Does there exist in Russian a pair of sentences which are the formal negation of each other, but have the same meaning?

  • 6
    "Ждать пока закипит чайник", "Ждать пока не закипит чайник", though thorough analysis shows that it is not "true grammatical negation".
    – Artemix
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 10:31
  • @Artemix Not bad, but it is not the answer, sorry. The negation of a secondary clause of the sentence is not the negation of the sentence
    – Gangnus
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 14:31
  • 6
    "Хотите ли откушать рыбки?", "Не хотите ли откушать рыбки?"
    – Artemix
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 10:34
  • @Artemix Excellent! And different to what I thought about. Please, put it as an answer
    – Gangnus
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 11:01

7 Answers 7

1. Он ответил на половину вопросов.
   Он не ответил на половину вопросов.

2. Нам нужно будет провести повторный эксперимент с вероятностью ровно 50%.
   Нам не нужно будет проводить повторный эксперимент с вероятностью ровно 50%.

3. Половина опрошенных поддержала президента, а половина не поддержала.
   Половина опрошенных не поддержала президента, а половина поддержала.
  • The first is excellent, the second is the same, the third really is only exchange of places. But correct and different from others answers here. +1.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 20:27
  • All three are very similar. It's up to you to decide which one (if any) you like the most :)
    – Yury
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 3:13

My answer would be:

Хотите ли откушать рыбки?

Не хотите ли откушать рыбки?

The latter question however cannot be answered with simple Да or Нет answer.

  • I meant "Чайник долго остывает" and "Чайник долго не остывает"
    – Gangnus
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 11:42
  • Really, your example is not what I wanted - it is the question and has no affirmative meaning. But it does fit to the question as I set it.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 11:44

"Чайник долго остывает" and "чайник долго не остывает" are an example.

  • It is the answer I waited for. But it is already written here, in comments.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 13:13

One more here

  • Да, я не люблю медведей.
  • Нет, я не люблю медведей.

And this

  • Он не понял ничего.
  • Он всё не понял.

(However, the second one sounds awkward).

  • I can't take it as a negation of the whole sentence, sorry. The sense of the sentence is answering. And the first one says "yes" and the second - "no". But not bad, +1.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 20:31
  • Added another one. Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 8:04
  • Sorry, for that second example, I think, any formally opposite sentence will be grammatically incorrect. The variant "Он всё не..." has rather meaning "He still doesn't..."
    – Gangnus
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 8:51
  • -1 I think that the second sentence of the second example is not correct Russian. I liked the first example, though.
    – Olga
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 8:53

— Ты не будешь больше пить чай?

— Ты не будешь больше пить чай?

Both answers mean that the person wouldn't drink tea anymore. Both answers are correct, however the first one sounds more natural when question has emphasis on чай (i.e. person decided not to drink tea at all), and the second one does when emphasis is on не будешь (i.e. person doesn't want tea right now).

  • No. Both answers are undefined.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 15:26
  • Actually, neither answer contains negation.
    – Olga
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:09

There is a number of so called biaspectual verbs in Russian, those whose perfective and imperfective aspects are homonyms.

Though technically those are different verbs, using them may lead to something you are probably looking for:

  • Когда-нибудь я крещусь. Я никогда не крещусь. // Some day I'll get baptized. I'm never crossing myself.

  • Я бегу марафоны. Я не бегу марафонов. // I'm running marathons. I'm not avoiding marathons.


Do you mean that you are looking for two sentences that have opposite meaning, and both contain grammatical negation?

If yes, my answer is "indirect negation". Compare the following two sentences:

Я не думаю, что Алекс выиграет
Я думаю, что Алекс не выиграет

The verb "думать" here means "to believe", and both sentences state the same: the absence of your belief in Alex's victory.

It is not a specifically Russian thing, you can construct the same two sentences in English:

I don't believe that Alex will win
I believe that Alex will not win.

You can make similar trick with other verbs of statement, such as "считать", "полагать", "верить", etc.

  • No. I mean sentences as: I do like it. I do not like it.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 14:30
  • Ah, I see. OK, I'd change the title of the question then, because there is no such thing as two sentences that are grammatical negation of each other.
    – Olga
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 15:05
  • But I know an answer. And there can me more than one, of course. Any correct one will be accepted. :-)
    – Gangnus
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 15:07
  • Oh, cool, then you can post the answer, too =)
    – Olga
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 15:08
  • russian.stackexchange.com/help/self-answer
    – Olga
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 15:09

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