1

I tend to use the expression "more often than not" quite often in English, so naturally when I came across сплошь да рядом, I immediately adopted it and started using it. But I never hear other Russians use it, so I wonder if it's more of a literary expression and not commonly used in conversation. Is it better to use очень часто in conversation?

2
  • 1
    "сплошь да рядом" is uncommon, but the following equivalent is quite common: "сплошь и рядом"
    – A-K
    Jul 29, 2014 at 18:34
  • @A-K сплошь и рядом looks awkward to me.
    – Anixx
    Aug 3, 2014 at 8:17

3 Answers 3

3

It is also important to mention that the expression "сплошь да рядом" or "сплошь и рядом" often has a negative meaning, when the person speaking criticizes the situation that ofter happens:

Он сплошь да рядом ошибается.

He makes mistakes very often (which is really bad in the opinion of the person speaking).

1
  • Yes, true! But don't be surprised if you see it in a non-negative phrase, e.g. "Есть негры альбиносы, в Америке они встречаются сплошь да рядом, но это не отменяет того факта, что негр черен" - an example from ruscorpora.ru
    – Olga
    Aug 25, 2014 at 7:31
3

"сплошь да рядом" is a perfectly normal expression, but it has more common variants like "постоянно", "часто", "зачастую" (colloquial for "often"). In the majority of cases people prefer the most ordinary "часто". I bet that most English-speaking people prefer "often" or "frequently" to "more often than not".

There is a context where "сплошь да рядом" is most commonly seen. It is when you speak about some particularity that is common in people, things, in the way life goes. For example:

Люди сплошь да рядом судят о других по себе.
People more often than not judge others by themselves.

It may sound weird when you are talking about one particular object or person. The following sentence sounds artificial:

???Он сплошь да рядом забывает дни рождения.
He often forgets birthdays.

Much better:

Он часто (постоянно, зачастую) забывает дни рождения.

6
  • 1
    You would lose that bet! :) The choice of "often" and "more often than not" is not a matter of preference because they mean two different things. I would say that "often" means roughly 50-60% of the time, whereas "more often than not" means 75-95% of the time, and is closer in meaning to "almost always." But it's helpful to know that сплощь да рядом is used to speak in general terms. That answers my question. Thank you!
    – CocoPop
    Jul 29, 2014 at 15:29
  • From a logical point of view, "more often than not" must be at most as frequently as "often".
    – Olga
    Jul 29, 2014 at 20:55
  • And indeed people on English Language and Usage support my point of view.
    – Olga
    Jul 30, 2014 at 19:10
  • And what is that view? I didn't quite understand.
    – CocoPop
    Jul 30, 2014 at 19:19
1

I think "сплошь да рядом" is colloquial expression, I would expect to see it in journalistic genre or in informal conversation, but not in some official document or scientific article. "Очень часто" has neutral stylistic and can be used everywhere.

You can find plenty of good examples here: Russian National Corpus . It differs from just searching the word in Google, because Russian National Corpus is based on well-reputed sources, like classical books and a selection of magazines. There is also a separate subcorpus of spoken langauage.

2
  • That's fantastic! I didn't know anything like that existed. Too bad it doesn't have translations into English... but now I'll have more questions for StackExchange! Thanks :)
    – CocoPop
    Jul 29, 2014 at 18:18
  • 1
    @CocoPop In fact there is a similar Google tool - Google Ngram Viewer. General searching results are very similar to Russian National Corpus and also it has corpuses for other languages. But the Russian National Corpus has more specialized searching tools (like "find all forms of noun x that is placed at the end of the sentence", etc.).
    – Artemix
    Jul 30, 2014 at 7:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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