Sorry about the ambiguous title but I don't really know how to ask this in a more linguistic way.

This question comes from trying to form sentences of the form

The (property) (subject) is the one that...


Good literature is the one that can capture...

When building these sentences I tend to use what I find to be a rather literal translation from either English or Spanish (my first language)

Хорошая литература - та, которая...

I haven't seen this used that much in written Russian, where what I've seen is that the pronoun то substitutes a noun that has been introduced usually in a preceding sentence or through context, and not in the same sentence, although this may very well be because I haven't read enough.

I'd like either confirmation or more natural ways of expressing this in Russian.

Thank you.

3 Answers 3


Хорошая литература - (это) та, которая...

is a perfectly idiomatic construction

The zero link-copula signified with the dash can be replaced with the verb является and by putting the subject into Instrumental

Хорошей литературой является та, которая...

  • Thank you for the answer! And the это between parenthesis is completely optional? Does it sound weird without it? Commented May 25, 2019 at 14:34
  • @MyUserIsThis I think it's better style to not use это here. And to use the referential что instead of которая. Commented May 25, 2019 at 15:11

There's a slightly better choice than та for usage in the Russian version of the sentence. Та tends to point at a particular instance of 'literature' rather than at a hypothetical one - as if one had a choice limited to several items. I'd prefer to use такая instead:

Хорошая литература - (это) такая (литература), которая...


Your sentence is correct indeed. You probably won't meet this phrasing (this syntax) so often in Russian (as compared to Romance languages - I'm a French native speaker and I guess Spanish and French are quite close on this point), for different reasons:

  • because this syntactical way of highlighting the subject ("Хорошая литература - та, которая..." - ¨Хороший учитель - тот, который...") is not as used in Russian as it is in Romance languages. I believe Russian language uses more commonly other ways (including word order) to emphasize the focus in a sentence - though I am in trouble to suggest another phrasing for this case (maybe also because we would need a larger context).

  • Also, one can repeat the same word in Russian, more easily than in French for example (I don't know Spanish enough to comment on it), and use a participle to characterize it, as in:

Хорошая литература - литература, требующая..... (to replace "Хорошая литература - та, которая требует....)

Whereas in French we use a lot this kind of pronouns and have to look for solutions in order to avoid repeating the same word, Russian language is not that tyrannic from this point of view (though it tends to avoid repeating too).

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