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... либо ..., либо ... Третьего не дано.

I assume this is an equivalent of the English expression "it can only go one of two ways" оr "(there's) no in-between".

I'm not sure how to parse the phrase, though, especially the word "дано". My assumptions:

Subject = impersonal, omitted, something like "it" or "the (current) situation"

"дано" = alternative form (?) of "дало", which is the neuter singular past tense of the verb "дать"

"третьего" = direct object of the transitive verb "дать", and in genitive case because of the negative construction

Literal translation:

(It / The situation) didn't give/allow a third course/choice.

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  • You may say "одно из двух". This is actually a more popular expression than the one in question, which sounds pompous. – AlexVB Jan 23 '18 at 21:30
  • I think that a direct translation into is not given provides enough insight. – Oleg Lobachev Jan 26 '18 at 21:17
  • Just a side note, третьего не дано is a translation of the Latin tertium non datur. – Nikolay Ershov Jan 28 '18 at 10:28
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Дано (masuline: дан, feminine: дана, plural: даны) is the neuter singular short passive participle of the perfective verb дать and means "[it] is [not] given/provided".

But Russian Wiktionary also lists it as an "unchangeable predicative" with the meaning "to be destined (to have natural ability) to do something".

"Ему было не дано петь" - "He was not destined to sing (he was a bad singer)"

Your other assumptions are correct.

You may expand this expression to "Третьего выбора не дано" - "A third option is not provided".

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  • Hi. So is "третьего" the subject and does it mean "a third choice is not given"? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 23 '18 at 21:48
  • I cannot seem to find any entry for "дано" in the conjugation table of "давать" on Wiki. I wonder why it is not listed? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 23 '18 at 22:27
  • @alone-Zee Yes, it means that. The word appears to be tricky. I'll edit my answer. – AlexVB Jan 23 '18 at 22:35
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    @alone-Zee Yes, it is in the same group as "приказано". Technically it is past participle, but, as it has no present time counterpart, Russian speaker would perceive it as both past and present, more like "beyond what has been ordered", i.e. from the past up until now. What tense do English speakers use naturally? – AlexVB Jan 24 '18 at 7:08
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    Oh, I see. Interesting. In English, the present tense would sound natural: "above and beyond what we're ordered to (do)". – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 24 '18 at 7:17
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Дано́ means 'given'.

Тре́тьего не дано́ is a set phrase literally meaning 'no third (choice) is given', one has to choose either/or.

Your parse is correct. Well done recognising the direct object in the genitive.

Дано́ is the passive participle of the perfective verb дать. It is the short neuter form. Other forms include masculine дан, feminine дана́ and plural даны. The full form is да́нный, e.g.: Да́нный предме́т недоста́точно хорошо́ изу́чен. = The given subject has not been studied well enough.

Because it is a set phrase, in the past tense is rendered as:

Тре́тьего бы́ло не дано́.

rather than the more ordinary:

Тре́тьего не́ было дано́.

Compare e.g. to: Тре́тьего блю́да не́ было по́дано. = 'No third course was served' which cannot be phrased as **Тре́тьего блю́да бы́ло не по́дано.

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  • Hi. I want to double-check: Is the construction similar to "He wasn't given any present (Direct Object)"? I mean, "The current situation (unspecified subject, impersonal) isn't given a third choice (Direct Object, in Genitive)"? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 25 '18 at 2:55

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