Ничего, если я поживу здесь какое-то время?

I hear this expression in conversation from time to time. How polite does it sound; is it appropriate for use in formal settings such as business meetings? Or is it generally used more informally?

Also, what are common responses, depending on whether you agree with a suggestion or not? Personally, when I don't mind the suggestion made, I tend to start the response with "Да, конечно" or something.

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is an informal question-cum-request. In business meetings i can envisage its usage only for finding a way to accommodate oneself - Ничего, если я сяду здесь? Ничего, если я положу сюда свою сумку? and the like - that is for things not directly related to the objectives of the meeting, unless one is on friendly terms with the opposite party.

However with requests for significant favors it may come off as a little presumptuous and insolent, because it's basically an expression of a decision made in advance for which only a formal consent is being sought, it expects a positive response before considering the other party's opinion. It's as if one would ask You don't mind me living here for a while, right/do you?

Besides your variant, a positive response could be Да, без проблем or (Да) Без проблем / (Да) Пожалуйста / (Да) Ради бога / (Да) Живи сколько хочешь / Живи (less welcoming) / Ну ладно (, живи) / Ну живи (still less welcoming). Да being an enthusiastic particle.

  • I second that. Ничего, если мы перенесём дату поставки по этому контракту? should be discouraged, unless business partners really know each other. – user75619 Dec 1 at 20:50
  • Oh, I see. What about the possible responses when you mean "I DO mind!" for refusal? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 2 at 13:15
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    @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens if there's a viable alternative you may suggest the inquirer opt for it or you may ask to be excused, express regret about inability to grant the request and explain why it can't be granted and use combinations of the above, e.g. Вообще-то тут рядом есть дешёвая гостиница, можешь остановиться там; Извини, но / К сожалению, мои/наши жилищные условия не позволяют принять постояльца OR (Дело в том, что) Мои/наши жилищные условия не позволяют принять постояльца, так что извини. The expression вообще-то is significant, it's a marker of disagreement and objection – Баян Купи-ка Dec 2 at 14:29

This particular phrase sounds a bit unceremoniously: the speaker 'invites' the other person to agree with inevitable inconveniences:

Hopefully, it will be OK if I live here for a while?

"Ничего" tends to have the meaning "ничего плохого" in some cases of usage. E.x., "Извините, пожалуйста, я наступил вам на ногу!" - "Ничего!" - sth like 'never mind, I'm ok'. I'd use "ничего, если" even in a business meeting, it adds some informality and neutral attitude to the issue discussed. But pay attention, that the intonation matters, as well as the words after "ничего". The phrase "(А) ничего, что я вас уже час жду?" means the speaker is pretty angry, and this is what can really spoil your meeting. Avoid this type of usage of ничего, as it is really not for business.

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    It's somewhat peculiar how Russian "ничего", used this sense, is most accurately rendered in English with a phrase with "mind" in it: "Do you mind if..." or "Never mind" ("Never mind 've been waiting you for an hour already!"). – Joker_vD Dec 3 at 13:38

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