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  5. "Seall, tha mi a' cur briogai…

"Seall, tha mi a' cur briogais ùr orm."

Translation:Look, I am putting new trousers on.

August 31, 2020



The given answer here breaks the English grammatical rule of not ending a sentence with a preposition (arcane, I know, but still strictly speaking a rule). I was marked wrong for translating as "look, I am putting on new trousers".


It’s been never a native grammatical rule (ie. one that native speakers adhered too). It’s emerged as an artificial prescriptive rule by grammarians who sought to find some rules of good style, probably basing their views on Latin, regarded as some perfect ideal, and enforcing Latin restrictions on English. See eg. this article on the matter: Never Use a Preposition to End a Sentence With, and another one here: The no-final-prepositions rule: Not even half right.

The same with the ‘don’t split infinitives’ “rule” which I tend to boldly break as much as possible.

And another one is to always use subjective I instead of me in subject and predicate positions even where naturally the unmarked pronoun me would be used (eg. James and I did instead of natural James and me did, that was I instead of that was me, etc.) – not a true native rule of spoken language for a long time (which you can see in plural where only is that us in the photograph? is possible and not *is that we…?).

I am putting new trousers on is perfectly fine natural English, regardless if some prescriptive stylistic rules agree or not.

(edit: added ‘predicate positions’, earlier I onpy wrote about subject but gave an example of a predicate)


Fair enough, but I'd hardly say (there you go with the split infinitive) that "I am putting on new trousers" is wrong! And your "is that us in the photograph" example - "that" is the subject, "us" is the object, so it's grammatically correct; " is that we..." would be a nonsense grammatically. We use "James and I" when it's the subject - eg "James and I are doing something together", and "James and me" when it's the object - eg "Susan gave dinner to James and me". I'm not saying people don't break grammatical rules, we all do (especially in colloquial speech), but I shouldn't be penalised for being grammatically correct. And I'd argue that "rules" of good grammar probably grew out of common usage.


Nobody is saying that I am putting on new trousers is wrong, you claimed the other one is wrong – but it isn’t wrong, nobody is breaking any rule as the rule you refer to never existed in English.

In that was us in the photograph the word us is not an object. The verb to be doesn’t take direct object. It takes a predicate which typically is in nominative case (vs accusative for direct objects) in Indo-European languages (but it can be entirely different case, eg. instrumental predicates in Slavic languages).

Hence the “rule” to say that was I instead of that was me – but somehow the rule seems to not work with us/we so well.


"C'était moi", not "c'était je". And Duolingo is saying "I am putting on new trousers" is wrong!


And your point is? French is a classic example of a language with disjunctive pronouns. You use them in compound subjects too, eg. toi et moi ferons le nécessaire (and in English you and me will do… or you and I will do…). The pronouns don’t work as objects here, as they don’t in your example.

Compare Latin with strong case system and no unmarked disjunctive pronouns: anima mea non est ego (not me) for my soul is not me.

As for your translation being rejected – as I wrote in another comment – it might be just an oversight, it’s worth reporting. But the contributors might have some reason for rejecting it too. I don’t know.


And to see that a predicate is different than an object in English, notice that you can in general turn the object (either direct or indirect) into a subject of a passive sentence if the passive participle of the verb exists.

Anna gave the book to Tom

You can say:

The book was given by Anna to Tom (the book is the direct object of the original sentence)

Tom was given the book by Anna (Tom is the indirect object of the original sentence)

But if you look at I was a king you notice that you cannot say a king was been by me as it’s nonsensical. Because the predicate is not an object of the verb. It’s not a recipient of any action.


As for the translation Look, I am putting on new trousers – if it’s been rejected perhaps it’s worth reporting as My answer should be accepted.

Maybe the contributors have a reason to reject it but I don’t see an obvious one. Perhaps it’s just an oversight and they didn’t anticipate it.


"Look, I am putting on new trousers."

Hmm, the argument could be made that the translation for that is "Seall, tha mi a' cur orm briogais ùr"...


But then since some English speakers avoid things like I am putting something on, and that’s not even a literal translation of Gaelic (which literally has I am putting … on me) – then maybe it’s worth accepting I am putting on something too (even if you could change the Gaelic word order to a bit closer tha mi a’ cur orm rudeigin too).

Especially if the course uses just the tha mi a’ cur rudeigin orm order in Gaelic.


either should be accepted. one may grammatically be correct however the other is what most people would actually say.


Both ought to be accepted AND THAT IS IT.


Both should be correct.


OK, I am old. We were not allowed to have dangling participles, so I think "putting on my new trousers" should be at least as good as "putting my new trousers on"

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