Можно я попью чая?

What part of speech here is "можно"? Also, if possible, can you parse this sentence, please?


3 Answers 3


The comprehensive edition Русская грамматика by the Russian Academy of Sciences (Наука, 1980) http://lukashevichus.info/knigi/russk_gramm_sl_shvedova_1.pdf

says (p. 703):

Предикативы — это слова с модальными значениями долженствования, необходимости, возможности. Это — самостоятельные слова, не соотносительные с качественными наречиями и краткими прилагательными; например, должно, можно, надо, нельзя, нужно, устар. надобно. По своим синтаксическим функциям эти слова совпадают с предикативами в системе существительных [лень, недосуг]...

So, it's different from adverb. Unlikely there's an exact English term for предикатив in its defined meaning; here's a page using the term predicative adverb, however along with the words like надо, defined above, typical adverbs (like холодно) are included which are out of that definition. http://russianlearn.com/grammar/category/predicative_adverbs

Another version of literally parsing the sentence (as opposed to proper translation with 'May I...'), in an attempt to replace можно with something as impersonal: Is it OK if I have some tea?

  • Искон. Бывшая форма ср. р. ед. ч. прил. можьнъ, суф. производного от мога «сила» (ср. подмога).
    – VCH250
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 13:01

"Можно" is наречие, i.e. adverb.

"Можно я попью чая?" may be translated as "Let me have some tea." or "May I have some tea?"

"Можно" is derived from "мочь" (to be able to), "могу" (I am able to, I can) and generally stands for posessing some permission, or ability, or affordance.


Существует несколько вариантов названия для слов можно и нельзя как частей речи.

  • наречия состояния,
  • предикативные наречия,
  • наречия в роли сказуемого.

В данном случае, я считаю наиболее подходящим вариантом наречие в роли сказуемого.
Таким образом, исходное предложение может быть разобрано как:

я - подлежащее

можно попью - сказуемое

чай - дополнение

In English my answer is much shorter. This is an adverb as predicate. In this sentence it is a part of complex predicate можно попью.

  • 3
    Really? If "можно попью" is сказуемое, then this sentence might be as well "я можно попью чая". And after completing this action you would say "я можно попил чая". I would say the original sentence has a mistake - missing comma. It should be "Можно, я попью чая?", and I would translate it as "Is it ok, (if) I will have/drink some tea?".
    – Mike Has
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 14:33
  • @Mike Has: I'm upvoting your comment, only it needs just a teensy expansion: the original phrase may mean either asking for some tea, or asking for sort of permission to drink some tea (e.g., brought in a thermos).
    – yury10578
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 6:35

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