Y shows that something is directly belonging to someone, otherwise it says you are being something, i believe.
У меня есть кот (I have a cat) Меня есть кот (I am cat) I believe! Unless its something about subject of the sentence or smth idk im still learning.
I think its more of a slang thing for business. Like how как дела means how are you, but literally means how is your business.
"Work" doesn't need to be specific in English either, and in this context is perfectly good English to express — as I understand it — the same idea as the Russian.
As for a nice example in context, consider for instance this usage:
Orc: "What orders from Mordor, my Lord? What does the Eye command?" Saruman: "We have work to do"
Note that Saruman (who is a great speaker but a terrible manager) is being really nonspecific here. He could just as well have said "We have things to do" or "We have deeds to do" or any of the other translations being offered here.
But he probably wouldn't say that if he had, say, a date (imagine that :)), while the Russian sentence can be used in this context either.
I wouldn't translate Saruman's words as "У нас дела". I don't remember what they did in the official translation, but I personaly would consider something like "у нас есть работа" or "нас ждёт работа". Maybe even "у нас есть дело", but not "у нас дела".
"У меня дела" is something I'd say if someone asked me, for example, what I am doing tonight, and I wanted to vaguely explain that I already have plans.
Maybe even "у нас есть дело", but not "у нас дела".
I'm struggling a little with the reasoning for this nuance; is there a rule to understand here, or is it best taken simply as an idiomatic set phrase without trying to find logic to it?
I understand that when it comes to using есть or not, it's usually a matter of possession being obvious and/or not the point, but here it seems to be changing how we understand the noun.
Unless the difference is primarily in дело vs дела?
In English singular/plural or apparent singular/plural, we have nuanced differences between:
- Work (singular) as in a work of art, for instance
- Work (uncountable) by default and without context is most likely to be understood as работа, be it paid work, household chores, errands, or even hobbyish work (say, painting or writing, where such is not one's profession and one does not expect to earn money by it), sometimes synonymous with effort, even in the loosest sense, e.g. "this tan will take a lot of work", where the work in question is in this case just lying in the sun. As such, the uncountable work can be used for any kind of productive activity.
- Works (plural) as in the works of a given artist
- Works (uncountable) as in any kind of productive goings-on; whether to use this or the singular-looking uncountable version is more a matter of convention than anything else, and they are often (but not always) interchangeable.
The uncountable versions of work/works seem nearest; however, as you point out, conspicuous by its absence is that in Russian it can be a date, meaning it need not be a productive function (the most core meaning of the lexeme "work").
I guess this seems to be one of those one-way-only translation options, as for example how щи can be translated as soup (because it is indeed soup, and we don't really have a name for it in English other than shchi; even cabbage soup can mean other kinds too), but soup cannot be translated as щи, because now we're adding in a specificity that ought not be there.
So when I have to do the microphone speaking tests, am I supposed to say it at the speed of the sample? When i do, it doesn't ever pick it all up. When I speak slower, it still says I'm wrong. Am I just not pronouncing this right or problem with microphone. I seem to get them all wrong no matter how many different ways I say it.