6

Today, Duolingo taught me that it's Какая глубина этого озера?, but Какая ширина у этой улицы?. My questions are

  1. Is that a case of binary grammaticality? I. e., would Какая глубина у этого озера? or Какая ширина этой улицы? be ungrammatical or unusual?
  2. If yes, is either of these cases an exception? That is, do/don't you usually use у with physical quantities? If no, is there a rule or can you give me a table relating common quantities to their use of у?
  3. What about more "technical" quantities, such as density, potential, or flux?
2
  1. No, either way is correct (in either case), and I even struggle to say which one is more common.
  2. I'd say that usually we don't use y with physical quantities (or qualities); plain Genitive is the 'default' way applicable to everything. Площадь кухни, плотность свинца, возраст дочери, напряжение обмотки, цвет стены. So the basic rule is simple: if in doubt, don't use y.
  3. As above, generally without y. Having the preposition makes the phrase slightly less formal (or so it feels to me), and technical/formal writing avoids it.
| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    Some orderings of words do require the preposition. Какая ёмкость [у] этой цистерны? Какая у этой цистерны ёмкость? – Roman Odaisky Dec 23 '19 at 2:40
2
  1. Yes, in combination with the question word какой(-ая) in your examples, omitting the preposition у sounds a bit unusual if not awkward. Probably, it's because the question is about assigning a value to an object (like, what depth/width value it has). You don't need a preposition with another question word, каков(а), since the question would focus on the value only (how much its width value is):

Какова ширина этой улицы?
Какова глубина этого озера?

  1. A possible context with the question word какая but without need for у (as above, value is in focus):

Какая глубина этого озера сделала бы его судоходным?
Какая ширина этой улицы могла бы исключить пробки?

  1. In formal cases (scientific or engineering writings) preposition у is avoided (except when it means near), so the question word is selected so that it provides focusing on value:

Какова скорость света в полипропилене?
Какая температура плавления этого сплава обеспечит заданные характеристики объекта?

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Also compare with: "Какой ширины эта улица?" – Andrew Savinykh Dec 22 '19 at 19:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.