"I want a dog; I already have a cat."
Translation:Я хочу собаку, кошка у меня уже есть.
Why is "кошка" at the beginning of the second part of the sentence? I haven't seen word order like this before. Why would "у меня уже есть кошка" be wrong?
The example sentence emphasizes the speaker wants a dog because they already have a cat.
Your sentence is grammatically correct but doesnt flow the same way
"есть" is a statement of existence. Which is an obligatory meaning in this particular sentence. Sometimes it depends on context, sometimes even forbidden:
- No «есть» when describing properties of your body parts (unless you have a few body parts that are not commonly found in humans). Eg, «У меня большой нос»(I have a large nose)
- No «есть» with illnesses / feeling unwell (У меня температура)
- When describing properties of something with adjectives, there is no «есть». Basically, if "I have a good X" = "My X is good", you do not need to specify its existence
With pets it is a hard choice because formally we must allow both interpretations sometimes:
- I have a cat (you may have thought I have no pets) = У меня кошка.
- "I have a cat" (in case you thought I have a dog or a turtle) = У меня кошка/кот.
- "I have a cat" (so that's why I bought cat food) = У меня кошка/кот. or, maybe "У меня есть кошка/кот"
Of course, these DO NOT mean the same. It is just that in English they are no different in the lack of any context.
Oh, that's very interesting, and thanks for such complete answer :) I was always confused with the use of есть!
Well, "есть" is a form of "быть" (to be), the only in use now. Its analogous to "is", which replaced all other forms. High brow academics (or wannabes) will also use "суть" (3rd person plural) when making profound statements (after all, "суть" is the word that means "essense")... usually incorrectly, but that is it.
Because you want the dog since there's already a cat by you (that's how you say you have something). To want something requires accusative but to have it no cause you don't really say you have it... You actually say is by you hence the nominative.
I wrote я хочу собаку кошка уже у меня есть and it was marked wrong because уже is in the wrong place. But, doesn't Russian not care about word order as long as you put the emphasized word first?