... 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.

  • You may say "одно из двух". This is actually a more popular expression than the one in question, which sounds pompous.
    – AlexVB
    Jan 23, 2018 at 21:30
  • I think that a direct translation into is not given provides enough insight. Jan 26, 2018 at 21:17
  • Just a side note, третьего не дано is a translation of the Latin tertium non datur. Jan 28, 2018 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


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".

  • Hi. So is "третьего" the subject and does it mean "a third choice is not given"? Jan 23, 2018 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? Jan 23, 2018 at 22:27
  • @alone-Zee Yes, it means that. The word appears to be tricky. I'll edit my answer.
    – AlexVB
    Jan 23, 2018 at 22:35
  • 1
    @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, 2018 at 7:08
  • 1
    Oh, I see. Interesting. In English, the present tense would sound natural: "above and beyond what we're ordered to (do)". Jan 24, 2018 at 7:17

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.

  • 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)"? Jan 25, 2018 at 2:55

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