I've noticed this inverted (by English standards) pattern where можно follows an infinitive several times and have often wondered what the force of this inversion is. I may be wrong, but I would consider можно + inf the unmarked order. Then I saw this:

Антон, пожалуйста скинь ссылочку на Анки. Я так понимаю, там слова учить можно.

¿How does this differ from theoretical там можно учить слова.

Does this order somehow reinforce the potential result along the lines of English you can really... or it's really good for... Otherwise it seems to me that it would just be stating the obvious: I understand you can learn words there. (duh!)

...and what of обалдеть можно, охуеть можно, повеситься можно, and other such exclamations? My guess is again increased potential to the effect of it's enough to make you...

4 Answers 4


I'd say it's not so much to do with можно as with the general tendency of colloquial Russian towards SOV rather than SVO; можно, being the effective "verb" of the sentence, gets the last place. Note also how слова precedes учить, again reversing the standard word order in favour of a more casual-sounding one.

Oh, and regarding я так понимаю: it's not really "I understand" here, but a "correct me if I'm wrong"-type expression which usually presumes that the listener actually has more information. It stops just short of being a question: "you can learn words there, right?"


Порядок слов (words order):

Простая идея Идея простая
A simple idea The idea is simple

Антон идет в школу В школу идет Антон
Anton goes to school It is Anton who goes to school

Икс стремится к нулю К нулю стремится икс
x goes to 0 It is x who/which goes to 0

Вектор определяется этими условиями
A vector is said to be defined by the conditions

Этими условиями определяется вектор
The conditions are said to define a vector

"о**еть можно" — ultimate insult in front of a woman or in a decorous place.

  • 1
    "ultimate insult in front of a woman or in a decorous place. " - lol, really? it is totally common phrase, I think more often used by women than men
    – Anixx
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 7:20
  • @Anixx :) you'll never find it in the media or hear it from government. It is so highly inappropriate in conversation which was before “on track” that can cause a burst of laughter or shock. --ru-- В пределе, мужчины это воспримут как крайнюю фамильярность, женщины как сексизм, как слова от мужчины, who when entering a room causes women to rip off there clothes ))
    – Avtokod
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 18:22

The Russian language has, in many cases, a free order of words. It does not mean that when you speak Russian, you can randomly/arbitrarily reorder words. Usually, changing the order from the "default" one conveys some additional meaning, i. e. emphasis on some word. But when reading Russian texts, you should first and foremost look at the grammar forms of words, not on their order. You will often see unusual order of words.

Now, let us return to the text you saw.

Антон, пожалуйста скинь ссылочку на Анки. Я так понимаю там слова учить можно.

When the order of words is unusual, the emphasis is often on the last word. Here, the emphasis is on the word можно, thats why the unusual order of words.

(Another thing is, the punctuation is horrible. The correct punctuation would be Антон, пожалуйста, скинь ссылочку на Анки. Я так понимаю, там слова учить можно.)

and what of обалдеть можно, охуеть можно, повеситься можно, and other such exclamations?

That is different from the previous case. Here verb+можно makes a highly emotional expression. Note that such expressions are highly colloquial and "silly", don't use them in intelligent conversation or formal talk. In some of such expressions you can omit можно.

  • Обалдеть!
  • Охуеть!
  • Офигеть!

(But not "повеситься!")

Sometimes people intentionally write the word with silly speller error: the letter "а" instead of "о".

  • Абалдеть.
  • Афигеть.

There is also a similar expression "Убиться веником!" (or sometimes "убиццо веником", "убиццо веникам"). Again, such expressions are emotional, very colloquial, and foolish, never ever use them in business letters, for example.

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    For me, the emphasis usually is on the first word in Russian clause, i.e. "слова", but not "можно". Of course, it depends strongly on stress when used in speech.
    – Ivan
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 19:29
  • Thank you very much for that answer, which explains the fact that word order is not fixed, but also not random. And that можно is sent to the end for emphasis, but how does this actually translate semantically into English. Could you, for example, paraphrase the difference between там слова учить можно and там можно учить слова? In other words what prompts the speaker to adopt the marked word order?
    – CocoPop
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 20:52
  • 2
    @Ivan yes, it really does sound like слова is the emphasised word in that sentence. Something's telling me that If it were можно, the clause wouldn't begin with там (unless it was also stressed: "you can [really] learn words there" (as opposed to another place). A more economical explanation is the natural flow of colloquial speech building up to слова and "winding down" on the last two words. Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 18:15
  • However, in the exclamations, it is можно that is stressed, no?
    – CocoPop
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 23:05
  • 1
    @CocoPop, no, it is another word that is stressed
    – user31264
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 2:19

Sorry cannot comment yet.

I think @Nikolay Ershov is absolutely correct saying that "Я так понимаю" is equivalent to "correct me if I'm wrong" in English.

"Я так понимаю, там слова учить можно." - sounds very much as a question.

"Я так понимаю" seems takes the emphasis away from "там". And therefore, "можно" has more weight.

In contrast, in the sentence "Tам слова учить можно.", "Tам" takes the priority (unless you intentionally vocalize the emphasis on "можно").

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