7

I want to translate this sentence into Spanish:

I could not decide what to wear for Halloween last year.

I was told to use:

No podía decidir qué ponerse para Halloween el año pasado...

but I think this sentence can be contracted down some.

11

Here in Mexico, this is what I would say:

No sabía qué ponerme para Halloween el año pasado.

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    Is the difference between "para" and "en" dialectal? To me, "en" sounds more natural, but I'm not a native speaker. – dainichi Sep 19 '12 at 5:15
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    'Para' is used to denote purpose, 'en' is used to denote when the action took place. Both are valid, with slightly different meanings. – J A Terroba May 24 '16 at 16:12
6

I'm from Spain and I would say:

No sabía qué ponerme en Halloween el año pasado

Or, if you are talking about a costume:

No sabía de qué disfrazarme en Halloween el año pasado

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    'No supe qué ponerme en Halloween el año pasado' me suena más correcto, pero no se porqué. – Sergio Cinos Sep 12 '12 at 11:00
  • @Sergio Cinos Tu propuesta es mejor las respuestas ofrecidas hasta ahora. Ponla como respuesta y recibirás mi voto. – Albertus Sep 12 '12 at 14:47
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    No sabía significa "I was undecided (before I made up my mind)". No supe significa "I never did decide". El inglés "I could not decide" es ambiguo. – Walter Mitty Sep 12 '12 at 17:26
4

It really depends. Because of the ambiguity mentioned in another comment, the sentence could mean something like "I was having trouble deciding what to wear..." leaving open the possibility that the speaker DID decide later. Or it could mean, "I never managed to decide what to wear..."

In the first case, a good bet is something like, "No podía decidir/no sabía qué ponerme (o de qué disfrazarme) para Halloween el año pasado."

In the second case, perhaps something like, "No pude decidir qué ponerme/de qué disfrazarme para Halloween el año pasado." "No supe" doesn't sound right to me, because I've always associated the preterite of saber (supe/supiste/etc.) with FINDING out something, like "enterarse."

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1

As mentioned by others the translation needs the original ambiguity figured out first in order to accurately reflect the intend. Therefore, it depends on the context and the outcome of that situation:

  • If the decision was never reached (and you wore nothing or someone else decided for you)

    No pude decidirme sobre qué usar para Halloween el año pasado

  • but, if it was only a temporary indecisive stage (and you made your mind about what costume to wear)

    No podía decidirme sobre qué ponerme para Halloween el año pasado

There are not contracted ways to state that, which we could think off in Spanish (at least without undermining their expressive quality)

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  • Nice answer. But I'm having trouble identifying what your new contribution is -- aside from the nice formatting. If it's just formatting you are contributing, it is better to do a civic-minded edit to an existing answer. // I noticed the OP asked about condensing. Maybe you could address that -- I don't see that anyone else has tackled that part of the question. – aparente001 Sep 28 '19 at 16:44
  • I felt that the formatting was necessary to stress the level of disambiguation for the translation to be correct (something which I could do inside a response and do not find possible inside a comment ) Yeah, the condensing was also mentioned in the question, I'll look into that as well. Thank you! – ipp Sep 28 '19 at 17:03
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    Well, I wasn't able to come up with something shorter. You? OP said, "but I think this sentence can be contracted down some." That is, OP was apparently hoping to be given a shorter version. I hope you can address this clearly one way or the other in your answer. Because if the only thing that's missing from someone else's answer is good formatting... that can be accomplished through a civic-minded edit. – aparente001 Sep 29 '19 at 4:48

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