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Even though the word мечта officially has no genitive plural, is it possible to say мечт colloquially, or use мечтаний as an alternative?

Like, "That's one of my dreams". "Это одна из моих мечт" or "Это одно из моих мечтаний"

  • 1
    great question, the expected Genitive form of the word has long been an object of jokes – Баян Купи-ка Feb 8 '18 at 11:57
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    You can use this form only joking. The most popular saying is ""за сбычу мечт" (let our dreams come true) , where neither of the nouns really exists. – V.V. Feb 8 '18 at 12:27
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    Just simply say это моя мечта, that would be more correct. – Oleg Lobachev Feb 8 '18 at 12:40
  • "За сбычту мечт!" – Alexander Feb 8 '18 at 21:22
5

You can not say мечт; this is definetely incorrect. The word мечтаниe has a slightly different meaning: it's dreaming in English and it's more about the process of thinking of your dream. So there is no genitive plural of мечта in Russian, but you can say that using another word - Это одно из моих желаний. This phrase has exactly the same meaning.

5

Linguist Andrey Zaliznyak in his authoritative Грамматический словарь русского языка. Словоизменение. gives the genitive plural of "мечта" as "мечт" while noting that this form is "awkward".

In the introduction he explains what he means by “awkward” using “мечт” as one of his examples:

Возможен также случай, когда способ образования потенциальной формы однозначен, однако построенная таким образом форма воспринимается как нежелательная. Практически это выражается в тем, что носители литературного русского языка в тех случаях, когда им в речи требуется по смыслу данная форма, обычно испытывают затруднение и нередко предпочитают обойтись вообще без этой формы, заменив слово синонимом или перестроив синтаксическую конструкцию. Таковы, например, формы: брюзг, мечт, башок (от брюзга́, мечта́, башка́), галжу́, дужу́ (от галдеть, дудеть). Причины подобного затруднения могут быть различными. По-видимому, чаще всего причина состоит в том, что в таких формах ударение или вид основы слишком сильно отклоняется от остальных форм парадигмы (прежде всего, от исходной формы) [footnote omitted] в других случаях слишком непривычно образование соответствующих форм от основ с определенным суффиксом (например, кратких форм от основ с суффиксом -ск-, ср. дереве́нский, све́тский, геро́йский); иногда источник затруднения не вполне ясен (ср., например, пиша́ от писа́ть).

There will also be cases where the means of making a potential form is clear, however the form so produced is considered undesirable. The practical result is that when the meaning conveyed in speech requires the given form, a native speaker of Russian ordinarily experiences a certain awkwardness and it is not seldom that will he prefer to do without that form entirely, replacing it with a synonym or altering the syntactical construction. Such forms include: брюзг, мечт, башок (from брюзга́, мечта́, башка́), галжу́, дужу́ (from галдеть, дудеть). This awkwardness may have various causes. It would seem that most often the cause is that in such forms the stress or the form of the stem differs too markedly from the other forms in the paradigm (particularly from the initial form). In other cases [the problem is] the these forms are derived from a starting form with a particular subject in a way which is too unusual (for example, a short from from a starting form with the suffix -ск-, ср. дереве́нский, све́тский, геро́йский); occasionally the source of the awkwardness is not entirely clear (compare for example пиша́ from писа́ть).

Указанная особенность потенциальной формы отражается в словаре пометой “затрудн.”, т. е. образование данной фермы затруднительно (или равносильным этой помете условным знаком). Например, при слове башка дано указание “Р. мн. затрудн.”, при слове галдеть — “наст. 1 ед. затрудн.”. Помета “затрудн.” может стоять и в тех случаях, когда форма допускает два варианта образования; она показывает здесь, что затруднение вызывают оба варианта формы; см., например, статью гулкий.

That a potential form has this feature is expressed in this dictionary by the note “awk.”, i.e., the production of this form is awkward (or an equivalent symbol). For example next to the word башка is the notation “g. pl. awk.”, next to the word галдеть — “pres. 1st sing. awk.”. The notation “awk.” may also be present in cases where there are two possible forms; here it indicates that both possibilities are awkward; for example, see the entry гулкий.

Таким образом, указание о том, что образование некоторой формы затруднительно или что сведения об этой форме носят предположительный характер, всегда означает, что данная форма малоупотребительна. Однако обратное неверно: далеко не про всякую малоупотребительную форму дается какое-либо из этих указаний.

Thus, the notation that the production of a particular form is awkward or that the information about the form is conjectural always means that the form in question is seldom-used. However the opposite is not the case: it is hardly true that every seldom-used form bears such a notation.

Заметим, что между затрудненным образованием формы (помета “затрудн.”) и ее отсутствием (помета “нет”, см. стр. 5) в действительности нет резкой границы; поэтому в переходных случаях выбор той или другой пометы в известной мере условен.

Note that there is no sharp distinction is possible between words which are awkward (noted “awk.”) and forms which are absent (noted as “non-existent”, see page 5), thus in edge cases the choice of one or the other of these notations is understood to be in some degree arbitrary.

So in conclusion, from the standpoint of morphology the genitive plural of “мечта” is unquestionably “мечт”. However native speakers find it awkward and seldom use it. Ozhegov’s dictionary famously suggests “мечтаний” as a substitute. But "мечт" is used occasionally and after researching the matter I can find no argument that it is objectively incorrect. It seems it’s use is just one of those things people love to criticize like ending an English sentence with a preposition. If it is rejected, it is rejected on stylistic, not grammatical grounds.

There is extensive discussion of this issue on the Internet. Some examples:

  • Wow! I didn't expect to receive such a dedicated feedback with so much research. There are quite a few generous people on this forum!!! Of course, thank you so much. It's even greater the fact that your text is quoted from Andrey Zaliznyak. He designed a comprehensive grammar explanation for a Russian-Portuguese dictionary, with explanations in Portuguese (my native tongue). I have the Русско-португальский словарь of 1989. I thought Zaliznyak was just a teacher of the Russian language for foreigners, but apparently, he was a master of his own language, taught to his own people. – swrutra Feb 8 '18 at 22:53
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    Didn't you mean "...like using a preposition to end an English sentence with"? :) – David Feb 8 '18 at 23:18
  • @David Yes, that is what I wanted to say, but could not think how to do it. – David42 Feb 9 '18 at 0:17
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    @swrutra, Zaliznyak was one of the greatest Russian linguists, and a great educator. Sadly, he died recently. Originally, he developed the comprehensive Russian grammar system for his Russian-French dictionary. – Zeus Feb 9 '18 at 5:59
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Some words simply lack required forms to use them in certain ways. мечты does not have a genitive. Because of this putting it where it would require a genitive is impossible. It's a restriction. In such cases you often have to completely change the entire sentence rather than changing words. For instance you could say: Я об этом мечтал.

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