"Мама уже читала эту книгу."

Translation:Mom has already read this book.

November 8, 2015

24 Comments
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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jake3389

"Correct solution: Mom has already read this book." -- I thought that you needed to use the perfective aspect when an action is completed in the past. Wouldn't a better translation for this sentence be: "Mom has already been reading this book."?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olimo

With verbs like "read" and "see", the imperfective verbs are used. Я видел пирамиды - I have seen the pyramids. Я не читал "Войну и мир" - I have not read "War and Peace". The perfective verbs would have a meaning of "finished", "just seen". Я прочитал много книг летом - I read a lot of books during summer. Ты прочитал мою книгу? Have you read my book? Я впервые увидела пирамиды - I saw the pyramids for the first time.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keaaww

My wife (Russian native and English language teacher ) clarified to me that yes, in these cases the verbs in the past imperfective refer to the "general experience" of having read the book or having seen the pyramids.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Apahegy

If mom has "finished" reading the book though, would you use the perfective then? That is, would you then write «Мама уже прочитала эту книгу»?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zirkul
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  • 2566

It can mean either, depending on the context. There is no one-to-one correspondence between the Russian perfective aspect and English verb tenses. In this particular case, you are correct that you can use the perfective form: "Мама уже прочитала эту книгу" to stress that she has finished the book, but in most circumstances "Мама уже читала эту книгу" will be understood in exactly the same way.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mightypotatoe

"has been reading" would mean that it is a continuous action that began in the past but has not been completed yet. So it would have to "Mom has already read this book" or you could use the simple past to make "Mom already read this book"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JamesMonaro

I imagine that because, at this level, the statements we are writing a so basic, it's acceptable (arguably preferable) to use the imperfective tense.

The most thorough explanation is in Wade et. al., A Comprehensive Russian Grammar (4th ed., 2020) – §258 Use of the imperfective past to express a ‘statement of fact’ [констатáция фáкта] (pp. 300-02)

"(1) The imperfective is used...to denote an action in isolation, with no emphasis on its completion or non‐completion, the circumstances in which it occurred, or other detail. ... These are bald statements of fact, with no fleshing‐out of the context and no stress on the achievement of a result. This ‘submeaning’ of the imperfective is known as констатáция фáкта ‘statement of fact’. It is particularly common in the past tense and is usually set in the vaguest of contexts... (3) As the context is firmed up, however, or a result emphasized, the perfective comes into contention..."

The kind of contextual information, which we are not a feature of the questions in this skill, is to do with "what action was carried out, when, where or for what purpose, or if the result or completion of an action is stressed." Note, however, that simply saying that one watched a film – or even a specific film – are grounds for using a perfective verb, but are not sufficient grounds, as can be seen from the examples in §258, including:

-Вы читáли (impf.) «Цемéнm»? ("Have you read [the book] Cement?").

-Вы не ви́дели (impf.) Лéну? (Have you seen Lena)

If you are referring to or asking about "an action in isolation, with no emphasis on its completion or non‐completion, the circumstances in which it occurred, or [any] other detail" then an imperfective verb is acceptable or even preferable. The same statement is made in more or less the same words in Nicholas J. Brown, Russian Course (1996), p. 152, using the example "Вы читали «Войну и мир»" have you read War and Peace? ("I'm not concerned with whether you finished the book or not, only with whether you have some knowledge of it.") If you wanted to know if someone finished War and Peace, you would use вы прочитали.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keaaww

It seems the presence of уже is the cause of confusion, without it, "has been reading" or "was reading" would probably be absolutely equally correct (?).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olimo

It would be correct in some contexts. Without context, "Мама читала эту книгу" means she has read this book (and can discuss it / carried out some thoughts / does not need to read it anymore / etc.).

Here are the contexts for your suggestions:

  • Когда я вошел, мама читала эту книгу. When I entered, Mom was reading this book.
  • Мама читала эту книгу с самого утра. Mom has been reading this book since morning.

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dpelisek

In the lecture "Family" following is written: Unlike English, Russians rarely say "my mother", "my grandfather"; usually they omit "my". So I assume that the correct english translation of this sentence can/should be "My mom has already read this book". It was not accepted, tho.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kpagcha

Why does эту sounds exactly like это?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olimo

It does not. The "у" in "эту" is not very clear, but it is different from the "ah" sound of "о" in "это". Check them on Forvo: это, эту.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kpagcha

The audio in duolingo sounds the same though


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olimo

I hear "эту", not "это" here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zirkul
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  • 2566

Same here (native speaker). It's certainly "эту".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/redmon5

nah dude прочитала would be she read this book. читала is imperfective so it its stating a the process the answer programmed in sucks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zirkul
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  • 2566

Well, it's not as clear-cut as you make it sound. Unless there is a direct indication that the action has not been completed, expressions like "... уже читала эту книгу" or "... уже смотрел этот фильм" will be understood as "... has read this book" or "... has seen this film". Of course, there is nothing wrong with using the the perfective forms here, but you don't have to.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eliliang

Since this wasn't accepted as the translation for "Мама уже читала эту книгу.", how would one say "Mom already was reading this book." if not this? Would that be "Мама уже прочитала эту книгу."?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zirkul
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  • 2566

No. Прочитала = has finished the book. In this particular example, using "уже" with "читала" would normally imply the same meaning.
To your sentence: "Mom already was reading this book" sounds like an awkward sentence to me. Do you mean that she was reading it but then put it aside? Then what's the purpose of "already"? Without "already", you would simply translate it to Russian with "читала", but without "уже".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eliliang

"Tell mom she should have read this guide before getting on the airplane." "Mom already was reading this book."

So are you saying that my "Mom already was reading this book." would be an acceptable translation of "Мама уже читала эту книгу."? Because if so, I'll report it the next time I encounter this exercise.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GT_Shark

I have to agree with you. Its at least a poorly worded question. As soon as I read it, I imaged that somebody wanted her to read the book... and the reply was "mama is already (in the process of) reading this book" I didn't think there was any indication of the process being concluded. Like someone earlier stated... I would like to see an example in Russian of "mama is already READING this book"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dpelisek

Zirkul, here's an example: "Yesterday I left work earlier to have some time to read The Alchemist. But when I came home my mom was already reading this book".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheEnglishAugust

Sorry for cluttering the page with comments, but I am starting to get the idea that Russian verbs and English verbs do not gel at all. I have studied a few languages (French, Greek, Bengali)* but never come across such a problem in trying to get a grasp on tenses. Having read a lot about Aspect online yesterday, I am attacking this lesson with confidence. Already shattered, a few minutes into the section. But one comment on this discussion stands out for me - With verbs like "READ" and "SEE" we use the Imperfective ... So is that a general rule ? Hopefully clarifications will ensue as we go further. Have I missed an explanation somewhere in Tips and Notes ? I look forward to realizing there is a clear note somewhere.

  • That would have to be Imperfective Aspect, right ? Since I am still struggling to learn them !
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