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Hello there :)
"Mess up" is indeed not a very good way of translating "errar", specially in this sentence, where it's quite hard to find an exact translation.
"Mess up" means mostly "bagunçar" (when you create disorder), or some slang expressions not worthy teaching here :p - There is also the "arruinar" translation when it comes to "ruin" something.
"Errar" is a tricky verb, but in general you can say it means "to make mistakes" or "to make a mistake". (Choose between both according to the context you have). If I could suggest an archaic option: "to err" seems to fit it quite well, but not here of course, because "to err" is intransitive.
Then, we have these main cases for "errar":
- Intransitive: Errar = to make a mistake / to make mistakes / to err
- Errar o alvo = To miss the target (But never "to miss" in the sense of longing)
- Errar a resposta = To miss the answer / To pick/give the wrong answer (but not to purposely misguide someone, it's still "to make a mistake")
- Errar um procedimento = To make a mistake in/while executing a procedure
So, for "errar a receita", you can either have the "procedure" (you added too much salt, you forgot to add the peppermint leaves, etc.), or the "pick" meaning (you chose the wrong recipe).
The best translation now is "we got the recipe wrong".
Can I use "Mistake/Mistook"??
Not really a good option.
Although the following expressions (with noun and adjective) might suggest that, the verb "to mistake" has another meaning:
- Estar errado = to be mistaken
- Cometer um erro = to make a mistake
"To mistake something" means mostly "confundir" or "entender errado". It's used when you think about something wrong, when you get the wrong idea.
- I mistook her meaning = Eu entendi errado o que ela quis dizer
- Do not mistake a boat for a toast = Não confunda um barco com uma torrada. (No, it's not an expression.... don't know where it came from o.O)
Firstly, you don't need to put 'mess/messed up' for your answer if you are so adverse to "slang" because you can put 'mistake.....' Secondly, where exactly is the distinction between "slang" and "real" language? In this case and many others, the "slang" will become the normal vernacular according to the current zeitgeist. Oh no! I just used a "German" word!!! Are reno and brown gonna get bugged out?!?!?!??!
'Messed up' and 'made a mistake' have completely different connotations.
'Messed up' emphasises a certain level of incompetence, and "made a mistake' implies simply an honest error.
If 'messed up' takes over both positions in English vocabulary then that is the death of language, and therefore ideas. Keep going like that and eventually we will be back to chopping each others heads off.
Though considering the insta-pitchforking blame culture that we seem to be living in these days, perhaps 'made a mistake' it is indeed heading for redundancy.
I understand your point about the different connotations in English. Here, though, it is the meaning of the Portuguese sentence that is more important and I think the verb "errar" allows both interpretations. Looking at this dictionary: http://www.aulete.com.br/errar, the word can mean both (item 1) to make a mistake and (item 3) to do something badly, which are the two meanings you would prefer to keep distinct in English.
The Macmillan dictionary attributes both those meanings to "mess up":
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/mess-up (item 1).
Never mind, I think you have missed my point. I'm not debating the Portuguese at all, just merely responding to Gernt's point that there is no harm done by the slang term 'Messed up' taking over from 'made a mistake' in English.
I'm positively delighted with Macmillan's definition, messing up would to me be a sub-genre within the mistake making game.
Messed up and made a mistake may be different to you but not to me. In my office, we often apologize by saying "I messed up". Trust me - we're not admitting to being incompetent. Don't give up hope. We can still use awful, terrible, and horrible in their original meanings, just not very often.
Yeah I realise that in the US 'messed up' is substituted, but to an English person you would never use it to describe walking into the wrong toilet for example, or getting someone's name wrong. 'Messed up' might be used if your mistake had real consequences that made a mess of something. Maybe it's just that British culture is focused around attempted avoidance of inevitable and calamitous mistakes, in the same way they say Eskimos have 30 words for snow... Whereas American culture is based on perfection.
Hope some of these sites help:
A very good translatioin that should be accepted is "We botched the recipe." It's much more natural, I think, to rread this sentence as past. Mess up is not so good because it suggest we get grease or chocolate all over the cookbook. But apart from that "we mess up the recipe" would have to have more context because it's is unnatural without a time reference that qualifies the action as habitual and justifies the definite article: "Whenever we try to cook, we screw up the recipe."
Yes.... "to make the recipe wrong" is a good translation for "errar a receita", although having a closest match in "fazer a receita errado". (Errado not being feminine here because it refers to the verb: fazer errado)
If you use "fazer a receita errada", then it turns into "to make the wrong recipe".
there must be a dozen ways to say this more elegantly in English, meaning basically 'we err on/with the recipe'... we messed up, we goofed, we got it wrong, we really missed the mark. Eles erram esta tradução. I think the issue here is the lesson is for Portuguese from English, not the other way around, we all know what the meaning is, it's about trying to guess the right trans. that will keep your 3 hearts intact...
I know it's an accepted answer, but it's not actually correct. You need to take these courses with a grain of salt. As an English teacher, I suggest this website to all my students to use to practice but never as a primary source of learning. There are many, many errors here to do with expressions, tenses and phrasal verbs that you wouldn't be able to know without a real teacher. It seems like most of these courses are just using Google Translate then relying on users to provide the corrections.
Really? When I make a mistake on my homework, I keep trying. I don't stop. It is perfectly acceptable to say that you "make a mistake on a recipe." When you create a recipe, it is a process that goes on. If I add too many eggs, I can double the recipe. I agree with you that soon after, the mistake was made, but it can be happening right now. Perhaps you would prefer it if I said as I realize while the egg is still falling out of the shell. "Oh, I am making a mistake on the recipe."
Is that a reply to Libor's much downvoted comment? Both recipe and prescription are the same word in Portuguese, that is "receita": http://dictionary.reverso.net/portuguese-english/receita