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I often don't see the Russian adverb "уже" translated into English. I'll give you some examples:

Скоро уже начало марта.
The beginning of March is soon.

Example above is from Duolingo's Russian for English Speaker's Course

Interestingly enough, as I tried to find some good examples, I mostly saw sentences that, with more context could have added an "already" to the sentence without any drastic change in meaning, such as:

И тебе уже пора уже зарегиться там.
And it's time for you to get out there.

Будущее уже началось, будущее уже сейчас.
The future has arrived, and the future is now.

A bigger mystery is when "уже" is paired with "скоро" (as in the first example). Here are some others:

Нет, я еще на работе, но cкоро уже буду ехать домой.
No, I'm still at work, but I'll be home soon.

И так, скоро уже закончим.
It won't take much longer.

Ну что там, скоро уже?
Well, how long do I have to wait?

Скоро уже ты получишь полную свободу.
In due time, you'll have your freedom.

Examples above are from Reverso's Context Dictionary

Are these somewhat idiomatic expressions that one simply must get used to and through repeated exposure and practice will feel more natural to an English speaker? Or can the "уже" be omitted? Would these sentences sound odd to a native speaker of Russian if "уже" were to be omitted?

  • 2
    Please correct the Russian part of the example: "The future has arrived, and the future is now." – AlexVB Oct 2 '17 at 8:44
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    A converse example: Winter is coming can be translated as Зима УЖЕ близко. – Oleg Lobachev Oct 2 '17 at 14:02
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    Translating between languages is rarely word for word, especially any words outside the main S/V/O triple. – Vitaly Osipov Oct 3 '17 at 1:38
  • @AlexVB Thank you for your attention to detail, Alex. The error has since been corrected. – Lisa Beck Nov 23 '17 at 20:33
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"Уже" can be an adverb and an intensifying particle. As a particle it doesn't bear any meaning but is used with words denoting time to stress their duration. All your examples are connected with "time". You can leave out "уже" and the sentence becomes neutral.

Скоро начало марта.(neutral soon)

Скоро уже начало марта.(very soon or shows your expectation of spring )

И тебе пора зарегиться там.

И тебе пора уже зарегиться там.("уже пора" is not quite "high time" (давно пора), but is still stronger than "пора". And it's time for you to get out there.

Нет, я еще на работе, но скоро поеду домой(neutral facts)

Нет, я еще на работе, но cкоро уже буду ехать домой.(very soon or expressing how eager he is about going home)

Some other examples :

Не видеться уже несколько лет. Не спать уже третьи сутки.

Russian is full of emotions. ™Whereas "скоро" is neutral, "уже скоро"includes "скоро"plus anticipation, eagerness and expectation.

  • So many good answers to choose from, and often, in such cases, I like to give the green checkmark to the person with the fewest reputation points, but in this case, I think the answer provided here has a slight edge over the others. (The 9 upvotes certainly influences my decision as well!) – Lisa Beck Nov 23 '17 at 20:39
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    Could it be that "cкоро уже" is roughly equivalent to English "soon enough"? – xfra35 Nov 24 '17 at 13:07
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    @xfra35 Maybe, also "quite soon", but sometimes it doesn't express time, just a desire. – V.V. Nov 24 '17 at 15:08
6

Technically, it is sometimes an adverb and sometimes a particle. While as an adverb it expresses completeness, as a particle it emphasizes a big amount of something (time, quantity etc.) and shows your impatience or annoyance with the fact or excitation about it.

You can omit the particle in most cases and it won't change the meaning, but the sentence will lose some flavor.

Скоро уже ты получишь полную свободу. - Soon you'll have your freedom at last.

[Давай,] сделай это уже! - [Come on,] do it at last (shows impatience).

Я потратил уже 200 долларов. - I have already spent 200 dollar [on it] (the point is not that you have spent the money, but that you have spent that much and you are not comfortable with that).

Я потратил уже 200 долларов! - I have already spent 200 dollar [on it] (and proud about that).

Я уже давно не ходил в театр. - It was long ago, when I was in a theater last time (you regret this).

  • 1
    I don't find that those phrases communicate the said attitudes (regret, proud, comfortable). Out of context it's completely subjective. Even in the case of "freedom" it's not "at last" without a context. Compare with: "скоро уже ты получишь полную свободу, а тебя уже по новой примут" – George Polevoy Oct 2 '17 at 22:09
4

In the second part of your examples, уже can mostly also be translated as already. Note that the Context Dictionary's examples are not literal translations and therefore differ from the original sentences both in tone and in word choice. If you were to translate them as closely to original as possible, you'd get the following:

Нет, я еще на работе, но cкоро уже буду ехать домой. -- No, I'm still at work, but soon I'll already be heading home.

Итак, скоро уже закончим. -- That said, we'll already have finished soon.

Ну что там, скоро уже? -- Well, is it over yet? (literally, 'is it soon yet?', referring to the end of the action taking place)

Скоро уже ты получишь полную свободу. -- Soon you'll already be completely free.

Уже adds a tone of reassurance to скоро, as if to confirm that the action in progress won't take long to complete indeed.

2

As native Russian speaker, i'd like to point out that "скоро" and "скоро уже" make no difference in practical spoken language, but "уже скоро" can be used to show that you are looking forward expecting something to happen/do.

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