"Ele tem os bolsos vazios."

Translation:He has empty pockets.

October 22, 2013

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Why does the Portuguese sentence has the article "os", but the English translation doesn't? I know Portuguese uses articles more often, but they never used them before where you wouldn't find them in English. This seems very inconsistent.


Blame it on the English language... I'm no English native speaker so don't know if I can explain it correctly but here goes... What you see in English is the plural of "He has an empty pocket". Since the preposition "a/an" doesn't have a plural in English it becomes "He has empty pockets".

Now, if you translate the sentence from Portuguese literally, it gives "He has the empty pockets". In singular form, "He has the empty pocket". Nobody says this in English, an English speaker would easily see the "the" there is weird, the "a/an" would be much better there. So, "He has an empty pocket". In plural form, "He has empty pockets".

Now there is the matter of why "os" (meaning "the") is used in Portuguese. The general meaning of the sentence is that the man's pockets are empty. ("His pockets are empty" would be a more accurate translation, actually). Having said that, there are three alternatives:

  • "Ele tem (uns) bolsos vazios" - this is the direct translation of the English sentence. But in Portuguese, this doesn't mean the pockets of the trousers he's wearing are empty, it just means that he has some empty pockets available somewhere.
  • "Ele tem (os) seus bolsos vazios" - This is correct. But "seus" ("his") is redundant, we already have "ele tem" ("he has"), so we already know the pockets are his.
  • "Ele tem os bolsos vazios" - This is the same as "Ele tem os seus bolsos vazios" but "seus" was removed because it is redundant. "Seus" is not there but it's implied because of "ele tem". This is the one that actually means his pockets are empty.


I am a native speaker but you explained it better than I could!


he has the empty pockets could possibly be used in a natural way in english


yes! "THAT guy has the full pockets; HE has the empty pockets"


How come nobody says this in English? If you're referring to specific pockets, you could use "the empty pockets". It sounds less natural than without the article but is not incorrect for sure.


I was confused and thought that the word "bolsos" was still referring to the word "bags" and so I got it wrong. How would I have known that it meant pockets?


because "bag" is "bolsa"


Oh, thank you. I didn't realize there was a difference. Now I see.


Yeah they're easy to mix up


I think of the A as in bAg, and O as in pOcket to distinguish between them! :)


why "he has the empty pockets" is not right?


Hi Crazy-oladja, see my answer above.

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OK, so how does someone say "He has the empty pockets" In Portuguese?


Isn't there a difference between "os" and "seus"?


Hi washingtonian_tours, see my answer above.


Disallowing the empty pockets is harsh.


i agree. I didn't want to put the "the" in, but did because of the "os", then they disallow it. This is a long lesson and I want to finish it!


Always remember to buy a heart before every lesson.


"he has the empty pockets" sounds like a disease. Or it could be a case like this:

'Did he get the empty pockets I asked for?' 'Yes, he did!' 'eeeexchellent!'


"His pockets are empty" would be the most accurate translation in terms of meaning. See my answer to MarcosGoulet above.


There doesn't seem to be any consistency as to whether the definite article is used or not. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn't. Sometimes Duolingo requires it; sometimes it doesn't.


This time the article is required because the possessive adjective is not there. See my answer above.


Is this a natural way to intonate "vazios", or said with an accent?


Once again, reading through the comments has not enlightened me as to why something is the case that's being talking about there. Why is "os" in the sentence and if I wanted to say "he has the empty pockets", how would I say it?


Didja miss djeidot's answer from 4 years ago? For me it is the second comment, in answer to the first.


Yes, I saw the comment and I still want to know how I would say "he has the empty pockets".

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