Unit 13: Past subjunctive, informal commands, translation considerations (part 3)

13.7 The Negative Meaning of sin and poco

Although sin and poco are not negatives per se, these words routinely subvert positive meaning. Poco, used before an adjective, causes it to mean the opposite, with the translation of “(very) little + adjective” or with the prefix “un-” or “in-.” Sin + infinitive usually translates as an adjective preceded by one of the same two prefixes.

Ese asunto ha sido muy poco estudiado. That matter has been studied very little (very little studied).
La lluvia es muy poco frecuente en el Desierto Atacama en Chile. Rain is very infrequent in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
La cuestión de construir el puente está todavía sin resolver. The issue of building the bridge is still unresolved.
¿Es verdad que las obras completas de Clarice Lispector* quedan sin coleccionar? Is it true that Clarice Lispector’s complete works remain uncollected?

*Brazilian novelist and short story writer (1920-1977).

When poco is preceded by un, it translates as “a little” and the negative meaning is absent.

Este puente es un poco estrecho. This bridge is a little narrow.



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