What's the difference between:

у папы семь собак


у папы есть семь собак

Are both sentences used? When can I omit есть? On a daily basis which of these would you use?

2 Answers 2


In this particular case it would not be an oversimplification to say that this forms are interchangeable and one can easily encounter in casual usage, say, у меня есть две кошки and у меня две кошки.

Keep in mind though that there still can be differences in usage Compare у меня есть пистолет and у меня пистолет!. First is more of a statement, an admission of the fact that one possesses a gun, so it's closer gotta gun "I have a gun". Second phrase is closer to notification, in some cases a warning if you mind (so this phrase can be translated as "I gotta gun!".

So in a hostage situation the Russian-speaking terrorist will most likely shout out: "У меня граната" rather than "у меня есть граната". Most likely but not necessarily.

Also the form "у меня + noun" can indicate possession in a figurative way, like in "у него грипп" or "у меня такая усталость". Phrases "у него есть грипп" or "у меня есть такая усталость" are non-existent.

  • 4
    Not objecting, but we can invent a context in which "у него есть грипп" would sound normal. "Доктор, у пациента нет гриппа!" - "Простите, коллега, но у него есть грипп." "Опишите свои симптомы, у вас нет такой усталости?" - "Да, у меня есть такая усталость."
    – Alexander
    Nov 12, 2017 at 8:47
  • 2
    It feels like when I say to you "У меня граната", the nuance is that that's all I care to say and you need to know about the situation. That nuance is absent in "У меня есть граната [и много чего ещё]."
    – Headcrab
    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:55

Есть is generally used where English applies the indefinite article to the object, 'a or an'. Where English would apply the definite article 'the' есть is usually omitted. For example:

У доктора есть телефон. The doctor has a telephone У кого есть словарь? Who has a dictionary.


У кого словарь? Who has the dictionary

With numerals the word ectb is generally omitted.

In your example: у папы семь собок is generally used.

  • 1
    please don't spell Russian words in pseudo-cyrillic latin adaptation.
    – shabunc
    Nov 16, 2017 at 1:47

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