"My brother has been working for fourteen hours already."
Translation:Мой брат работает уже четырнадцать часов.
"sense" is ever a strange concept when it comes to language :) "My brother has already been working for fourteen hours" is completely natural, probably a good deal more common than the suggested translation (which has a certain emphatic connotation)
Would "уже" be more natural before the verb in a sentence with a concluded rather than ongoing duration: "Мой брат уже работал четырнадцать часов сегодня"?
Работал 14 часов usually refers to an action in the past. I can imagine your sentence as a complaint, though a weird one ("he worked his 14 hours already—he won't work another 14"). Other than that, "уже" does not work in such sentence.
Also, сегодня would rather come right after мой брат or maybe in the beginning of the sentence. Admittedly, in spoken language adverbs often lag behind, especially if the sentence is long and unplanned.
The "sense" I refer to is the specifics of placing уже , только, очень or other such adverbs in Russian. They modify a certain part of the sentence and are usually placed accordingly (i.e. before that part). Только, for instance, in an adverb with a rather varied distribution: like in English, it can attach to verbs, nouns, prepositional phrases, other adverbs, adjectives, pronouns and numbers. Unlike in English, the following does not work in Russian:
- I only started working here recently.
In Russian this particular word order would suggest a pretty odd interpretation of "The only thing I did was starting working here recently", which seems a mess (so you'd probably be undestood in the end). In English, though, this placement of "only" is extremely common. The listener should use their common sense to deduce the suitable interpretation ("only recently", "only started", "only here", or " only working").
Let's take one more Russian sentence. What do you think it means?
- Мы начали заниматься красками уже потом.
Thanks for this exposition; I don't think I've ever come across just a detailed description of adverb placement.
Yeah, I had something like a complaint in mind with my example.
Hmm, I guess your final example is something like "We started painting then" where the "then" would ordinarily be referring to "after the previous event in a sequence"? Admittedly, I don't exactly understand the role "уже" is playing.
English Perfect Continuous structures have no direct equivalent in Russian.
"Have been doing something" sentences typically get translated with the present-tense if the duration is mentioned.
If the duration is not stated (e.g., "I've been looking forward to seeing you in person") use the past tense form. For practical reasons, sometimes it is easier to get your point across if you state the duration in some form and switch to present..