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If I am белый человек and my wife is белая and наше молоко белое... This much I think I understand quite well!

But with готов I am mystified. Я готов and my wife, готова and the milk, not готовое but merely готово. She says готов is not an adjective but something else... so can someone kindly explain to me what part of speech "готов" is?

  • All of these answers are so helpful, I cannot possibly choose one "best" one. – Douglas Held Jun 5 '17 at 12:14
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Готов / готова/готово/ готовы are short forms of adjectives (готовый, -ая, -ое, -ые). Full forms are used attributively, describing a noun. Short forms are used predicatively.

готовое платье (a ready-made dress), платье готово (the dress is ready).

7

Гото́в, гото́ва, гото́во, гото́вы are short forms of the adjective гото́вый. Short forms are used mainly as the predicate in a sentence:

  • Снег бел. - The snow is white. (бе́лый)
  • Ты уве́рен? - Are you sure? (уве́ренный)
  • Ты прав. - You are right. (пра́вый)

Some adjectives are only used in their short forms: рад (glad), до́лжен (must).

5

Semantically, this form is a cross-breed between an adjective and a participle. Some centuries ago all adjectives used to have both shortened and elongated forms, now this system is less regular.

You can face the same difference with нужен, должен, уверен, рад, прав, etc. They are not exactly participles nor adjectives, but a cross-breed of a kind.

The shortened forms (in Neutrum) are used in a one-word sentence, e. g.

Можно? = Can [I]?

Нужно? = [Is it] necessary? [Does [someone / the speaker / the addressee]] have to?

Готово! = [It's] ready! Done!

The difference between готово and готовое is that the shortened form used as a kind of perfective (a completed action and/or quality related to a moment of speech), whilest an elongated form refers to an abstract quality.

  • I don't understand the comment about Belorussian - did anybody ever mention гатовы? – Douglas Held May 30 '17 at 7:24
  • I think гатовы was an original misspelling of mine. Somebody corrected it. – Douglas Held May 30 '17 at 11:45
  • Guess, really-really long times ago all adjectives were short-only :-D – Arioch May 30 '17 at 14:17
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I'd hope to add a "thumb rule" here.

There is a meme pattern there, "Long cat is long" http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=longcat How should we tell it in Russian?

The direct translation would be "Длинный кот - длинный", (with dash substituting for omitted есть/is verb) but that is quite unnatural, spelling that makes me stress my tongue.

Then we can repeat ourselves, switching to complex sentences: " Длинный кот, он - длинный" ~ "(speaking of a) Long cat, it is long". Which is more verbose but in my opinion is easier to let out.

Typically this is translated as "Длинный кот - такой длинный" aka "Long cat is so long", but that conveys a significantly different mood, I think.

And to my opinion, the most easy to say and most faithful to the language way would be using short adjectives: "Длинный кот длиннен" with the last word fusing two words "is long" in it.


There is also another domain: obsolete language idioms, stemming from Middle Ages folklore. Example a semi-rhymed puzzle: "Красна девица // сидит в темнице, // а коса - на улице".

In this example the old idiom "красна девица" is naturally spelled with short adjective. Full adjective and modern word - "красная девушка" - can potentially confuse your listeners.

"На миру и смерть красна" is another example.

Wiki says old Slavic language only had short adjectives, and the full adjectives were developed in Russian language later when it forked from Pra-Slavic family. Perhaps it is true, when I hear other Slavic languages (Serbian, Polish, etc) it seems ot me they exactly only use short adjectives :-D

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9A%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D1%84%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B0_%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D1%8B%D1%85

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