1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Russian
  4. >
  5. "Она говорила, что Анна живёт…

"Она говорила, что Анна живёт в Германии."

Translation:She said that Anna lived in Germany.

November 9, 2015



I don't understand why it's "Anna lived" and not "Anna lives". DL accepts both, but if they can mean the same thing, how do you tell the difference between the two?

[deactivated user]

    English has a sequence of tenses, which forces us to shift verbs' tenses when converting direct speech into indirect speech:

    • She said: "I saw Vera last night." → She said that she had seen Vera the previous night.
    • Ira said: "Anna lives in Germany." → Ira said that Anna lived in Germany. (She said that Anna lives in Germany works if you know that Anna still lives there.)
    • Masha said: "I will become an interpreter." → Masha said that she would become an interpreter.

    This is because English tenses are absolute. Even when they're inside a subordinate clause, they still refer to the absolute time.

    Russian doesn’t shift tenses in such a situation:

    • Она́ сказа́ла: «Я ви́дела Ве́ру вчера ве́чером». → Она́ сказа́ла, что ви́дела Ве́ру вчера́ ве́чером.
    • И́ра сказа́ла: «А́нна живёт в Герма́нии». → И́ра сказа́ла, что А́нна живёт в Германии.
    • Ма́ша сказала: «Я ста́ну перево́дчицей». → Ма́ша сказа́ла, что ста́нет перево́дчицей.

    I.e. Russian tenses are to be understand relatively with the main clause's tense.

    In English, you can use a present tense when the main clause has a past simple if you know the situation is still true today. In Russian, there's no way of marking this easily: «сказа́ла, что А́нна живёт в Герма́нии» refers to the time of speaking, and tells us nothing about the current situation (i.e. Anna might be still living in Germany, or she might have moved already). If you need to disambiguate this sentence, you’ll need to use other means (for example: «И́ра сказала, что А́нна живёт в Герма́нии, и она́ до сих по́р там живёт». 'Ira said Anna lived in Germany, and she still lives there').

    Hope that helps.


    But we could say that "И́ра сказа́ла, что А́нна жила в германии" and that would mean that Anna was living in Germany when we had that conversation with Ira (and we don't know/ don't mention if Anna still lives there now), right?

    [deactivated user]

      and that would mean that Anna was living in Germany when we had that conversation with Ira

      No, that would mean Anna lived in Germany before you had that conversation with Ira. This sentence gives us no information about whether Anna lived there at the time of the conversation or no.


      OK, I see. Thanks a lot :-)


      [deactivated user] is wrong. There may be some other reason for Duo's translation of present Russian into past English, but none of the commentary about English usage explains it.


      Excellent explanation, thank you


      I disagree with most of what's being proposed by [deactivated]. People should ignore the post, it is so full of errors and misdirections.

      For example:
      She said: "I saw Vera last night." can be restated indirectly either as "She said that she saw Vera the previous night" or "that she had seen Vera the previous night." The only difference is in style of expression, not in meaning. In this context, there is no substantive difference between "saw" and "had seen".

      Ira said: "Anna lives in Germany." If you then restate this as "Ira said that Anna lived in Germany" the meaning is a little more uncertain than stating "that Anna lives in Germany", because it may be that Anna lived in German in the past, but doesn't now.

      Colloquial English uses the past-tense form like this to express a current state, but I think that that is incorrect. If Anna's current residence is in Germany, then she lives there. It's that simple. If she lived there, we know that she did live there in the past, and may still live there - but we can't be certain. "She had lived in Germany" without more implies that she no longer lives there, but if you say "She had lived there for years", then you imply that she still lives there - but it's not absolutely certain unless you say, "She lives there".

      The rest of the examples is fraught with just as many inaccuracies. "Masha would become an interpreter" - is that conditional tense? Or a statement of determined intent? We can't tell. One probably is better off using the present continuous as a way of currently stating what an intent for the future is: "Masha said that she is going to become an interpreter.

      None of what [deactivated] says has any bearing on why Duo translates a present-tense Russian verb as past-tense English.


      I remember that I when studied (British) English, I was taught what [deactivated] has said - that it's correct to transform the tense even if it's confusing as in the case of <...said: "They will..."> to <...said they would...>. I follow this rule most of the time and maybe it's because I'm used to it but it sounds natural to me.

      Nevertheless, it seems to be generally agreed upon by people that not transforming the tense is acceptable, especially if transforming it would make it sound unnatural or hard to understand. The non-transforming one should be accepted in my opinion.


      I read Law in England and was taught the opposite: no ambiguities, so keep tenses as precise as possible. That may be due to the requirements of legal matters - but I do think communicating clearly is good practice for any kind of writer, even if one doesn't need to apply the rule so strictly.


      "Anna lived" is not really past, but rather indirect speech.


      It sounds like "Она...она," how to know that it was "Она....Анна"


      i was wondering if "Анна говорила, что она живёт в Германии" would be accepted :-)


      Она is supposed to be [ɐˈna], while Анна should be [ˈannə]. So listen for 1) the opposite syllable being stressed, and 2) the geminate (doubled) /n/. I for one still have trouble reliably hearing the difference.


      Here is not a very good pronunciation. I'm a native speaker and I guessed the meaning. You can hear the difference here (spoken by native speakers):




      Very clear differences, especially in the way the speakers linger on the first syllable of Анна and have a relatively short second syllable, while the opposite is true of она.


      I've read several previous comments about listening for where the "A" is stressed: in the beginning for Анна and in the end for Она. But this is the first excercise where both are used and the difference is quite clear....on my android...especially in turtle mode :-)


      Why not сказала?


      Doesn't говорила rather mean "were talking" (not finished, continuous)? Would argue that "told" should be translated as сказала. It's like in polish, where you say "mówił" (говорил) vs "powiedział" (сказал)


      So apparently the text can mean that Anna lives or lived in Germany and thus can can be either present or past tense. So imprecise. So confusing....

      [deactivated user]

        Yeah! But in fact, English us requires to add information that she wasn’t saying.

        Back then, she said: ‘Ann lives in Germany’.

        When making it into indirect speech, we can use a variant ‘She said Ann lives in Germany’ and ‘She said Ann lived in Germany’. How do we know which option to use? We need to know if Ann still lives in Germany or not, so we need to know something she didn’t said!

        Russian, on the other hand, makes this straightforward. Она говорила: «Анна живёт в Германии» always becomes Она говорила, что Анна живёт в Германии. No need to know anything about Ann now, you can just relay what was said to you.


        There's no "back then" in the sentence. "She said" can apply to what someone has just said, and in written English can mean current speech. The question is whether it's the same in Russian, and what information the writer or speaker is trying to impart.

        "She said that Anna lives in Germany"
        "She said that Anna lived in Germany"
        "She says that Anna lives in Germany"
        "She says that Anna lived in Germany"

        It may be that Russian requires some sort of agreement in tenses - but why wouldn't you use a past tense to express a past event? Why use a present tense like живёт to express a past tense, when что Анна жила в Германии seems to do the job.


        “Why wouldn’t you use a past tense to express a past event?”

        You would! If you say «она говорила, что Анна живет», it means that at the time of the conversation Anna was still living in Germany. If you say «она говорила, что Анна жила», it means that Anna lived in Germany sometime in the past (before the conversation happened). That’s simply it. For me the sentence is more precise than the English one.


        Exactly! This is so confusing and frustrating.


        Just to check, this means that she had said it multiple times in the past and not just once, right?

        [deactivated user]

          It may mean both.

          «Она́ сказа́ла» would mean she said it once, «она́ говори́ла» means she might have said it once or several times.


          Aaah, I was talking about the Russian versus the English. Thanks for the affirmation :) Good to know I haven't forgotten about perfective/imperfective yet.


          If the answer has Anna lived. Wouldn't it be жила in the subject?


          That's what she said!


          I thought the ending ила was past imperfective. Now it seems to have become past perfect


          Hold up a minute. I've learned from multiple sources that говорить specifically means speaking/talking. It by no means is interpreted as saying/said. It should be "она сказала". Furthermore "lived" is not the same as "lives". Жила - lived / Живёт - lives. Seriously this course is not making any sense and is becoming increasingly frustrating, especially without explanation.


          How ' lived ' and 'живёт' ??? It's not the same meaning at all...lived it's past, ed' she did the thing and its over , she lived there and its over.

          If you want to say живёт, You need to change it from to-ed' to lives...or -ing.

          There are a lot of mistakes here...I'm not sure that someone really programed it good, for my guess...I'd say it's some kind of google translate or something like that...


          I can't hear any difference: она и Анна!!


          Anna lives in Germany.....present tense


          First, Anna is NOT a common name in Russian, so why use it, since most people can't say it: this program can't distinguish the difference? Second, this sentence if read correctly in English would ask the typical question "when- past tense!" She said, that Anna lived in Germany. However this program is taking an English verb lived and making it say "live," which is present tense? Go figure????


          What would be the difference between "she said" and "she told us"?


          If she said, perhaps no one was there to hear. Or perhaps she said to a stranger and not to us. She told us very definitely says that she was speaking to us and not to the cat.


          I quite disagree with the response you were given and I don't understand why it received this many upvotes ...because it was long(-winded)?

          In English as in Russian I'd argue it makes the exact same difference using present or past in a subclause.

          Она говорила что, Анна живёт/жила в Германии.

          She said that Ana lives/[had] lived in Germany.

          One means that its quite likely she still does (with respect to the time of the conversation) and the other suggests that she doesn't any longer, that it's possibly a thing of the past.

          So, if some third person X was to seek confirmation at the time of the conversation or someone recapped on that later, in one case they would more likely ask:

          X: Until when is she staying?

          or recapped

          X asked until when she was staying / going to stay.

          vs in the other...

          X: So, when did she live there?

          or recapped

          X asked when Anna had lived there.



          I think the translation should be "She was saying that Anna lives in Germany"


          wouldn't Anna lived be.. жила?


          Can they please stop putting Анна and она in the same sentence it drives me crazy


          So говорить & сказать are interchangeable?


          How can one tell Анна from Ona?


          It's just me or the difference between Anna and Ona is hard to hear :/


          It's about stress. Она - а, Анна - А

          Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.