"Ma sœur jumelle et moi, on ne se ressemble pas."

Translation:My twin sister and me, we don't look alike.

July 1, 2020

This discussion is locked.


Shouldn't it be my twin sister and i since it's the subject?


Reported this as significant error - the translate to English using word-tiles version doesn't allow grammatically correct translation!


Absolutely - sort of! "My twin sister and I don't look alike" - that should never be "me". "My twin sister and me ... we don't look alike." It's as if you're missing something at the the end of the first phrase, like it should be a sentence on its own, whereas "we don't look alike" can stand on its own. It's not good English to write the "me" in the first phrase, but if it were better punctuated, by which I mean using something like an elipse to "fill in the blanks", so to speak (a comma is insufficient), then it's acceptable. But I still hate it!

For anyone who gets confused about when to use I or me, you should always put the second person (or group, such as "my friends") first - think of it as being polite, though that's not the reason for it - and then mentally drop them and see whether you'd use me or I without them. It's really simple.

E.g. "Mum took Bill and me to the park" = "Mum took me to the park".

"Bill and I went to the park" = "I went to the park".

I think that the common overuse of "I", and often as the first person mentioned in the sentence (Mum took I and Bill...), is because some people think it's "better English"?

It's like hearing people say "whom" and finishing the phrase with "to", when it should be "to whom" (the person to whom I gave the money) or "who ... to" (the person who I gave the money to). I'm not so fussed about ending sentences with prepositions, although in some sentences, it's just wrong! Whatever you do, don't use "to" twice, which is the biggest mistake I hear or read these days. "The person to who(m) I gave the money to." That is so common it makes me cringe!


Here the case is not changed in saying, "My twin sister and I – we don't look alike." The first half states the subject (nominative case) and should be "I". It becomes "me" only in the objective case, like after a preposition (to me, for me, with me, etc.) or as a direct object (see me, love me, hit me). Here it is neither, it simply states the subject.


I'm not even a native english speaker yet it feels so weird to me to write my twin sister and me.


Tom's answer is accepted.


Wow! Good argument! I salute you with a lingot! I still disagree though! If you are open to it, let's agree to disagree.


This is a Duo blunder!


Which of the following sounds more natural?

  • I, I'm learning French.
  • Me, I'm learning French.

What about the following?

  • As for I, I don't resemble my twin sister.
  • As for me, I don't resemble my twin sister.


Me, I'm learning French is natural and correct. As for me, I don't resemble my twin sister is also natural and correct.


"Me" is correct in your examples because it is being used as the object of a preposition (an implied preposition in the first example). But that is not the case in the Duolingo exercise being discussed, where "I" is needed because it is a subject pronoun, not an object.


I don't believe there is an implied preposition in my first example, but regardless, we can just as easily write, "As for my twin sister and me, we don't look alike".


That's precisely the point. If you say, "As for X [and Y]", you're making X [and Y] the object of a clause.

It's easy to see when you think about which pronoun you'd use for X and Y. "As for they, they are unalike"? Of course not.

But "As for ..." has a different grammatical structure to the sentence we're discussing.


You're right, it does have a different structure. But the function is the same: to topicalize the sentence. The point being that it is not a given that the topic of the sentence must also be the subject.


A difference surface structure, not a different deep structure. These kinds of deletions are commonplace in natural languages.


you are correct.


Yes, Duo me is wrote, it should be ' I'not 'me'.

Use the pronoun "I" when the person speaking is doing the action, either alone or with someone else. Use the pronoun "me" when the person speaking is receiving the action of the verb in some way, either directly or indirectly.

www.learnersdictionary.com › Whe...

"me" and when should I use "I"? | Ask The Editor | Learner's Dictionary


*Correction: Yes, Duo me is wrong, it should be 'I' not 'me'!!!


Left dislocation is certainly grammatical in English. Up to 1500 or so, roughly one in every 100 or 200 sentences had this form, even in formal writing, and a similar frequency of use continues in spoken English to this day. Over the past few centuries, the frequency of this construction in standard written English has been declining, and it's now quite rare except in archaic styles, in representations of speech, or in informal styles that use spoken-language norms.

from here


That's fine, but this is Left Dislocation of the Subject, is it not? It's not Left Dislocation of the Object.

You say that "it is not a given that the topic of the sentence must also be the subject", which is true. But here the topic of the sentence is also the Subject!


This should be 'My twin sister and I, ...'


My twin sister and I ...


Reported again. This does worry me about Duo. I see all the mistakes in English, and I wonder if the grammar is also incorrect in the languages I'm learning...


Thank you! My concerns exactly. I feel for any non-English speaker trying to learn proper English, not slang or colloquial speech.


It's a literal translation of the French, but it isn't English. I would never repeat the subject like this...just "My twin sister and I don't look alike".


My twin sister and I. Golden rule is to remove everything but the me or I from the subject and see if the sentence still makes sense.


Wrong on 2 counts, the answer should read: My twin sister and I don't look alike.


This is the English you are teaching???


it seems so, why else would they give us a negative point for a mistranslation from French to English


Yes. Second time Ive seen this error. It's "my twin sister and I."


Why can't 'nous' be used here instead of 'on'? In high school French I was taught to use 'on' for 'one' or the general sense of 'you', as in, 'If one lives/you live in a glass house, one/you shouldn't throw stones.' I'm really confused trying to learn to use it for 'we' especially when the people referred to are limited and specific. I could understand using 'we' as I'd use 'one' or 'you' in the general sense (If we live in glass houses we shouldn't throw stones). But why is 'on' used when the subject is named, specific & limited (my sister and I) and the speaker is included as part of the 'we'?

  • 1240

You are correct that "on" is used for "one". However, in colloquial / spoken French, many people just use "on" as a replacement for "nous". You're probably used to reading French or learning formal French, where "nous" shows up more. Here's a good explanation of the uses of "on": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm71N_0ezwk. Or a little more short and sweet here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M17yNc3qwk


For those still wondering - yes, the English IS wrong. (I do this for a living, trust me.) Because this is the first mention of the "I/me" in the sentence, it must be treated as as subject, not an object. Thus, "my sister and I" is the subject.


While I agree with the objections to "me", I wouldn't be surprised to hear someone say it this way in the US. Duo depends on our discussions to evolve the lessons. Also, to try to change the English translation to "My twin sister and I don't look alike" completely ignores the construction this is going for. It should be "My twin sister and I, we don't look alike." Most of us usually wouldn't say it that way, but it is perfectly valid and matches the French, which also could have been similarly constructed. Suggestions of a hard stop or "but" would also be ignoring the sentence construction. If someone wants to suggest context to justify the translation, that should be done with full sentences, not prepending words to the translation. However, I agree with allowing the translation "As for my sister and me, we don't look alike." That preserves the broken sentence, the meaning, and proper English.


It is not like this in the US, although some (few) people might say it. On a related point, most people will say "it's me" when they walk in the door or the person they have called answers the phone.


ccorrectly this should be 'my twin sister and I' i.e. the nominative case.


The correct English should be My twin sister and I don’t look alike


I have read most of the comments above and while I can see that translating the subject twice may help us to remember the French construction I have to add that had I done that at school (and I did for "moi, je prefere marcher au pied" or something similar), my exercise book would have been covered in red lines scrubbing out the "me" (in my case at school) or the "we" in the duo example. And yes, it should be "My sister and I don't look alike....".


To clarify: if you had put "Me, I prefer to walk on foot" (something that might be said) the teacher would have corrected that to "I, I prefer to walk on foot" (something that would never be said) or to simply "I prefer to walk on foot" (the most likely thing to be said but missing the emphasis on the subject)?


My twin sister and "I" - the subject of the sentence. This is straight-forwardly incorrect english grammar. I wrote the translation with the keyboard and "I" was allowed" but the Duo translation "me" should not be allowed


The subject is "we." Read h_sapiens comments above about left dislocation.


I came to report "me" being incorrect, but I'm swayed / educated by the great comments below. The "Me, I don't like pizza" type sentence is used all the time in both English and French (though definitely stronger in some areas than others such as in Montreal and elsewhere in Canada). But I do say that frequently as well. These emphatic pronouns, as they're called, (they even have a name) usually appear in the object case. "Me, I like...", "Us, we like..." Duo, your grammar is sound. Me, I find it especially impressive given the controversy.

  • 2931

Is the French as bad as the English? Are we translating bad French into bad English or good French into bad English?


This is a common and perfectly correct French structure, translated into an uncommon English structure (dislocation) which many people mistakenly assume is bad because they think the left dislocated phrase should have subject pronouns.


Well said, alexmiller1201.


In English, this would be poor form to use me.

Plus, it's a comma splice. A correct version would be: My twin sister and I don't look alike.

If you want to structure it as an introductory clause (as alexmiller suggests in an earlier comment, you would need different punctuation. A colon would work. E.g., you could say, "My twin sister and me: We don't look alike."


It's not a comma splice, it's left-dislocation, which has always been acceptable in English grammar (although not so common nowadays), and traditionally uses a comma.

And, this is a stylistic point so it's subjective, but for me a colon is much too emphatic for this context, and looks weird.


Quelle horreur!! What appaling grammar and still not corrected It is I not me


Have a closer look. The subject is not my twin sister and me but we, which is correferential with the topicalized or left-dislocated phrase my twin sister and me. If the nominative I were used in this phrase instead of the default-case me, it would be thought of as a case of hypercorrection.


Excellent comment, h_sapiens. I knew there was an explanation, but I couldn't see it. Having said that, if anyone on Duo has a non-identical twin sister, could they just say "I don't look like my twin sister", thus avoiding a prolonged arguments about grammar.


I mean, they could, but the point of sentences like this is to teach you that, in French, you absolutely can use these kinds of dislocated sentences. They're not even rare in spoken French.

If the default English here was "I don't look like my twin sister", you'd translate that as "Je ne ressemble pas à ma sœur jumelle", and Duo would have to award you the point. In which case you'd miss out on this lesson, which is teaching you to use dislocation.


My twin sister and I (me is incorrect)


My twin sister and I, we don't look alike may be said to be "correct" for those of you who use the X and I form invariably as a largely fixed pattern, even where nominative case is not assigned: e.g., You promised to take my twin sister and I to the zoo (Direct object of a verb); People often stare at my twin sister and I (Object of a preposition); etc. You might find these two acceptable and reject my twin sister and me there, for similar reasons you accept My twin sister and I, we don't look alike, and reject My twin sister and me, we don't look alike. The left-dislocated phrase is not in a position any strucural case is assigned (let alone the nominative) where you normally expect the default case to emerge. It won't be too hard to see the accusative is the default case in English if you think about sentence fragments in which there's no overt case assigner: Who wants chocolate? -- Me! You probably won't say "I!" but might still say "My twin sister and I!" instead of "My twin sister and me!", because for you the X and I pattern applies here.


TimmyKilminster, I'm sorry if I'm wrong, but it looks like some of my replies to you (including the one to your post just above [Edit]: below ) seem to be gone. Let me try again.

Concerning the first part of the first point that you say I've understood:

The first is that French uses this construction for emphasis.

Well, I hope you could be a little more explicit about "emphasis" and its implications for the structure of French and English.

I agree that left dislocation involves "emphasis". It's a kind of emphasis in that the speaker specifically takes the full noun phrase ma sœur jumelle et moi and by left-adjoining it to the core clause and giving it its salience, makes it clear to addressee(s) that the utterance to be produced will be about the speaker and their twin sister. Perhaps needless to say, it is not the kind of emphasis that is made by information focus, since the left-dislocated noun phrase is not the focus of the whole utterance but is the topic about which something is asserted by the rest of the utterance that contains information focus.

"Marked themes/topics" so marked by such constructions as left dislocation and topicalization are usually given more phonological prominence than are "unmarked" topics that are often assumed by the subject. It is also in this sense that left dislocation may be said to involve "emphasis".


And part two of the first point that you say I've misunderstood:

So all the stuff about "dislocation" is irrelevant.

Again, it's not clearer to me what about dislocation involving "emphasis" you are saying "is irrelevant" to what. If you mean that the left-dislocated topic does not perform the grammatical role of the subject or object, I agree simply because it's neither a subject nor an object; neither is it in French nor in English. Technical implementations aside (since there's hardly anything technical there), I agree with the intuition behind the passage that I quoted earlier from Quirk et al. 1985.

In our French sentence Ma sœur jumelle et moi, on ne se ressemble pas, it is clear that on, rather than ma sœur jumelle et moi, is the subject if you look at the form that the verb takes: the verb se ressemble agrees in person and number with the third-person singular subject on, and not with the first-person plural ma sœur jumelle et moi. (If the latter were the subject, the verb would be nous ressemblons.) You can conclude that "dislocation is irrelevant" to the grammatical subject performing the grammatical role of (participating in) determining the verb form.

To recapitulate, ma sœur jumelle et moi is the (dislocated) sentence topic that is grammatically distinct from subject or object, but is taken up by the subject on and the indirect object se in the principal part of the clause.


Part 3 of point 1:

We're translating here, and it is often the case that a structure in one language is completely different in another.

I would not agree if you are claiming that (this or other property of) "dislocation is irrelevant" to the English translation. It seems to me that the structure of our French sentence fairly closely parallels that of the English dislocation. A very rough structure of each would be:

[ Ma sœur jumelle et moi, [ on ne se ressemble pas ] ]
[ My twin sister and me, [ we don't look alike ] ]

The obvious structural difference is that the French uses the pronominal verb (reciprocal indirect object pronoun se + intransitive verb ressemble), while the English has just the intransitive verb with no (obvious) indirect object. But I think we can safely say that se ressemble and look alike are the same with respect to their meanings and their external distributions. It may also be noted that other possible English translations of the French are:

My twin sister and me, we don't resemble each other.
My twin sister and me, we don't look like each other.

These parallel a little more closely with the French, except that in French se, being a proclitic, is "moved forwards" to cliticize to (the left of) the verb. In them, you see clearly that my twin sister and me is correferential with both the subject pronoun we and the reciprocal object pronoun each other. If correferentiality with subject or object should suggest the same grammatical role as the actual grammatical subject or object, then you would have to conclude that my twin sister and me is both subject and object in the same sentence at the same time, which, a single phrase assuming more than one grammatical relation, is arguably impossible. So, we see that the dislocated noun phrase plays no grammatical role in English, either; it's neither subject nor object.

Left dislocation in French is relevant to its English translation in terms of both structure and interpretation. Though it may be "often the case that a structure in one language is completely different in another", it is not so at least in our case this time; on the contrary, it's essentially the same.


About the second point you say I've misunderstood:

Secondly, we're not talking about a "pattern", but grammar. English doesn't have fixed positions for subject, object pronouns. So we use I for the subject and me for the object. It's really not that complicated. Sometimes people might use "my sister and me" in this sort of sentence, but I remains the "correct" subject pronoun.

You don't really mean that, do you? If it really was the case that "English doesn't have fixed positions for subject, object pronouns", what does your grammar say about seemingly simple and innocent strings like:

  • Mary kissed I
  • Me kissed Mary

Fine! According to your grammar with no canonical structural positions defined for subjects and objects, unless anything special is added, these would be predicted to be grammatical strings of present-day English. I is the subject and me the object, irrespective of the positions in which they occur. And what about Mary? What about sentences with no personal pronouns, such as John kissed Mary?

Though it allows, and sometimes requires, some "moving around" of constituents of the clause, present-day English is a language with a relatively rigid word order. (I kissed Mary, in the canonical SVO word order; Mary, I kissed is a "variation" with the object fronted by topicalization; but not *I Mary kissed).

Doesn't this make you want to reconsider your claim about English grammar, before we might go any further (we don't have to, though)?

If I may make a suggestion (if you are willing to reconsider), it is important in talking about grammar not to confuse grammatical relations like subject and object (definable in terms of structural positions) with grammatical cases like nominative ("I") and accusative ("me") assigned by appropruate case assigners to argument noun phrases in appropriate structural positions, or with semantic relations like agent (that which intentionally performs the action denoted by a verb, etc.) and patient (that which is affected by the action). Those notions are basically independent of one another, though grammar is (to be) so constructed as to do the job of associating the nominative with the subject of a finite clause (but not with the subject of a non-finite clause) with an appropriate semantic role, and the accusative with the object or with the subject of a non-finite clause, etc.

What is more important here is that the case theory of "core grammar" as currently understood deals only with argument noun phrases like subjects, objects, etc., but has nothing to say about the case form that might be associated with noun phrases that are non-arguments, such as predicate nominals (English predicate expressions don't have structural cases, whether nominal, adjectival or prepositional) and "dislocated" noun phrases. As wee saw above, neither in French nor in English is the dislocated noun phrase a subject or object, still less an argument. That I think is why there are sometimes controversies over the choice of the morphological case form to adopt ("It's me/I", "Me/I, I'm coming with you"). Personally, I don't think this is an arbitrary choice, but is predicted (though, of course, not by core grammar) to be the accusative form (me), because there is good reason to believe that in present-day English, the accusative form is the "default" or "unmarked" case form, which would come to rescue when the core grammar doesn't decide on the structural case. The same problem doesn't arise in French because in these environments, French has case-neutral non-clitic pronouns like moi, and in fact it is predicted that clitics (je, me, etc.) will not be allowed in these positions.

"Pattern" might have been an unfortunate word choice, but you see now why I had to avoid a grammatical term but chose instead to use the "pattern" to refer to the grammatically caseless [ X and I ] that some people might regularly or occasionally use where it seems reasonable to expect the accusative (cf. Me, I'm going to have some adventures vs. You and I, we're going to have some adventures). If you find a speaker who regularly says "Me, I'm going to ..." but chooses to to say "You and I, we're going to ..." only in coordinate structures like this, it's hard not to see something unusual must be going on. This form [ X + conjunction + nominative ] for noun phrases that are grammatically caseless has to be the "pattern" learned specifically for this purpose, largely independently of grammar, core or otherwise. And in general, a specific form that is dedicated to a specific purpose tends to block the more regular processes (the blocking effect), which often has a very strong effect. A simpler example would be went, the psst-tense form of go in the standard varieties of English. When it has been learned, went blocks *goed, which latter is formed by a more regular process of English grammar. This is known to be largely independent of grammar itself; aphasic patients who retain English grammar but with their mental lexicon affected often fail to produce and understand went and other grammatically irregular forms.

I don't mean to change the way you think about grammar/language and even less about the choice between I and me in my twin sister and I/me, but just note that it may not be as simple as you think. even when it's about your native language. You might find it interesting to think for yourself about how you or other people have come to feel, think, believe, or know that my twin sister and I is "correct" (and whether "correct" may or may not be the right word/notion for it).


What if there was context?
He painted my sister and me, we don't look alike. Even then it would be better with but or a full stop.


Chris, you have added another subject + verb "he painted" then used a comma splice to join together two full sentences!

Sorry, but you cannot do this!

We do not speak in English like this word-for-word syntax of the French.


"But" or a full stop are some of the many possibilities. Duo works in disconnected sentences, so this must be understood as representative.

I see nothing wrong with it anyway. The irony of people rejecting the actual Latin grammar in favor of the dated Latin-grammar snobbery that a previous generation picked up in school is overwhelming. If anything, "As for my sister and me, . . ." "If I may bring up my sister and me, . . ." "When it comes to my sister and me, . . ." Though those are wordier, any are actually preferable to starting with a pronoun which refers to nothing like we do in colloquial English, though Duo takes this even further. They need this fix from the actual language . . .


Wow, what a lot of controversy! The correct way to judge is to decide what the main verb is, and ask who is going the action, removing words to make it clearer if necessary. You can strip this sentence down to answer the question 'who looks alike'? My sister looks alike, uncontroversially. Now try replacing 'my sister' with a pronoun - 'she looks alike'. If she were the object, the pronoun would have to be 'her'. Does that make sense? 'Her looks alike'? Now do the same with the speaker. Is it 'I look alike' or 'me look alike'?

You can add another verb, such as 'regarding', to make the speaker and sister objects, as some commenters have done above. This adds another subject to the sentence - the person doing the regarding - and thus the speaker and sister are now the objects being regarded. Then you can ask 'whom is the viewer regarding'?

The viewer is regarding her/me.

But now the main verb is 'to regard', which implies a subject viewer. In the exercise sentence, the main verb is 'to look alike', which doesn't take an object, but instead takes two subjects. She can't 'look alike' him, nor can he 'look alike' her. They both have to look alike. :)


No, this isn’t right. You can’t say a single person « looks alike »: it must be two or more. Unfortunately, that undermines the rest of the argument.

You could add « Regarding », but it is neither necessary for nor implied in the French. It’s a filler word which adds nothing to the meaning.


Indeed, it translated to me because me = moi and I = je. But in this case it would be grammatically wrong in English.


Setting aside the I vs me controversy, would Duo accept the perfectly good English verb "resemble," as in "we don't resemble each other"?


"My twin sister and I don't resemble one another." was accepted for me, 10 March 2021.


Wow! So many comments about this one. For what it's worth, I remember this very structure in a linguistics course on English grammar. After much class bantering, the same as seen in this comments section, the prof asked the class to determine what function is being performed by, in this case, 'My twin sister and me.' Is it acting to emphasise 'we' or, maybe, acting to define who 'we' refers to? The most likely was the latter. The listener would not know for sure who 'we' was, so the speaker defines 'we' here by saying, 'My sister and I.' The words are a replacement for 'we" and, therefore, a subject and hence "I" is grammatically correct in this sentence. If someone were to ask, "You say we! Who is 'we?' You wouldn't say, 'My sister and ME are.'


Except this is French, and the primary function of this structure is to emphasize. You will see it more clearly when it isn't a multiple subject, but the common "moi je [verb]" = "Me, I [verb]". We would never say "I, I..."


If my aunt had multiple objects, she’d be my uncle.


In fact, we don't know if the purpose is to emphasise or to define; both cases are possible and therefore correct. It is much more likely that the purpose is to define based on the context and frequency of this structure in French. English allows us to say, "John and I go to the cinema" but French doesn't allow, "Jean et je allons au cinéma." It must be stated, "Jean et moi, nous allons au cinéma." This is clearly not done because the French insist on emphasising the subject; it is just how they formulate such a sentence. When a child runs into the house and announces, "Mum! Dad! We are going to the cinema!" you can expect that one or the other will ask who 'we' is. This is asking for definition. The French do this automatically and very frequently. "Ce week-end, Pauline et moi, on va travailler ensemble." There is no feeling of emphasis here, just letting the listener know who 'on' is. Je ne sais pas ce que vous allez faire maintenant mais moi, je rentre chez moi. Here, we don't need to define 'je' but by stating 'moi, je' the speaker is clearly separating him or herself from the others, thus focusing on him or herself . I don't know what you are going to do now but me, I am going home. This sentence shows emphasis. English also uses a stronger voice for emphasis which French does not do, YOU will do your homework this evening, young man! You won't hear a French speaker say, "JE vais conduire la bagnole," rather, you'd hear, "Moi, je vais conduire la bagnole. Context is almost always missing with Duo so we can't say emphasis or definition, therefore, both should be accepted.


I was taught that that 'and me' in the subject place is an error. Just as I may not look like my twin sister, my twin sister and I don't look alike


It should be my sister and I.


Surely: My twin sister and I...I is part of the subject of the sentence...horrific error...


My twin sister and I!!!


Is "My twin sister and I, we don't look SIMILAR" an incorrect english sentence?


It’s an incorrect translation of the French sentence, because you need to include the reflexive element in the English. "Alike" means "like each other". If you want to use "similar", which would not be a natural translation here, it would need to be "similar to each other".


Prescriptive scholastic English grammar is a remnant of 17th and 18th century attempts by classicists to "reform" English into a language more like Latin. See https://blog.oup.com/2016/02/english-latin-language/ The problem is that this reform was not informed by any nuanced understanding of the de facto structure of English as spoken, and that required the revolution in linguistics wrought by Chomsky and his school. No matter how hard the middle school teachers try to discipline each generation of English speakers, the natural logic of language reasserts itself.

One Chomsky, Steven Pinker has written about exactly this subject, for a general audience, in the book The Language Instinct. You'll find a summary in this blog https://web.physics.wustl.edu/alford/reviews/pinker.html under the subtitle "The Fun Stuff."

To be brief, the key concepts are https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_(linguistics) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocentric_and_exocentric

But may this will help. Linguists talk about deep structure and surface structure, and sometimes grammatical elements get deleted before they reach the surface. This is a kind of ellipsis. So I hear the Duolingo translations as elliptical for [About] my twin sister and me, we don't look alike. or even for something like [If you want to know about] my twin sister and me, we don't look alike. So once you undo the ellipsis, you see that "my twin sister and me" is implicitly an object, despite the apparent position of the phrase in the sentence.


@neko_sapiens The paper Unexpected left dislocation: An English Corpus Study by Emily Manetta suggests that the grammatical form and semantics of dislocations needs to be understood in terms of pragmatics and discourse, in other word, not always one sentence at a time (the single sentence forming the tradition unit of grammatical correctness). This might answer some of your "I don't know"s.


Alexander Pope wrote "A little learning is a dangerous thing ; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring" and Paul Feyerabend formulated the distinction between "incompetent professionalism" to "professionalized Incompetence." It pains me to see people here downvoting careful, thought comments informed by the latest scholarship because the conclusion doesn't conform to what they learned in middle school. Curricula constantly do damage to human knowledge to grease the wheels of the classroom mechanism - making lessons that young minds find digestible and that teachers without specialized training can easily deliver. Schools still teach grammar as though the last 60 years of research doesn't matter where they would never base chemistry instruction on the Four Elements.

We're learning French here, not English, but either way, to the extent possible, we want to gain a knowledge of the language as natives actually speak it, and not (only) as scholastic pendants insist they should. There is grammar. There is also style and decorum, as in levels of formality and sensitivity to context. But to call something "wrong" should mean that native speakers would almost never say it. The hedge "almost" here just allows for ignoring insanity and inebriation and the like.

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