Why is "is a woman here" wrong? What part of this sentence specifies that it's talking about "the woman" rather than "a woman"?
What exactly does 'Is a woman here?' mean?
In Russian, же́нщина is placed in the beginning of the sentence, so that's why it refers to a known woman. However, I can't say whether this can correspond to 'Is a woman here?' or not because I don't really understand the English sentence. What does it mean?
For example, if (as a man) I were a janitor going into a ladies restroom, I might ask "Is a woman here?" before going inside to clean.
Sounds a bit picky to me. One could also stress that a woman should be at that place. Think of Life of Brian. (Are there any women here? = Is a woman here?)
No, this would be expressed with «Здесь есть женщина?».
You can drop «есть» when existence/presence is not the piece of information you’re trying to convey. In «Женщина здесь?», the main piece of information is given by the word здесь and женщина is someone you and the listener already know (so it’s not the new information). You already knows that there’s some женщина, and you want to know where she is.
In «Здесь есть женщина», the main piece of information is the presence of the woman in a given location, the most important piece of information is есть женщина and здесь just sets the background for the question.
I know my explanation is not ideal, but I can’t explain it better, sorry.
The word order also works similarly: we usually put the most important words in the end (or sometimes in the beginning of the sentence; most notably the question words, but sometimes other words too).
However, word order is tricky because it can be overriden with intonation, so the word order doesn't always help.
Why is "is here" translated as "там" in the previous unit's example "Мама там", which it said means "Mom is here"? Why are we now using здесь for what seems to be the same usage (except that this is a question)?
Can someone please explain to me what difference it makes to a word when it ends with ь?
It's not too simple to explain because English doesn't have this distinction!
Basically, most consonants in Russian have 2 variants, soft and hard.
Hard is assumed by default or shown by 'non-softening' vowel letter (с /s/, са /sa/, сэ /se/, сы /sɨ/, су /su/, со /so/). Soft is shown either by Ь (сь /sʲ/) or by a 'softening' vowel letter (ся /sʲa/, се /sʲe/, си /sʲi/, сю /sʲu/, сё /sʲo/).
You might want to see YouTube videos about this distinction, or something.
how exactly am i supposed to pronounce that second word? cause i said it everyway possible but i still cant pronounce it
But Russian uses word order instead:
- Женщина здесь? = Is the woman here?
- Здесь женщина? = Is [there] a woman here?