Yes, there is an English equivalent: "it seems to us"="нам кажется" (impersonal "it" is often missed in Russian, "to me"=dative "мне"). Same goes for мне надо (needed to me), мне нельзя ([it is] prohibited to me), this non-direct construction is just much more used in Russian. By the way, Russian speakers often use this construction instead of more common direct "we're allowed", "we're required" in English as the direct form feels quite unusual to them.
For a more in-place translation in which word order can be preserved it might help to think of it as "for me (it) is necessary" or "for me (it) is allowed".
In english the subject is "it," but if you think about it, the word "it" is actually referring to the act that ia necessary. So in a sentence like «мне надо подумать» ("I need to think"), if you just think of «подумать» ("to think") as the subject, the translation would then become "to think is necessary to me" or maybe "to think is needed by me".
Hopefully one of these two ways can help people better conceptualize this sentence structure.
I find it useful to understand the literal meaning so that I can begin to think in Russian. Once I understand the Russian meaning of "By me is a plate" it becomes more intuitive than knowing "I have a plate" is this collection of wood but I don't really understand why. Finding that there are old-fashioned English equivalents helps all of this stick.
There is an English parallel in the archaic phrase "it behooves us" - meaning "it is a duty or responsibility for us to do something". It also means "it would be proper for us to do something" and "it would be beneficial for us to do something". It is thus not the same as "we need to" - it is more a combination of "we should" and "we need to" - a connotation of being less than a need, with a voluntary element to it. "Duty calls upon us to do something" rather than "necessity requires us to do something".
Here, it would be "It behooves us to prepare lunch". (It has nothing to do with cow and horse feet) The phrase comes from "Middle English [before 900 and then from] Old English behōfian to need" http://www.dictionary.com.
Both dative and accusative forms involve an object of the verb, but accusative is direct and dative is indirect. In the case of the sentence, "They are serving us lunch," "lunch" is the direct object of the verb (and would take on the accusative form), while "us" is the indirect object, as we are the ones to whom food is being given. The prepositions, e.g., to, with, from, under, etc., are what make an object indirect.
In Ireland, traditionally dinner is the biggest meal which is hot and eaten from 13:00 to 15:00 ish. This is not really the case any more since now, in the city, people work 09:00 to 17:00 jobs.
In the late evening we eat a small hot meal called "supper". is this what "ужин" is?
For me, an older Mid-Westerner: lunch - light noonday meal dinner - main meal (usually evening meal during the week and around 1:oo or 2:oo on Sundays) * supper - light evening meal (the word is not used a lot; mostly to emphasis that it is not the main meal; however, I know a few people who use it to mean any evening meal)
Supper is always at night (evening). Dinner is somewhat regional in the US, although now it seems to be mixed just about everywhere. In general more "traditional" or "rural" people have dinner at noon, while more "urban" or "blue collar" people have dinner in the evening. Dinner usually implies the largest meal, and as others have said, it implies a hot meal. Lunch derives from the notion of a take-along meal, such as goes in a lunchbox and is taken to work. Since factory workers often took their "lunch" to work to eat at noon, I believe this is how the noon meal came to be known as lunch.
Remarkably, my mother and I - who grew up in the exact same geographic region under identical economic conditions - will argue until the end of days about whether dinner constitutes the midday meal or not. The woman raised me, taught me English in school, read to me at night, fed me dinner, and we still can't agree on it and never shall. So I think it's potentially a regional thing as well as a generational thing, or maybe a perception thing: to me, dinner is a major meal, so lunchtime is inappropriate to be called dinner unless it's Sunday or a holiday. So there you go! Not to worry - if I'm ever asked, "Do you want to get some dinner?" I always seek clarification of context and say, "Sure. What time?" and let the asker drive the context. Because I'm always up for food.
Never turn down food.
Depends on context. The imperfective has a meaning more along the lines of, "We need to get to work on making lunch." The perfective is more like, "We need to get lunch done."
One of the major functions of the imperfective is to focus on ongoing process, while the perfective focuses on completion.
This «нам надо» thing really strange.
Kenneth Katzner's English-Russian-English dictionary defines надо as an adverb. Under the usual rules of grammar, that would attach надо to приготовить, which becomes "must prepare" or "need to prepare" rather than simply "prepare". The dative case casting of "us/we" doesn't seem to be just because of the presence of надо, but because of the way that надо приготовить work together.
I tried translating "Lunch is prepared by us" in Google Translate, and got «Обед приготовлен нами», where нами is in Instrumental case, I think because "we" are instrumental in preparing lunch. That situation seems a lot more straight-forward and logical - or even obvious.
Нам надо [verb] is just weird, because an adverb is acting not just on the verb, but continuing through to affect the person/thing performing the action of the verb, at least in this instance.
That makes me realize that English is just as weird, but it's not complicated by cases. "We need to prepare lunch" has the same kind of "need to" adverb attaching to "prepare" while reflecting back on the subject "we" with the necessity of doing the preparing - but it's all invisible, because of the near-absence of cases in English.
You do my heart good - quoting from Katzner’s like that. Are you enjoying the dictionary, friend? I hope it was a helpful purchase that I encouraged. I know I love mine.
Нам надо is indeed weird to English grammar. I have aligned it as best I can with English grammar by making it analogous (at least in my own mind) with an overly wordy, archaic-sounding, “It is needful for us to....” This does not completely preserve the dative us in English, and in fact makes us prepositional, but it helps to fix the Russian construction in my mind.
If you seperate the word приготовить as is shown it just seems to be talking about pre - cooking. like "preppers" on a diet regime. When I look up the translation for the sentence "We need to prepare lunch" it just suggests cook as готовить in place of "prepare". In English, saying you are preparing lunch doesn't indicate any advanced preparation.
You really opened my eyes! I have found in my seventy-fifth year that a group of words, present in most if not all germanic languages, namely ”a” or ”an” together with ”the” operates to simplify human language to a high extent: If you compare it to slavic languages, they have a very complex system of verbs to express what we express with our indefinite and definite articles... ?
In Windows you just need to install a "keyboard". I suppose the details vary depending on your version but basically it should be in the control panel under "Region and Language". There you can add alternate keyboards. You can switch using the language bar from the system tray or you can set a hotkey combo which I think is LeftAlt+Shift by default.