I'm supposed to answer the following question with the word in parenthesis.

Какому гостю вы показываете новые картины? (иностранный)

So I see that the perfective verb, показываете, is transitive and that I can answer the question in two ways.

1.) I register/show the new room to the foreign guests.

1a.) Я показываю новую комнату (к?) иностранным гостям.

2.) I register/show the foreign guests to the new room.

2a.) Я показываю иностранных гостей (К?) новой комнате. (accusative/dative)


2b.) Я показываю иностранные гости новой комантии. (nominative/dative)

http://www.russianlessons.net/lessons/lesson13_main.php asserts, "The Russian dative case is used to represent the indirect object. This is the person or thing that receives the main object."

So, for example, "to call - звонить", where the recipient of the call (the main object) is in dative.

But in these two sentence choices, I can very well see the room and the guests as being interchanged in their roles as "main object" or "indirect object", and hence their formation in either the accusative or the dative case.

i.) Is my interpretation in the last paragraph correct?

ii.) As neither are subjects (room/guests - subject is "I") the 2b) isn't correct, right?

iii.) Does this specific case truly have two choices or am I making a mistake?

iv.) What are the correct translations of the sentences 1.) and 2.)?

I think all these 4 questions are interrelated and I think the answer could be very short.

  • please, tend to as one question per post.
    – shabunc
    Jan 5, 2018 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


The verb показываете is in fact imperfective as verbs in Present tense (in Russian at least) can't be perfective.

I believe the source of your confusion is the two ways of using the verb to show in English. Namely:

1.to show smbd smth


2.to show smbd TO smth

Into Russian they are not translated entirely identically: 1. is as показывать, whereas 2. is as провожать (in order to show), повести показать, делать экскурсию в/на/по.

Still in the second instance it may be translated as показывать as well due to lack of one word equivalent in Russian.

Having in mind specifically the instance 1, the translations of the sentences would have to look as follows

a) I show the new room to the foreign guests - Я показываю новую комнату Acc. иностранным гостям Dat.

b) I show the foreign guests to the new room - Я показываю иностранных гостей Acc. новой комнате Dat.

As you can notice in Accusative (as direct object) and in Dative (as indirect object) both collocations новая комната and иностранные гости have different finals, indicating their case declension and syntactic role.

The second sentence however doesn't make sense in Russian because it says that you show foreign guests to a room, that is show a group of people to an inanimate object.

For the translation to make sense the English sentence is to be construed based on the second meaning of to show (point 2 above), in which case the translation would be

b) I show the foreign guests to the new room - Я веду иностранных гостей Acc. показать (им) новую комнату Acc.

It sounds clumsy in Russian, because such phrase isn't very idiomatic for the language.

  • Thanks for the aspect correction - my note card was wrong. And no need for preposition "к"?
    – nate
    Jan 5, 2018 at 23:50
  • He showed us to our seats. Он проводил нас на наши места (из словаря)
    – V.V.
    Jan 6, 2018 at 7:07
  • 2
    If the meaning is "показывать" you don't need prepositions.
    – V.V.
    Jan 6, 2018 at 7:14
  • You wrote "2.to show smbd TO smth", didn't you mean "to show something to somebody" ?
    – J-mster
    Jan 6, 2018 at 9:28
  • no, i didn't, to the best of my knowledge these are two different expressions and their difference is what i attempted to highlight in the response, the inquirer seems to have confirmed this understanding by his vote.... admittedly 3 versions of the expression to show to mainly with indirect object being a room only produce 22 entries in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, and 30 in the Corpus of Historical American English Jan 6, 2018 at 14:15

1a is correct, no к is needed (к is needed with motion verbs: я иду́ к дру́гу vs. я дарю́ дру́гу).

The answer is in the question itself:

Како́му го́стю вы пока́зываете но́вые карти́ны?

Just replace the question word како́му with иностра́нный, keeping the dative case ending (-ому):

Иностра́нному го́стю вы пока́зываете но́вые карти́ны.

which is a perfectly valid Russian sentence. All that's left is changing the person: вы пока́зываете -> я пока́зываю:

Иностра́нному го́стю я пока́зываю но́вые карти́ны.

You could stop there but one final touch could be moving the dative object (иностра́нному го́стю) to the end of the sentence to make it sound more neutral:

Я пока́зываю но́вые карти́ны иностра́нному го́стю.

iii.) Does this specific case truly have two choices or am I making a mistake?

Answering the question in English and translating back to Russian is the wrong way to go. You are bringing in idiosyncrasies of English that a Russian would never have thought of when answering that question. The grammatical structure was already given to you in the question and your job was just to substitute the right words, keeping the cases.

This method also trains the right reflexes: it is hard-wired into every Russian brain to use the same case when answering a question:

  • Како́му го́стю нра́вятся карти́ны?
  • Иностра́нному.


  • Кому́ Росси́я продала́ Аля́ску?
  • Аме́рике.

Answering with just иностра́нный or Аме́рика would sound awkward, as if you were answering a different question.

Also, in your answer, карти́ны suddenly became ко́мнаты. Who knows what else might get lost in translation? :)

  • You seem to have forgotten what it's like to be a beginner. Of course there's going to be translation going on--how else will anyone learn? Think back to your early days of language learning:)
    – VCH250
    Jan 6, 2018 at 17:03
  • "This method also trains the reflexes:..." I think I probably don't give my textbook's method enough credit... I always want to add more of the things I've learned to the answers than just simply replacing a word or two. But as you alluded to, this might introduce English idiosyncrasies...
    – nate
    Jan 6, 2018 at 17:15
  • 2
    I agree with Sergey, especially his point iii. A good textbook presents material in a carefully thought out order, precisely because so much of English usage doesn't map clearly to Russian ways of phrasing things. Trust your book & your teacher (but also keep asking questions!). :)
    – Curt
    Jan 7, 2018 at 17:47

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