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The Memrise course "Russian grammar through sentences translates "This is my car" as "Это моя машина." I don't understand why we don't use the feminine Эта in this sentence.

Translate.Ru translates Эта моя машина as "this my car."

Which version is correct? Is there a difference in meaning and usage?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    "Эта моя машина" is a part of phrases "Эта моя машина, как меня достал этот старый драдулет". So it is sort of, "Ah, this car, you've know idea what a bad idea was to buy it". – shabunc Aug 3 '15 at 4:02
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Think of "Это" in "Это моя машина" like being "This is" in "This is my car". That is a "pure pointer". There's no need to change the gender here.

Yet consider "This car is mine" --> "Эта машина - моя". Here "This" applies to "Car" not to "Is" and so in Russian you need "Эта" not "Это".

Regarding your phrase "Эта моя машина". It seems to have a little meaning since "эта" must match some feminine noun. Thus the sentence may mean either "Эта [хреновина] - моя машина" (This [piece of shit] is my car) or "Эта моя машина - [что-то с чем-то]" (That my car is [really something]). In any case you missed something.

To summarize: "Это машина" --> "This is a car"; "Эта машина" --> "This car is". The gender shows which object the word "Это" applies to.

3

There is a related question here, “Они братья” but “Это упражнения” - why different pronouns?, see my answer there.

In Russian, the English construction this is / these are are always rendered as это irrespective of the gender and number of the thing named, the same goes about it is / they are, if the thing named is non-living:

This is my car. – Это моя машина. (Feminine)

This is my house. – Это мой дом. (Masculine)

This is my window. – Это моё окно. (Neuter)

These are my cars / houses / windows. – Это мои машины / дома / окна. (Plural)

Это inflects according to the gender, number, and case of the following noun only when it is an attribute to that following noun and forms a noun phrase with it:

This car – Эта машина (Feminine)

This house – Этот дом (Masculine)

This window – Это окно. (Neuter)

These cars / houses / windows – Эти машины / дома / окна. (Plural)

But note, these latter are noun phrases, they can function only as elliptical sentences or as parts of a longer complete sentence.

  • @ yellow sky why can't we say, "Эта машина—моя."? "This car is mine." например, "Это машина ваша?" "Нет, эта же машина—моя" – VCH250 Aug 2 '15 at 23:50
  • @CoreyRoberts-Reynolds - Who said we cannot say "Эта машина—моя."? "This car is mine." ??? Not me, for sure. Why are you asking this? We definitely can say that. Does it contradict my answer in any way? – Yellow Sky Aug 3 '15 at 0:42
  • полегче тигр It was more directed at the post above yours where the user said the sentence has little meaning. But I reread that post and it makes more sense now. But really everyone is making out that it's not a full sentence—anyway, wrong person – VCH250 Aug 3 '15 at 22:04
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I looked the Memrise course. There's the biggest problem with idiomatic translation. While appreciating the efforts, I think it is not the best way of reducing the pressure of work during language learning.

With idiomatic translation only, we lost the morphological patterns of a language.

Returning to the question. Let's us take the past tense.

  this    was          my       home       | - original phrase
  это.N   быть.N.PST   мой.INS  дом.INS    | - vocab. forms with grammatical labels
  это     было         моим     домом      | - morpheme-by-morpheme glosses
  "вот здесь был мой дом"                  | - idiomatic translation


   this  was    my    case       
   это   было   моим  случаем 
   "так было и со мной"   


   this    was          my         fault 
   это.N   быть.N.PST   мой.F.INS  ошибка.INS    
   это     было         моей       ошибкой
   "это было моей ошибкой"


   this  was   my    car       (after an accident)
   это   было  моей  машиной
   "это было моей машиной" 

see The Leipzig Glossing Rules for List of standard abbreviations.

Let us move the switch of tenses to the position "Now". The rest grammatical rockers-levers we keep as they were.

   this  is    my    car
   это   есть  моей  машиной
   "вот это моя машина" or "вот моя машина" or "это — моя машина"

   it    is    my    car
   оно   есть  моей  машиной
   "это моя машина"

What you are trying to say is

   эта  моя  машина
   the  my   car
   "this car"
1

"Эта моя машина" literally translates as 'this/that car of mine' (like in the song title by Beach Boys) and doesn't make a complete sentence. In Russian it is mainly possible to say so in a situation of resuming an interrupted narrative with the teller's car already mentioned before. Then "эта" functions as a reminder of that car (эта ~ упомянутая мной) :

  • На чём я остановился - о машине своей говорил? Я вот что хотел рассказать. Эта моя машина стояла тогда во дворе...
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"Эта моя машина" = "This my car" is ungrammatical or incomplete sentence, both in Russian and English. It requires a continuation (what is with your car). Also it means you have several cars and want to speak about one of them.

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The difference is in stress:
This is my car - "Это моя машина".
This car is mine - "Эта моя машина". Usually we say: "эта машина - моя".

  • I strongly disagree with the second one. In Russian it would mean This car of mine. – Aleks G Aug 12 '15 at 20:51
  • "Эта моя машина" is just ungrammatical if taken without continuation. – Anixx Sep 13 '15 at 22:05
  • - Которая машина твоя? - Эта моя машина! – Aviw Sep 15 '15 at 7:44

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