"Is that a man?"
and if you say "is this a man?" because of the word "is" you use Это? I thought I just read in another discussion Это and Этот has to do with masculine and feminine. Now all of a sudden it has to do with whether the word "is" is present or not. and of course there is no word for "is" apparently in Russian This language makes less and less sense to me.
The verb to be (есть) is omitted in the present tense.
этот means "this" for masculine nouns, эта is the same for feminine, and это for neuter. Like мне нравится этот мужчина (I like this man) or мне нравится это вино (I like this wine).
"это" also has a second meaning as the whole phrase "this is", and in this meaning it is used regardless of gender.
это мужчина - This is (a man / the man).
это вино - This is (wine / a wine / the wine).
ЭТОТ, ЭТА and ЭТО are pronouns. They (at first) have the same meanings THIS, but we use them depending on the gender of the noun. "Это яблоко" means "this apple", " Этот стол" means "this table", " эта книга"means "this book". But ЭТО has the second meaning "THIS IS", and we can use it with all genders. The differens of the meanings is, that in thre first cause we say about one of the several things/people, but in the second cause we explain to somebody, what it is (ЭТОТ стул ( один стул из двух стульев, именно ЭТОТ) or ЭТО стул (ЭТО стул, а не стол)
Possibly, though it maybe changes the meaning a bit. Человек is more like "person" or "human, though one wouldn't generally use it about a woman. If I was wanting to ask if this person is a man, not a woman, then I would use мужчина. "Это человек?" sounds more like you're asking if he's a man and not a lamp-post (I would have trouble telling the difference without my glasses...). Assuming I'm actually right about that, you can't tell from the English which the question is, so I would say "Это человек?" should be accepted too.
I understand the distinction between 'man/woman' vs '(hu)man/other'. As you say, the English doesn't elucidate one way or the other so I only noticed it wasn't accepted and wondered if there was a particular reason for it.
I'm pleased to see I've gotten the hang of человек enough to know it should be acceptable in the case of the lamppost. I'll make a correction request or update for this when I run into it again. If Duo mods decide not to add it, obviously, there is a grander scheme at play, but at least I'll have it on record as mentioned.
Thank you for responding, Theron!
A combination of the computer voice and some recent changes in pronunciation. The letter щ is actually properly transcribed as shch, reflecting it's traditional (but now mostly outdated) pronunciation. In practice, it can be very hard for the foreign ear to learn to hear the difference between щ and ш, there is however an important distinction as it affects meaning and accurate pronuncation. As for мужчина, the spelling reflects the word's historical etymology rather than current pronunciation see etymology entry at wiktionary. In comparison with English, Russian has relatively few words where spelling is misleading. Some others which spring to mind are: скучно, often pronounced (but never spelt) скушно; солнце, pronounced сонце.
When used like here, it is "this / that".
When used to mark a specific object, as in "этот стол" (this table, not another one), "этот" is "this" and "тот" is "that". However, in Russian using "that" is much less common than in English. From what I've seen, basically they use "этот" for both "this/that", and mainly resort to "тот" only when specifically focusing on the fact that "that" thing is far away, not here but "there", or else, when contrasting two things (so that you speak of both "тот" and "этот" in the same sentence to refer to two different things).
жч is pronounced like щ
Russian language has devoicing (it's in the first or the second lesson's notes) it means that if a voiced sound is near a voiceless sound (or at the end of the word) it became voiceless. Because ч is voiceless, ж became voiceless also. Voiceless ж (zh) is ш (sh). Devoicing is older than the shift of щ sound. So when the shift in spoken Russian occured it took all sh-ch sounds (because spoken language don't care about written language :) ) and changed them in 'soft sh'.
Russian language is written etymologically: because 'a husband' is written муж it's obvious that 'a man' is мужчина and not мущина. But both words are pronounced the same.
This is also why хлеб is pronounced /xlʲep/. Because devoiced B is P.
This is also в кафе is pronounced /fkɐˈfɛ/ because к /k/ is voiceless (while г /g/ is voiced sound). So it changes voiced в /v/ into voiceless ф /f/.
The sooner you become aware of this phonetic phenomenon, the easier it will be for you to write in Russian.
You also should remember that Russian is written etymologically and not how it's pronounced (it will be easier for you in the future), e.g. со́лнце 'a sun' is written with л why it's pronounced without /ˈsont͡sə/ because со́лнечный 'sunny' is pronounced /ˈsolnʲɪt͡ɕnɨj/ with л.
Or здра́вствуйте 'hi' is pronounced without the first V: /ˈzdrastvʊjtʲe/
because it's from здра́во 'healthily, soundly' and it means "May health be with you"
Here is the list of some Russian words that are pronounced differently from the rules of spelling (e.g.: ко́фе /ˈkofʲe/ but кафе́ /kɐˈfɛ/ (like it would be кафэ́) https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Russian_terms_with_irregular_pronunciations
Over 1000 words is not so much compared to English.
Если и можно было, то лет 150-200 назад (если мы с Вами об одном и том же русском языке говорим). Я лично никогда подобной конструкции не встречал ни в устной, ни в письменно-книжной речи.
В современном русском языке слово "то" точно не применимо к одушевлённым предметам.
Yes. In some other words, a written жч is also pronunced as щ.
The reason is a historical pronounciation shift: those words used to be pronounced differently, but the "жч" sound is no longer there in modern russian and it collapsed to щ, while some words kept the traditional spelling.
Try the branah.com virtual keyboard. That's the first one I'd recommend.
Other choices: the DuoKeyboard extension (unfortunately only works on Chrome as far as I know) or just switch your computers keymap to Russian Cyrillic. On Windows, it is a simple matter of going to settings - time & language - region & language and then adding Russian (русский) to the list. (on mobile there's a separate option you need to check, otherwise the change layout button doesn't appear on the keyboard). It should be fairly similar on other operating systems, and there might be other ways/tricks I don't know about. But these have worked for me (I never use the mobile though).
"This is" / "That is" / "These are" / "Those are" : always это. Note the sentence expresses "being", it starts with "This is/ These are" in English. However, in the different meaning of indicating "this" thing in particular, then "это" changes (этот, эта, это, эти) according to the gramatical gender of the specific thing.
This table is good: Этот стол хороший. This is a good table: Это хороший стол.
This weather is good: Эта погода хорошая. This is good weather: Это хорошая погода.
This lake is good. Это озеро хорошее. This is a good lake: Это хорошее озеро.
These people are good. Эти люди хорошие. These are good people: Это хорошие люди.
You know how we say man referring to mankind as in the entire human race in english? Человек is similar, but closer to person in meaning.
But punctuation is very important in written Russian, for example, separating addressee or, most importantly, specifying the character of a sentence. It is a big mistake in this language lesson! [not to mention, the misleading intonation in dictations when logical question mark get graded as a 'fail']. Also, I agree with those people who find that translations for some Russian words can be varied: e.g. for 'a man', 'eat', 'the father', etc.; and even 'the' - 'a', or 'is' can not be (sensibly) translated word-to-word, as only the interpretation of meanings should be used. [Which this lesson does not offer, and makes the Russian language more incomprehensible (and not much of use)]. Regards
I notice that "Is this a man?" would also translate naturally to "Это мужчина?". I understand that Russian uses этот more often than тот, leaving the last one mostly to emphasize that we are not talking about the one that is "here", but that which is "there".
How would one translate this sentence if we wanted to preserve that emphasis on the fact that the (supposed) man is "that" man and not "this" man?
Is "То мужчина?" possible? I have never seen such a construction though, and using "тот" here would definitely not work, since this is a question about "that thing" being a man or not, so we can't say "that man" yet.