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  5. "Можете сказать, где мама?"

"Можете сказать, где мама?"

Translation:Can you tell me where mom is?

November 5, 2015



I feel like these phrases, with their imperatives and direct objects, are too advanced for beginning tiers. We haven't learned any conjugations of simple verb forms or sentences and yet here are complex sentence structures.


I agree, I don't think I'm ready to know at least three versions of "tell me" yet...


True... Had to Google the conjugation to know it was a formal sentence:
я могу
ты можешь
он / она / оно может
мы можем
вы можете
они могут


I will say that when we learned our mother language we didn't make it in any order, we just repeat and repeat.


Yup i think that's the point of the method used by duolingo


That is the method Babble uses and I gave up on that right there. You would have to be around people speaking Russian all day every day to get it.


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.


Never realized that these lessons must be much more difficult for an English learner. I speak slovak and learned Russian in school for a month which makes these lessons much easier.


Yeah I had to quit attempting basic Russian and skip to grammar and conjugations. Now it's starting to make sense.


We ought to be learning what "Можете" is all by itself first, before we learn this phrase.


Да... Ты думаешь это проблема?


Можете is "can you...?"


why does the verb have no subject?


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 :)


Is there some kind of Imperative time in Russian? I know there is futur, past and present, but I feel this kind of sentence looks a lot like Imperative!


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


I'd add that моги, могите are extremely exotic forms.

UPD: if they exist at all. Not sure even as a native speaker.


As a native English speaker, it doesn't sound right to try to tell people to "can" do something either.

Thanks for the explanation though, Kaiverus!


можете. смотри куда глагол ставишь...


мочь-могут-можешь, можете


Imperative would be: Скажи где мама = Tell me where mom is (informal singular) Скажите где мама = Tell me where mom is (formal or plural)


I'm not advanced enough in Russian to say, as I'm just another learner. Someone in the discussion section knows better than me, no doubt. Good luck!


Are можете and möchten related?


можете is more könnten in german. Можете сказать, где мама? = Könnten Sie mir sagen, wo Mama ist?


Please Duo, I promise I will learn Russian, just tell me where my mom is.


What is the difference between "сказат" and "сказать"?


So...скажите ... сказать ... скажи ... difference?


Polite/plural, infinitive, informal/singular, if I have it right.


Why is this conjugated in formal address? This kind of sentence seems like something you'd only say to a brother or sister. Thanks!


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?".

  • Etc.


"Skazhite pozhaluysta, Znate li gde moya mama ? " ... or " [..] Tvoya Mama [..] " .

when you just say "mama" without mine or yours, it just implies "our mum" .

Pfff, what are we even debating about here :D haha


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.


Ok, thanks for the response. I think it did just trip me up, because without a possessive pronoun, it seems like you're addressing someone who already is fully aware of who exactly "mom" is - with whom I'd use an informal register.


Yeah kinda unnatural. if instead of Mama they've used, say, Museum, it would work better ;-)


Can a perfective verb be used after мочь? Shouldn't it be говорить not сказать?


It should be skazat ;-) . If you said govorit' , it would basically mean you would expect a man to "talk" rather than say something, i.e. you would expect him to talk to you for a while, not just to tell you something and go on with his business :-)


Thanks, dempl, for the correction and explanation.


Why not. May you tell me, where is mom? Like do you have permission to tell me to location of mom.


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.


In that case "may" is different from "can" or "could" as it means "are you allowed to tell me..." I would be willing to bet there is a different Russian expression for that, but I am not a native Russian speaker so I cannot be sure.


Very interesting Chel-lala. I have never heard this. Which English speaking country are you referring to?


I am from South Africa, so the English people here mostly descent from the Brits and the Irish.


I'm from New Zealand - same! But obviously our countries have each developed their own traditions as well.


My first instinct was "might you tell me" which is (I think) the correct form of "May" in that context. It was my only wrong answer! (doht!)


Is it correct if I put the pronoun вы in the sentence, like: "Можете вы сказать" ?


Можете is formal or plural, right? What would be the informal singular version of it?


Formal (2nd person singular) or plural (2nd person plural).

Можешь сказать (2nd person singular).


Sure, I understood that. The lesson just didn't teach us the 2.prs.sg. of it, that's why I asked! Я благодарю тебя!


If you want to learn alternatives of words (like благодарю for спасибо), you can say не за что instead of пожалуйста as a reply to спасибо. :)


не за что по английски = "not at all" roughly ?


@Lucas perhaps it would be best to say "не за что" would resemble more closely "de rien"(its nothing/you're welcome) in French.


Thank you => For nothing, not at all.

But litterally it seems to mean "Not for which": ("Thank) not(/Don't thank me) for which (I have helped you for).


I didn't know "Not at all" was a way of answering to "Thank you" haha!


Are commas mandatory here like in German, or just used for timing/separation?


Mandatory. Some example:

  • Можете сказать, где ресторан?
  • Скажи, ты ходишь в школу?
  • Я ем, потому что я хочу есть.


Can we add "please"- "pozhaluista" at the end or does it go somewhere else?


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.

[deactivated user]

    I hate this one. I'm a Hindi speaker and initially i thought можете meant to me because the word for that in hindi is similar and the word order is the same. It's terrible.


    'Only after you finish your Russian lessons' - Duo.


    Is сказать the infinitive form of to tell/say?


    Is please an acceptable translation of Можете? I had "please tell me, where is mum?"


    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.


    If this sentence is 'Can you tell me where {my} mom is, how do you say, 'Can you tell me were YOUR mom is?'


    Где твоя мама, you just need to precize the твоя, like you've done before to say your (house, dog, mom, family, etc.).


    What's the difference between сказать and the others? And where can I learn this grammar stuff you all seem to know about, that I can't seem to find on here? Thanks :]


    I don't understand the first part of your question. Could you explain what you're calling 'the others'?

    For the second part of the question, here is a link to a site I find useful for Russian grammar:



    It's a very useful page, спасибо Veronica




    Thanks very much for the link, looks really useful!


    Can't I say "can you please tell me...."? It should be respectful in English as well, eh?


    Would I use this sentence also when trying to teach a child to say "Where is mama"? (Polite form or not.)


    How cam I tell if где мама means "my" mom or "your" mom? It seemed more logical to me to assume "your", but I was marked wrong.


    где мама means "where is Mom?" .. If you were asking about someone else's mom, где тбоя мама?


    After learning 'пап' means 'dad' in the previous exercise, I thought 'папа' & 'мама' translated to 'daddy' and 'mummy' respectively. I was wrong...


    I think "mommy" would be мамочка, the diminutive form of мама.


    I often don't understand the pronunciation! E.g. here I hear "shkavet'"!


    Why I hear "shkavet'"?


    In this sentence, how do you know whose мама the speaker is referring to?


    You don't. In fact, it doesn't necessarily even mean a person. The question asks where someone or something called mama is. Like most questions, you need context to be sure exactly what is meant.


    I dont know but can you explane me if i anser "can you show me where is mom" it will be also right anser or not


    It's not correct. The verb сказать means "to say, to tell" and I think "can you show" would be можете показать.


    I just cannot understand, why is it wrong to say, Where is a mother or where is the mother. How many times I answered you, "Где мама" = Where is the mother or where is a mother. Now you are giving me an entirely different phrase.


    The word order must change in English. Where is Mother? + Can you tell me? -> Can you tell me where Mother is?


    Hello all, where is it noticed that it is for "me" please?


    It's not, but it's implied. You can also write explicity: "Можете мне сказать".


    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.


    Can you tell me where mama is? Isn't this correct?


    i put can u tell me where is mom? is that correct bc it marked wrong


    Yeah that's very casual English, Duo needs a bit more than that (e.g. you instead of u).


    Why does it translate into "tell me" into "say,"


    мо́чь (móčʹ) [mot͡ɕ] "can, be able to; may": From Proto-Slavic *moťi, from Proto-Indo-European *megʰ-, whence English might and may. Cognate to Ancient Greek μῆχος (mêkhos, “means, remedy”) and Proto-Germanic *maganą (“to be able, may”).


    Why is "Can you tell me, where is mom?" wrong?


    You've turned it into two questions (by changing the word order twice). There's only one question here.


    Why is "Tell me, where is mom?" wrong?


    What about "can"?


    So the question is about telling that person where is his/her mother or it's about whether the person can or can't say this sentence?


    Well the sentence in English can mean both and I'm fairly confident the same would be true in Russian. But realistically it's way more likely it would be telling the person where his/her mother is.


    What ??? I typed" please tell me". Is it not ok ? At least it's similar.


    Why "Tell me, where is mom?" Not okay.


    I keep getting it wrong with: "Tell me, where is Mom?"

    Is there a problem with this answer?


    Thank God for all of you who post comments both asking and answering I've learned more from everyone please don't stop posting questions and answers This is a big thing for me and others like me благодарю duolingo


    Please correct that awful 'mom' to mum or mama!!


    Those variants are accepted. However, Duolingo is a US-based country, so it teaches and uses American English as its standard. I would not call a regional variant "awful," even if it sounds off to me.


    Not to mention that it is American English that people around the world are learning. Whatever regional variant it is that schools there are teaching, the English being absorbed in non English speaking countries is from movies, games, social media, advertising and cartoons. Those are all targeted to American English and/or dominated by American focused creators.


    A too doobreee :DDDDDDDDD (Polacy zrozumieją) "Możecie wskazać, gdzie mama?"


    The more i learn the more ut seems difficult. The. Lessons are too advanced for beginers. I think thzy should give some explanatory lessons


    I am surprised it hasn't kicked me out yet with as many errors I have made during this lesson


    "Could you..." would be a more proper start of the English sentence.


    Arent we supposed to use could instead of can if we wanna ask politely to someone


    If by we you mean English speakers, you have a good point. If you mean Russian speakers, then maybe not. Duo says not. They say can is the equivalent translation of the Russian words used. They do it consistently throughout their lessons. When translating Duo speak use can.


    Сказать means "say" or "tell me" Скажите means "tell me" with formal intention


    No, "сказать" is the infinitive. You have to use the infinitive after "можете"/"можешь" ("can"). And it's "можете"/"можешь" that reflects the formality. "Можете" is plural/formal; "можешь" is singular informal.

    Now, if it was "tell me", rather than "can you tell me", then you'd have to use the conjugated forms of "сказать". "Скажите" for plural/formal; "скажи" for singular informal.

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