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I was doing a Clozemaster exercise and it asked to translate "I love reading" to Russian. I thought of putting Люблю читать but the correct answer that the exercise wanted was Обожаю читать. What's the difference between those two verbs?

  • "Обожаю" is more passionate, but its context is non-amorous. – Alexander Feb 18 at 22:15
  • one means love the other means adore – Sof Feb 19 at 3:00
  • Given all the discussion below, you gave correct answer, even if обожаю is a bit better (though I personally don't agree with this). In any case, if it was a test, it shouldn't fail you for this answer. – Zeus Feb 20 at 5:13

10 Answers 10

5

Virtually you cannot "feel" the difference through the textbooks. In real life you would undoubtedly recognize the difference between the two.

"Я люблю читать" could be found in written form more often or in neutral intonation.

"Я обожаю читать" is more spoken version in my opinion, where the person is making an accent on that (e.g. to differentiate between multiple given hobbies or whatever you had in your exercise). While speaking that phrase it would be normal to get a "mini-surge" with emotions, raising the voice, adding hand gestures and kind of "re-living" the positive effects of "reading". In a smaller form it could actually resemble the "praying for/thanking the icon of READING": "I luuuuaaaaaaave reading so much!" = "Я просто обожаааааааю читать!".

So in my opinion it's not that "you cannot live without reading" but "reading makes you so immensely happy and you have a deep satisfaction and positive emotional experience from/by reading."

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19

Люблю читать is 'I like reading' while your task was to translate 'I love reading'. 'To love' is neutral любить when referring to relationships between people, but when it refers to things or activities, 'to love' is no way neutral, it shows a stronger affection, which is обожать in Russian.

Russian любить has two main meanings:

  • 'to love' when it refers to love between people: Я тебя люблю! 'I love you!'
  • 'to like' when it refers to abstract notions, things, or activities: Я люблю зиму. 'I like winter.' In this meaning it is synonymous to мне нравится: Я люблю зиму. = Мне нравится зима.

From the other end of it, the English 'to like' is either любить or нравиться in Russian, usually at your own choice, but 'to like' is only нравиться when talking about people which excludes any sexual or matrimonial sides of it.

'To love' is любить when talking about your couple or the people you love, like boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, mother/father, son/daughter, etc. But when 'to love' refers to abstract notions, things, or activities, it means a degree of affection stronger than 'to like', that is why in Russian you also need a verb for affection stronger than любить or нравиться. Обожать ('to adore', literary 'to deify') is just the verb you need in such a case.

The root of the verb обожать (о-бож-а-ть) is -бож- which is a variant of the root morpheme бог 'god', nevertheless обожать doesn't have any religious connotations in the Modern Russian, use it freely whenever you love something which is not a person. You can also say обожать about people, in this case it means 'to adore, to love very much'.

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  • 4
    I agree with the others, обожать is clearly too strong here. Я люблю читать is an absolutely ok translation for I love reading – user7808407 Feb 17 at 14:07
  • @user7808407 - Really? So what will be the Russian translation of 'I like reading' then? Also Я люблю читать? Or maybe Мне нравится читать? Anyhow, how will you translate 'Some people like reading, but I love it' ? – Yellow Sky Feb 17 at 14:24
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    Мне нравится читать is fine I think. Also я люблю читать with less emphasis would be fine as well. The last one: the most natural way to construct the somewhat similar phase in russian I think would be Многим нравится читать, но я правда люблю это дело – user7808407 Feb 17 at 14:46
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    @user7808407 - Правда люблю? In English you can contrast 'like' and 'love', but in Russian you can't contrast нравиться and любить concerning inanimate things, you cannot say *Некоторым лишь нравится читать, а я просто люблю это дело, but you can easily contrast любить and обожать: Некоторые лишь любят читать, а я просто обожаю это дело. – Yellow Sky Feb 17 at 15:01
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    Native speaker here (and fluent in English), I agree with user7808407, обожать is too strong here (that's the equivalent of I REALLY REALLY REALLY love reading). I would seldom use обожать in normal interaction anyway as it can come across as a bit much for most things. – Catsunami Feb 18 at 16:43
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I think that it's a three layered thing in Russian:

  • мне нравится читать
  • я люблю читать
  • я обожаю читать

Just like @V.V. also do believe that "я обожаю" is too strong here. After all, we'll end up with translating any phrase like "I love cooking" with "обожаю" which is, well, too much. "I just love reading" would be closer to "обожаю читать"

So, OK, if we still want to go with something stronger than "люблю" but yet not as passionate as "обожаю", let's just say "я очень люблю читать". In my opinion this is the closest one.

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  • One slang expression can be added to the list as number four: Я просто балдею от чтения! – user1602 Feb 19 at 8:02
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Обожаю is like the superlative degree in adjectives. It means adoration, when you cannot live without reading. So I believe you gave the correct answer, because любить is to love, which is more neutral.

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  • Actually, Люблю читать is 'I like reading' while in 'I love reading' the verb love is exactly "like the superlative degree in adjectives", it means an attitude stronger than 'like', stronger than люблю, which is, naturally, обожаю. That is why it was the answer key in the textbook that gave the correct answer, not the OP. 'To love' is neutral любить when referring to relationships between people, when it refers to things or activities, 'to love' is no way neutral, it shows an affection, which is обожать in Russian. – Yellow Sky Feb 17 at 8:11
  • What about мне нравится читать then ? Do you always follow the key answers? I believe the gradation is a bit wider than that mentioned in the textbooks. – V.V. Feb 17 at 12:49
  • As a practicing teacher I do know that studying languages implies not only learning to do exercises correctly, but also understanding the language as a system. But the OP asked only about the difference between любить and обожать, нравиться wasn't mentioned at all, you didn't mention it in your answer either, still in my own answer I did include it, although rather sketchily. Why are you asking me about it? – Yellow Sky Feb 17 at 13:06
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    As for me, I don't see any difference in the degree of affection between любить and нравиться, the difference is purely situational, e.g. while at the cinema with a friend watching a film for the first time you can ask her Тебе нравится этот фильм? but you can't say Ты любишь этот фильм? Usually something нравится at a given point of time, but one любит something as an unalienable feature of one's own nature. – Yellow Sky Feb 17 at 13:14
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I have given this quite a bit of thought myself over the years.

Agree with the translation "to adore" for обожать - absolutely correct.

However, I think that we native English speakers don't really say "adore" much any more. It's quite a literary word these days and can almost come across as a bit pretentious if used in the wrong context. If a friend said to me "I adore visiting new countries to learn about new cultures" it would sound a bit weird. Whereas this would be a valid use of обожать.

Using обожать in day-to-day Russian chat is still quite common, albeit a lot rarer than either нравиться or любить.

One way I used to think about обожать was that it's sort of between нравиться and любить and gives a bit more emphasis than just любить or нравиться which can be quite colloquially used.

As with all things, best way to figure out is to start throwing it into conversations.

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3

I am a russian. If we take that "book" example, there is some emotional difference.

"Я обожаю читать": "Omg, reading!!! I would do that all day long!" "Я люблю читать": "I would read my favorite book if I have some free time".

If we take that "I love you" example, there is some emotional difference, too.

"Я обожаю тебя": "I love you so much! If I had a choice between Earth and you, I would choose you" "Я люблю тебя": "I love you".

P.S. "люблю"="I love", "обожаю"="I adore". Nothing more.

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  • If you have some more questions, I am ready to answer. – Victor Gorban Feb 19 at 14:07
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"Я обожаю" have an exact analogue in English language which is "I adore". We use "обожаю" in the same context as an English native speaker would say "adore".

@YellowSky's answer about difference between "like" and "love" is valid, but to correctly translate "love" to "обожаю" that "love" should have been boldfaced or italicised in the original text.

Обожаю is a very strong verb which depicts an extreme affection, not normal and not common like an overused "love".

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  • «Обожаю is a very strong verb which depicts an extreme affection, not normal and not common» Really? ))) What about this: Анатолий Алексин. Мой брат играет на кларнете (1967) «Завтра каникулы! Я обожаю каникулы.» Or this: Виктор Драгунский. Денискины рассказы/ Девочка на шаре (1963) «Обязательно пойдем. Обожаю цирк!» Or this: Светлана Алексиевич. Время second-hand // «Дружба народов», 2013 «Обожаю кошек. Я люблю их за то, что они не плачут, никто не видел их слез.» Or this: Виктор Пелевин. S.N.U.F.F (2011) « Обожаю, когда эта девочка меня о чем-нибудь просит.» Is it enough to show it's normal? – Yellow Sky Feb 17 at 16:11
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    @YellowSky What was your point? I never said that nobody uses it. And all those authors used the verb exactly like I described. Виктор Драгунский used it exactly in the context I meant: "Will go for sure. I adore circus!". It sounds cringey in English but nobody said that you can translate exactly between English and Russian prose while keeping the natural language intact. Светлана Алексиевич even used verb "люблю" as a description explaining the adoration. Please elaborate. – hijarian Feb 17 at 16:36
  • My point was that обожать means nothing special, no extreme affection, it is normal and common. If one translates those quoted sentences into English, no boldface will be needed to highlight the verb 'love' with which обожать will be translated in them. By the way, how do you know in which contexts an English native speaker would say "adore"? – Yellow Sky Feb 18 at 12:03
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    @YellowSky I know that because I am able to, you know, read in English and understand English speech. I don't know the region of Russia you are from (if any), but here in European part if you use the я обожаю instead of люблю, absolutely everybody I know would understand that your affection is stronger than just "loving" the entity in question. And there's no word which describes higher level of affection than this in commonplace usage. You consider my downvote as a personal attack. It's not. Stop this nonsense. – hijarian Feb 18 at 14:33
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Literally:

"любить" = "to love"

"обожать" = "to deify"

They have exactly same meaning in Russian, but emotional context in practical speaking is different: when used in regards to people "обожать" diminishes produced emotions, when used in regards to anything else it raises more emotions.

If you like someone very much never say "люблю" or you will freak the person out right away, say "обожаю" and the person well know your feelings but without the sacred/scary connotation of "I love you/him/her".

When you talk about anything else, use "обожаю" to make the talk emotional, the word is meant to produce excitement and should be said in excited tone. You cannot use this word in a sentence that you prononouce fully formally or while reasoning, this word must be emotionally emphasised, either louder or softer than normal, slower or faster than normal. This property makes this word very close to exclamation words like "Ah", "Oh", "Doh", "Damn" etc.

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  • Whoa, "to deify"! Never ever thought of that! :D But should "to deify" be translated as "обожествлять"? – hijarian Feb 20 at 21:08
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I would argue that outside of the romantic sense, люблю should be translated as like. Although Russian has the term нравится, it's passive voice and has a similar intensity to люблю, and it's used less often outside of the romantic sense.

In terms of intensity of feeling, I like reading is similar to Я люблю читать, it's a neutral expression of enjoyment. I like to walk when it's sunny > Я люблю ходить пешком когда светит солнце.

Обожаю is either equal to or stronger in intensity than the English love, and can probably used as a translation for love to contrast it with like.

To get the intensity just right I would say it's something like: I love reading.>Я очень люблю читать; I love reading!>Я обожаю читать

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  • The main distinguishing feature of the Russian passive voice is the use of the logical subject in the Instrumental case: Пушкин написал поэму «Евгений Онегин». (active) > Поэма «Евгений Онегин» была написана Пушкиным. (passive). Нравиться is no way passive, this verb is always active since it is intransitive, it cannot be passive and it cannot have any Instrumental case objects. There are tons of Russian verbs with the particle -cя which are always active and cannot be turned into passive: бояться, смеяться, сниться, etc., and these verbs are not used without -cя. – Yellow Sky Feb 20 at 7:37
  • Cool, I didn't know that! What would you call it when the object becomes the subject? Я люблю Юлю > Юля нравится мне – Curiosity Feb 20 at 15:45
  • Just the use of a different predicate word with a different arrangement of arguments, like Я боюсь пауков > Пауки пугают меня or Я не знаю этой песни > Эта песня неизвестна мне. – Yellow Sky Feb 21 at 1:54
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"обожаю" is more expressive, emotionally and fanatically, it's cognate with "обожествляю" - to iconize, sacralise, make god from smb,smt.

"люблю"(to love) is more calm.

Of course, both these words can be actually subjected inflation:> Can mean less what they should mean, but be only exaggerations.

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