"Je ne peux pas écrire avec le pouce cassé."

Translation:I can't write with a broken thumb.

July 13, 2020

This discussion is locked.


why is it le pouce casse yet the answer is a broken thumb not the broken thumb?


I guess "un pouce cassé" would be correct to but in French we tend to use a definite article when talking about a bodypart, when an indefinite one would be used in English. We raise the hand, we break the leg (break ourselves the leg, even: "se casser la jambe"), we hold the hand, etc.


Makes sense but in translating why not I can't write with my broken thumb. It's a smooth English statement.


Technically, "I cannot write with the broken thumb" is perfectly acceptable English as well. In this case you are talking about the thumb in the third person or as a separate entity. In this case, you are also being specific about not just ANY broken thumb (your left OR your right thumb), but THE specific thumb that is broken. Similar to "I cannot write with THE broken pen" vs "I cannot write with A broken pen".


You are correct that "the broken thumb" is correct English, but is not the meaning given by the French. It refers to a specific thumb, eg "I cannot write with the broken thumb. But I can use the one on the other hand"

It is strange to suggest you write with a thumb and not a whole hand, but maybe it refers to typing on your phone with thumbs only? I don't write with my thumbs alone.

However, this is not the meaning of the French "le pouce" - The French definite article is not used for specific objects, but objects in general, or in the case of body parts means those attached to the person being spoken about, and here should be translated "my".

"a broken thumb" which is given as the "correct" translation has a slightly different, more general meaning, that if I had a broken thumb I would not be able to write, but does not necessarily mean my thumb is actually broken.


agreed! unfortunately 'Duo' is stubborn.


But avec une cheville cassee -> with a broken ankle https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/41845918


This is a tricky one. In English, we could also say: I can't write with my broken thumb. I can't write with broken thumbs.


Does "Je ne peux pas écrire avec le pouce cassé." imply that the speaker has their thumb broken? In English this seems to be the case for "I cannot write with my broken thumb" or "I cannot write with my thumb being broken", but necessarily not for "I cannot write with a broken thumb". Apologies for splitting hairs.


You are totally correct Poef, "a broken thumb" has a different meaning to the French, and does not mean the speaker actually has a broken thumb.


Maybe it's regional but where I live "I cannot write with a broken thumb" implies that my thumb is, in fact, broken and now I can't write because if it.

  • 1796

According to duo's logic, it should be possessive by the subject: "with MY broken thumb", and should be explicitly written, with ALL implying ones refused.

This answer uses "a broken thumb", hence is wrong!


"I can't write with a broken thumb." "Try using a pen instead!"


Je suis entièrement d'accord; écrire en utilisant notre propre pouce comme stylo et lorsqu'il n'est pas cassé n'est pas une tâche facile ; écrire avec le pouce de quelqu'un d'autre, ça appartient déjà à l'horreur. Mais les téléphones portables ne nous ont-ils pas appris à utiliser nos pouces comme stylos ?


is the translation: "I can't write with my thumb broken" correct? (because in French, we do not apply the possessive pronoun in relation to the parts of a our body)


the use of "my" is fine, but rearranging the words to "thumb broken" gives the sentence a different meaning, suggesting something that might be rather than what has already happened.


Thanks for your clarification.


I don't entirely agree with b_adger: I rearranged the words as you write them in your question. I was marked wrong, but I think it is correct, but perhaps a bit old-fashioned. For me the meaning is clearly about what has happened,


then that's fine; I see myself as an old-fashioned person anyway (;-)


Any explanations for the use of definite/indefinite articles after "avec" above and "Tu ne peux pas marcher avec une cheville cassée."

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.