Jane, take a look at the discussion below by @thoughtdiva. I think what you are finding is that there is a difference between the English words for 'my' and 'mine.' I'm by no means an Italian expert (I hope one weighs in), but I think that "Which is my razor" would translate to "Qualè il mio rasoio?" Yes, the meaning is the same, but the translation is different.
Ok, I've recently sorted this out myself. There is a difference between the possessive ADJECTIVES mio/mia, tuo/tua etc (which correspond to my, your etc) and the possessive PRONOUNS mio/mia, tuo/tua etc (which correspond to mine, yours etc). Possessive pronouns, like all pronouns, replace the noun. In the current example, "mio" (mine) replaces "my razor". Possessive pronouns always use the article ("the") EXCEPT when the verb essere (è/ sono etc) comes before it -in which case it is OPTIONAL. So in the current example, you can say "Quale rasoio è mio" OR "Quale rasoio è il mio". If you want to read more: http://italian.about.com/od/grammar/a/italian-possessive-pronouns.htm
The following is in Italian but is the only thing I could find which explains the optional article after essere (down the bottom): http://www.iluss.it/free_iluss/elementary_free/possessivi_online/text.htm
There are many sentences that are translated in the literal sense. We do not always speak English the way some of these sentences are suggested that we speak. We need to decided what is more important in the translation of these sentences. Is it to communicate what is being said or written or is it the something else? I find it frustrating when I give a translation that I know, when speaking, is perfectly acceptable when I am speaking with another person, and Duolingo tells me I cannot say it that way. So, for me Which razor is mine, or Which is my razor, for me would convey the same message.
Well, this is nonsense:
- Whose razor is mine? = Who owns the razor, which is owned by me?
Fortunately it's neither Dickens' fault, nor the phrase is the same:
The Shiner's Fix Up -- by Michael L Schuh
- Whose razor was it?
- It's mine
Just stick to the question until it's time for poetry again ;)
- quale = which
- di chi = whose
That does not translate the sentence. "Which is my razor?" is not the same as "which razor is mine?" The meaning may be the same, but the grammar is different. The first uses a possessive adjective (for "my razor") and the second uses a possessive pronoun (for "mine"). Also, the possessive adjective does not usually come after the noun (as in "rasoio mio"), except in idomatic expressions like "dio mio" or "casa mia".
They have the same meaning, that is correct. But they are different sentence constructs. "è mio" translates to "is mine." But I believe that "is my razor" would be "è il mio rasoio." I grant you that it is a subtle variation, but DL is trying to teach varying grammatical differences.
But virtually nothing translates literally, and in many other questions there are multiple English (and indeed Italian) variations on the same statement (for example la mia casa or casa mia can be used to construct sentences that mean the same thing). If DL is trying to teach different grammatical constructs it needs to be a lot more consistent in its approach
I grant you that there are some inconsistencies … but it is free! I just try to absorb what I can. In the case of the lesson you cited, I like the fact that I learned the difference between "my razor" and "the razor is mine." Subtle, but something that, personally, I like to know. Yes, the meaning is the same, but the sentence construct is different, and that's what I'm after. For example, if someone in a bar asks, "Is this glass of wine yours?", I want to be able to answer, "Yes, that's mine," not revert back to "Yes, that is my glass of wine." Plus, it helps me understand the Italian vernacular much better. Just my thoughts.
When there are multiple translations in either language (home language or studied language) I would personally find it more useful to allow both (or all, if there are more). Otherwise my brain tends to link phrases in the two languages together making it more difficult in the future to spot when subtle changes have been introduced in the questions
And I guess that is what makes something like DL a challenge. We learn languages differently. I know some people who love Rosetta Stone, but that didn't work for me at all. I'm an engineer and I guess my brain works differently … at least from my wife's!! I actually like book learning because I like the structure. That helped me breeze through the first part of DL as I had looked at an Italian language course off and on for several years. But DL makes me more focused.
Well, I disagree. The sentence structures are different. There are several discussions above that highlight them.
"I caught the fish" and "I used a rod and reel to bring that fish into my possession" both convey the same meaning. But they are totally different sentences. Same here.