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"The boy does not have an apple."

Translation:У мальчика нет яблока.

November 10, 2015



Am I the only one not seeing "the rules" in mobile? Because I'm just going into each lesson blind.


There are tips and notes for each lesson, only visible in the web app. https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ru/Genitive-Case---1

Tips and notes

In Russian “I have” is expressed by «У меня (есть)» structure. The owner is in the Genitive case.


"The of-case". It is one of the most universal cases. How do you make the forms? Here is the regular pattern:


A zero ending means that the word ends in a consonant or a soft sign (which is just a way to show the final consonant is "soft"). In the Nominative singular, a Russian word can only have the following endings: а, я, о, е, ё ornothing ("zero ending").


If you use «нет» to say that there is "no" something or you do not have it, the object is always in Genitive:

У меня́ есть я́блоко → У меня́ нет я́блока

Здесь есть рюкза́к → Здесь нет рюкзака́.


"of" (possession): яблоко мамы = mom's apple"of" (amount): чашка чая, много чая = a cup of tea, a lot of tea

A huge number of prepositions requires this case. Yes, «у меня есть», «У неё есть» only use «меня» and «неё» because «у» wants Genitive.

For он, она and оно Genitive doubles as a non-changing possessive "his", "her", "their": его, её, их.

initial «н» is used for him/her/them with the majority of prepositions (doesn't affect possessives)


A little side note: some nouns of foreign origin are indeclinable. It means that all their forms are the same. Foreign nouns that end in о/е become like that (кофе, метро, радио, резюме), as well as all nouns that do not fit into Russian declension patterns (see above).

This includes female names that end in anything other than А or Я. A few -ь-ending names are an exception (Любовь and Biblical names like Юдифь).

So, all of the following names are automatically indeclinable: Маргарет, Мэри, Элли, Дженни, Рэйчел, Натали, Энн, Ким, Тесс, Жасмин.


Russian also uses the Genitive to state that someone is "away", "not there": Мамы сейчас нет. In English such use would correspond to "There is no mom at the moment", or even "There is no me now". We are not hard on that particular construction in the course, but it is important to know it all the same.

Added bonus: when a verb directly acts on a noun, the noun is called a direct object and is in Accusative. In Russian, only -а/-я feminine nouns have a unique form for it. Others just reuse Genitive or don't change the word at all (Nominative)


Russian uses.... let's call it "consistent" negation. It means that in negative sentences you are required to use "nothing" instead of "anything", "nowhere" instead of "somewhere" and so on. Let's meet the first of these pronouns:

У меня ничего нет. = I don't have anything.Она ничего не ест. = She doesn't eat anything.

You'll also notice that, unlike standard English, Russian has no rule against using double negatives.


Thank you very much. That's very informative


Yep, the app seems to have only the quizzes, and no educational material as seen on the desktop site.


There's lesson notes‽ Well damn. How hard is it for them to just put a web link into the app


I don't understand why "яблоко" changes to "яблока" here. Could anyone explain this please?


The "nonexistent" object preceded by «нет» is always in the Genitive case.

Neuter nouns (those ending in -о/-е) and consonant ending masculine nouns use А (or Я) as their Genitive ending. In the singular, of course.

A few examples:

  • NOM: мальчик, отец, учитель, велосипед, компьютер, молоко, яблоко, море -GEN: мальчика, отца, учителя, велосипеда, компьютера, молока, яблока, моря


Thank you. However, a second question, why is a nonexistent object in the Genitive? What is possessing it?


Nothing. Possession is only one of the many meanings of Genitive. Negation ("Тут нет компьютеров") and quantitity/amount ("Тут много компьютеров") is another.

Do not forget that dozens of prepositions govern Genitive, too.


this course is really exciting Shady_arc ...thanks a lot ...


Possessive is not used for the thing possessed, but for the thing possessing or modifying its object. I interpret нет here as none of naught, so it's something like "none of apple." I'm not sure if that's right or not, but I can see how яблока modifies нет.


Shady, why doesn't the о change to и? It does so in nomitive plural, in accordance with the 7 letter rule.


When do I use "есть" and when not? I am a little confused about that. Thanks.


Elsewhere someone posted this answer to the same question:

«Не есть» is not used for existence and possession. "Нет" is used instead.

So I think that means you use "есть" when someone HAS something, or that thing exists, and "нет" when they DO NOT HAVE something, or it does NOT exist.

Also see response by Theron126 below in this thread.


Why do we use мальчика instead of мальчик here?


У is a preposition that "wants" the Genitive. So we use it. Other Genitive prepositions include без, возле, около, от, из, с (in the meaning of point of origin), до, после. There are many others.

Try not to think too much about it. When a preposition or a verb requires a certain case, coming up with a reasoning why this case has such use might be hard for some of them—and would probably require you to follow many centuries of the history of the language.


The dictionary hints continue to be very misleading in this section. What's up with that? They are constantly in the wrong case.


Why the genitive singular of girl ends with и (девочки) but the gen. sing. of apple ends with а (яблока)? I know one is feminine and the other neuter, but I thought we had to apply the rule of the 7 letters in both. Also, the nominative plural of apple is яблоки, so here it applies the rule.


So-called 7-letter rule (which native speakers, by the way, do not know) places restrictions of which vowels can combine with certain consonants. It does not tell you the endings you should use.

Яблоко and девочка use different ending patterns. Moreover, яблоко has an unusual plural (neuter nouns ending in о or e normally make plurals ending in а or я)


Was "малчик не есть яблока" not also a valid translation?


"The boy is not an apple..." You need "у мальчика". It's incorrect to use "не есть" in this sort of sentence, you should instead say "нет". Therefore "у мальчика нет яблока".


Why can't you say "есть не" instead of "нет"?


не negates a verb and is written before a verb, so it can't come after есть.


Shoudln't the beginning of the sentence be "у етого малчика"? The original sentence says "the boy"


"the" can translate as "это" or it can be left untranslated.


Becouse I'm Polish, I really understand easly changes with for example: "яблоко -> яблока" It's very similar change in my language too, but it can be hard to USA and UK to understand it. Glad that there are people to explain to you everything


Russian really IS a language without verbs! Western European languages ALL have verbs: verbs turn groups of words into sentences. But Russian is made up of phrases; a phrase does NOT include a verb! This sentence, " у мальчика нет яблока" says "at boy no apple", thus there is NO verb! This seems to be highly common in Russian, and actually not confusing if one remembers that..


I'm given to understand there IS a verb here. Нет=не есть. Есть is your verb.


Yeah, Peter is right and Russian clauses still do need verbs but sometimes the verb to be is omitted. Russian does have the usual Indo-European sentence rules.


Есть/нет are not unlike verbs. Actually, "есть" is a form of "to be" stuck in the 3rd person singular ("is"), whereas нет was historically "not is" (ne ie tu → nietu → net).

Still, in the present tense, Russian sentences can have a predicate without a verb. Nouns or adjectives are enough:

  • Он врач. = He is doctor
  • Кенгуру сильные. = Kangaroos are strong.
  • Перчатки мне малы. = The gloves are too small for me.

"Category of state" predicatives work, too:

  • Мне лень учиться. = I can't be bothered to study.
  • Мне холодно. = I am cold (i.e. I feel cold)
  • На улице темно. = It is dark outside.
  • Надо подумать. = (I) should think it over. (lit. It is neccessary to think)
  • Она должна работать. = She must work.
  • Я рад вас видеть. = I am happy to see you.
  • Горе тому, кто возьмёт их. = Woe betide anyone who takes them.

Unlike some other languages, you will still need a form of "to be" in the past or the future (e.g., "Он был врачом", "Мне будет холодно" or "Рады были вас увидеть"). In Russian, the zero copula is limited to the present tense.


Why is this? Would boy have и at the end and Яблоко be nuter?


Why not.. у етого малчика нет яблокы


The main issues are that етого should be этого, and яблокы should be яблока. яблокы does not exist. You will never see кы together in Russian, they use ки instead. But because яблоко is a neuter noun the genitive form is яблока.

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