Could this also be translated as "Do you have dogs that eat / are eating apples?" (Or in a sillier version of English - "Do you have apple-eating dogs?") Or is this construction assuming that it's already known that you do have dogs and the only question is whether or not they eat apples?
You cannot do without которые in this case, because the present active participle of the verb есть (едят), which, in theory, should be едящие (in the nominative plural), is never used. It would be fair to say it doesn't exist. If the verb was пить (to drink), you could say "собаки, пьющие молоко". Которые is the nominative plural form. The corresponding nominative singular forms are который (masc.), которое (neuter) and которая. The pronoun (or pro-adjective, if you like) must agree in number and gender with the noun it refers to in the main clause. The case of которые is determined by its function in the subordinate clause. For example, we say "собаки, которым (dative plural) дали еды" = the dogs that were given some food (i.e. to whom they gave some food)
In Russian, phrases "у меня", "у тебя", "у него", "у неё", "у нас", "у вас" and ""у них" are commonly used instead of possessives мой, твой etc. The phrases with у preposition are preferred when the subject is mentioned for the first time during the conversation. So if dogs have already been mentioned in the conversation, the question will be "Твои/Ваши собаки едят яблоки?", otherwise you should start the question with "У тебя/У вас"
Is this "dog" or dogs"? I ask, because this seems like a feminine Genitive to me, so in the plural, the "а" should be dropped, but if it's supposed to be singular, then it's correct (according to the Spelling Rule)................EDIT (but a minute later): It's Nominative, isn't it?
In this case the genitive word is тебя. Genitive marks that this noun relates to another noun in some way (not necessarily ownership, unlike possessive case which always relates two nouns specifically by ownership), so "у тебя собаки" says that тебя relates to собаки. In the same way that "your dogs" only needs the word "your" to be plural in English, "у тебя собаки" only needs тебя to be genitive. The word it's relating to (собаки) will be nominative case as usual.
Although the two sentences mean the same, there is a slight difference in usage. If you've been engaged in a conversation about your mother or someone else's mother, then you are more likely to use the first sentence. It's like saying, "Speaking of my mom, she likes coffee". But if you are bringing up a new subject, you would rather use the second sentence as if saying, "By the way, my mom likes coffee". So "У тебя собаки собаки едят яблоки" really means "By the way, do your dogs eat apples?", assuming that no special emphatic intonation is applied to any part of the sentence, in which case the meaning will change.
У -phrase is preferable over the non-prepositional genitive when the noun refers to the whole of a part, e.g. У дома прохудилась крыша and Крыша у дома прохудилась (The roof of the house developed a leak) are more common in a conversation than Крыша дома прохудилась which sounds formal. У means 'by' or 'near' in phrases like 'дом у дороги' = 'a house by the road' and 'тополь у реки' = 'a poplar tree by the river'. It also means 'from' when you describe borrowing, taking or stealing something from someone as in the famous tongue-twister: Карл украл у Клары кораллы, а Клара у Карла украла кларнет. And it precedes the noun or pronoun referring to the person who is asked to give or lend something to someone: Она попросила у меня ручку = She asked me for a pen, Он спросил у меня совета = He asked me for some advice
I'm not following the distinction; I don't have a lot of that vocab. : Thank you, though.
I get the У + possessive + nominative structure when what you're saying is "I have X," i.e. when the possession is the whole point of the sentence. Welsh does the same thing - "There are dogs with you" for "You have dogs."
But here we're using it when "dogs" are the subject, and the possessive element is semantically incidental. That is, the base sentence is "Do dogs eat apples?", and the fact that they're your dogs is sort of a secondary concern - we're saying "Do your dogs eat apples?" but we could just as easily say "Do big dogs eat apples?" or "Do those dogs eat apples?"
So it seems weird to me that we're including a whole separate construct -the У preposition - for what's essentially an adjective.
I would say, we merely substitute the idiom "my dogs" with another one: "I have dogs". Just try think of "I have" as an another way of saying "my", therefore you have "[I have] dogs eat apples". Of course, It makes no sense in English, since in "I have dogs" "dogs" is an object while in "dogs eat apples" it's a subject. But in Russian "dogs" would be a subject in both instances, so there no inconsistencies here. You can read it as "[owned by me] dogs eat apples" i.e. у меня собаки едят яблоки . I know, it still doesn't look natural in English, but that what we get with such a different languages. I hope, all of this makes sense to anyone :)
This dangling «У + Genitive» construction is quite popular to describe some situation relevant for that person or thing. In a sense, this version of "Do you dogs eat apples?" is a question about what experience you have trying to feed dogs some apples—rather than simply a question about your dogs.
Of course, "Ваши собаки едят яблоки?" is also a correct option.
olimo provides some good examples. A few more:
- Тим работает из дома. У него жена болеет. = Tim is working from his home. His wife is ill.
- У двери отломалась ручка. = The door's handle has broken off.
- У меня кончились деньги. = My money ran out ("I ran out of money").
It is very common to use "У ..." instead of possessive pronouns. For a non-native speaker, it is even an easier way because you don't have to agree "у ..." constructions with the gender of the noun.
- У меня тетрадь жёлтая, а у тебя синяя. - My notebook is yellow, and yours is blue. (Also, more literal: You have a yellow notebook, and I have a blue one. But we don't focus on possession here, only on the difference of the colors.)
- У меня мама любит кофе. - My mom likes coffee.
- У меня брат женился. - My brother got married.
What's the initial "у" doing there? We've seen numerous examples of possessives without an "у" in the first person ("моя сестра" and the like). Is it different in second person? Or is there something else going on?
Is this more explicitly "the dogs that you have", rather than "your dogs"?
True, though I live with a very severe critic who knows her native language very well! Several times already on this language course she has pulled me up already. Maybe some of the English translations are not so good. At times I get her to check the answer and it still comes out wrong- for example birds do not eat but клюют.
Собаки is the nominative plural in this sentence. That means that they (your dogs) eat apples, not the other way around. If it was a single dog, the question would be, «У тебя собака ест яблоки?» or «Твоя собака ест яблоки?». The verb «есть» is irregular, so the form едит doesn’t exist. We say я ем, ты ешь, он/она ест, мы едим, вы едите, они едят.
«У тебя» means “in your possession”/“at your disposal”/“at your place”/“in your household”. In a way, it parallels the French “chez toi” unless it means “you have”. The given sentence means “Speaking of the dogs in your household / the dogs you have/ those dogs of yours, do they eat apples?” «У» that starts a Russian sentence is similar to “by the way” starting an English one. In the case where the dogs have been mentioned earlier in the conversation, the speaker will say, «Твои собаки едят яблоки?»
Yes, it is. Compare: «Старик вошёл в комнату» (= “The old man entered the room”) and «В комнату вошёл старик» (=“An old man entered the room”). However, it is intonation rather than the word order that ultimately determines the meaning of a sentence. With dogs and apples, for example, we have the following options:
У ТЕБЯ собаки едят яблоки? = Is that YOUR dogs that eat apples?
У тебя СОБАКИ едят яблоки? = Who did you say eats apples in your household - dogs?
У тебя собаки ЕДЯТ яблоки? = [By the way] do your dogs eat apples?
У тебя собаки едят ЯБЛОКИ? = What? Your dogs eat apples? Unbelievable!
In option 2, «у тебя» cannot be replaced by «твои». In the other options, «у тебя» and «твои» are practically interchangeable, but the former is slightly more preferable. In eastern Slavic languages, the possessive «у»-phrase came into use under the influence of Finno-Ugoric and Turkic languages. Its meaning is wider, though, than that of the equivalent possessive adjective. The difference between the two becomes especially significant after «где»: «Где твои собаки?» means “Where are your dogs?”, whereas «Где у тебя собаки?» means “Where do you keep your dogs?”
I have a question about the pronunciation. I know that the letter 'o' can be pronounced as 'oh,' but sometimes 'ah.' Can anyone please tell me what changes the 'oh' pronunciation into 'ah'? This is something I've been confused about for a while. I no longer want to be guessing whether I should pronounce the letter as 'oh' or 'ah.'
The letter о is pronounced as /о/ only in a stressed syllable. In the syllable preceding the stressed one its pronunciation changes to that of u in up, and in the remaining syllables о stands for the sound that linguists call shwa, which is the sound of the indefinite article ‘a’. So in Russian speech the words парок (nice steam), порок (vice) and порог (threshold) sound the same. Nor is it possible to tell «моих коллег» from «моих калек» (the genitive forms of “my colleagues” and “my cripples”, respectively) without a context. Хлóпок is cotton, whereas хлопóк is a clapping sound.