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  5. "Sorry, I don't know the answ…

"Sorry, I don't know the answer."

Translation:Извини, я не знаю ответа.

November 5, 2015




This is one of those awful, random negative genitives, isn't it? Anyone know a rule that might help us out?


Actually, Genitive as an object of a negated verb is TOUGH STUFF. It is thought that it should better be learnt by looking at the examples, especially given that its use became more limited and, so to say, focused in the course of the 20th century.

However, in some cases they are partially interchangeable, like here.


My understanding is that "ответа" is the accusative of "знаю". Is this not correct?

Thanks in advance ~


Absolutely not. знаю is a verb, and thus is not relevant to any case. Отбета is the Genitive of ответ.

It is possible for -a to be an accusative noun ending, but for masculine nouns, it is only for *animate nouns in the accusative. "Answer" = Ответ is inanimate, so it's accusative ending is the same as the nominative ending (no ending in this declension).


It shouldn't be so because in accusative case inanimate/non living objects are not declined. So ответ should not change !!


genitive when negative for an abstract thing (not always, but you can start here)


Most of the time, Russian has those random exceptions:), when the verb is not happening, the direct object is genitive. Since не is before знаю, ответ will be ответа because masculine words ending in consanents add an а. Another example would be: i don't remember the question - я не забыл/забыла вопроса. Sorry this answer was long, but now you know.


Very few people nowadays would say Я не забыл вопроса; you can encounter Я не помню вопроса.


I wrote: Извини, я ответа не знаю. Is this really a wrong word order? It looks alright to me.


It's correct and should be accepted.


That's what I had, as well.


It sounds a bit unnatural, like a poetic line.


why can it be both ответа and ответ?


There is a feature of Slavic languages: when a verb has a direct object and you negate the verb, the noun switches from the Accusative to the Genitive.

Or rather, it did. In the present day Russian, we mostly do not do this, except for some verbs, and also for rather abstract objects (e.g. не обращать внимания "to pay no attention").

Verbs of seeing/hearing/perception may do that (with the idea that if you did not see the thing, it was not there), and sometimes the negation feels more emphatic with the Genitive.

The issue is, as you can see, fairly complicated.

For usual actions on objects, like "I do not know your Dad" or "I did not eat apples" using the Accusative is most typical. The Genitive is not wrong per se but sounds straight out of 19th century literature (where such switch still was the norm).


Yikes! Russian continues to awe and intimidate! It is the sixth language I have studied, not including my native language (English) and I have never come across anything like it!


I'm quite positive you have. In English: thy and thee used to be common, but it dropped out of usage over time. Now it's just you, which makes it difficult to understand the usage of ты and вы.


Particularly because in English, YOU is equivalent to вы and THOU / YE is equivalent to ты.

This has created some difficulty because we seem to wish we still had a second person singular, so we have informalized YOU (making it the defacto second person singular) and in some instances created the new second person plurals, YOU-ALL, or Y'ALL or even YOUSE (ouch!).

Today even Y'ALL seems to be suffering the same fate of being singularized and I've heard ALL Y'ALL being used as the plural.

I'm just waiting to hear the expression, "Hey all y'all! Youse guys gather up all your folkses and let's have a party."


Just to be clear,

Ответ - accusative

Ответа - genitive

Thanks, Shady!


My Comprehensive Russian Grammar (Wade) has 3 pages on genitive after a negated verb. Partial summary: When in doubt, use the genitive. Genitive preferred in generalized statements: Я не бижу стола = I don't see (any) table. Accusative preferred with people or with specific objects: Я не вижу стол= I don't see the table. And there's more, but the finer details are much more than anyone would worry about in an elementary Russian course.


Your doubtometer should be pretty fine tuned for that trick to work. It does say "While in case of doubt it is advisable to use a genitive, there are situations where one case or the other is preferable"


У меня нет ответа?


That would mean "I don't have the answer" or possibly "I have no answer". The key difference is know vs have.


Although this translation is not literal, but I'd put it on the list.


Can I leave out "я"? If not, why not?


You probably can but better not because pronouns are relatively rarely omitted in Russian. More so in brief spoken exchange but even there it will not be frequent for most verbs.

UPD: by the way, there is some assymetry here regarding the choice of the case form. "Не знаю ответа" sounds okayish, and yet "Не знаю ответ" already sounds quite bad.


Thanks for the response.


I left out я, and had ответ, without the а. And it was accepted!


Yes, it is fine. Sometimes you can omit personal pronouns. As for "ответ", here, you can use both genitive and accusative, so it can be "не знаю ответа" or "не знаю ответ".


Ha! In English you can (just about - it's very old-fashioned) say "I do not know of the answer", as well as "I do not know the answer". So rather like Russian in this respect!


wait ❤❤❤ this is a really good observation


Not really, because "know of" is just a phrasal verb. You cannot say "I don't see of a thing." to mean "I see nothing." in English, can you?


I have no knowldge of the answer!


I didnt know for sure. Wrote ответ but knew with negative should be ответа. I guess thats why i got a correct .


Finally get it! You can use either one here. I dont know the answer. (Ответ). I dont know (any) answer. Ответа. Is this the general idea? Anyway, just memorize it!


Is this the general idea?

Yes, you got it right.


Why not "Извини, я не ответа знаю" ? Since the language is mainly based off changing endings, wouldn't the sentence still mean the same thing?


Nope, such wording is devoid of any meaning. You can possibly say «я не ответ знаю» if you mean that what you know is not the answer but something else.

Unlike English, не is not attached to a verb—in fact, it is usually attached to the word that is negated (which may be a verb but may be a noun or an adjective). So the word order matters even here.




So what's the deal, in today's modern Russian you can have this in accusative?


Why Извините is pronounced as "izvini" but not "izvinite". I looked up the dictionary to find the correct form. It is Извините and pronounced exactly as "izvinite". Why is it shortened in this way?


It's not shortened. "Извини" is a the 2d person singular and informal, "Извините " is 2d person plural and/or formal.


Actually in this example извини is the singular imperative and извините is the plural imperative. I am not sure when you use the plural vs. the singular imperatives. I guess it matters from whom you are begging pardon.

The second person singular is извинишь but it is not used here.


Kundoo was correct, it was clear that the discussion was about imperatives.


Except извини is not the second person form as Kundoo stated. It is only the singular imperative.


Imperatives are second person forms, they are directed to the second person!


Then I would expect one would say, ты меня извинишь when in English we say, I beg your pardon, or pardon me, or will you excuse me? Perhaps making eye contact and expecting a response like, It's OK. To me that is second person present imperfect.

If I just say Извини! it is when I have made a mistake while playing a game with friends, likewise Извините when I have stepped on someone's foot while exiting the subway. I am not necessarily making eye contact, and not expecting a response. To me that is the imperative.


I came onto the chat to look for why извинишь was not used!


Извинишь is 2nd person future form. As in "You are going to excuse me".


I asked my Russian language pal the same thing. She said извинишь would not be used in this situation, but agreed with my understanding that it could be used when the speaker is expecting an acceptance of the apology, but in that case she would say Ты прощаешь меня?


Wouldn't it be accusative. Hence ответ masculine inanimate noun. Why -a?


не знаю (кого? что?) - винительный падеж - ответ (неодушевленный предмет), но "не знаю нового соседа". в фразе "не знаю ответа" ответ становится одушевленным


If the Russian student could understand what you wrote., he would probably already know the answer to his question!


Знать is a transitive verb and takes accusative case after it, and not genetive, so it cannot be Ответа!! In this sentence, it should be Ответ.


It is more complicated than that. In Slavic languages, transitive verbs switch to the Genitive when negated.

Or... They used to. In modern Russian this is not the case anymore (unlike 100 years ago). But it can still happen for some verbs:

  • Он имеет право. = He has the right.
  • Он не имеет права. = He does not have the right.

The switch to the Genitive can also happen for some verbs of perception and more abstract objects, and sounds a bit stronger, just like here. Oftentimes, it is optional—just like here.


How do you insert line break to organize your text so nicely? Mine just wraps around and hard to read :(


Use two breaks. A single line break is ignored—but two line breaks start a new paragraph.


The perfect explanation. I'm guessing it's optional (maybe stronger) depending on your meaning. I don't know THE answer. ACCUSATIVE. or I don't know (any) answer. GENITIVE.


why not: извините у меня не знаю ответа


У меня means I don't have so your sentence says I don't have don't know the answer .


I don't get it. знат requires an object for the verb thus we use accusative case, meaning ответ doesn't need to be changed. Why is it ответа?


It's explained well by Shady above.


Прости меня not accepted Does than mean I am sorry or excuse me I am a bit confused?


They probably should accept it, as it's technically correct, but it's a bit excessive here. "Прости" and especially "прости меня" is something one would say when they really ask forgiveness for something they did wrong. Using it in more casual way seems awkward.


What error am I making when I write:

Извините, ответа я не знаю


It's not completely wrong, but it's not a natural word order either. Phrasing it like that suggests some kind of emphasis (which emphasis exactly heavily depends on your intonation). If you simply say it with a neutral tone it would sound broken.


So in thinking of discussions I've seen with Здесь and нет, there's a placement order that implies that something like a theater does exist, just not here. Would a word order like this imply that there is an answer, but I don't know what it is, and for that I say sorry ?


Luvit. Same in English. The answer? I DON'T KNOW!


why is it ответа here ?

знаю is a transitive verb, so it takes accusative case for its object no ? ответ is masculin inanimate, so should be in nominative case shouldn't it ?

я не знаю ответ


This is a rare case where Russian can use a genitive form (instead of accusative) after a negated verb. I recommend you read the comments above from Shady_arc for more information.


didn't accept "Извини, не знаю ответа"


Some people genuinely get stuff wrong. They are not all experts like some of you on here, and it's all part of the learning curve. Think about that before you minus peoples responses. Perfectionists are boring, and being an anus...equally so!

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