I can't find the dog one on duolingo but I assume you can use an object pronoun there. Now why one is indirect vs direct I am not sure.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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Yep. That was what I was getting at. In those example sentences not referring to body parts no place-holder pronoun or the optional direct object pronoun are used, but in this sentence we suddenly get an indirect object pronoun. The only reason I can think of is the same as yours, that the "le" is giving the touch "to" somebody else's body part. It just seems a very specific rule which makes me wonder if it is the correct usage. Maybe we need a native speaker to confirm or clarify.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidMoore622957

Lots of interesting comments and thinking. However, I'm not sure how much is actually relevant.

First, let's broaden our scope of objects here to include dative objects and not just indirect objects. The latter are an important subgroup, but dative objects go beyond just indirect objects. That's why you see so-called "indirect object pronouns" used without any identifiable indirect object and why you sometimes have to mangle the sentence structure to invent one. In fact, that's completely unnecessary. In this particular sentence the dative is not present, but would be something like "a ella" or "a él", but would not translate to anything like "the shoulder to him" or any other phrase. It's simply the way you express "his shoulder" or "her shoulder."

Second, in the type of possession we have here (i.e., somebody's shoulder), the dative clitic pronoun (le) is usually required to recognize that. As noted above, the dative object (him/her/you) has been omitted, but we still need the clitic pronoun complement. And as Daniel-in-BC pointed out, you would include "le" even if you also include the dative object "a ella," "a él," etc.

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samuel49555

Esta correcto tu observación debería ser como tu dices

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hawkeye57

What is wrong with "She touched him/ her on the shoulder"? I had it marked as wrong.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alexm3728

I think it's because "le" is an indirect pronoun. In the case of "she touched his shoulder," his shoulder is the direct object and he himself is indirect. On the other hand, "she touched him on the shoulder" makes him the direct object of the sentence and so "lo" should be used. They mean the exact same thing, but the sentences are not gramatically equivalent.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/branbee
branbeePlus
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i put the same. it seemed like it would be the same thing to me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dsmilleresq

I also wrote that, but maybe a more exact translation of "She touched him on the shoulder" would be "Ella le tocò en el hombro."

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sobmar
sobmar
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Well, honestly in English "She touched him on the shoulder" is equal to "She touched his shoulder", so in my opinion both English translations should be accepted and both Spanish (Ella le tocó el hombro; Ella le tocò en el hombro) if the direction of translation is opposite.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sporta-Ashura

Why "She touched THE shoulder" is wrong?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marianne.w4

Oh por favor lisagnipura.. tu nos dijiste ... We keep asking ourselves over and over again. Nos ayuda. . A Porque..usamos 'le ' aquí. Why indirect object pronoun..

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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A very helpful Spanish speaker explained this to me in a way that makes some sort of sense, so hopefully she won't mind if I paraphrase her here. She explained first the lack of possessives, then the reflexive, then (our question) the use of the indirect object pronoun:

In English we say: I wash my hands. I brush my teeth etc. But in Spanish they say: I wash myself the hands. I brush myself the teeth. So, the reflexive pronouns are used: Me lavo las manos. Me cepillo los dientes. The same applies for someone else doing something to their own body part: She washes her hands > She washes herself the hands = Ella se lava las manos. In effect the action is applied to the body part, and the reflexive pronoun tells us to whom the action is directed. So, when applying the action to somebody else's body part in Spanish they use the indirect object to direct the action: She washes his hands > she washes the hands (to him) = Ella le lava las manos.

It is a really hard one to grasp for English speakers because it seems so unnatural, and even when restructured it still doesn't feel like an indirect object exists. I guess for it to make sense we have to think of the body part as the direct object of the verb, and the verb being incorporated in that direct object, then "given" to the indirect object. Best example I can think up: She rubs his back > She gives a back-rub to him = Ella le frota la espalda.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marianne.w4

Thank you sooo much. This is very helpful. I gave you a lingot

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/linburnlane

I wash myself the hands - perfect!! With this phrase, I reckon I've got the "indirect object body part" dilemma covered!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/linburnlane

Just because i like the challenge :)
Ella le cepilla las dientes - She brushes his teeth. However, if i wanted to say She brushes her son's teeth, is it: Ella le cepilla las dientes de su hijo or Ella se cepilla las dientes de su hijo ("se" because now we know whose teeth it is and that she brushed them herself).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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Hola Lynn. Good question ...Tomé unas cervezas anoche, y tu pregunta me da resaca, pero ... I would say definitely no to the "se" version because the action is not reflexive, it is still being directed to someone else. However, in written form "Ella cepilla sus dientes" would be acceptable, so I'm not certain the "le" is still necessary with your "las dientes de su hijo" but I'd guess that it is, so I'd go with "Ella le cepilla las dientes de su hijo" ... Me duele la cabeza :{

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/paolomar77
paolomar77
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why don't "she touched him the shoulder"? I think that "she touched his shoulder" should be "Ella le tocò su hombro". Isn't it?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/suleymanoglu

"She touched him the shoulder." is grammatically incorrect English. From a comment below: In Spanish, we use the article (el, la, los, las, un, una) when referring to body parts, NOT the possessive pronouns (his,hers, their). So that is why it says "EL hombro". Now, how do we know whose shoulder she touched? "Le" indicated "to him", "to her", etc., so we know it is somebody, but in this Duo sentence we do not have the context to know if it is "him" or "her" (or could be "you"), so Duo just picks one and it ends up meaning "She touched HIS shoulder", although it could mean "HER shoulder" or "YOUR shoulder". ¡ciao!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yimantuwingyai
yimantuwingyai
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I put down "She touched him on his shoulder" and was marked wrong. Am I correct or would you write that a different way and if so, how?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/suleymanoglu

Creo que "She touched him on his shoulder" debe aceptado.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Metlieb
Metlieb
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"She touched him on the shoulder" would be more literal and should be accepted.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Snufty
Snufty
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Did anyone else except me mistake "hombre" for "hombre" !

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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Did anyone else except me mistake "hombre" for "hombre" !

It looks like you have twice :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Il-2
Il-2
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Why is "She touched him by the shoulder" wrong?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dsmilleresq

I wrote on this months ago and now think I understand it better. In the Spanish sentence, "el hombro" is the direct object and means "his shoulder." When referring to body parts, the definite article (el) is used instead of the possessive pronoun (su), unless it's not clear whose body part you are talking about. So breaking down the sentence, we get: Ella ("she", subject) le ("him", indirect object) tocó ("touched", verb) el hombro ("his shoulder", direct object). If we were to say that she touched him "by the shoulder" or "on the shoulder," we would be substituting a direct object with a prepositional phrase and would be indicating where she touched him instead of what she touched.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Il-2
Il-2
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Thanks, that was very useful, here are the lingots for you. So if it was "She touched her shoulder", what would be the translation, "Ella la toco el hombro", am I right?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dsmilleresq

No, you can't use "la" for an indirect object. So it depends on if your are trying to say that she touched her own shoulder or another woman's shoulder. My understanding is that "Ella tocó el hombro" would translate as "She touched her shoulder" (meaning her own shoulder) and "Ella le tocó el hombre" could translate as "She touched her on her shoulder" as well as "She touched him on his shoulder." I think you can add "a ella" to the sentence to clarify that she is touching a her.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Il-2
Il-2
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Thank you, I see now.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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DsMiller is correct in that if you mean she touched someone (female) else's shoulder you would still use "le," however, if you were meaning she touched her own shoulder that would be "Ella se tocó el hombro."

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Il-2
Il-2
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Thank you too.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wanhm
Wanhm
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Can 'le' be omitted?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Metlieb
Metlieb
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The literal translation of "ella le tocó el hombro" is "she touched him on the shoulder". So if you left "le" out, one couldn't tell who is being touched on the shoulder. Then it would only mean "she touched the shoulder".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wanhm
Wanhm
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Yours is the clearest explanation I've ever received. Thank you very much.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Metlieb
Metlieb
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Glad I could help :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/levelledout

Can anyone explain why an indirect object pronoun ("le") is used here? My intuition would have been to use a direct object pronoun.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gmalcolm77

Literally, "She touched the shoulder of him". Where 'shoulder' is the direct object and 'him' is the indirect object. 'Le', of course can mean 'he, her, you, or it' and it is not specified here that it is a 'he'. To do that, the sentence would be: Ella le toco el hombro de el.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/levelledout

OK thanks I understand from you've said that "the shoulder" is the DO but I'm still struggling to grasp "him" as the IO. It's just that IOs are defined as the recipients of DOs. For example in the sentence "she gave the book to him", "he" is the IO because "he" is receiving "the book". But how can "he" be receiving his own shoulder??

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gmalcolm77

That's a good question. I think that the indirect object pronoun denotes the 'person' to whom the action is given, told, sent, etc. In this sentence then, the touch was given to 'him', even though the shoulder received the touch. Other interpretations are welcome.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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Yep. That's the one. A native speaker gave me a great explanation of this, which I've paraphrased above (Scroll up to my response to Marianne's question)

Interestingly, although uncommon (especially in spoken form), this sentence can be written exactly as it would in English: Ella tocó su hombro. Here "su hombro / his shoulder" is just a normal DO.

It is only in the "Ella le tocó el hombro" form that "el hombro / the shoulder" becomes the DO and an IO / reflexive must be included to indicate who is the recipient of the shoulder touch.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gmalcolm77

Yea...good. You know the time I've spent studying Spanish, including a few years in CA, I would have always used "Ella toco su hombro". It's only after working Duo that I've learned the "LE" variation.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John__Doe
John__Doe
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I understand the translation part, but as I'm not native English speaker, what I don't understand is why "sb's shoulder" is indirect object here... can anyone help?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TezraM

Well, I am English native. And I can't see anyway in English phrase construction, that there is an indirect object in this sentence. No matter how I rearrange it. (Obviously, in Spanish, there is.) I'm sure it has to do with not using possessive pronoun. But "de él" would solve the pronoun problem. It must just be a rule that must be learned.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marianne.w4

Jelonz has alreadyexplained it. Read above. It will be as if: She touched thshoulder to him.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Llarona

TezraM, and others:
Wouldn't the literal translation of this sentence be "She touched the shoulder of him''? That explains le as an indirect object [le = of him]

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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That's basically how it is working in Spanish, but "of him" is not an indirect object in English.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John__Doe
John__Doe
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Actually, re-looking at this sentence now, I wonder would the English sentence be, literally, "She touched him in his shoulder", hence the indirect object? And for the possessive pronoun part, I was told in other discussion board that when the possessor is implied, the mi/ti/su can be omitted and use simple el/la. Not sure if it's true. There's way to learn...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JonKerr

Me too!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Timo_de_Mpls

Why is "she felt his shoulder" wrong. Duolingo gives "felt" as a possible translation in its hints?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mewzyk
Mewzyk
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¿Por qué no puede applicar el tilde en >>hombro<< como >>hombró<< ya que termina en vocal en la última sílaba?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Metlieb
Metlieb
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Porque la acentuación no es hom-BRO, pero HOM-bro. En espanol, si una palabra termina con un n, s or una vocal, se acentua la penúltima sílaba. En todos otros casos, se acentua la última sílaba. Solo necesitas una tilde si la acentuación debe ser diferente de que dicen esas dos reglas. Por ejemplo: Según de las reglas, America se acentuaría como a-me-RI-ca si no se utulizaba una tilde. Per porque queremos que se acentue como am-E-ri-ca, necesitamos una tilde sobre el E: América. Claro?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amble2lingo

I've read the whole discussion. I guess I get it that Duo is trying to teach us another use for the indirect object pronoun, but I still don't feel comfortable with "le." If I were given the English sentence I would translate it as: "Ella tocó el hombro de él." Is there anything wrong with that translation? Why would I need to use the "le" version?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jellonz
jellonz
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You would need to use the "le" version in common speech because that is how it is commonly said. However (from a native source), in novels the sentence that shares English structure is acceptable: ""Ella tocó su hombro."

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amble2lingo

Thank you very much, jellonz! That makes it very clear.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/.Bsvw

In le toco i tought she got the elbow like a model elbow not that somone touched it

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MattAHawke

Anyone else hear "hongro" instead? Throws me every single time...

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/prinskorv
prinskorv
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Hypothetically, if you actually wanted to say "She touched the shoulder" what would you say? Since its marked incorrect in this.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amble2lingo

"Ella tocó el hombro." Your answer was marked wrong because you didn't account for the "le."

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/4girlslady
4girlslady
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What's wrong with " she touched him on the shoulder " ?

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidMoore622957

The original is simpler and more vague than what you wrote. All you need to say is "She touched her/his/your shoulder." Also, you've altered the direct object and that is a different construction.

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jude413
jude413
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You've hit a new low DL You corrected my sentence to 'she touched the shoulder' and when I put that you marked it wrong! Proving we just can't win!

4 months ago
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