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Here's an excerpt from the discussion on Duolingo French course for Russian speakers :

"Я люблю есть горячее."
Перевод: J'aime manger chaud.

— Вот тоже не поняла почему здесь прилагательное используется как существительное. При этом без артиеля

— Возможно, вам было бы понятнее использование этого прилагательного во французской фразе, если перевод был бы «Я люблю есть горячим»?

— да, спасибо. так понятней

I think горячим is the neuter instrumental since the original French phrase means something like "I like eating the hot." But I'm not sure why the instrumental is used in this case. Can I use it such that it means "the + adjective" in English?

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  • Could you please add all the relevant information (the original phrase, the relevant parts of the discussion etc) into the post? Thanks!
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 10 at 2:32
  • Linked phrase is "Я люблю есть горячее." and there is a small but substantial difference from the current phrasing in the question as "есть горячим".
    – DK.
    Jan 10 at 3:02

2 Answers 2

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Горячее, as a noun, refers to a particular dish — usually a meat dish.

Я люблю есть горячее. (meaning "I like eating hot meat dishes") Принесли горячее – жаркое со свининой.

And for the adjective горячее, you need a noun in the sentence or in the context (and the meaning is different, referring to the temperature, or the way the dish is served).

Я предпочитаю есть это блюдо горячим, а не холодным. (I like it hot, not cold).

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The phrase я люблю есть горячим means "I like eating while my body temperature is high" (literally, "I like eating while I'm hot").

Note that in Russian, unlike English, the phrase я горячий doesn't mean "I'm sexy" or "I'm feeling hot". It only means what it says on the tin, like "I'm tall" or "I'm black" do. Even then, it's not idiomatically used to say "I have a fever" — not in the first person. The phrase я люблю есть горячим makes little sense to a Russian speaker.

I don't speak French, but it looks to me like it's being used here as a pedagogical device.

In Russian, you can put the modifier of a direct object of a verb in the instrumental to convey a meaning of "while":

  • Живыми брать демонов! // The demons are to be taken (while) alive!
  • Полюби меня чёрненьким, а беленьким меня всякий полюбит // Love me (while I'm) black ("at rock bottom"), for anyone will love me (while I'm) white ("at top").
  • Месть — это блюдо, которое подают холодным // Revenge is a dish best served (while) cold

This only works when the verb has a direct object modified by the adjective in the instrumental.

If there's no such object (i.e. when the adjective is used as a collective noun), you should put it into the singular neuter nominative: ешь свежее "eat fresh", покупай местное "buy local" etc.

This answer probably wants to convey something like "for the purposes of learning French, imagine that the adjective in question is not a collective noun, but a modifier of an omitted direct object".

But again, I don't speak any French and this is just my theory.

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    It's grammatical, it's just «Я люблю есть горячим» means "I like to eat while I'm hot". Jan 11 at 21:06
  • @AlexeyVeleshko: good point!
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 11 at 21:47

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