On Duolingo, I was asked to construct the sentence, "Dad always has questions." The correct answer was "У папы всегда есть вопросы." I got it wrong since I left out есть but I was wondering if this would be wrong 100% of the time or not. Like let's say I'm annoyed that he's always asking questions. Or... if there's any other way to construct that same sentence. It's said that Russian has less structure than other languages overall, but thus far Duolingo's sentences are pretty structured. Any advice/examples on flexibility to feed my curiosity? Thanks!

  • 4
    У папы ВСЕГДА вопросы (with the logical stress ) is OK.
    – V.V.
    Dec 29 '16 at 6:12

In the majority of cases it's actually not wrong to omit word "есть" and your particular example it is indeed completely acceptable to say just "У папы всегда вопросы".

In Russian whenever you can use "есть" (in sense to have) / "имеется" + noun you can omit this verb for affirmation. Examples:

  • У меня есть билет на концерт / у меня билет на концерт
  • Там есть еда / там еда

It's getting more complicated for questions: Там еда? is acceptable but есть там еда? is used more often.

Also, if affirmative sentence starts with есть it can not be omitted. One can not just say что выпить? instead of есть что выпить?.

This is intentionally simplified, there are some constructions that de-facto are used more often with есть than without it, but I believe this is enough for understanding basic usage.

Also it worth to mention that sometimes this есть is used for emotional amplification, some in some context у меня вопрос can sound like I have a question and у меня есть вопрос is something like I do have a question.

  • 2
    I think, in questions есть usually can't be omitted, because it's the main word there. If we omit it, we'll get a new question with a another meaning. Just like in your example Там еда? / Есть там еда?. These questions are not interchangeable, they are for different situations and require different answers.
    – Lara
    Dec 29 '16 at 16:54
  • +1 Although not incorrect per ce, omitting "всегда" renders the answer misleading. "У меня всегда билет на концерт" or "Там всегда еда" is hardly correct Russian.
    – Avi Gordon
    Dec 30 '16 at 15:22
  • 'Есть' in questions can be omitted when the question is not about existence. For example: ТАМ еда? (the stress is on the first word) - Is the food really there? Там ЕДА? (the stress is on the second word) - Is it really the food there? Там есть еда? - Is there some food? Only the last of three questions is about existence of food and requires the word 'есть'.
    – Vitaly
    Jan 5 '17 at 14:25
  • @Vitaly, in these examples есть is not "omitted", it just mustn't be there at all. As soon as we insert есть, any question transforms into a question about existence. If we change intonation accordingly, of course... and if we don't, we get a weird, dubious sentence, like ТАМ есть еда?. So, you and I are actually saying the same thing, but with different words.
    – Lara
    Jan 8 '17 at 15:00

I would say that when you use the word есть it underlines that he can have questions or reservations or doubts while not necessarily expressing them. He can keep the questions to himself for a time. On the other hand, without есть it more implies he asks the questions (not keeping to himself).

For instance:

У меня есть вопросы по поводу нового оборудования = I have reservations/doubts/questions about the new equipment (not necessary want to share them).

У меня вопросы по поводу нового оборудования = I want to ask questions about the new equipment.

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