What is the difference in the meaning between the particles "же" and "-то"?
Он же не пришёл. Vs. Он-то не пришёл.
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Thaaaaats a million-dollar question. :)
Particles have some specific uses. Learn them. As to the general outline:
Difficult, I know. But it is hard to give a more detailed explanation when the question is THAT generic.
I think you can boil it down to how focused the emphasis is. With -то it's narrowed down to a single word, while же acts more on the whole message. To me the both particles have contrasting feel to them, just the more focus, the more contrast.
Some examples (bracketed is even more contrast):
- За работу! - Он не пришёл.
He was supposed to come but never did, and apparently this makes the work impossible.
- За работу! - [Но] он же не пришёл!
Why would you ask to start working when the guy is not here? (I guess this "assumed" sentence is what Shady_arc meant by saying "listener should know about your object but seems to have activated the opposite")
- За работу! - [Но] он же не пришёл! - [Это] он-то не пришёл?!
He in fact did come. It's totally improbable a person like him wouldn't.
The context is important but simply put он же не пришёл = [the reason is the fact] he didn't come, он-то не пришел = [everybody came but] he didn't come.
же - yet, after all, at last
то - that, this, the
Он же не пришёл. - же puts accent at "came" (he didn't came after all)
Он-то не пришёл. - whereas то is rather a pronoun than a pointing particle, a version of the word "that". and is directing thus at exactly at who we talking about. if you wish may think of it as of english particle 'the' in a way. then one of possible translations would be as follows - that he then didn't came