Я начинаю понимать, почему вы с Адамом так близки.

The intended meaning: "you{singular, her interlocutor} and Adam are so close"

The speaker and her interlocutor are on close enough terms to call each other by "ты", which rules out the possibility of her suddenly switching to the polite, singular "вы".

On the other hand, the context also makes it abundantly clear that her interlocutor is the only person here that she is referring to as having a close relationship with Adam, so it seems logical to discard the inexplicably plural "вы" in favour of the casual, singular "ты":

Я начинаю понимать, почему ты с Адамом так близок.

This apparent idiosyncrasy -- using the plural "вы (с Адамом)" when, in fact, the casual, singular "ты (с Адамом)" is obviously implied -- throws me off here. What is the rationale behind this?


3 Answers 3


so it seems logical to discard the inexplicably plural "вы" in favour of the casual, singular "ты":

This premise is wrong. It is plural "вы". It is absolutely legit to use "вы" referring to a single present counterpart and their absent companions. Compare:

Father to child: Что вы сегодня делали на уроке математики?

Obviously, father does not use the polite singular "вы" addressing his child. "Вы" in this case refers to the child and their classmates even when they're absent.

This "вы" implies that the group of people which are being spoken about (ты и Адам, ребенок и одноклассники) have something common (are close to each other) or are/were/will be doing something together (as in the math class).

  • Hi. The problem is that the speaker is referring to only one person, her interlocutor, by "вы" when she says "вы (her interlocutor) с Адамом так близки". In English, it would be: "You and Adam are so close". May 2, 2018 at 12:37
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    No, the speaker is referring to two persons. See the difference: the speaker addresses one person, but refers two. And btw it's plural in English (and in other European languages) too.
    – Abakan
    May 2, 2018 at 12:41
  • @Alone-zee No. Your translating is wrong. It is not "You and Adam are so close" (which in Russian would be "Ты и Адам так близки"), the correct translation is "You WITH Adam are so close"
    – Anixx
    May 13, 2018 at 8:43

I guess the rationale is in that their intimacy/friendship is reciprocal.

If the addressee were the only one exercising intimacy/friendship in his relationship with Adam, it would be correct to say ты так близок.

But since relationship is an affair in which usually all parties are actively engaged the use of plural is much more prevalent.

  • If "вы" in "вы с Адамом" refers to two people -- her interlocutor and Adam himself -- doesn't it lead to an odd interpretation that "you (her interlocutor) are close to Adam" while "Adam himself is also close to Adam"? Which is exactly the source of this uneasiness I feel about this construction. :) May 2, 2018 at 13:07
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    @Alone-zee Read is as "вы с Адамом так близки друг к другу" (not "к Адаму").
    – Abakan
    May 2, 2018 at 13:09
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    @Alone-zee yeah, like Abakan wrote the implication is "you are close to one another" - "Вы с Адамом так близки (друг к другу)", it's not that ты близок is incorrect, there could be cases where this version would be more appropriate, so we're talking not so much in terms of right-wrong as frequent-infriquent May 2, 2018 at 13:16
  • Hmm, in that case, I'd be tempted to say: "ты и Адам так близки друг с другом" or "ты и Адам так близки друг к другу". The "с Адамом" bit pulled me up short. May 2, 2018 at 13:20
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    @Alone-zee you can absolutely say so as well, but it lengthens the phrase and explicitly specifies a detail which can be understood from the context or phraseology, it doesn't contribute much to the phrase, because it's already clear as it is May 2, 2018 at 13:27

It's analogous to ”you two are so close." "You two" here being "вы (с Адамом.)" "Вы так близки." "Вы (с Адамом [specifying who is "вы"]) так близки."

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