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just can't / can't manage to

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Gavril, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    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: Dec 21, 2012
  2. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    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: Dec 22, 2012
  3. hui Senior Member

    Finnish
     
  4. apmoy70 Senior Member

    Greek
    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)
     
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    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: Dec 22, 2012
  6. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    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. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    In Italian I'm pretty sure you'd say: riuscire (proprio).

    I just couldn't understand it - Non sono proprio riuscito a capirlo.
     
  8. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Hebrew has the verb הצליח /hitsliaḥ/ which means exactly that.
     
  9. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    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. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Of course, it needs, it needs to be negated. Forgot that to mention it. Thanks.
     
  11. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    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
     

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