In the sentence,

"But that's not true."

I see a translation as

"Но это не правда."

I know 'правда' is feminine so it seems that the 'это' being used is the indeclinable particle, and not the adjective (or else, if the translation is correct, it would have used 'эта for the nominative case).

How can one tell/know which word to use - the indeclinable particle, or the declinable special adjective?

I know this is older, but I think this ties in well with the original question... How do you determine the subject, or object, of some difficult sentences, e.g. this question sentence. For instance,

'Чьи это вещи?' (Here это is indeclinable particle) or

'Чьи эти вещи?'

What do each mean? Which words are the subject? Which are the object?

  • Consider adding some word, that would be specifying the truth, thus would have to be controlled by truth gender. Also switch tenses, so "is" verb would no more be omitted, "Это была горькая правда" == "This was a bitter truth" ~ "This was bitterly true". See, "горькая" became feminine here.
    – Arioch
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


Э́то is the subject in this case, it does not need to agree with пра́вда.

  • Э́то ма́льчик. It's / that's / this is a boy.
  • Э́то де́вочка. It's / that's / this is a girl.
  • Э́то молоко́. It's / that's / this is milk.
  • Э́то гру́ши. These / Those are pears.

When used attributively, the pronoun needs to agree with the attributed noun:

  • Э́тот ма́льчик ве́жливый. This boy is polite.
  • Э́та де́вочка симпати́чная. This girl is cute.
  • Э́то молоко́ горя́чее. This milk is hot.
  • Э́ти гру́ши спе́лые. These pears are ripe.

If English that plays the role of the subject or object, then it will be translated to indeclinable это particle. If it is an adjective (determiner), then it shall be translated to a declinable pronoun тот (with forms тот, та, то, те) or этот (with forms этот, эта, это, эти)*.

That is not true - Это не [есть] правда (or literally это не есть правдивое)

I don't like that - Я не люблю это

That truth - Та правда or Эта правда

  • Hhmmmmm.. I follow.... but why правдивое, neuter nominative? After all, это, here corresponds to the English that, and is thus the indeclinable particle...
    – nate
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 3:12
  • @nate, I just wanted to get literal translation of adjective true with a Russian adjective, but now I see that this example is misleading. Nevertheless, to answer your question, это is perceived by natives as having neuter gender; and nominative is used for a predicative as in "Он - студент". But, again, the example is so unnatural that it is hard to tell what is the way to put it grammatically correct.
    – AlexVB
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 8:48

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