Recently I was doing an exercise, which was to translate a small text about playing Go to Russian and contained the following sentence:



I got puzzled how to properly express in Russian the first part, whose meaning is: "In the meantime I lost the game I had been winning."

Not knowing any standard way of expressing such things in Russian, I eventually decided to use a number of additional words in order to precisely convey the original meaning and be sure that my translation sounds good, but I am still curious whether there was a better solution and whether there is a universal succinct grammatical construction in Russian for phrases like had been winning.

How would the native speakers translate that part as well as the following example sentence to Russian?

He brought the fish she had long been grilling.

Obviously, an accurate translation of this sentence must unambiguously convey that she had been grilling, not had grilled well in advance, and that he brought the fish after it was grilled, not before, that is, he did not bring the fresh fish for grilling, but he brought the grilled fish for eating.

2 Answers 2


There is no Past Perfect in Russian. You will have to use additional words, e.g.:

  • Так я проиграл игру, которую вот было уже выигрывал.
  • Он принес рыбу, которую она незадолго до этого приготовила.


  • Он принес рыбу, которую она долго готовила вплоть до прихода гостей.

Or, if you want to preserve as much of the original semantics as possible:

  • Он принес рыбу, которую она вплоть до этого момента долго готовила на гриле.

But in most cases that would be too much detail. Generally, such temporal subtleties can be dropped without introducing too much ambiguity:

  • Он принес приготовленную ею рыбу.
  • thanks a lot. This is what I suspected - there is no way around adding extra words.
    – Mitsuko
    May 15, 2019 at 17:47
  • >>Он принес рыбу, которую она незадолго до этого приготовила<< This translation omits the information that the fish was cooked long. Adding this information I get a very funny variant: Он принес рыбу, которую она незадолго до этого долго готовила на гриле. I guess that незадолго and долго look funny together.
    – Mitsuko
    May 15, 2019 at 17:49
  • >>Он принес рыбу, которую она долго готовила вплоть до прихода гостей<< But the original says nothing about any guests.
    – Mitsuko
    May 15, 2019 at 17:50
  • >>Он принес приготовленную ей рыбу<< This variant again omits the information that the fish was cooked long. And I do not see how it could be inserted in this variant. Долго приготовленную is a wrong construction, isn't it?
    – Mitsuko
    May 15, 2019 at 17:52
  • I considered the variant "Он принес рыбу, которую она было долго жарила," but I am unsure whether было can be used to describe a long process. Can it?
    – Mitsuko
    May 15, 2019 at 17:58

Direct translation: Он принес рыбу, которую она перед этим долго готовила.

About game: direct translation: Тем временем я проиграл партию, которую перед этим выигрывал.

free: Я вёл в партии, но проиграл.

  • Thanks Maxim, your answer confirms what @SergeySlepov says. I now understand that in order to precisely translate expressions like had been winning to Russian, I have to use a number of additional words. There is no grammatical solution - the only way is lexical.
    – Mitsuko
    May 16, 2019 at 7:06

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