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22 / 04 / 2004

WHAT'S WRONG...?: meaning and examples

Good morning,

How would you translate the following sentence into Spanish/Catalan?

i) What's wrong with Helen?

The most obvious translation would probably be "¿Qué le pasa a Helen?" / "Què li passa a la Helen?"

What about this sentence?

ii) Your car is making strange noises. What's wrong with it?

Again, in conversation we would use the verb "pasar/passar" and the translation of the final question with the word wrong in it would be "¿Qué le pasa?" / "Què li passa?"

I often hear English students incorrectly form sentence (i) as "What happened to Helen?" or "What happens to Helen" instead of using this very common spoken expression with the word wrong.

So, what's wrong...? is used to ask what the problem is:

a) when someone looks ill or sad and you want to know why.
b) when a type of machine isn't working properly and you want to know why.

Example 1
Speaker 1: What's wrong with John?
Speaker 2: He's got a fever.

Example 2
Speaker 1: What's wrong with the computer?
Speaker 2: There's something wrong with the hard drive.

Have a great day!