I couldn't make it through the light

adorobrasil

Senior Member
American English-Midwest
I was given this translation by a Brazilian friend: I couldn't make it through the light:Nao deu para passar o semaforo. But I'm not sure if my friend understood what I meant. The Portuguese seems to mean that I had to stop because the light turned red. But when we say this we don't mean we stopped, but rather the light turned red before we could get all the way through the intersection. In the Portuguese version, if I understand correctly, you won't get a ticket. In the English version you might, depending on how picky the officer is. So,

1) Am I right in my evaluation of the sentence in Portuguese?

2) How would I indicate that I tried to get through the intersection, but the light turned red before I got through? (I don't have enough confidence here to hazard a guess!)
 
  • Joca

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I was given this translation by a Brazilian friend: I couldn't make it through the light:Nao deu para passar o semaforo. But I'm not sure if my friend understood what I meant. The Portuguese seems to mean that I had to stop because the light turned red. But when we say this we don't mean we stopped, but rather the light turned red before we could get all the way through the intersection. In the Portuguese version, if I understand correctly, you won't get a ticket. In the English version you might, depending on how picky the officer is. So,

    1) Am I right in my evaluation of the sentence in Portuguese? Yes.

    2) How would I indicate that I tried to get through the intersection, but the light turned red before I got through? (I don't have enough confidence here to hazard a guess!) There are various ways of saying this (I'm considering Brazilian Portuguese only). For instance: O sinal/semáforo ficou vermelho na hora em que eu passava (e não deu para parar). Or: Passei justo na hora em que o sinal/semáforo ficou vermelho. In some places in Brazil, people say "a sinaleira" rather than sinal/semáforo.
     

    Joca

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I would have phrased this in the same way as your friend: não deu pra passar o semáforo or não deu tempo de passar o semáforo.
    Maybe, but again this gives me the impression that the driver did stop at the light. (I could be wrong...)

    How about "não deu pra respeitar o semáforo"?
     

    coolbrowne

    Senior Member
    Português-BR/English-US bilingual
    Well, if you tried to be really close to "I couldn't make it through the light" you'd probably need something like "Não deu pra passar antes do sinal/semáforo vermelho". You see, in Brazil, if you use the verb "passar" for a traffic light, you need to clarify the state of the traffic light and, probably, your position when it changed. One reason for the awkwardness is that this is not the usual way we phrase it in Brazil. Since "to make the light" is an idiom, you can't reproduce it closely anyhow. Therefore, if I may, it would be better to use an idiomatic Brazilian form as well:
    Não pude evitar (deixar de) furar o sinal" - I couldn'ty help running the light
    Regards
     

    Joca

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Well, if you tried to be really close to "I couldn't make it through the light" you'd probably need something like "Não deu pra passar antes do sinal/semáforo vermelho". You see, in Brazil, if you use the verb "passar" for a traffic light, you need to clarify the state of the traffic light and, probably, your position when it changed. One reason for the awkwardness is that this is not the usual way we phrase it in Brazil. Since "to make the light" is an idiom, you can't reproduce it closely anyhow. Therefore, if I may, it would be better to use an idiomatic Brazilian form as well:
    Não pude evitar (deixar de) furar o sinal" - I couldn'ty help running the light
    Regards
    Dentro de um contexto, podemos entender o que de fato ocorreu. Mas, fora de contexto, pode dar impressão de que o motorista furou o sinal deliberadamente, ou seja, o sinal já estava fechado (vermelho) quando ele chegou e passou. Por isso, acho importante acrescentar algum esclarecimento: O sinal fechou justamente quando passei. Passei com o sinal fechando. Etc
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Eu parto do princípio de que a frase será utilizada num contexto claro. Se eu estou dirigindo e acelero tentando passar o semáforo antes de o sinal fechar mas ele fecha quando eu chego perto, eu digo "não deu para passar o semáforo" ("antes do sinal fechar" subentende-se do contexto) ou "não deu para pegar o sinal aberto". Não é uma frase que alguém vá perder tempo em elaborar. Acho que a intenção da pergunta era só confirmar se essa era uma forma válida de expressar a idéia.
     
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