Not sure if I'm looking for the optative or hortative. I'm trying to translate a religious text, expressing wish and the hope that the listener and speaker will follow through on those wishes.

May the weather be seasonable, may the harvest be fruitful, may countries exist in harmony, and may all people enjoy happiness. May we share these benefits equally.

I can't type Cyrillic to save my life. I can't demonstrate due diligence in writing this question. I can't delete it because it has an answer.


  • 1
    "Может быть" here is because of bad quality of machine translation.
    – Artemix
    Oct 6, 2013 at 11:34
  • Everyone knows that google translate is defective, but it is right more often than I am, so it is a good starting point for me. If I wrote from my own starting point, maybe I'd get the remark I got a long time ago when someone said that maybe I should not try to learn Russian but instead try to communicate with Russians using English (!) Oct 6, 2013 at 15:22
  • 2
    The google translate gives totally ungrammatical gibberish, they even do not check whether they put the words in the same case.
    – Anixx
    Oct 6, 2013 at 22:04
  • @MatthewMartin: Google Translate may be a good starting point indeed, but the contributors wanted to point out it's quite OK to grasp the idea of an otherwise uncomprehensible sentence, but is not that good when it comes to grammatical subtleties. A really good starting point would be googling actual translations of phrases having the meaning you need. For instance if you googled "May the force be with you" using google.ru/advanced_search in Russian, you'd find a Russian translation in the very first link: Да пребудет с тобой сила
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 7, 2013 at 9:00
  • 1
    @MatthewMartin The question is fine, but as it's been said, Google Translate is far from being reliable, except for fixed/basic expressions and standard sentences. As far as the rest is concerned, I'd advise other tools. Also, you cannot delete the question because there are answers.
    – Alenanno
    Oct 7, 2013 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


This "may" in wishes is translated into Russian with the rare construction which is the remains of the old Slavic optative mood, да + the Future Tense verb or пусть / пускай+ the Future Tense verb. "Может" does not go here, since it expresses only probability, not wish.

May the weather be seasonable - Да будет погода хорошей

May the harvest be fruitful - Да будет урожай богатым

May countries exist in harmony - Пусть страны будут пребывать в гармонии

May we share these benefits equally - Да разделим мы все эти блага в равной мере

  • 4
    I would add that for a religious text (for instance - the citation from Bible) "да будет" is preferred (e.g. "да будут нивы плодородными"), while in usual speech (like when congratulating someone with birthday) "пусть/пускай" іs more common.
    – Artemix
    Oct 6, 2013 at 11:33
  • @Artemix - A good point, still that distinction is not always followed, remember the purely secular "Да здравствует ...!" used by the bolsheviks. Besides, MatthewMartin hasn't shown it clearly whether his text is religious or not.
    – Yellow Sky
    Oct 6, 2013 at 11:46
  • For religious text "пусть" is also very much OK.
    – Anixx
    Oct 6, 2013 at 22:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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