Duolingo accepts "the lights went out" as a translation of "se fue la luz"

But shouldn't it be "the light went out" (singular)?

I checked what https://www.translate.com/ would say about it. According to that site, the phrase "the light went out" corresponds to "se fue la luz", but it translated the plural form, "the lights went out" as "apagaron las luces"

I would expect it to be:

The light went out = se fue la luz

The lights went out = se fue las luces

Logic and/or consistency seem to be missing in both places.

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    Creo que la diferencia está en que "las luces" se refiere a la iluminación, pero "la luz" se refiere al suministro eléctrico en general. – roetnig Mar 1 '17 at 14:55

Luz has of course a plural. Mind that the verb tense is correct in "se fue las luces", but you need to use fueron, 3rd form of plural, instead on the 3rd form of singular fue.

Se fue la luz (or la X), pero (ella) ya volverá.

Third person singular

Se fueron las luces (or las XXXs), pero (ellas) ya volverán.

Third person plural

One of the reasons I think you might have seen that difference in fueron and apagaron (apart from the fact that language translations are not a mathematical process) is that la luz would address to a single source of light (that lamp on my desk or in my room, for example). Las luces would address to several sources of light, like in an office, that might be less prone to go out but to be turned off instead.

Nevertheless, in all the street lamps went out at the same time you could say bot se fue la luz (the source of powers is missing or out_ and Se fueron las luces (the street lamps went out).

  • This question got downvoted. Can anyone point to things thst might not be accurate or that could be improved or explained better? Thanks. – Diego Oct 7 '14 at 16:44
  • No se explicarte gramáticamente por qué, pero toda mi vida cuando se va la energía electrica, hemos dicho se fue la luz, y tengo experiencia de los apagones en Cuba – Emilio Gort Oct 7 '14 at 19:45
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    También luz puede ser un incontable, como lo es en inglés en contextos parecidos (there's/'re hardly any light(s) here, singular incontable, se considera la luz producida por las luces, plural contable que considera cada fuente de luz como individual) – user0721090601 Oct 7 '14 at 19:50
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    @EmilioGort, raro? buscan en google "se fueron las luces". Yo lo he visto incluso en el periódico. Será diferencia regional, pero también yo puedo decir que he oído las dos formas toda mi vida. Montones de ejemplos – Diego Oct 7 '14 at 20:39
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    He leído algunos de los ejemplos que da Google. Por lo general, se fueron las luces se utiliza cuando nos referimos a algunas luces concretas, mientras que se fue la luz es general. Además, si usamos luz como sinónimo de suministro eléctrico, es siempre singular, claro, por ser incontable. – Gorpik Nov 28 '14 at 7:39

When you say, Light went out, translated to spanish is Se fue la luz and means there were a cut in the energy system, it is se fue because there is no energy, in Spanish luz and light means both electricity and light.

Lights went out literally translated is Se fueron las luces, fueron has to be plural too. This translation sounds a little bit weird in in Spanish -I imagine some lights running away-. The meanings of this is that the lights were turned off, so the translation has to be "Se apagaron las luces".

You can translate the first phrase as Se apagó la luz if you want to mean that a lamp got turned off.


Yes, but not usually when we want to refer to electic power. When I think of "luces" I think of the lights they put on stages at concerts or venues. "Se fueron las luces" gives me the feeling that the lights moved out of sight, while "se apagaron las luces" means they were turned off.

Note that we also say "se fue la luz" when we want to say that there's a blackout or that the power in a building went out.

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