https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

Notes on Word Order in Russian

olimo
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This post is inspired by tons of comments asking if you can use another word order. Sometimes I even read that the word order does not matter because Russian is an inflected language.

You have to know that the word order is not completely random. Sometimes you can change it without any change in the meaning, and sometimes you'll give the sentence another tone or even turn it into a nonsense.

Here is an example. The initial sentence is "Кошки здесь нет," the default translation being "The cat is not here." The words in italic are stressed.

  • Кошки здесь нет. The cat is not here. Pretty neutral, no emphasis on whatever.
  • Здесь нет кошки. There is no cat here. Pretty neutral, no emphasis on whatever.
  • Кошки нет здесь. The cat is not here. A less common word order, emphasizing "not".
  • Нет здесь кошки! There's no cat here! (I fail too see any cat here!)
  • Нет кошки здесь! The cat is not here! (I looked for it and couldn't find it, I swear!)
  • Здесь кошки нет. The cat is not here (but I'll keep looking for it elsewhere).

Note that some of these versions are pretty emotional and situational. Should you learn them all while you're still a beginner? I don't think so. That is why, I believe, many possible but not very common versions are not accepted - just so that you would not pick one of them as your favorite and sound funny when using it in the wrong context.

I have to admit I came to enjoy answering all those questions.

Keep asking, and happy learning!

3 years ago

17 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/xaghtaersis
xaghtaersis
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Reminds me a bit of the word order in my native language ( Dutch). De kat is niet hier. ( Emphesizing not) De kat is hier niet. ( emphasiszing place) Is de kat hier? ( Question form) Hier is de kat..... niet. ( Thinking you found the cat but then you find out that you didn't)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Great, I was able to understand your examples because I know some German :-)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EoghanBostock

Ich auch!!! It's really cool how one can do that

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eng2RusLearner

I don't know much German or Dutch (I'd love to learn them both!) but could understand it :).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Edilvers
Edilvers
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«De kat is niet hier», «the cat is not here». This is English! And Homer demonstrated that German language is English language! LOL!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EEPixie

Wow I forget how much English shares with other Germanic languages. I would like to learn one soon!

10 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thekatmorgan
thekatmorgan
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Is Кошки not cats plural?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
mizinamo
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It's genitive singular here, though the nominative plural would have the same shape.

Negative sentences, saying that something is not there, usually take the genitive rather than the nominative, as I understand it.

I remember a picture from my history book of a shop with "Хлеба нет" in the shop window - "There is no bread" / "We don't have any bread (today)".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thekatmorgan
thekatmorgan
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Ah of course. Thanks. Tired brain not working today!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alex_tv80
alex_tv80
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And also "Пива нет" )))

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maailmaparandaja

Would «нету» work in that sentence?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
Shady_arc
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It would. However, in this course such colloquial expressions are mostly limited to the corresponding skill at the far end of the tree.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/goldbedr

I asked the question earlier in another thread, but if it were multiple cats that were being looked for, would it be кошак I think?

I think this is one of the hardest parts of russian...remembering to use the right case, and then remembering the right endings for that case.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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It would be "кошек". Кошек здесь нет.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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Yes, but this word is homonymic to "cat" (singular) in the genitive case.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dimidov

Just tagging it for later use. Thanks, olimo!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ArnasBradu

Нет! Здесь кошки! (No! Here are the cats!)

Нет! Кошки здесь! (No! The cats! are here)

1 year ago
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