draw a/the line

inqui

New Member
Spanish - Spain
Hello!
I have found these two expressions: "draw a line" and "draw the line". They have to do with setting a limit or restriction, but are they synomys (and hence interchangeable) or is there a difference in meaning? If so, how would you translate them into Spanish?
Thank you!
 
  • inqui

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    The difference is the same as the difference between "a" and "the." And welcome.


    Thank you, Tazzler. Sorry, but let me ask again in case I didn't make it clear before. I don't mean the literal meaning of drawing a/the line, but the use of the expressions in sentences such as "She's always playing jokes, but she doesn't know where to draw a/the line and she ends up offending people". Can we use the two expressions here or is there a difference in meaning? Thank you, again.
     

    leticiapuravida

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (US) - Spanish (CR)
    inqui, do you have an example of where you've seen "draw a line" in context?

    k-in-sc's example above is all i can think of at the moment.
     

    inqui

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    An example with context for "draw a line": "There is a problem with foxes. We have to draw a line, we can't just allow their numbers to keep growing" I feel "draw the line" would not be possible here. Not sure. Don't know whether there is a difference in meaning if we use one expression or the other.
     

    k-in-sc

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    We have to draw a line: we have to set some sort of limit (to be determined, not universally accepted)
    She doesn't know where to draw the line: she doesn't know what is acceptable and what isn't (more or less universally accepted)
     

    leticiapuravida

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (US) - Spanish (CR)
    I would agree with k-in-sc, and add my own commentary on the examples given.

    We have to draw a line: we have to set some sort of limit <-- the "line" or limit in "draw a line" is neutral. It's just that a limit needs to be agreed upon.

    She doesn't know where to draw the line. <-- Here, someone who goes past that "line" is breaking some kind of social rule or custom or understanding of what is proper, so the usage is not neutral. We are making a (negative) judgment about the person. Someone who doesn't know where to draw the line goes too far.
     
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