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  1. #1
    milan2003_07's Avatar
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    Default traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Hello,

    When I'm working with tourists I often tell them about places where it is and it is not possible to cross the street. When, for example, we need to get to other side of a street, I say that we'll need to get to a crosswalk where there are traffic lights. Below I've given several sentences that I often use:

    1) "There're traffic lights in 50 metres and we need to get there to cross the street"

    2) "There is a traffic light in 50 metres and we need to get there to cross the street"

    3) "There is a set of traffic lights in 50 metres and we need to get there to cross the street"

    Tell me please which expressions mean the set itself (which includes a long stick and lamps producing different lights like green, red, and yellow) and which are only used to talk about lamps of different colour.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    milan2003_07's Avatar
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Please help me with my question.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Quote Originally Posted by milan2003_07 View Post
    Please help me with my question.
    Patience!

    1) "There're traffic lights in 50 metres and we need to get there to cross the street."
    Fine, though I never contract 'there are' in writing.

    2) "There is a traffic light in 50 metres and we need to get there to cross the street."
    Possible, but not natural for me.

    3) "There is a set of traffic lights in 50 metres and we need to get there to cross the street."
    Possible, though I would more naturally say #1

    Tell me please which expressions mean the set itself (which includes a long stick and lamps producing different lights like green, red, and yellow) and which are only used to talk about lamps of different colour.
    I don't think we make the difference in normal conversation.

  4. #4
    milan2003_07's Avatar
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post

    2) "There is a traffic light in 50 metres and we need to get there to cross the street."
    Possible, but not natural for me.
    What does "a traffic light" mean? Only one light or the whole set of lights?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Quote Originally Posted by milan2003_07 View Post
    What does "a traffic light" mean? Only one light or the whole set of lights?
    If we were to use the singular form, which we don't normally, it would refer to one set.

    If we wanted to refer to an individual light, we would say 'the amber light', the green light, or 'the red light'

  6. #6
    milan2003_07's Avatar
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    If we were to use the singular form, which we don't normally, it would refer to one set.

    If we wanted to refer to an individual light, we would say 'the amber light', the green light, or 'the red light'
    From your post I've also learnt that you say "the amber light" instead of "the yellow light", which we normally do in Russian. Is "yellow light" understandable?

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Quote Originally Posted by milan2003_07 View Post
    Is "yellow light" understandable?
    Probably.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Probably.
    What do you mean by "probably"? It seems as though some might not understand. For example If I say "Don't cross the street on the yellow light and wait till it gets green". Is this phrase clear or it sounds unnnatural because of the word "yellow"?

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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    Quote Originally Posted by milan2003_07 View Post
    What do you mean by "probably"? It seems as though some might not understand. For example If I say "Don't cross the street on the yellow light and wait till it gets green". Is this phrase clear or it sounds unnnatural because of the word "yellow"?
    By 'probably', I mean 'probably'.

    The 'official' colour of the light is amber. If you decide, for some perverse reason, to call it 'yellow' or 'orange' or 'marigold' or some other word, we are unlikely to think you are referring to the green or red lights. It would, however, actually be simpler to use the correct word - 'amber'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: traffic lights/a traffic light/a set of traffic lights

    They are known as "yellow lights" in the US. And I would naturally say "there is a traffic light ahead" (Or, pessimistically, "a red light.") This whether there was one set of lights or more.

    Similarly, we are taught as children to "cross at the light."

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