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I've only read and heard нету in unformal contexts (Or I somehow associate this to kids saying нету as a cool version of нет, but that's just an impression based on a lack of practice of Russian, so I'm sure I'm wrong). Lingvo just says it means нет.

When can one use нету? Would you answer your boss with нету, начальник ?

  • 1
    Love your DSCH avatar! – Armen Tsirunyan Nov 13 '12 at 11:58
  • @ArmenTsirunyan Спасибо :) – c.p. Nov 13 '12 at 16:48
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    Как говорится, в русском языке слова нету нету )) – Armen Tsirunyan Nov 15 '12 at 11:15
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  1. You can use “нету” in informal speech only.
  2. The word “нету” is an informal form of “нет”. You can always use “нет” instead of “нету”.

  3. When “нет” is used to express absence of something (when one would use an expression like “does not have”, “am not”, or “there is no” in English), you can use “нету” instead of “нет”:

    У меня нету денег.
    Его нету дома.

  4. In other cases, you cannot use “нету” instead of “нет”.

    — Вы написали письмо?
    Нет, не написал.

    Нет, я не Байрон, я другой, ещё неведомый избранник... (М. Ю. Лермонтов).

    Это произойдёт, хотим мы этого или нет.

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6

According to Vasmer, нету and нет both originated from Old Russian нѣту and нѣтъ from the older не ѥ тъ, не ѥ ту.

тъ and ту are sg. acc. from improper pronouns тъ and та (in modern Russian тот and та)

Originally both words meant "there is no" (with respect to gender), however, later the gender distinction was lost, and yet later the latter also has come to mean "not" (along with the old meaning) and the former became colloquial.

Нету can only mean "there is no":

― Всё. Больше никаких вещей нету. ― Спасибо, ― сказал Андрей, убирая письмо в карман. [Виктор Пелевин. Желтая стрела (1993)]

As with other colloquial but not rude words, it's OK to use this word in informal speech.

This word is considered a little bit childish though, so it's OK to answer your boss нету in a private informal conversation but not on an official meeting or in business communication.

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    Your Vasmer citing seems rather spoiled (e.g. base at starling.rinet.ru shows "не ѥ ту" but not "нѣ ѥ ту"). Traditional etymology I have read is нет < не ѥсть; нету < не ѥсть ту(т) (that's why "нету" means absense, but not negation). Moreover, "нѣ ѥ тъ" seems incorrect because "не" is negation, but "нѣ" means "some" (e.g. нѣсколько, нѣкоторый). Sorry for not showing links for etymology, I didn't collect them. But Starling version of Vasmer dictionary shows practically the same I write here. – Netch Nov 15 '12 at 11:15
  • @Netch: you're right, corrected. – Quassnoi Nov 15 '12 at 11:59
5

Нету is a conversational word. You shouldn't use it in commercial correspondence or business books.

Nope means не-а! or не. For example:

— Ты пойдешь со мной?
— Не-а!

Or

— У тебя книга с собой?
— Не.

Unlike nope, нету always means haven't got something: У меня нету с собой книги.

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3

You're right in filing 'нет' as formal and 'нету' as informal. If you feel your boss is even 1% on informal terms with you, you can use 'нету'. But still, both 'нет' and 'нету' are always suitable. That's true, if you say 'нету' to your boss, the boss won't think you're too unceremonious with her|him [unless s|he's an extremist grammar-nazi :D].

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  • But, is it childish to use it? or just not 100% formal? – c.p. Nov 13 '12 at 0:03
  • There's nothing particularly 'childish' about 'нету', it's just slightly informal, but not that much so as to consider it 'uncouth', 'silly', or 'uneducated'. – Yellow Sky Nov 13 '12 at 0:25
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    I would not answer 'нету' to my boss, may be only in private informal conversation. 'нету' is strongly prohibited at business meeting – Evgraf Nov 13 '12 at 0:49
  • Like English "nope" then? – c.p. Nov 13 '12 at 1:03
  • It is something like English yes and yeah: perhaps because it is easier to finish a word in syllable? – se0808 Jul 11 '15 at 19:38
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I heard recently that нету is not in use anymore. That somehow this word is incorrect. So you better use simple нет.

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    Please provide the source of your information. "I heard recently" is not good enough a reason. – Aleks G Nov 14 '12 at 8:27
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I see many people consider the word "нету" as colloquial but it's not quite true. In fact, it doesn't exist at all. It's just a common mistake of Russians which now is believed to be just "informal", though actually educated people will never use it! So forget about this word since only milkmaids in the country may use it, I think.

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    Welcome to Russian.SE. Could you please indicate the source of your information? Is there a particular linguistic or vocabulary book that mentions it? – Aleks G Nov 24 '12 at 10:48

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