Can a propositional phrase, rather than a single word, precede ли (“whether”)? For example, can I say “Он знает, у неё ли билет”. I saw that ли is supposed to be the second word in its clause, but can it be the second “logical unit” even though that makes it technically the third word?


In other words, the normal usage is

“Он знает, [first word] ли [other words]

Can I say instead

“Он знает, [first word] [second word] ли [other words]

specifically where [first word] [second word] is a single phrase like у неё ?


1 Answer 1


Yes, as far as the ли positioning rule is concerned, "у неё" counts as a single unit.

Your sentence as it is doesn't make much sense ("He knows whether she has the ticket"). It would make more sense if you added не:

  • Он не знает, у неё ли билет.
  • Thanks! Yes, was trying to make a very simple example.
    – MPW
    Commented May 21 at 14:43
  • 1
    +1, but what's wrong with он знает, у неё ли билет?
    – Quassnoi
    Commented May 21 at 15:54
  • @Quassnoi, Making it a question works too. The original sentence was a statement "Он знает, у неё ли билет." which didn't make sense to me. Commented May 21 at 17:09
  • 1
    @SergeySlepov: I don't know, it makes perfect sense to me. From the corpus: Авдотья Лукьяновна, полагаю, знает лучше всех, её ли я сын или Настасьи Федоровны; Якубович сам знает, обижена ли его честь etc.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented May 21 at 18:47

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