Questions tagged [usage]

Covers questions about the usage of a particular word or phrase in different situations and contexts.

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51
votes
10answers
15k views

What's the difference between "лежит на столе" and "стоит на столе"?

Can anyone explain the difference between the following sentences: "Чашка лежит на столе" vs. "Чашка стоит на столе" "Мяч лежит на столе" vs. "Мяч стоит на столе" "Лэптоп лежит на столе" vs. "Лэптоп ...
45
votes
9answers
11k views

Why do Russians almost not use verbs of possession akin to "have"?

I have always been puzzled as to why the Russians almost never use verbs of possession akin to "have" or "own." Instead of such verbs, the Russians use the preposition у, whose ...
38
votes
2answers
6k views

How can "to teach" and "to learn" be translated to Russian?

I know that there are several Russian verbs can be used to translate the English verbs "to teach", "to study", and "to learn", e.g. учить, выучить, научить, учиться, изучать, ... However, I am a bit ...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

What's the meaning of "у нас" in phrases like "он у нас умный"?

The grammatical construction у меня, literally at/near me, is the Russian way to express possession and is also used to express proximity: У меня хорошая подруга. (I have a good friend.) Она сейчас у ...
31
votes
4answers
14k views

If a Russian girl calls herself a thawing pike (тающая щука), what could it mean?

I recently had a video call with a Russian girl, and in the middle of the conversation she called herself тающая щука. That made no sense in the context, so I used a mirror to try to understand what ...
29
votes
4answers
8k views

Why do Russians call some women a dynamo (динамо)?

In English, you call a person a dynamo to say that he or she is extremely energetic (e.g., she was a dynamo in London politics), but Russians mean something entirely different when they call someone a ...
29
votes
8answers
4k views

How can I finally understand the confusing modal verb "мочь"?

The verb мочь is one of the most basic words, actually a central modal verb, but I am so much confused about it. I am often at a loss as to how to interpret it in particular sentences, and I avoid ...
27
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4answers
2k views

How can I understand this puzzling dialogue with "ну я имею в виду вообще"?

My Russian teacher recently had us, his students, listen some audio recordings of what he called "authentic everyday communications of Russians." We had to understand the dialogues and ...
26
votes
5answers
8k views

Why does "ебало" mean a face and "ебаться" mean to fuck?

I had been talking with my Russian friend which used such words like "ебало", "ебаться" and "ебнутый". As I understood, this words have completely difference meaning. It is very curious.
23
votes
11answers
2k views

Why do some say "на Украине" and others "в Украине" and what is correct?

Can anyone explain? Is there some rule for when to use на and when to use в?
23
votes
7answers
14k views

"Left" and "right" in Russian

On a German page about the Russian language, I learned the words прямо [prjáma] – gerade aus (straight on) направо [napráwa] – rechts (right) налево [naléwa] – links (left) for directions (...
22
votes
4answers
5k views

Is there a Russian equivalent of "red flag"?

In English, the term red flag is used as a metaphor to mean a sign suggestive of a possible danger or problem: (1) Boyfriend not showing you his home is a huge red flag. (Link) (2) I've just spent ...
22
votes
6answers
22k views

Quotation marks

Which quotation marks should I use? Some sentences use double-quotes, i.e. "...", while others use double-angle-quotes, i.e. «...». Obviously, the " is correct in English. However, I am not sure ...
22
votes
6answers
9k views

Why do Russians call a joke a stake (прикол)?

In modern Russian, прикол is a very frequently used word and means a joke, a funny incident, or just anything funny, but the original meaning of this word is very different: a stake to which a ship, a ...
19
votes
2answers
962 views

Does “official Russian” language exist?

In the Soviet time, the speech of news-readers on radio and TV was considered a standard of the proper Russian language. The spelling in the newpapers was the standard of written language. To support ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are United Nations and United Arab Emirates translated as "Объединённые", but United States as "Соединённые"?

Are there two different ways to be "United", or is one simply the more modern usage while the other was used historically in previous centuries?
17
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8answers
3k views

"Член клуба" - how to use "член" in feminine here?

Let's consider this sentence: I'm a member of the Japanese Renju Association. A member translates into Russian as член, but the grammatical gender of this word is masculine, so I'm curious how I can ...
15
votes
5answers
13k views

What's the difference between "вот" and "здесь"?

Both words translate as here, but in which context should I use one over the other? There's a question about it on the Q&A of masterrussian.com that already gives me a rough understanding. That ...
15
votes
5answers
954 views

How can I say "start both hourglasses" in Russian?

I've been given the following task: "Let's suppose you have an hourglass that measures 7 minutes and an hourglass that measures 4 minutes, and you need to time 9 minutes by using only these ...
15
votes
4answers
614 views

"Я считаю Пушкина более талантливым поэтом, чем Блок" or "чем Блокa"?

Here I am sitting late in the evening, struggling with a home test devised by a university teacher of mine, and here is a question in the test: Как корректно закончить следующее предложение? Я считаю ...
14
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2answers
804 views

Difference between грусть, печаль, тоска?

When to use one or the other, and in wich context?
14
votes
3answers
463 views

Imperatives and Aspect

When using an imperative form, what effect does the speaker's choice of aspect have? More concretely — what's the difference between (for example) снимай пальто and сними пальто? In both cases, the ...
13
votes
7answers
4k views

Russian equivalents of 能骗就骗 (if you can cheat, then cheat)

On this SE there have been many interesting questions about Russian equivalents of various idiomatic expressions and proverbs of the French language and other languages, and I decided to make my own ...
13
votes
6answers
6k views

What order are the parts of a full Russian name in?

It is my understanding that Russians have a first name, surname, and patronymic. What is the order of a full name: "first name, surname, patronymic" or "first name, patronymic, surname"?
13
votes
6answers
6k views

Does the word "is" have an actual form in Russian? (Usage rules?)

I am currently learning the Russian language, and was quite intrigued by how they treat articles (they basically disregard/imply them). However, the word "is" is not stated to be an article, yet seems ...
13
votes
3answers
405 views

Express "ten" in Russian: difference between десять, десятка, десяток

In terms of expressing ten, what's the difference between десять, десятка and десяток? I understand the first is a numeral and the other two are nouns, but I'm curious in which contexts each are used. ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the Russian name closest to "Sideosha"?

When I was being adopted from an orphanage my mom claims that on several occasions, when calling for my little brother I called him by a nickname. I don't know how to spell the word or what it means I ...
13
votes
4answers
580 views

Difference between "даже" and "аж"

I just encountered аж, which apparently means even. Any difference between this word and даже, or can I substitute one for the other?
13
votes
2answers
501 views

Etymology of "Есть!" (military command)

Can it be explained how the phrase Есть! came to be used in the military when someone accepts an order?
13
votes
5answers
2k views

What does «и» mean in the sentence like «Я и ртом надую»?

The и in both of these sentences appears extra. What is it doing? — Зачем мне насос? — ответил Гена. — Я и ртом надую. And from another children’s book: Всех друзей я киселем вкусным угостила, ...
13
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3answers
556 views

Can anyone clear up some discrepancies between rules for numeral+adjective+noun agreement for 2/3/4 and actual usage (as found through e-sources)?

While trying to augment my knowledge on Russian numerals with regard to how they combine with nouns and adjectives, I paid a visit to Reverso after learning that any adjectives placed between the ...
12
votes
7answers
2k views

Do "надо" constructions tend to pair with perfective verbs and if so, why?

I've noticed that constructions with "надо" tend to use a perfective form of a verb. Is there some sort of loose grammar rule dictating this? Or does it just depend on context? For example, can I ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

Why does Russian have three words for marriage?

They are свадьба, женитьба, and замужество. According to wiktionary, женитьба is marriage from a man's perspective (despite being feminine) and замужество a woman's (despite being neuter). Is it ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

What does the construction "У меня" mean in this joke?

Математик возвращается домой очень уставший, сердитый, и говорит жене: – Какая ты у меня компактная! – Что маленькая и миленькая? – Нет замкнутая и ограниченная. I understand the joke, but I ...
12
votes
4answers
394 views

Is "мочиться" a vulgar or indecent word to any extent?

This is a famous quote from Heart of a Dog (Собачье сердце) Если я, входя в уборную, начну, извините за выражение, мочиться мимо унитаза и то же самое будут делать Зина и Дарья Петровна, в уборной ...
12
votes
9answers
716 views

"Деревья свалил ветер" vs "Деревья свалило ветром"

The former is a personal sentence and the latter an impersonal one, though both the sentences seem semantically (almost) equivalent. Concerning personal and impersonal sentences, I have some idea how ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

How should I translate "the fighting boar" in Grenfell's poem into Russian?

My Russian teacher, whom you know by his tough approach to teaching the language, strongly pushed me to try to translate English poems into Russian, and we agreed I'd have a look at Hymn to the Wild ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

When can one use "нету" instead of "нет"?

I've only read and heard нету in unformal contexts (Or I somehow associate this to kids saying нету as a cool version of нет, but that's just an impression based on a lack of practice of Russian, so I'...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Иметь vs у меня for physical things

I get that у меня is the most common pattern for showing ownership of things, say леопарда or самокат. What happens to the meaning were I to use Иметь instead? Does it mean the exact same thing? (...
12
votes
4answers
557 views

Moving the subject of the sentence into a dangling participle

When I do homework to be later read by the teachers, I sometimes like to show off by using rare forms that I have learned by deeply studying Russian. It is always fun, especially as the assistant ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

Can you use "едать" and "игрывать" in the present and future tenses?

There is a big conflict between what I was taught here in Japan and what is written in most Russian grammar sources, and I am very curious what the native speakers have to say about it. I am ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of expression "Ёлки-палки"

In a booklet of elementary readings for foreigners I came across the expression Ёлки-палки. This seems to translate as "damn" but the relation of that meaning to the literal meaning of the words ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

сдавать/сдать экзамен

During my Russian classes and later, I never felt comfortable with the expressions "to take an exam" and "to pass an exam" as сдавать экзамен and сдать экзамен. It doesn't seem to me like taking an ...
12
votes
3answers
419 views

When are diminutive forms of time words (e.g., часик, неделька, годик) used?

I was searching the Russian National Corpus recently and in the results I noticed that nouns referring to duration in time are sometimes marked with a diminutive suffix, as in the following examples: ...
11
votes
8answers
4k views

Good for you! in Russian

Somebody say: I took the full test score And I answer: Good for you! which one is correct in Russian: "хорошо для тебя" or "повезло тебе" And also we use "тебе на пользу" in another situation like: ...
11
votes
6answers
805 views

Meaning of "по ходу"

I've recently come across this expression in two sentences and the dictionaries are no help: Слышь, сегодня лучше не попадайся на глаза шефу: он, по ходу, озверел из-за чего-то там. По ходу, ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

What people are called boars ("кабан") and why?

I discovered yesterday that the Russians often use the word "кабан" ("wild boar") or its Old Russian analogue "вепрь" to talk about people: (1) Что ещё раз доказывает, ...
11
votes
9answers
3k views

How to elegantly say in Russian, "He was never to get what he wanted or, at least, what he said he wanted."

I got an assignment to translate the following text into Russian: But nothing in Voroshilov's carefully chosen words or courteous demeanor suggested the feverish activity in Berlin and Moscow that ...
11
votes
3answers
190 views

The meaning and usage of hyphenated suffix -с

I was reading a short story from Chekhov called "Который из трех?" when I came across a hyphenated suffix -с attached to certain words. Here are a few examples: И при такой самой природе как ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Idiomatic Signage: "No children", "Children not allowed on table", etc.?

Let's say you had a nice pool table. And some people were ruining it by putting their small children on top of it and letting them walk around and bang on it. In American English, you might put a ...

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