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От него гораздо больше толку, чем от некого короля!

I assume this sentence literally means:

From him (we get) a lot more use than from a certain king.

I wonder why the noun "толк" has to be in Dative here? Is it an omitted, impersonal subject that I'm dealing with here? Still, I'm not sure how to properly parse the sentence.

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  • Literally one can say something like: This person (male) is more useful, more efficient, rational or practical (and probably more clever) than some king, and this is beneficial to other people . толку does not necessarily imply USE but all these connotations.
    – alexsms
    Feb 14, 2018 at 5:28

1 Answer 1

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It's not dative. It's a genitive form from a now-extinct paradigm that has come to have a partitive meaning, "a measure of an uncountable thing". Related: Partitive Genitive.

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  • Wow, I hadn't expected this. So is it like "he is of a lot more use ..."? Feb 13, 2018 at 18:38
  • @alone-Zee Your original "from him (we get)" was a closer approximation. It's the same use of genitive as the French je voudrais de l'eau, "I'd like [a quantity] of water" = "some water". Feb 13, 2018 at 18:49
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    Oh, so it's a bit strange in English, but is it like: "a lot more of use"? --- "a measure {a lot more} of an uncountable thing {use}" Feb 13, 2018 at 18:55
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    @alone-Zee the form of standard Genitive толкА here would also be OK Feb 13, 2018 at 19:21
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    In this sense толкУ seems preferable (cf. без толку - fixed phrase, толку мало, толку нет - sound better)
    – alexsms
    Feb 14, 2018 at 5:22

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