"Puede o no ser cierto."
Translation:It may or may not be true.
Why does everyone think it's an idiom? It's very close to being a word for word literal translation:
puede = it can or it may
o = or
no = no or not
ser = to be
cierto = true, one, or certainly
If you string them all together you get word for word: It may or not to be true
From there, it wasn't too hard to figure out that it should be: It may or (may) not be true.
I added the second may and deleted to before the second verb.
This is my understanding of it - whether the 'cierto' stands for being certain or being true, will depend on the verb in this context.
If the sentence has to convey that 'he may or may not be certain', the verb 'estar' will be appropriate, not 'ser'.
Example - "él es seguro" means he is safe, but "él está seguro" means he is sure.
Therefore, 'Puede o no ser cierto' has to mean 'It may or may not be true'
Incorrect. It can and does mean certain and can mean either in this sentence. Cierto means CERTAIN in spanish. It is because we generally do not use that word in english very often that we generally translate that into "true" in english. Please, if you are not CERTAIN of an answer here, beg off giving bad information. - http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/cierto
Welcome. I think we all learn as much about out own language as we do about spanish on this journey.
ajabrams, can you give some examples where "true" is used in America where "certain" would be more appropriate?
Baraba - No it doesn't. Look at the top of the page. It says -cierto∗ ≈certain ∗ adjective.
Although I was saying it can mean both, I was also maying it means more certain than "true" because we in Amercia tend to not use certain as much even when it would be more appropriate.
while it is true that… would be better as "while it is certain that"
The definition of certain is "not having any doubt about something : convinced or sure" That is not the same as "true" the difference it subtle, but there. It is what YOU think it true, but might not necessary be the truth.
The rumors turned out to be true; is that true? The first "true here can be left as "true, the second should me "is that certain?"
"It is not true that my wife has walked out on me" Might be better served as " it is not certain that my wife has walked out on me" The second gives a meaning more likely that the husband thinks it isn't a permanent thing.
As I stated before, we often use "true" in english where certain would be better served, however certain has fallen out of favor here. In spanish they use it much more often and in the context of exactly how it is defined in english. True, reliable, inevitable, destined etc. My original point was that you could most CERTAINLY replace true for certain in the above sentence. God I love word play.
That spanishdict page lists "true" as the first definition. The word "certain" is very commonly used in English.
Edit: I may have misunderstood what you said. If you are saying that "cierto" can mean both "true" and "certain", then that is correct.
Thank you ajabrams, that advice is very helpful and I hope many people take it and use it. Good for you.
I don't know why everyone has downvoted you fsampaio1010. Are you a native Spanish speaker? I watch a lot of television in Spanish and it seems to me that "cierto" does usually mean "true" much of the time.
Even Spanish dictionary translates "no es cierto" as "it's not true"
In addition, Spanish dictionary translates "I am certain" as "es seguro"
I am certain = estoy seguro
The short answer to this is that generally, when usted is meant, it is used in the sentence. This isn't, as far as I'm aware, a hard and fast rule but it is generally the case that I have seen. If there is ambiguity in a sentence, assume "it" first, then if "it" doesn't make sense go to you, he or she.
Do you mean "It can or not be true?". No, that is not valid English. "It can be or not be true" is not valid English either.
"It may or may not be true." This is valid idiomatic English, and I think it has the same meaning as the Spanish sentence.
"It can or cannot be true." This is valid English, but it is not idiomatic. It sounds very strange. I don't think it means exactly the same thing as the Spanish sentence, but I am not able to explain why.
"It can be or cannot be true." This is valid English and it means the same as the previous sentence. But it sounds even stranger than the previous sentence.
Wow. I wonder where that solution came from. Sometimes the accepted translations in DL are awkward, but I haven't seen very many that are actually incorrect English.
"It can be true or not." is valid. I wonder if that's one of the valid answers and maybe somebody reported that "It can or not be true" should be accepted and a non-native-English DL staffer agreed.
The question is the lesson. Do not be so afraid of learning by being wrong or uncertain. If you run a red light and your passenger gets killed, you soon learn not to run red lights. As the British poster says, "Be Calm and Carry On". Just do the section, read the comments. Read the translation. Do the section over and get it right the next time around. There are no lessons, just then endless stream of questions. You just throw your answers at the wall and each day more and more sticks. "Be Calm and Carry On"
All you say is true, however being a very frustrated human with little patience I got this as my first question of the lesson and not a chance was I going to get it right. I absolutely hate it when I miss the first question of a lesson. So much so that I usually quit the lesson and just start over then and there. I just can't stand being handicapped from the get go.
Yours is a perfectly valid approach. Don't think of the restarts as cheating. I have restarted as much as fifteen times for a single lesson. Early in the morning, I am much more likely to push through a lesson. Late at night, I will restart as soon as I think my chances of successful completion are stalled. The failures in any case are not failures, as long as you continue to restart you will finally level up. It is like cutting prison bars with a nail file. The question is not if, but simply when. I figure that when I finish the course, I will just restart the course until I get to the point where I move my learning to Spanish language media and continued direct contact with Spanish speakers.
Dick, I kept reading this whole thread to find someone who couldn't understand Duo-lady's "o"! It sounded to me like a nasal-French sound, "awn." Nothing came to mind remotely like the word for "or," so I had to guess (wrongly) at the translation. Oh, well, maybe I'll get it next time.
It is not correct English. You need to repeat the "is" - "Whether it is or is not true".
Aside from that, I think it does convey the meaning of "It may or may not be true". But it has a slightly different meaning because it's not a complete sentence, it is only an introductory clause. You would have to add something else ... "Whether it is or is not true, I still plan to take flying lessons".
Le la and lo are indirect or direct object pronouns not subject pronouns so they cannot be used to indicate the subject of a sentence. It is accepted in Spanish that if there is no subject, no previous context, and it's conjugated in third person singular, "it" is the subject.
Oh yes. In written spanish quite long and complex sentences are common, with individual phrases divided by commas like this, to the point where an english speaker expecting crisp one-purpose sentences can go completely mad, however you have to get used to it because, as i have been told, they think our little simple sentences are a bit child-like. Phew!