"Is it my elephant?"

Translation:Is het mijn olifant?

July 20, 2014



Am I able to switch "is it" to "it is", as I can in English and German here? (As in, "Het is mijn olifant?".)

Doing this slightly changes the tone of the question, at least in other Germanic languages, but it was marked wrong when I did it for this sentence.

July 20, 2014


Yes, you can do this in Dutch as well. The tone of the question is indeed changed, precisely like in English or German.

July 20, 2014


Thanks for the quick reply, kind Vancouverite!

I marked it as "wrong" and perhaps the team will approve my new translation sometime soon, so that others won't have to go through the pain of having their "hearts broken", as I just did, lol.

July 20, 2014


But why should it be considered correct to change a nuance when there is absolutely no provocation to do so?

July 22, 2014


So you don't lose a heart on a correct answer that just isn't in the system yet?

July 22, 2014


Of course you lose a heart if your response isn't in the system. But personally I wouldn't consider the response "Het is mijn olifant?" correct enough to report it as a correct variant. Here is why.

Sometimes it is necessary to change the structure of a sentence because the original structure just doesn't work in the target language. Sometimes it is necessary or advisable to change the structure because in the target language the precise same structure means something else, or has different connotations. Or because it is used much less frequently than a different structure with the same meaning and connotations. (Some sentences are even completely untranslatable.)

But we are not in any of these cases. Dutch is the closest relative to English other than Scots and Frisian. In plenty of cases the best possible translation, getting all the possible nuances exactly right, is what you get by translating word for word. And in those cases, changing the sentence structure is rarely a good idea and usually an indication that you are on the wrong track. That you think a word-by-word translation is ungrammatical in Dutch, when it is grammatical, or that it means something slightly different, when it doesn't.

In short:

  • "Is it my elephant?" = "Is het mijn olifant?"
  • "It is my elephant?" = "Het is mijn olifant?"

The nuances are different. The first is a neutral question, in both languages. The second is probably someone's incredulous reinsurance whether they have really become the owner of an elephant, all of a sudden, or whether the seemingly strange animal is really the one they once called their own.

In this case there is no reason to switch these nuances just because you are translating from one language to another. Anyone who thinks there is such a reason should get feedback telling them they have made a mistake so they can avoid it in the future.

July 22, 2014


That was a very long reply

January 22, 2015


Why is "Is de olifant van mij?" wrong?

April 2, 2015


Suggest it; I think it should be accepted. Here is why:

"Is de olifant van mij?" is proper Dutch (I think) and literally translates to "Is the elephant of me?", which is not proper English. So in situations when you would say that in Dutch, you would use one of the following English sentences even though they have straightforward other Dutch translations:

  • Is it my elephant? Is het mijn olifant?
  • Is the elephant mine? Is de olifant de mijne?

Since it is correct to translate "Is de olifant van mij?" as "Is it my elephant?", the reverse translation should be accepted even though perhaps it isn't ideal.

April 2, 2015


I wrote oliphant and I was marked wrong. Does it mean something else? I thought it could be just a typo.

November 7, 2014


What is the difference between mij and mijn?

April 30, 2015

  • That is my dog - Dat is mijn hond
  • I live in my house - Ik woon in mijn huis

  • The dog is mine - De hond is van mij

  • He tells a story about me - Hij vertelt een verhaal over mij
April 30, 2015
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