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  5. "Ma sœur jumelle et moi, on n…

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

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

July 1, 2020



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.


Consider how it would sound of it were dislocated at the end of the sentence instead of the beginning. "We don't look alike, my twin sister and me."


I think some people are confusing the grammatical function or relation of subject with the marked theme or sentence topic dislocated to the periphery. I haven't been informed of any linguistic theory, or traditional grammar for that matter, that would identify the dislocated nominal as subject or object. Though traditional grammars are often not explicit about clause structure, citing sentences like:

  • This man I was telling you about – well, he used to live next door to me.
  • The book I lent you – have you finished it yet?

Quirk et al. (1985, pp. 1416f.) states that:

It will be noticed that in each case a complete noun phrase is disjoined from the grammar of the sentence, its roles (as subject and object respectively) being grammatically performed by subsequent pronouns. But in being thus fronted, as marked themes ..., the disjoined noun phrases clearly set out the ‘point of departure’ for the utterance as a whole.

This is consistent with what I have said elsewhere. The dislocated phrase, whether you say "my twin sister and me" or "my twin sister and I", is not the subject of the clause we don't look alike, but it is the sentence topic that asserts that the sentence is about the speaker and their twin sister, not about anyone or anything else.

Traditional grammars, including Quirk et al. 1985, hardly say anything about the case that the dislocated nominal might assume, which is understandable since the nominal dislocated to left or right is not not an argument noun phrase (i.e. subject, object, or object-of-preposition, etc.) that needs to be assigned structural Case in order to be grammatical; it need only manifest itself in some morphological shape. But which morphological shape? I argued, elsewhere, that the "default" case would emerge, and present-day English would default to the accusative-case form. Why then is it that many people would still say "my twin sisters and I" even when it's not the subject of a finite clause? Having no real explanation, I attempted elsewhere to give some ideas, though hardly definitive, that might be taken into account (hypercorrection and the blocking effect).

In any case, the traditional grammatical notion of subject has nothing to do with the dislocated noun phrase, which in this sentence is correferential with the subject pronoun and naturally so because it is "recapitulated" by the subject. And if the dislocated noun phrase has any "semantic" role, it will be the topic of the sentence (what the sentence is about). That of the subject is, clearly, the stimulus or stimuli (to the sense of vision).


Timmy, you're so stubborn :) This is not the first and only time we've discussed this. Actually, you are not really discussing. You keep claiming that my twin sister and I is the subject and remain silent about we. I think all grammarians, linguists and lay persons alike will say we is the subject. If, in addition, my twin sister and I/me is an "additional subject", does it mean that English allows more than one subject per clause? Or else, if English, like all other human languages, allows just one subject per clause, do my sister and I/me and we form a single constituent [my sister and I/me we] to count as the only subject of the clause? I don't think either of those two positions is virtually tenable. (Consider, for example, applying Subject-Auxiliary Inversion to form a question; if my sister and I/me we_ is the subject, the resultant interrogative would be: Don't my twin sister and I/me we look a like?, which will not be accepted in standard English. If we is the (only) subject, it would be: My twin sister and I/me, don't we look alike? What's your take on these? I asked similar questions elsewhere, but haven't so far heard any answer from you or anyone else. Please let us know if your idea is different from those above.

Furthurmore, I don't think you should keep ignoring the questions posed by alexmiller1201 (elsewhere), tachyonashley123 (just below), and some other people when they took up sentences that seem more basic, "basic" in the sense that children beginning to learn English don't start out with coordinated structures like my twin sister and I/me first, but with a single word like me. Since you don't seem to want to answer them, I ask you in their stead. Is the below sentence acceptable to you?

Me, I don't look like my sister.

Clearly, Me, and I are correferential. If you find it acceptable, do you maintain that Me is the subject? Again, grammarians, linguists and lay persons would all agree that I is the subject. Or else, does this sentence have two subjects: Me and I? I don't think it's even possible for English or any other natural language to have more than one subject per clause. (Japanese is sometimes called a multiple subject language, but I don't discuss it here because it will be irrelevant unless you actually believe there can be more than one subject per clause in English or any other languages.)

If you find the following more acceptable:

I, I don't look like my sister.

It's not to be confused with a simple repetition of I for some performance factors like hesitation (I ... er ... I gotta to the bathroom), or for some rhetorical purposes (I, (and) even I will destroy all of the earth.). If you find the former (with Me) is acceptable and the latter (with I) not, you see something unusual is going on in My twin sister and I, we don't look alike. because this happens more ofren (or perhaps exclusively) with the coordinate structure.

It's not at all my intention to condemn sentences like My twin sister and I, we don't look alike (or We don't look alike, my twin sisters and I) -- anyhow, a lot of "educated" people say it this way. I'm not interested in prescribing how the language should be used. It's just that there is no reason to condemn My twin sister and me, we don't look alike, because it's as well formed as Me, I don't look like my sister, where Me is not the subject or object, but is the "displaced" topic of the sentence to which no structural Case is assigned.


I hear

"Me, I don't look like my sister."

as elliptical for something like

"(You want to know about) me, (no) I don't look like my sister."

Prescriptive grammar be damned, but transformational grammar often posits deep structures like that with parts getting deleted by transformations in order to produce the ultimate and uttered surface structure.


Tom's answer is accepted.


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.


This is a Duo blunder!


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'!!!


No, because it's not the subject. That is an introductory clause, and the object form is correct. "We" is the subject.


[Nonsense. My sister and I don't look alike. It's the subject.] Strike that. Je me trompe, vous avez raison.


You changed the sentence structure quite a bit, though.


If you look up the definition of 'clause,' you will find that a predicate (i.e. a verb) is required for a clause to be a clause. 'My twin sister and me' contains no verb and is therefore not a clause.


It is painful to see the person who is right about it get downvoted so much.


Merci, Thomas. In some painful downvoting cases, I will delete unpopular responses. I leave them on this thread so the facts are presented for those willing to learn something new.


Don't delete them. You are probably right.


So why is the introductory "clause" not nominative?


Graeme, that’s the question that no-one has so far been able to answer!


But I was wondering if Alex can explain his opinion that it's not.


Indeed. "...it cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others."


Yes, it's pretty fair to guess (especially with this example) that there's one linguistics / French / English major compared with a whole theatre of armchair enthusiasts (or people uneducated in at least two of these disciplines).


Actually, with the reflexive verb, it's both the object and the subject. You don't deserve the down votes because you're just as correct as they are.


I was wondering about this as well. I came to the discussion thinking DL was wrong. Only after reading alexmiller's reply did I question myself (being a bad grammarian in general), and consider that maybe I was wrong. The comma in this sentence helps to understand it. Consider the following:

Are you talking about her? Are you talking about me? We don't look alike.

Are you talking about her and me? We don't look alike.

Her and me? We don't look alike.

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

But my twin brother and I do look alike. (no comma or "we" here)


You will find elsewhere that DL understands that, where the French use moi for a subject, the English use "I". That is the key point. There is no reason to treat this example any differently.

I think the misconception that either twin is the object in the English sentence may come from the French version - breaking it down, perhaps, into "I look like her and she looks like me". But that's not what the English version says, and it uses a different structure to the French: an adjective rather than a reflexive verb.

The clearest English version is "My twin sister and I don't look alike", and that is how DL ends its sentence. It makes no sense to change the "I" to "me" in a version which merely added a comma and "we" (although plenty of people would start this sentence "My twin sister and me ...").


A good argument. I would prefer there to be two sentences though: My sister and me? We don't look alike. I also agree with Timmy below about the clarity of: My sister and I don't look alike.


You're working too hard to change the context (of which there isn't any). It's; "my sister and I"; no mater what the context. Yes, in English we have the nominative and objective cases. "My sister" is doing the action, and "I" am doing the action. [We]'re not looking like each other. That's the way this sentence would have to be diagramed if this were an example in an English grammar class (I don't think diagraming is taught anymore).


It is not reflexive in English. No one is doubting that "moi" is correct.


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.


To be fair, that would be "me and my twin", wouldn't it??


no, that is not correct grammar


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.


It's not the subject! "We" is the subject.


People don't seem to like your comment, but I kind of do. In this sentence, we is undeniably the subject. English (or French, for thar matrer) is not a multiple-subject language like Japanese; my twin sister and me cannot be an "additional subject", unless anyone is willing to claim, or better, argues, that this sentence has two overtly realized strucural subjects. Just because somethig in the sentence refers to the same thing as the subject doesn't automatically make it another subject: take, e.g., She hates herself, where the subject and the object refer to the same person. Would you claim that she and herself are both sujects of this sentence? Anyhow, does English accommodate two or more subjects per sentence? Maybe infintely many? I doubt it. I can't seem to find any evidence that we and my twin sister and me occupy the same single structural position in the sentence, or that the latter phrase somehow "originates" in the position occupied by we. Though this "left-dislocated" structure seems much less common in spoken English than in spoken French, suppose you absolutely have to choose among I (nominative), me (accusative), and my (genitive) to fill in the blank: ( ), my name is Noelle ('Moi, je m'appelle Noëlle'). I would predict me here, the accusative being the default case in present-day English.


Thank you. I've tried to make this point several times, but you make it much better. This structure is indeed common in French, and what we are learning here, so it is reasonable to set aside our preference for simplicity to enable us to remember this common French structure.

... Another way to think about this that may help people: Use the trick of removing the other person from the subject. If the core sentence were "I don't look like my twin sister" and we were going to emphasize the subject by dis-locating and repeating it, we wouldn't say "I, I don't look like my twin sister" we would say "Me, I don't look like my twin sister." (Me, I wouldn't say this. :-) But if I were going to, this would be correct.)


In fact there is no "correct" answer, it can be done either way depending how one mentally deconstructs the sentence. There's an American spiritual ("I Wonder As I Wander") with the line, "...two lonely people, like you and like I." The "I" is necessary for the rhyme but sounds horrible. Is "like" a preposition? Shouldn't it be objective case, as in "just like me"? But it can also be thought of as an ellipsized version of "like you (are) and like I (am)" with the parenthesized words understood. So it's fine. Likewise, one might understand "(As for) me, I wouldn't say this." Or one can think of it as a restatement of the subject for some kind of special emphasis or rhetorical effect: "(but) I, I would not say this." Or "Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by." French routinely uses moi in the nominative case and "I" may be preferable here. Myself, I am indifferent. English offers great flexibility.


Thank you. My new comment is already downvoted by the haters. Glad to see your refreshing advocacy for flexibility. I've about given up on the comment section and will be limiting my input for a while. Trying to add a different perspective isn't appreciated by too many, and I'm exhausted.


Hi, Tom560480. I wrote that (long but not detailed enough) comment because I had a hard time even imagining the reason why alexmiller1201's saying that my twin sister and me "is not the subject" but that"'we' is the subject" got so many downvotes. Why don't we put those aesthetic and rhetorical techniques aside? They may of course be possible in human language, just as Them's me sisters may be possible to mean they are my sisters in some varieties of English. Hopefully you won't get tired of all this before I ;)


Alex, don't worry. No one is arguing against you. At least, Tom isn't. People who are downvoting you think either that my twin sister and me is the subject (and we is not), or that both my twin sister and me and we are the subjects (English is s a double- or multipl-subhect language), in both which cases my sister and me might have to be "corrected" to my twin sister and I in the standard variety of English. They might argue that It is natural for my twin sister and I to look alike is more "correct" than It is natural for my twin sister and me to look alike, because (for) my twin sister and I/me is the subject of (to) look alike, even if the subject of the infinitival clause is not a position that is assigned the nominative case in English, just as the displaced topic position is not.

As you pointed out far above, what we are learning here is in the main the French "left-dislocated" structure (which won't be too hard for English speakers -- it's just that personal pronouns in the topic position take on the strong forms like moi, toi, etc.) and the object-participle agreement when the direct object is "moved" over the auxiliary (which may require us learners to enlarge our working memory a little to get things right). We'll get used to it.


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


That is a fine English sentence. But it's not a good translation of the French structure which also works in English.


You're absolutely spot-on, and it makes me a little sad to see how you are being downvoted here, because this kind of dislocated sentence is entirely native to English grammar, was very common throughout the Old English-Middle English period, and is still found in literary contexts, and even in spoken English, particularly in parts of the world where spoken English is influenced by topic-prominent languages.

Here's Walter de la Mare:

Fret now no more; be still. Those steadfast eyes,
Those folded hands, they cannot set you free;
Only with beauty wake wild memories—
Sorrow for where you are, for where you would be.

It's not common in contemporary North American, Australian or British written English, but it's not wrong, and it's the most authentic translation of the French phrasing here.


We do things quite differently in poetry. It's not a reliable indicator of clear prose grammar.


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


Yeah they're not teaching English, they're teaching French. (Although you would never know from these comments....)


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


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.


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


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'?


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


My twin sister and I, we don't look alike. (I = subjective pronoun, me = objective pronoun)


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)?


He would have put "I prefer to walk" or "I prefer to go on foot". I was told off for using "walk on foot" as well!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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 case assigners to argument noun phrases in the 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).


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.

  • 2439

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.


Until you can quote the source and author of the "dislocation structure" in English grammar, you should NOT be taken seriously.


As far as I am aware, the term "left dislocation" and its specific formulation first appeared in John Robert Ross's 1967 MIT dissertation "Constraints on Variables in Syntax" (published as Infinite Syntax! in 1986). Look at the rule itself, not the name given to it. Many other grammarians and linguists, including Chomsky (1977) "On WH-Movement", have since taken up the construction, and we now know that there is nothing literally "dislocated" or moved from within the core clause; the term "left dislocation" is only used to refer to the syntactic phenomena in which a noun phrase (determiner phrase or DP, in more recent terms) looks as if it were moved to the left periphery and there is in the core clause a pronoun or an epithet that is correferential with it.


It should be my sister and I.


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.


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.


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.


It should be my twin sister an I not me.


Poor English grammar!!!


Correct English is "my twin sister and I"


Should be "I," not "me".


Not sure, but I think this sentence calls for "objective case" in English: My twin sister and I (we). "Nominative case" would be "my twin sister and me (us)." An example using the nominative would be: Our uncle age the gift TO my twin sister and me. One has to be aware of the "case" in English. I got it right because of the word tiles, but I had to cringe doing it.


"me" is incorrect absolument!


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.


Of course. The problem is we have lots of people who are good at posting random stuff from the internet to support DL, and rather fewer people who understand grammar!

Almost all of the native English speakers are making a fairly straightforward point.

We are translating here, and it is often the case that a structure in one language is completely different in another. In English, "I" is the subject form, "me" is the object form.

Secondly, we're not talking about a "pattern", but grammar. Neither English nor French has fixed positions for subject or 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 only "correct" subject pronoun.


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


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".


Bad English again, you really should not be trying to teach it till you've mastered it.


I have a beard


I think, on balance, this is ok. Why? Because the expression my sister and me is short for 'when thinking about my sister and me' or 'regarding me and my sister'. The comma suggests it is not the subject of the sentence!


Actually it's both the subject and the object, thanks to the reflexive verb.

The logical sense is

  • "Sister A looks like Sister B."


  • "Sister B looks like Sister A."

So both subject and object!


My twin sister and me don't look alike. Accepted :)


It is grammatically incorrect in English to say that "me" does anything. It should be "My sister and I do things." In this case, it should be "My twin sister and I don't look alike."


Sorry, Sucy, your answer should never have been accepted.

The translate to English using word-tiles doesn't allow any grammatically correct translation! Reported Aug 2020.


And that's how we say it. This whole I /me controversy is so 1950s.


They do have slightly different meanings - as do je/moi. We always seem to get debates over English grammar and colloquialism when the language structure is different from the French. I'm sure Duo will have addressed this for my grandchildren, but I don't see it as a major priority. We need to remember that we have the right to leave and ask for our money back for this free service whenever we want. The report buttons are there for a reason and they do work.


When a service is « free », you are the product.


Was that accepted? Seriously?!


So many people think it's ungrammatical to say "my sister and me". It really isn't, it's perfectly natural English which millions of native english speakers use every day.

I think the reasoning goes that if you happen to remove "my sister and" from the sentence you would be left with "me look alike", which is ungrammatical. But this ignores the fact that by doing so we've switched from the plural first-person subject to the singular first-person, so the rules change anyway and it becomes "I look alike".

If you don't believe me, try changing the order round. "Me and my sister look alike" is still natural english, as spoken by millions of people, whereas "I and my sister look alike" sounds very odd indeed. Why should just switching the order in which you list the things making up the subject make the sentence ungrammatical?

By the way, I'm not therefore saying "my sister and I" is wrong. Clearly it's also in common use and, contrary to what some people seem to think, there's no ultimate authority on how to speak english beyond how it commonly IS spoken in the real world.


Both "Me and my sister look alike" and "My sister and me look alike" are indeed grammatically wrong, and they both sound odd to people who are accustomed to the rule that "I" is properly used as the subject and "me" as the object.

"I and my sister look alike" is grammatically correct, but since it is more polite to put the other person first, we rarely use the words in this order (which explains why it sounds odd).

There are countless examples of people using English incorrectly, but just because a mistake is common does not make it correct.


You think "I and my sister" is grammatically correct? I'm not sure what to say to that, but try actually using it in a conversation and see if you don't get raised eyebrows. I doubt it can be down to mere impoliteness; after all, people choose to be deliberately impolite all the time and would still never put it like that, however rude they intended to be to their sister.

It is a fact that millions upon millions of people say "me and X" or "X and me" in everyday conversation all the time. These people are not stupid or uneducated. They are ordinary, modern, native-english speakers. Any supposed grammar edict that calls them 'wrong' is not worth paying attention to.


If speaking grammatically offends your friends

change your friends.


Me and my twin sister, How about that?


It is grammatically incorrect in English to say that "me" does anything. It should be "My sister and I do things" (putting the other person first). It would also be grammatically correct to say "I and my sister do things" (but nobody says it this way).


Well, that's what a prescriptivist grammar school teacher taught you back in the day. But only a few people still talk like that.

You should probably report this if you want it to be accepted as an alternative.


I don't know what they taught "back in the day," but today the rule in English is that the subject directing the verb can be I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, and whoever (not me, him, her, etc.). If you plug in something else, as many people do, that is simply grammatically incorrect, no matter how common the practice is. Perhaps the rule will flip at some point (because of common usage), making it correct to say something like, "Me goes skiing with he," or "Me and my sister go skiing with he and his cousin," but for now this usage is grammatically backwards, and the correct sentence is "I go skiing with him," or "My sister and I go skiing with him and his cousin." I hope this helps clarify why "My sister and I look alike" is grammatically correct.


You are missing the key point that "We" is the subject of this particular sentence. "My sister and me" is the left dislocated explanation of who is making the group of "we."


The subject is, indeed, "we," which in this context can only be "my sister and I" (because no one else is involved as the subject). Thus, as long as we are identifying the subject, we are confined (grammatically) to I, you, he, she, we, etc.

We use the object pronouns (me, him, her, them, etc.) to identify the object, as in "This package is for my sister and me," or "Give a hand to your friend and me."


My sister and I = we. That is the point.


No. Left dislocation replaces I with me. "My best friend looks just like her sister. Me, I don't look like my sister."


I'm one of the few then - or should that be "me am one of the few?"


Of course not. But maybe "me, I am one of the few."

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