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A waiter asks, "Что вы будете пить?" The customer responds, "Просто воду, пожалуйста".

If просто is an adverb, why is вода altered?

1 Answer 1

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The customer's response is an ellipsis:

— Что вы будете пить?

— (Я буду пить) просто воду

, that means

"What would you like to drink?"

"(I would like to drink) just water." (or, literally, "simply water")

Regardless of whether the response uses an adverb or an adjective (простую воду "simple water"), the object (воду) still has to be put into the accusative that is governed by the verb пить, even though it's only inferred.

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