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Is there any difference between как будто and будто?

For example, is there a difference between the following sentences?

1) Как будто он может действительно что-то сделать.

2) Будто он может действительно что-то сделать.

10

In this sample, "как будто", "будто бы", "будто" and "как будто бы" are equivalent. Speaker chooses among these variants if she/he wants to make the sentence melodic. Otherwise, it's random choice.

In most cases, "как будто" and "будто" are also equivalent, except by "будто" sometimes could be used for "что".

"Говорят, будто кур доят" = "Говорят, что кур доят".

In this case, it's not possible to put "как будто" instead of "будто".

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Actually, it has no a significant difference in Russian. But both phrases are quite incomplete, though.

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  • Both may be used as an interjection, though.
    – ach
    Mar 3 '16 at 13:07
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These are too close to each other, differing rather in minor stylistic points. The only true difference, which comes to my mind, is when using Будто as interrogation, with the meaning of "Really?" But I must say that this usage is highly uncommon.

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In my point of view, "как будто" quite more pessimistic and unreal then "будто". Also, the same words are "Будто бы" and "будто", the words "как" and "бы" add some expression to the phrase. For, example:

1) Будто он может действительно что-то сделать. - He can't change anything.

2) Будто бы он может действительно что-то сделать. - He can never change anything.

2) Как будто он может действительно что-то сделать - He can never EVER change anything.

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I think there IS difference. Let's add some context to those examples.

1) Он держится уверенно и даже разложил инструменты.

Как будто он может действительно что-то сделать.

Without any further addition, version (1) is internally neutral and can express either seeming possibility (looks like he could do it; we don't know if he can) or strong doubt (looks like he can do it, but we know he can't) and therefore needs more context for certainty. For example, you can add "Давайте посмотрим, что у него выйдет" as well as "Мы-то знаем, что ничего не выйдет" with the opposite sense.

2) Он держится уверенно и даже разложил инструменты.

Будто он может действительно что-то сделать.

Version (2) expresses doubt or skepticism on its own (as if he could do it, but he can't). Будто behaves like якобы here, so if one wanted to add any 'positive' phrase just after (2), most likely they'd need to add как before будто, to transform the sense into more neutral 'it looks like'.

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