Это мы пытаемся сказать, что доверяем тебе.

I just heard my girlfriend say this in conversation, and it seems she meant it as a rough equivalent of "This is our way of saying that we trust you" or "This is our trying to say that we trust you".

If the English sentences are anything to go by, the emphatic "это" seems to qualify the rest of the sentence:

1) Это мы пытаемся сказать, что доверяем тебе.

The thing is that I was always under the impression this type of "это" only emphasises one or two words immediately after it: "Это я ... [It is me who ...]", "Это от него ... [It is from him that ...]" etc. To my mind, it corresponds to the emphatic construction "It is X that Y" in English.

2) Это мы пытаемся сказать, что доверяем тебе.

So I initially thought the "это" only emphasises the pronoun "мы" and interpreted what she said as: "It is us (not someone else) who are trying to say ...".

  • Это in cases like this can replace "to be" in the present tense. Russian has many ways of making up for the lack of "is".—We're trying... To know if the if she was stressing other words( e.g., it's us, this is us, this is..) you would need to know about Russian intonation. – – VCH250 Jan 5 '19 at 14:25
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    @VCH250 {{ Это in cases like this can replace "to be" in the present tense. Russian has many ways of making up for the lack of "is".—We're trying... }} I'm pretty sure the funtion of these "это"s is not about this... even if it may seem like that in English... because in my example there's nothing to make up for; it can stand perfectly on its own without "это". As Баян Купи-ка has pointed out, too, what we are dealing with here is rather "the scope of the emphasis". [I asked: "What do you mean by that?"] -- [She answered emphatically: Это мы пытаемся сказать, что доверяем тебе.] – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 5 '19 at 21:30
  • I'd say it's actually quite simple. Even without any context it's obvious that 'Это мы пытаемся сказать, что доверяем тебе' is a reply to an explicit/implicit question 'What's going on/What are you guys trying to do'. 'Это' is simply a contraction for 'What's happening is'. Another way to convey the same meaning in English would be to use 'just' - 'We're just trying to tell you...' – Arthur Kazykhanov Jan 8 '19 at 20:53

The scope of the emphasis depends on the members which receive tonal stress. It could be мы alone but it could just as much be the verb (сказать and to a lesser extent доверяем in your example) and in the latter case the emphasis i guess is perceived as being applied to the entire sentence, because the predicate is that much important.

Or it may be the case that the predicate comes under tonal emphasis automatically in a relaxed enunciation.

In the stressed мы the intonation is descending \,
in the stressed сказать - доверяем it's ascending / - descending \.

  • It's ик-2 for stressed мы—this is a bit more complicated than just "descending"—(It would be really weird to stress this word, though). Сказать will not be stressed.) That's just ик-3, which is used to mark transition between parts of sentences and whatnot. You have seven patterns in Russian—интонационные конструкции. – VCH250 Jan 5 '19 at 14:21
  • if i needed to emphasize it's us who i'd definitely stress мы, just as pronunciation cannot be learned from transcription so can't the intonation be learned from diagrams, these are just approximations and pointers.., the 7-fold intonational system is based on works of only one author and may not be exhaustive – Баян Купи-ка Jan 5 '19 at 14:51

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