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  5. "Ela não sabe se vem ou vai."

"Ela não sabe se vem ou vai."

Translation:She does not know if she comes or goes.

January 10, 2013



This is what a native speaker would say; "She doesn't know whether she's coming or going." A native speaker would immediately identify the suggested answer as emanating from a non-native speaker, or :-) a computer.


^ Exactly. That's what I said too, and I got it wrong.


Agreed, I wonder if these translations are checked by native speakers before they go on the system? I kind of assumed they were, since some of them are correctly idiomatic.


Yes, indeed. I cling to the hope that the Portuguese sentences are more natural than their English versions. Heaven help us if they aren't. It's tedious to have to report every error every time, but it's the only way to avoid Brazilian students learning very clumpy English.


well, the portuguese sentences seem natural to me. (except the ones which are grammatically correct because we don't really use lhes, os, as (clitics) and some other things in real life, but at least they are according the grammar, right? LOL) I mean they're natural, just not colloquially natural sometimes.


That is reassuring, thank you. Many of us English speakers have access to Portuguese-Portuguese dictionaries and grammars, where the clitics are presented as normal and are used in Portuguese newspapers regularly. It has taken me a while to locate specifically Brazilian material, though quite a number of the translations (many from Agência Brasil) do have personal infinitives and clitic pronouns, but seem to use very few of the available tenses. By the way I would say "except the ones which are grammatically correct". Thanks again -I think I posted my comment about six months ago!


Well, i checked the german proverbs and they are outdated and sometimes even wrong. So lets hope the portuguese natives did a better job here...


Well, proverbs are always problematic. There may be regions where they're used and others where they're not.


Haha thanks for the tip. Corrected.


To come or not to come, that is the question...


How can you know the sex of the person who comes or goes?


You can know the sex through the word 'Ela' in Portuguese or 'She' in English.


I don't think that's what @honrubcor meant. It seems like it's ambiguous from the statement... because we could be saying that "She doesn't know whether [other person] comes or goes." Based on the conjugation of the verbs it seems ambiguous.

Could that be the case here? In the statement above, does "vem ou vai" HAVE to refer to the same "she" at the beginning of the sentence, or could it be about someone else? Also, if it was about someone else, would we be forced to clarify using another personal pronoun for "vem ou vai"?


It refers to her exactly because there's no pronoun in "vem ou vai", if she didn't know whether another person is coming or going, then we'd use another pronoun (ele, você, a gente)... Ela não sabe se você vem ou vai. Ela não sabe se ele vem ou vai. Ela não sabe se a gente vem ou vai. If there's no specification in the second part, so it has to be just about herself.


Ela nâo sabe se vem ou vai, id est, she does not know if he or she comes or goes. How do you know that the subject of the verb "sabe" must be also the subject of the verbs "vem" and "vai''?


I think unless a change of subject is specified or made clear from the context, you have to assume it's the same subject. Unless it says "Ela não sabe se ele vem ou vai" or "Ela não sabe se você vem ou vai" or something, it's safe to assume that "Ela" is the subject for all three verbs.


It rejected "she does not know if it is coming or going". The subject of the subordinate clause could be any third-person singular noun, depending on the previous context. Reported 2 June 2018.


Does "se" mean "if"? Because in Spanish we use "si' to mean "yes" and "if" depending on whether the "i" has an accent so I assumed it was similar in Portuguese: "if" --> "sim".

So , "sim" --> "yes" & "se" --> "himself/herself/if"?


That's correct, but se is also used for reflexive verbs as in Spanish, albeit less often. For example, as criancas se lavam na banheira.


why I can't say "she doesn't know whether comes or goes." ?!


Because, in English, verbs in the indicative mood always have a subject, noun or pronoun. After all, there is only one person (3rd singular) in the present tense which has a different form, none in the simple past, nor in auxillary verbs like can, may, ought and must. The 3rd person singular itself is multivalent ; it can be he, she or it, so a subject just has to be there also. Even when the 2nd singular had a special ending (and pronoun), for instance "thou comest, thou sittest, thou dost etc" (You will still find these in many Bibles and church services), even then leaving out the subject was just too confusing, unlike Portuguese where you do it all the time, and only in subordinate clauses do you need to mark out when there is a change of subject.


I'm English and that gave me a headache.


It's reassuring to read you all! "wether ... or... "


What's this supposed to mean? That she's confused?


Not exactly. It means that she's indecisive, can't make up her mind.


Wow. This information should be given along with the exercise somehow. Otherwise, there are just too many ways to misinterpret that statement.


It's always like that with idioms... one needs background...

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