I understand that the possessor is in the genitive case but what is the difference between машина девушки and машина у девушки and у девушки есть машина and я вожу машину девушки and я вожу машину у девушки?

  • "машина девушки" is unambiguous phrase, genitive case and sign of possessions. But "машина у девушки" have 2 meaning really - it could too mean physical location only. "я вожу машину у девушки" - f.e, he drives just around/near the girl. :> "я вожу машину у березы". "я вожу машину у девятиэтажки". "я таскаю тачку у ямы". "я сейчас вожу коляску у той вон девушки" Nov 26 '21 at 2:32

I would assume that "девушка" in these sentences stands for someone's girlfriend though it could be some other girl.

машина девушки is most simple – "my girlfriend's car"

машина у девушки is usually used as a part of a sentence. Like "а что за машина у девушки?" — "What kind of car does your girlfriend have?" Or "моя машина сейчас у девушки" — "My car is currently at my girlfriend's place"/"I gave my car to my girlfriend for now"

у девушки есть машина – "my girlfriend has a car"

я вожу машину девушки - "I drive the my girlfriend's car"

я вожу машину у девушки – This doesn't sound naturally. I'd translate it as "I drive a car at my girlfriend's place" or something like that.

  • 1
    The preposition "у" can be possessive or locative, so "машина у девушки" can mean both "girlfriend has a car" and "car at girlfriend's place".
    – Alexander
    Jul 11 '18 at 16:48
  • Yep. That's what the second example for the sentence is about
    – Alissa
    Jul 11 '18 at 17:16

The combinations of words "машина" and "девушка" in numbers 1 to 4 express approximately the same meaning -- "car [which] belongs to girl [and I drive it]". Number 5, however, might sooner mean "I drive the car [in the company/firm/organisation] belonging to the girl". It would hardly relate to the girl's possession of the car itself.

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