Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: just can't / can't manage to

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Native language
    English, USA
    Posts
    4,776

    just can't / can't manage to

    In English, phrases such as just can't and can't manage to are used when a person has made some degree of effort in trying to do something, but failed.

    For example,

    Though he pushed with all his might, he just couldn't move the boulder.
    Sorry, I can't manage to understand what you're saying. Could you please speak more clearly?

    What words/phrases do you know of in other languages that can be used in this sort of context?



    Some examples that I know of outside English:

    Spanish
    Empujó con todas sus fuerzas, pero al final no pudo desplazar la roca. "He pushed with all his might, but he just couldn't move the boulder."

    (a(l) final = "in the end")

    Disculpe, no acabo de entender lo que Ud. dice. ¿Me puedes hablar con más claridad? "Sorry, I can't manage to understand what you're saying. Could you please speak more clearly?"

    (acabar de also means "to have just [done sth.]": e.g., Acabo de ver pasar un taxi "I just saw a taxi pass by")


    Portuguese

    Passei muitas horas batalhando, mais não consegui instalar o novo sistema operacional. "I spent several hours struggling, but I wasn't able to install the new operating system."

    (conseguir can also mean "obtain", or "succeed in [doing sth.]": Consegui terminar o jogo "I was able to finish the game")
    Last edited by Gavril; 21st December 2012 at 9:53 PM. Reason: Finnish example deleted

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    IdF
    Native language
    French (lower Normandy)
    Posts
    26,178

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    In French, we would simply use the verbs "pouvoir" (can/be able to // poder) and/or "réussir à" (manage to // conseguir) and/or "arriver à"
    In this sentence, though, I would simply say:
    "Je ne comprends pas..." (I don't understand)
    Last edited by DearPrudence; 22nd December 2012 at 9:31 AM.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Native language
    Finnish
    Posts
    272

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    Finnish

    En päässyt pystynyt ymmärtämään sanaakaan, mitä hän sanoi. "I couldn't manage to understand a single word he said."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Native language
    Greek
    Age
    45
    Posts
    2,373

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Hi Gavril,

    In Greek:

    Though he pushed with all his might, he just couldn't move the boulder --> «δεν μπόρεσε να κουνήσει» [ðen 'borese na ku'nisi]: [he] not could to sway; the structure is, proclitic negation particle «δεν» + 3rd person aorist indicative of the verb «μπορώ» [bo'ro] --> to be capable of, able to, can, may + subjunctive-inducing particle «να» [na]+ 3rd person non-past aspect of the verb «κουνώ» [ku'no] --> sway, dangle, cradle

    Sorry, I can't manage to understand what you're saying. Could you please speak more clearly? -->
    1/ «δεν μπόρεσα να καταλάβω» [ðen 'boresa na kata'lavo]; the structure is proclitic negation particle «δεν» + 1st person aorist indicative of the verb «μπορώ» [bo'ro] + subjunctive-inducing particle «να» [na] + 1st person non-past aspect of the verb «καταλαβαίνω» [katala'veno] --> to understand
    2/ «δεν κατάλαβα»; the structure is proclitic negation particle «δεν» + 1st person aorist indicative of the verb «καταλαβαίνω» [katala'veno] --> to understand (something like "I not could to understand" for the former, "I not understood" for the latter)
    Les Grecs sont étonnants dans l'adversité - François Pouqueville

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Native language
    English, USA
    Posts
    4,776

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Quote Originally Posted by DearPrudence View Post
    In French, we would simply use the verbs "pouvoir" (can/be able to // poder) and/or "réussir à" (manage to // conseguir).
    Are there any contexts where the negative Je ne réussis pas à ... would be normal, but not the corresponding positive form Je réussis à?

    In Spanish, as far as I know, only the negative form no acabo de has the meaning of "manage to": the corresponding positive form acabo de means something entirely different.


    @Hui: Thanks for the correction -- I deleted the Finnish section of the first post.
    Last edited by Gavril; 22nd December 2012 at 10:15 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    IdF
    Native language
    French (lower Normandy)
    Posts
    26,178

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    Are there any contexts where the negative Je ne réussis pas à ... would be normal, but not the corresponding positive form Je réussis à?
    [...]
    Not that I can think of.
    But this made me think that we also have the verb "arriver à", which, I feel would be more usual in the present that the other two verbs.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Reykjavík, Ísland
    Native language
    UK English
    Posts
    18,506

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    In Italian I'm pretty sure you'd say: riuscire (proprio).

    I just couldn't understand it - Non sono proprio riuscito a capirlo.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Native language
    Israel - Hebrew
    Posts
    702

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Hebrew has the verb הצליח /hitsliaḥ/ which means exactly that.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Native language
    English, USA
    Posts
    4,776

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Quote Originally Posted by tFighterPilot View Post
    Hebrew has the verb הצליח /hitsliaḥ/ which means exactly that.
    Does hitslia by itself mean "can't manage to" (negative), or do you have to add a negative word (e.g., "lo") to get this meaning?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Native language
    Israel - Hebrew
    Posts
    702

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavril View Post
    Does hitslia by itself mean "can't manage to" (negative), or do you have to add a negative word (e.g., "lo") to get this meaning?
    Of course, it needs, it needs to be negated. Forgot that to mention it. Thanks.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Native language
    Belgium, Dutch
    Posts
    6,384

    Re: just can't / can't manage to

    Dutch: ik slaag er (maar --- makes it stronger, emphasizes the fact that one has been going on trying) niet in om... (I don't succeed in)
    Ik kan niet

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •