If I'm at the red light on the traffic lights and the light turns green in this exact moment could I say: The traffic light just got green? Is there a better way (or more common) to say this?

Besides that if I run on the yellow light and while I'm crossing the road the light turns red, is there any expression specific to say that?

  • Instead of saying "...light got green", we normally say "...light turned green". But I am not saying your sentence is wrong. – Man_From_India Mar 26 '14 at 2:11
  • Then I WILL say your sentence is wrong. If you want to use the verb "to go" then The traffic light has just gone green is a common usage (in England at least). – SimonH Jan 11 '17 at 23:27

‘The lights changed’ or ‘the light turned green’ sound most natural, I think. Otherwise, ‘went green/red’ is better than ‘get.’ ‘Go’ seems to indicate a faster, less gradual change than ‘get’. ‘Get’ may apply when the color starts in one area and spreads to the whole. For people/faces changing color, either go or get would work. Some examples:

‘When the light turned green, she accelerated.’

‘When the light went green, the car stalled.’

‘The lights changed and she turned right into the side street.’

‘His face got red when he tried to lift the heavy weight.’

‘He went red when she gave him a peck on the cheek.’

About the second situation, it’s worth noting that in the US, the legality of being in the intersection when the light turns red actually differs by state. See the second paragraph in the link below.


This source uses the technical jargon of 'traffic engineers'. Traffic police and others might also use this kind of language ('failing to stop' instead of 'not stopping' for instance.) However, describing what happens in such precise detail would be unusual in everyday speech.

But when the light is red and you go anyway, that’s called 'running a red light'.

  • As neubau says, the law varies by state, but in general if you make it into the intersection before the light turns red, you're OK. This is called "beating the light". – Andrew Jan 11 '17 at 21:37

As Man_From_India wrote, it would be:

The traffic light just turned green.

Also, if you are in the intersection when the light turns red, I would say:

I was trying to beat the red light.

And if you go through the intersection while the light is red, it is:

I ran the red light.

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