Hah, the bigger problem is that ❤❤❤❤❤ is the complicated language, and you can't even use even simplest sentence without some cluserfuck of grammar ;-)
I mean, I actually get most of this, since I speak Serbian, and compared to me, Ruskies just got everything mixed up (e.g. the same word in Dative is used for Accusative case in my language, their first person singular is our 3rd person plural etc.), but even I just have to memorize the different case/word/conjugation in different usages, and you can only do that by using it/repeating it 1000 times, and often getting yourself into embarrassing situations :D
There's just not an easy way to learn Russian than to repeat and use those words in different cases all the time, until it gets into your ears, i.e. there's no point of remembering the rules of conjugations or declensions and exceptions, you just tend to feel them after a while ;-)
I think that this course works perfectly well when you are already in a russian course, with an actual teacher to show you all the conjugations/declinations that a verb can have.
For example, I recently took a semester of basic russian at my university, and I learned all of that, but while I was good at grammar, I couldn't make a single sentence, which is -I think- the purpose of this course, to learn vocabulary and how to make sentences.
There are few mistakes here ;)
Думаю что ты забыл слово "что" в твоих предложенияХ (prepositional case). На русском, тебе надо включать конъюнкциЮ(accusative case) в сложных предложениях. Твоё предложение должНО (neuter gender) быть "ты думаешь, что это проблема? Я думаю, что это проблема".
But native russians sometimes skip word "что" in such sentences.
it's implied by the conjugation. Verbs that end in ете are already conjugated for the pronoun вы. Therefore, this sentence literally translates to "(You) can tell, where is mom?" However, because we speak English (which is much more complicated in its clauses and stuff), this translates properly to "Can you tell me where mom is?"
Russian grammar is actually easier here than English :)
To conjugate into the imperative mood in Russian, the general rule for most verbs is to take the stem in 3rd person plural and add -ай for -ать verbs and -и for other forms. To make it plural, add -те.
читать -> читают -> читай, читайте
идти -> идут -> иди, идите
Of course, that is a very general rule that doesn't work in all cases:
Сказать -> скажут -> скажи, скажите
You can use this sentence is so many context, not only with your family:
Your mother is missing, you ask the policeman: "Can you tell me where mom is?".
You are a kid, in the supermarket, you go to a cashier and ask: "Can you tell me where mom is?".
You are talking to a friend of your mother, you ask him: "Can you tell me where mom is?".
Of course you tend to use the possessive if you talk to a policeman or strangers. However, a kid could say "mom" instead of "my mom". Therefore, the sentence, the way it is written with a polite вы, is acceptable in a context outside of family (a kid talking to a cashier), and therefore is not that strange, just uncommon.
Of course you could say this but, as no English speaker would say it, you would sound very quaint - and like a foreign speaker. Also you would not say 'Can you tell me where is Mum?' You would say 'Can you tell me where Mum is?' Whereas without the preceding 'Can' you would say 'Where is Mum?' Very tricky!
English speakers have said this and do say it, it is not uncommon at all. May you tell me where your manager is, is a common request on the Casino floor. Its probably used in the military too. Example, May you tell me your orders. The can suggests ability, do the person you ask, have the information. May you tell me assumes the person has the knowledge it is more a question of the authority to share that information.
What I wanted to know is how do you distinguish between the two meanings if they sound the same. Perhaps in Russia can and may are combined. Then if you reply -Нет- it could mean you just don't know the answer or you are not allowed to disclose the answer.
That however is speculation.
May you tell me is a rare usage in English.
For one thing, it asks whether a person is allowed to tell you something, not whether they can.
In situations where it is clear that the person could tell you if they wanted to, using may you suggests the listener could tell you but might not want to take the time to bother with you. An exceedingly polite approach in most situations.
Generally, if you don't want to be pushy, you ask may I ask you where the manager is, or whatever.
I don't think it is necessary: You are already being polite by asking if he "can".
However, I'd say you should put пожалуйста earlier: Можете сказать, пожалуйста, где мама?
It is necessary if you are polite and if you are demanding someone to do something for you (like "to tell" you something): Скажите, пожалуйста, где мама?".
Maybe a native russian speaker can tell us more about all this. I really feel what I say is correct, but maybe you can also put пожалуйста at the end of the sentence.
No. "Please" and "Can you" are two different things for sure:
Скажи, пожалуйста : Use of the imperative for the verb to tell, you give an order. Translation: Tell me, please.
Можете сказать: Use of an infinitive for the verb to tell and another conjugate verb Can. You are asking if the person is able to tell you, not asking him to tell you. Translation: Can you tell me.
I had to give up the Russian course. I started from almost zero with virtually no knowledge of the alphabet and only a few words. For me there wasn't enough basic instruction. It seemed I was to learn from osmosis but I found it to be a swamp. The gender rules were absolutely unclear to me for example. I believe I need to take a "live" beginner course and then use Duolingo as a refresher. For Spanish I did it that way, though because I know French, German and English I probably could have learned from scratch in Duolingo.
May implies that someone needs to give the person permission. eg. 'May I have the day off on Friday?' This would be unlikely to be correct in the case of 'where is Mom'. And never used. 'Can' and 'could' ask if you are able to tell me. So they are ok. 'Will' and 'would' ask if you are willing to tell me, so probably not so good - but often used.
I'm a bit late to the party, but that should be an acceptable translation. It probably isn't because "are you able" is more concisely conveyed by the word "can", which denotes one's ability, based on physical ability or knowledge, to do something. I've found a lot of times, it's simply learning to play by Duolingo's rules. In the lesson that included "можете", did they originally translate it as "can" or as "are you able"? Usually, if you stick with that originally taught translation in your answers, you're okay.
Also, I think Northernguy has confused "can" with, "may" which denotes ones ability to do something based on permissions and clearances. And to be fair, many English speakers in the U.S.A. interchange these words often. It's a common, and poorly made, joke among grade school. A child asks if they "can" go to the bathroom and the teacher replies, "I don't know? 'Can' you?", because the child does not lack the ability, but permission to leave the room and so should use "may".
Is it really that common to start a sentence with "Tell me" or "Say" in Russian that we need to learn all these different forms of it so early on? I'm genuinely curious how frequently you'd need to use these phrases, since it's not extremely common to preface a question with "tell me," or "say," in English. People do say it, just not often enough that I'd consider it a priority for someone learning English to learn it. Is it much more common in Russian?
I've also been curious about this. In this particular sentence it seems practical, but there are others such as, "Say, where is Vera?", that it seems a bit old fashioned for an English speaker to say. Though, to be honest, I think we may have simply substituted "hey" in for "say" as I frequently hear sentences such as, "Hey, did you see Game of Thrones last night?". But, that may just be a thing in the U.S.A. Still, I'm curious to see if a native Russian speaker can speak to the prevalence of using "сказать" in this way in their country.