"These girls are sisters."

Translation:Эти девочки — сёстры.

November 5, 2015

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Why does the plural suffix of "girls" add the и but the plural of sisters adds ы? Isn't a feminine noun in singular form the ones that end in а, and in the plural form end in ы? Or is this another noun declension that I do not yet understand...?

  • 941

The Three Spelling rules (I do not expect anyone to memorize that, though)

There are some phonological constraints. If a noun ends in к/г/х or in ш/ж/щ/ч , only И is possible. Actually, it goes all the way to the core of the system: if you make ANY form of any word, and an Ы should follow one of these consonants, you use И instead.

If you are interested how come it works like that, it is due to the historical development of modern Russian

  • ш, ж, ч (and щ, which was шч) used to be soft consonants, so И is a historical spelling
  • ки, ги, хи actually come from old кы, гы, хы
  • the old ки, ги, хи turned into чи, жи, ши, AFAIK
  • so, кы, гы and хы have nowhere to come from. When using native Russian words, they only appear at word boundaries («мальчик и девочка»)


эти девушки сёстры. Accepted 7/25/2021 The answer says девочки. What is the difference?


"Девочки" are kids; "девушки" are young women.


Why does the Е in "Сестра" become Ё in the plural "Сёстры"? Same question applies for Озеро and Озёра.

  • 941

TL;DR stress happens to move in сестра. In Russian, stressed Е (historically) turned into Ё (but not everywhere)

  1. The stress of words may move depending on their form (the number of patterns is thankfully finite). Сестра is ending-stressed in the singular. In the plural, however, the initial syllable is stressed in all forms except the Genitive (сестёр).
  2. At some point over five hundred years ago stressed Е became Ё if a non-palatalised consonant followed it (e.g., Петр → Пётр, мед → мёд, меч → меч, день → день).
  3. So сестры, with a stress on the first е, becomes сёстры.
  4. It is messed up in the modern language. First, ш, ж, ц used to be palatalised but now are not. Ц was late to the party, so е remains unchanged if followed by ц (e.g., конец, отец). Second, Е is not the only Е. Russian also had a different vowel, something like /ɪe/ or /eː/ (spelt Ѣ). It merged with Е for the vast majority of dialects, but only a few centuries ago.
  5. So do not try to guess if you encounter an unfamiliar word. For words you know, though, either it turns into ё or it does not, in all forms that have the right stress (e.g., стена́→сте́ны, жена́→жёны)


Difficult to understand, but thank you!


someone commented this on another thread, but: it's pretty much the same situation with mouse/mice, foot/feet in English. certain words just happen to have their root changed in plural form.


Is it necessary to use a dash here? It seems to me that this is unnecessary. But if you remove it, does the meaning change at all?

  • 941

It is conventionally put there, though dashes might be omitted in very short sentences when rendering spoken dialogue in prose.

If you had "They" instead of "These girls", the dash would be unnesessary (but the author can still use it for emphasis).


Thanks. In the above situation how many native Russian approximately omit the dash (in percentage)?

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Who knows? I would rather omit it in informal messaging in such a simple sentence. I tried my best to stick to standard punctuation in all my sentences and all other people's sentences that I had time to check. Still, I am not a writer, so in real life I get the commas and dashes mostly correct but definitely not 100% of the time.

Note that if one of these is a pronoun (not a noun!) or if you have a negation (let alone a question) rather than a declarative statement, no dash is required. Questions will almost never use it even for the sake of emphasis.


Thank you again for the good follow-up.


at times, Duo is too generous with typos, it allowed me девочкы and сестри which seems to be missing the point!


Ha, yes, that does seem so.


My "dash" is not accepted. Impossible to get over this.


Type your answer without the dash and duo will accept it.


I wrote exactly what it want But doesn't eccept it...why?


Why is there no "verb" or "connection" between girls and sisters?


As far as I can tell, the '-' (dash) acts as a way to define. It can almost stand in as an english 'is'


Why was I marked correct with "Ети девочки - сёстры"? It provided the correct spelling of Эти as "another correct solution", rather than telling me I had a typo. I believe my spelling was wrong though. Or is it acceptable to write it with an E?


Whydoes it have a dash

  • 941

It is just how such sentences are punctuated. If the sentence is "A noun is a noun", you put a dash between the nouns ("Моя сестра — доктор"). If the subject is a pronoun, you don't ("Я доктор")

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