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I come across "Ну ты и дурак!" often on the Internet. I understand that it means "What a fool you are!", however I cannot find what makes it a valid form in Russian.

My peeve is that "и" is used for no good reason.

What is "и" doing there?

The way I see it, it must be an amplification of the level of annoyance or surprise of the speaker. If so, I would like to get some academic input on this.

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    I imagine Russian speakers also look at a statement like "Man, you sure are a moron! and think the "sure" is there "for no good reason" 😅 Both these words are there for a very good reason — you just haven't met it yet.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 3:31
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    @CocoPop "sure" serving as "и" is a good explanation, thanks, if it was an answer i would accept it Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 3:07
  • It is an answer — look below ;) I don't know why it only has one up-vote because it answers your question perfectly from an English standpoint. Sometimes on this site, the only perspective of English that matters is the Russian one.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 12:58

5 Answers 5

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In this exclamation, "и " functions as a particle. When it's a particle, it emphasizes the word that comes after it, and the word "дурак" has a logical stress. In this exclamation, it can express a lot of emotions that are usually clearly seen in the context. In your example, I believe it's the speaker's indignation.

So, saying "What a fool you are!", but meaning something more like " I've never seen such a fool" or "I hate it". Unfortunately we don't know the context.

Other examples:

И как ты могла так поступить? И какой он стал раздражительный! Ну ты и сказал!

Источник: https://russkiiyazyk.ru/kakaya-chast-rechi/slovo-i-2.html

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"И", as a particle, is usually placed before the verb and has multiple meanings.

One common translation is "that's/it's ..."

Это меня и удивляет. = That's what surprises me.

Я и есть причина всего происходящего. = It's me who's the cause of what's happening.

Я не зна́ю, поэ́тому и спра́шиваю. = I don't know — that's why I'm asking.

Похо́же, всё к э́тому и идёт. = Looks like that's where things are headed.

вот и всё = That's all there is to it.

"так и" is a common combination meaning "that's how..."

Я так и сказал. = That's how I said it.
Он так и де́лает. = That's exactly how he's doing it.

Yet another meaning is "This may come as a surprise to you, but..."

А он и не приходил. This may come as a surprise to you, but he never came.

Я и не собирался это покупать. = This may come as a surprise to you, but I wasn't going to buy that in the first place.

Finally, "и" is part of several other grammatical constructions. In your example: ну... и... = What a... !

Ну и погодка сегодня. = What [bad] weather we're having today.

But you should refrain from using "ну и" in that meaning because it's actually not a very flexible construction. Besides it can mean other things too.

Ну и плевать. = I don't care, then.

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  • What a very insightful response! People who look at language contextually are the best learners, in my opinion. So many people are stuck to and depend on dictionary definitions without ever giving any real thought to context, what the speaker's feeling when they say things, how single words can be paraphrased with whole phrases. You should check out a site called smissle (dot com). Your description of "this may come as a surprise to you, but" corresponds exactly to English "actually." It's described very thoroughly on that site. Check it out. Search for the page "actually".
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 3:39
  • And as a professional editor, I have to commend you on your wonderful English!
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 20:25
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This meaning of и here roughly corresponds to English "too" (in its colloquial meaning of Am. "tho" or Br. "innit"), or "What (a)...", both used for emphasis.

The phrase means "You're an idiot, too!" or "What an idiot you are!".

  • И горькая же это вещь, человеческая жизнь! // What a bitter thing it is, human life!

  • ― И грязный же у нас город, ― сказала Калерия // "What a dirty place, this town of ours", said Kaleria.

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  • What is the archaic meaning of too?
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 13:14
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    @CocoPop: from Wiktionary: "(archaic, colloquial) Used for emphasis, without reference to any previous statement. The trooper thanks his informant and rides slowly on, looking about him. […] He comes to a gateway in the brick wall, looks in, and sees a great perplexity of iron lying about in every stage and in a vast variety of shapes— […] "This is a place to make a man's head ache too!" says the trooper, looking about him for a counting-house"
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 14:15
  • I don't see how that can be called archaic when we still use it. That's all. AND we use it much like this и we're discussing.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 15:05
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    @CocoPop: if it's not archaic, by all means edit it out, thanks!
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 15:39
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In this context, и serves as an emphatic particle much like the English word sure when used as a particle in the same context — especially in the presence of Man!/Boy!, which, like ну here, is used to strengthen a personal assessment of someone or something arrived at through observation, experience, etc.

Man/Boy, you sure are a moron!

PS: Man! and Boy! can be said to females since they're not forms of address, but rather exclamations.

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  • Just to be clear, "sure" in "you sure are X" is always an emphatic amplifier and should never be interpreted as "beyond doubt"?
    – Igor G
    Commented Dec 3, 2022 at 20:56
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    As a particle, yes. Of course, it can also be used as an adjective, but not in the context of this post... unless you said something like "(Boy,) you sure are sure of yourself!"
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 15:26
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In somewhat simplified terms, it's "particle" и, not "conjunction" и. And, indeed, one of its meanings is such an amplification of other particles, like ну or ох. Without other particles (like in @Quassnoi's examples), it sounds dated.

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