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Кофе с молоком в Старбакс - пил бы (его) и пил.

Кофе с молоком в Старбакс - такой, что пил бы (его) и пил.

I was looking for colloquial idiomatic Russian expressions roughly corresponding to "X is to die for", and a native speaker suggested the phrase "пил бы и пил", as shown above.

Given the literal meaning of the phrase, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how it is interpreted as "X is to die for".

Also, can this construction be used for other food items, too -- with a slight modification?

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This construct, in my opinion, is not quite as idiomatic as it might look.

The particle бы in Russian puts the verb in conditional mood. Being an enclitic, it cannot start a sentence or follow a proclitic, so the only place to put бы here is after a phonetic unit.

However, we can rephrase the sentence:

Кофе с молоком в Старбакс такой вкусный — я бы его пил и пил.

Кофе с молоком в Старбакс такой вкусный — я его пил бы и пил.

Кофе с молоком в Старбакс такой вкусный — пил и пил бы его.

, all of which mean

Starbucks latte is so good, I would keep drinking and drinking it

which is a little bit weird but a perfectly grammatical way to put it in English.

You can actually use the same construct in present:

Кофе такой вкусный! Пью его и пью.

or in past, without the conditional mood:

Кофе был такой вкусный! Я его пил и пил.

with the same meaning or "keep drinking and drinking".

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  • The writer did not say that the phrase in question was idiomatic, right?
    – user12210
    Jul 3 '19 at 2:45
  • @Patriot: why, they did in comments to this post: russian.stackexchange.com/a/20106/134
    – Quassnoi
    Jul 3 '19 at 12:06
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"X бы и X" is a standard construct meaning "could do it forever". It can, but doesn't have to be used with food or drink. The connotation is mostly positive, but it can also be used in a sense that someone is/was really ought to stop doing something (like gambling or drinking for example).

Красота такая - смотрел бы и смотрел.

(I could look at it forever)

Игра отличная - играл бы и играл.

(The game is so good - it's hard to stop playing it)

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  • No, "и" has to be there. It was a typo on my part.
    – AR.
    Jul 2 '19 at 4:16
  • Is it preferable or not to include a pronoun like "его"? Jul 2 '19 at 4:17
  • Not really, the subject is clear from the context. But it's not wrong to include его/её/это either.
    – AR.
    Jul 2 '19 at 4:26
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    @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens the additional pronoun sounds more idiomatic when the verb is transitive, such phrases as играл бы в неё и играл, смотрел бы на неё/него и смотрел impede the flow of a phrase and so are less likely to be said Jul 2 '19 at 6:41
  • @БаянКупи-ка This is where English more naturally puts it as: "I never get tired of eating sushi". The same goes for French: "X, je ne m'en lasse jamais" in the same vein. This construction is very Russian, I guess, as I don't know a similar expression in any of the languages I speak. Jul 2 '19 at 8:15

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