"I do not have rice for sushi."
Translation:У меня нет риса для суши.
I know that “no” is “нет,” but when does “not” translate to “не,” and when does it translate to “нет”?
«Нет» is used in the following cases:
- When answering a yes/no question: «Вы говори́те по-узбе́кски?» — «Нет». ('Do you speak Uzbek?' 'No, I don't.')
- When talking about absence of something, we use «нет» + Genitive case form of the thing missing. This is usually translated 'there's no' or 'there're no': «Во всём до́ме нет све́та» ('There's no electricity in the whole house.' Literally: in whole house there-is-no light). In this construction «нет» may be replaced with «не́ту» in colloquial speech: «Во всём го́роде нету магазина комиксов» (There's not [a single] comics shop in the whole town. Literally: In whole town there-is-no shop of-comics)
- As a particular case of the previous construction, when a preposition «у» is used to indicate possession, we translate it with «don't have», «have no»: «У меня́ нет соба́ки» (I don't have a dog. Literally: at me there-is-no dog)
In all the other cases, we use «не». Notably:
- When negating most verbs: «Я не зна́ю» (I don't know)
- When negating adjectives (it's spelled as one word then): «несве́жий хлеб» (non-fresh bread, i.e. stale bread)
- In sentences of the type «X is not Y»: «Я не ве́дьма» 'I'm not [a] witch'.
There is one more use, a short negation of a statement with the omission of the "real" verb or other predicate that would carry the meaning:
- Мы инженеры, а они нет. = We are engineers, and they aren't.
- Мария спит, а я нет. = Maria is asleep (sleeping) and I am not.
- Анна любит Тома, а он её нет. = Anna loves Tom, yet he does not love her.
нет also means "there is no"/"there are no"/"is not there"/"are not there" etc.
In case of sentence like this, it literally means "There is no rice for sushi at me"
You probably remembered the use of на in на завтрак / на обед / на ужин / на десерт. This is mostly used with these meals. It does not fit here.
- there is another, fairly narrow meaning of на that sort of corresponds to English "for". It means a quantity of resource to be depleted in making/buying/achieving something—e.g., "money for (hiring) another employee" , "concrete enough for 2 floors".
When you express the lack of something (I don't have, there isn't, etc.) you use нет + the missing thing in genitive. Риса is the genitive case for rice.
За + Accusative corresponds to English "for" in the following cases:
- support ("He is for Liberal Democrats", "Are you for or against me?)
- exchange ("I bought this for $20", "Thanks for your help")
- replacement, to a degree (in English replacing "instead" with "for" might cause confusion)
I saw comments about that in another exercise. "Нету риса" is more colloquial and may or may not be used in a particular region or area.
Does it matter what gender sushi is, since it always seems to be plural?
In which case is суши in this sentence? Риса is genitive because of нет. Is суши accusative?
It is Genitive (для requires the Genitive). Does it matter, though? All forms of суши are the same.
Thanks for clearing it up! It doesn't matter in this case. But it would if it was something else than sushi )