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I can't make it out

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Antonio, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. Antonio Senior Member

    Monterrey
    Mexico/Spanish
    Hi Group,

    What does the phrase "I can't make it out" mean?
     
  2. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    It means that you can't see or read something because it's too small, or faded, etc.

    For Example:
    I can't make out the handwriting.
    I can't quite make out the date on this old photograph.
    I can't make out who that is standing in the top row of the football stands.
     
  3. Edwin

    Edwin Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida, USA
    USA / Native Language: English
    I guess generally it means, ''I cannot understand it.'', but there are other interpretations. For example:

    If you and a friend are looking at something in the distance, he might ask you what it is you see. You could say, "I can't make it out.'' This means you cannot see well enough to recognize it.

    If you are trying to understand what someone has written but the writing is very difficult to decipher, you might say, ''I can't make it out.'' The means that you are unable to read what the person has written.

    Someone is trying to tell me something in English, but their English is so bad I cannot understand what they are saying (or their English is excellent but I'm not smart enough to understand). That is, ''I cannot make it out''.

    Etc....
     
  4. Antonio Senior Member

    Monterrey
    Mexico/Spanish
    What does "I can't make this out" mean? Is incorrect to say in English "I didn't make it out" or not?
     
  5. mzsweeett

    mzsweeett Senior Member

    USA
    USA, American English
    To say that you can't make it out vs. didn't make it out ...
    can't implies that you are unable to make it out while didn't implies that you did not, regardless of whether you can make it or not. Anyone else???

    Sweet T. :D :D :D
     
  6. Edwin

    Edwin Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida, USA
    USA / Native Language: English
    What were you trying to do when you said ''I can't make this out''. ''I didn't make it out'' could be said in some situations. Context is always helpful. I found a definition for the phrasal verb ''make out'': Here it is:

     
  7. Axl Senior Member

    Yorkshire
    England, English
    I can't make this out, means the same as I can't make it out; this is just a different pronoun.

    I suppose that, in the right context, I didn't make it out would be correct. However, this will most often be used in a different context: i.e. I was late/wasn't in/on time. E.g. Did you get to see that film? No, I didn't make it out [of a place, e.g. of work].
    In most past contexts, couldn't should be used. E.g. Did you catch the number plate? No, I couldn't make it out.

    Be careful to put the pronoun in though, because the verb to make out means something entirely different!:eek: Particularly to Americans!
     
  8. Edwin

    Edwin Senior Member

    Tampa, Florida, USA
    USA / Native Language: English
    A. Did you make out the check for the water bill?

    B. No I didn't make it out, did you?

    A. No, I forgot.

    B. Geez they may cut off our water.
     
  9. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hey Antonio;

    'I can't make it out today, I have an apointment.' ....action..
    'I can't make it out, I can't see that far.' .....visual...
    'I can't make it out, what did he say?' ...audio...

    'I didn't make it out yesterday, I had things to do.' ...action...
    'I didn't make it out, did you see it?' ...visual..
    'I didn't make it out, did you hear what he said?' ..audio..
    'The poor guy didn't make it out of the burning building.'...sad..action

    te gato;)
     
  10. Antonio Senior Member

    Monterrey
    Mexico/Spanish
    Hi te gato,

    "I can't make it out" in an action sentence means mainly "I can't make it" or not?
     
  11. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hey Antonio;

    In an action sentence...I would say yes...generally you are talking about going somewhere....and you can't...so you are correct..

    te gato;)
     
  12. amor_secreto17 New Member

    Columbus, Ohio
    USA (English,Spanish and French)
    " I can't make it out" usually means
    • " I don't know what your saying"
    • " I can't make out what this says"
    • " I can't read the writing on this"
    That's all I know, I hope it helps!
    :)¡Gracias!:)
     

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