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Вам не кажется, что эту яму как-будто специально кто-то вырыл?

I assume this "как будто" is an adverbial phrase, not a conjunction, given its position. When you use "как будто" as an adverbial phrase, does it serve to qualify an immediately following word -- in this case, "специально"?

And how does it differ in meaning from using "будто" as a conjunction:

vs: Вам не кажется, что будто3 специально4 эту1 яму2 кто-то вырыл?

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  • yes it does, the difference between будто and как-будто, if any, must be very subtle, difficult to pinpoint Aug 18 '18 at 15:25
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I am Russian but not linguist. I am going to tell how I understand this but I do not know any language theory behind this.

In your example you can use будто and как будто interchangeably. I think nowadays they more likely say как будто in this case.

Yes the word как будто is used to qualify an immediately following word or even a sentence.

If they say эту яму специально кто-то вырыл this might sound like accusation which in this case is obviously wrong. If they add как будто they soften the accusation and say that this seems like it was done intentionally but we know that it was not.

Let's look at couple examples.

I say to my friend:

Ты как будто хочешь меня обидеть.

This means that I expect and hope that they have no intention to offend me but they behave like they do, they make me feel they are offending me. The translation might be:

You seem to want to offend me.

Another example:

Как будто мне заняться нечем!

It might be translated:

As if I have nothing to do!

In this example Как будто effects the meaning of the next sentence мне заняться нечем. It changes the meaning to the contrary, as if I say that I have a lot to do now, but also adds some emotions and irony to the statement.

I think I can remember the time when the expression как будто become popular as a filter word. People tend to use to fill in the pause or to sound modern and cool.

I think the old school version for the last example might be

Мне больше заняться нечем!
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  • @Dmitry спасибо за замечание! Исправил. Sep 2 '18 at 13:45
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No, it doesn't emphasise anything here. This can be translated as 'as if' in both cases. Maybe you have a different example ?...

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  • Sorry, wrong wording! What was I thinking? I meant "qualify". Aug 18 '18 at 5:58
  • Sorry, I'm not sure, I understand you correctly. But you can remove будто in both cases and their meanings will not change and the new phrases will be acceptable. (Of course, the phases will lose 'as if' meaning)
    – sr9yar
    Aug 18 '18 at 6:21
  • sr9yar makes a good point, either part of как-будто can be used alone, как is colloquial Aug 18 '18 at 15:28

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