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I am wondering what the difference is between the two Russian words посередине and посреди? As far as I can tell, they are used in similar contexts to mean "in the middle of," but I can't tell when to use one or the other. Is it a case difference?

Any help is appreciated! Thanks Bonnie

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Semantically, there is no fundamental difference.

However, there is a difference in actual usage: in certain situations only one of them is used.

The best way I can generalise it is that "посреди" is used in more abstract, unquantifiable situations, whereas "посередине" is more quantifiable and physical. The latter is closer to "in the centre of", while "посреди" is similar to "in the midst of".

"Посреди разговора", "посреди бардака", "посреди леса", "посреди площади".

One can also say "посередине площади"; this will usually imply a more definite "centre" rather than "somewhere in the middle".

Also, "посреди" is shorter and has a simpler rhythm, and thus lends itself to poetry, even in the situations where "посередине" would normally be used.

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  • +1 for "quantifiable" Whenever we have identifiable edge/isle locations (left/right, front/back, top/bottom), position is between of those becomes "посередине".
    – Alexander
    Oct 28, 2022 at 20:47
  • This is great, thank you so much! Oct 28, 2022 at 23:36
  • @BonnieReynolds By distinction from "посередине", the word "посреди" can be used in the sense "in the course of." For example, "Посреди театрального представления он заснул." Or: "Посреди переговоров он разнервничался и затеял перебранку." Jan 29, 2023 at 2:59
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Посреди is more like "amid" - not in the middle of something, but in the thick of it. Посередине is just plain in the middle of something in the literal sense.

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There are at least four meanings for the word посреди:

  1. adverb. Same as посередине. Все его окружили, он оказался посреди.
  2. Посреди someone/something, a genitive preposition. Стол посреди комнаты. Посреди толпы.
  3. A genitive preposition (something) . During an event or action. Посреди разговора вдруг замолк.
  4. A genitive preposition (someone). In the environment, surrounded by someone. Оказаться посреди друзей. Жить посреди врагов.

You can't say, for example: жить посередине врагов. Or: оказаться посередине друзей.

But, you can say: стол посередине комнаты.

You can also say: в середине разговора вдруг замолк. Or: в середине толпы.

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