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This evening a friend saw a poster in English that said something like:

If you have only one chance at opportunity, make it count.

She asked me what it meant. She knew enough English to make out the words, but "hacerlo contar" didn't make sense to her.

How do I translate "make it count" to Spanish?

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"Make sth count" is an idiom in English. Idioms often cannot be translated literally. The first step then is to de-idiomatize it, try to find a simpler way to say it, to get its gist. "Make sure it's worth the time/trouble", "be sure it's important", etc. The next part once you have a generic way to say it is to translate it into generic Spanish. Then look for a Spanish idiom that conveys the generic sentiment in a more colloquial way. – hippietrail Nov 17 '11 at 7:45
I tried very hard to do that while sitting at the restaurant with my friend... I guess circumlocution isn't my strong suit at midnight. – Flimzy Nov 17 '11 at 7:46
Yes you have to build up a knack for it. If you have a monolingual English dictionary at hand it should contain such idioms and the definitions will be idiom free. – hippietrail Nov 17 '11 at 7:50
BTW. "chance at opportunity"? Isn't that pleonasm? In Spanish both words translate to "oportunidad" – vartec Nov 22 '11 at 10:50
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Haz que valga la pena

Actually its a very common sentence :)

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Hacerlo contar does not make sense.

Haz que cuente (imperative) is a better translation but I think it is still too literal.

In this case, I would use:


Some other phrases that you may use:

  • Haz que valga la pena.
  • Haz que importe.
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Si tenés una sola oportunidad, usála. (Rioplatense Spanish) Si teneis solo una oportunidad, aprovechadla.

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