A Russian song has the two lines Нашей любви осталась минутка and Нашей любви зачем не осталось?

I think the subject of the first line is минутка (feminine). What is the subject of the second line? Presumably it is neuter because of осталось.


This is an instance of Genitive negative associated in particular with verbs of existence/habitation/occurrence such as быть, существовать, находиться, проживать, происходить, проявляться, обнаруживаться, возникать to name a few, and остаться as well, which turns the sentence into an impersonal one.

All these verbs are intransitive (the reflexive obviously are).

Some linguists label it Genitive of the subject (paragraph 6.1.1. Генитив субъекта).


Катастрофы не произошло
Сомнений не возникло
Отклонений не наблюдалось
Ответа не пришло

  • So, if the second sentence was positive, would it be зачем наша любовь осталась? and the subject would be наша любовь
    – Bob Daley
    Jun 24 '19 at 15:56
  • @Bob Daley exactly Jun 24 '19 at 18:52

Остаться can be used in a number of ways. The first one is like a usual intransitive verb, and that's your first example:

Нашей любви осталась минутка. — [Just] a minute of our love is left.

You are right, here минутка or more specifically минутка нашей любви is the subject.

But in your second example, осталось is used as an impersonal verb. It has the neuter-gender form, but there is no neuter gender nouns around, that is because the implied subject is оно 'it' which is always omitted before the Russian impersonal verbs. The best way to look at the structure of this sentence this way:

Нашей любви зачем не осталось? – Why [isn't] [there] [any] of our love left?

Нашей любви is in the genitive case because of the negative verb, не осталось, just the same way as we say Есть деньги? (nominative case), but Нет денег? (genitive case).

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