In English, one might commonly say, "the boy does not have sisters" or "the boy has no sisters", rather than using the singular. Perhaps it is a matter of the expectation, as to whether the negation is plural? I.e., "no eggs", but also "no car".
It's not a plural form, it's a genitive case. Russian nouns have several case forms, «сестра́» and «ма́льчик» are Nominative singular forms.
Nominative case forms are used for subjects of the sentences: «Ма́льчик большо́й» (the boy is big), «сестра́ у́мная» (the sister is clever).
«Сестры́» and «ма́льчика» are Genitive singular noun. Genitive nouns have a number of uses. First, it's used in a construction «нет» + Genitive noun to express absence of something (нет ма́льчика 'there is no boy'). Second, it's used after the preposition «у» 'by, at, with'.
By the way, «сестры́» cannot be understood as a plural. Plural would be «сёстры».
But that's the Russian. The sentence that conveys the same meaning in English would more usually be constructed with the plural. 'He has no sister.' is not an impossible sentence in English but it is not neutral - it's an odd emphasis (did someone just claim to have met his sister?). We are more likely to say 'he has no sisters [but he has a brother],' or 'He doesn't have any sisters,' in everyday conversation and to me those seem to be the natural translation. We don't insist on 'until we see each other again' for da svidaniya or au revoir.
Actually, to convey this meaning, I would normally use a plural form in Russian too. :D Singular would work in some context when, for example, we spoke about someone having one sister before.
So it's meant to be a weird sentence? This is where Duolingo gets the pedagogy terribly wrong, because aspencer and I were left with the impression that this was being treated as the normal way to express this idea in Russian. And there is no explanation of the intended sense. It doesn't work.
I disagree. "He has no sisters" sounds unusual to me, while answering a question or replying to a statement (perhaps of assumption) about a boy's sister: "why doesn't he ask his sister for help?" I would say something like "he cant, because he doesn't have a sister". I don't think that's specific to New Zealand/ British English either.
I'm in usa and i agree that either the no sister or no sisters comments are both ok, depending on context.
My only confusion is that in the audio it sounded like it said сёстры instead of сестры, i dont know if this is just because of accents, or different dialects, or due to stress changing though the last seems the least likely, or if it is possibly and error in the audio.
That is exactly why I have dropped into the discussion. I wondered if there was a reason it sounded like ё.
You're misreading my comment. You're correct as to a literal translation, but not as to common English usage.
Oh! Sorry :)
It's taken me a while to notice your remark, but I am sure I heard the second option in the teacher's pronunciation (сёстры, not сeстры ), inconsistent with spelling.
That is true, but consider the following situation, in which one party has knowledge of the boy's family where the other does not: "Superintendent, the girl claims to be the boy's sister, she is quite insistent." "Constable, the boy does not have a sister. The girl is an impostor."
That's one interpretation. There are more possibilities, though. The fact that Duo does not give us any context means that any number of interpretations of context should be acceptable. Without context, the statement, "The boy has no sisters" is actually more likely.
There is a mistake. Here you can choose only from one possibility, which is written twice: sestry...
Nope, they are different forms (with different pronunciations)
сестры - genitive singular (stress on the last syllable)
сёстры - nominative plural (stress on the first syllable)
Note that е and ё are distinct letters
Both are transliterated 'e' in the Latin-script version of the course.
Did you report it? Perhaps we should ask if they could put the stress symbol to differentiate them as the stress is in different places on those? It is the reason that I don't like to use the transliterations for languages as often there is not a real letter for a sound and we end up having to learn what they mean anyway, which time could be spent learning the true alphabet.
I can't report anything since I'm not learning Russian. :3
Thank you for all your help! I may report it when I redo that section. I hope I don't forget, because I am doing the course in Cyrillic.
You can view the forms of the words in Wiktionary (click on the Declension of сестра́ box to show the table).
Сестры́ (stress on the 2nd syllable) is a genitive singular form of сестра́, roughly similar to 'of sister'. It's also the form we use with «нет» to express absence (У неё не́т сестры́ 'she has no sister'), and the form we use with «у» to express a possessor (У сестры́ есть компью́тер 'the sister has a computer')
Сёстры is the plural nominative form of сестра́, 'sisters'. It's used for the subject of the sentence (Мои́ сёстры мне помога́ли 'my sister helped me') and in the 'X is Y' sentences for both X and Y (Они сёстры 'they are sisters').
There's also се́стры (stress on the 1st syllable), a Church Slavonic doublet of сёстры. It is basically also a nominative plural form of сестра́, but with an ecclesiastical flavour. It could be heard in the church address «бра́тья и се́стры» 'brothers and sisters', and probably in other church-related contexts. It's probably outside of this course's scope.
When spelled without stress marks and without dots over ё, «сестры» can stand for either сестры́, сёстры and се́стры. You'd need to choose the correct form based on the context.
Спасибо! Is it normal in written Russian to write the stress marks, or is it just to demonstrate the differences between the words?
We don't normally write the stress marks.
In very few cases we can write them when the pronounciation can't be guessed from the context (e.g. when you mean бо́льших 'larger' [pl.] and not больши́х 'large'; when there is a strange stress shift in poetry) and in the dictionaries.
I try to mark pronounciation in Duolingo, but I don't do it elsewhere: it would look pretty strange.
In the second paragraph, I think you meant "my sisters helped me" rather than "my sister helped me".
I know that on a tablet (and probably on a phone as well ;) you can ADD A LANGUAGE to the keyboard by going under settings, so that way you can switch the language at any time to type in that language, right from the keyboard ;p
On PC desktops and laptops, you can add languages and a variety of keyboards under Windows. I added the American English - International keyboard and deleted the standard keyboard which enables me to type in English, Spanish, Italian, and French, and probably Portuguese (I don't know about that, though). I added Russian language and the Russian Mnemonic keyboard, so I can type Cyrillic. I use the Windows Key-Space Bar to shift between keyboards. For a few characters, like « » œ — ¡ and ¿ I use Alt-Code.
That is what it implies
If he doesn't have a sister then he definitely wouldn't have sisters
The microphone exercise has a bug: While the whole sentence is pronounced correctly, the word сестры alone is pronounced as сёстры.
I'm writing here because the in-question reporting system only allows me to report that "The audio does not sound correct", which may prompt staff to only check the whole sentence and find no problem.
It sounded like "сЁстры" to me. Is that correct? I would have thought that if it was spelled "сестры" it would sound like "sYEStre" ?? Can someone help me on that, please? :)
You can check it on forvo site https://forvo.com/word/%D1%81%D0%B5%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%D1%8B/#ru
wtf is going on ? i have 2 variants of answer and they are both "sestry" and i clicked one of this and this is wrong. what the **** is going on
This is a bug.
Russian has a letter ё (yo). It's not uncommon to drop dots over ё, so сёстры becomes undistinguishable from сестры́.
In Duolingo, Cyrillic script distinguishes between сестры́ (genitive of 'sister') and сёстры (plural nominative, 'sisters'), but Latin script renders both sestry. So, the exercise is doable in Cyrillic script, but impossible in Latin.
Fortunately, there aren't many such bugs, so you won't see this often.
But I'd recommend learning Cyrillic script and doing Duolingo in Cyrillic. It might look complex, but it just has 33 letters. Russian is rarely written in Latin script (you probably won't see it outside of Duolingo and SMS messages), so learning Cyrillic will allow you to read unadapted texts.
Ok. "Learn cyrillic script" I'm from Russia what i should mean about duolingo? What they can't do normal course before publishing ?
You can change the course to cyrillic letters easily. There is a button on the top left of the lesson to toggle between latin and cyrillic letters.
Where is the button? What does it look like? I just see a text (~ notes and tips) and a pale circle with an 'a' in it. That circle does nothing when I click on it.
I'm from the US and use Windows 10. I type in Cyrillic on Duo for the Russian course. There's no button to push, although I vaguely recall a choice between seeing Duo's Russian-language exercises in Cyrillic or the Western alphabet. I loaded Russian language into Windows 10, then loaded the Russian Mnemonic keyboard. There is also a standard Russian keyboard, which would be useful for native-speaking Russian touch-typists.
Here's an article I wrote about this topic:
Windows 10 Russian Mnemonic Keyboard
I suggest that English speakers use the Russian Mnemonic keyboard. Identical letters such as a, e, m, and o occupy the same keys in both languages. Russian equivalent letters with characters which differ from their Engish counterparts in form but not function occupy the English letter equivalent to the Russian character: the Russian “i” = “и” is entered in Russian text by pressing the “i” key on your keyboard. Similarly, the Russian “r” = “р” is entered by pressing the “r” on the keyboard. [This text is being written using [Windows key + SpaceBar] to move easily back and forth between keyboards.]
Some Russian letters have no direct English equivalent, and must simply be learned. Pressing English “x”, for example, produces Russian “ж” and English “w” produces Russian “ш”.
In order to enable the Russian Mnemonic keyboard, first you will have to load the Russian language module in Control Panel/Languages/add a language. When the Module is loaded, return to Control Panel/Languages/ Русский and click on options. Inside options, click on add an input device. From the list of keyboards that appears, select Russian – Mnemonic, then click on “add”. When you are returned to the list of languages, click on “save”, then exit Control Panel.
You can switch among keyboards by pressing the Windows button and Space-bar. You also find a keyboard-selection button on the taskbar. In using the Mnemonic keyboard, some Russian letters and pronunciation marks do not appear immediately when the key is pressed, but require the pressing of an additional key or the spacebar in order to appear. You will have to do some trial-and-error to figure this out.
Some Russian characters require the pressing of two keys in quick succession, such as “ju” or "yu" to get “ю”.
In using the following chart, you switch to the Windows 10 Russian Mnemonic keyboard using the Win + Space-bar combination or selecting the Russian Keyboard from the task-bar. You press the key(s) listed under the English Keyboard header to get the Russian letter under the Русский Алфабит (Russian Alphabet)
Русский Алфавит = English Keyboard
а А = a A
е Е = e E
к К = k K
м М = m M
о О = o O
т Т = t T
Русский Алфавит = English Keyboard
б Б = b B
д Д = d D
ф Ф = f F
г Г = g G
л Л = l L
и И = i I
н Н = n N
п П = p P
р Р = r R
с С = s S
у У = u U
в В = v V
з З = z Z
Other Russian Letters
Русский Алфавит = English Keyboard
ы Ы = y Y + Space-bar
ц Ц = c C + Space-bar
х Х = h H
й Й = j J + Space-bar
ш Ш = w W
ж Ж = x X
я Я = q Q or ja JA
щ Щ = sc SC
ч Ч = ch CH
ё Ё = jo JO or yo YO
э Э = je JE or ye YE
ю Ю = ju JU or yu YU
Russian Pronunciation “letters”
Русский Алфавит = English Keyboard**
ь Ь = ’ ”
ъ Ъ = ` ~
«Russian Quotation Marks»
Русский Алфавит = English Keyboard**
To enter Russian quotation marks using a PC keyboard, you have to use the Alt Key method: Hold down the Alt and enter a four-digit code using the numeric keypad, then release the Alt key, and the special character appears. The four numbers (including 0 = zero) are “Unicode” numbers which translate according to a universal table of symbols developed by Microsoft.
— = Alt+0151
« = Alt+0171 (Left Angle Quote)
» = Alt+0187 (Right Angle Quote)
All the Russian characters could be entered this way, using different numbers, but why bother when you can use the Russian keyboards available from Microsoft. Some other symbols:
¡ = Alt+0161
¿ = Alt+0191
æ = Alt+0230
œ = Alt+0156
ª = Alt+0170 (Feminine Ordinal) º = Alt+0186 (Masculine Ordinal)
€ = Alt+0128
£ = Alt+0163
© = Alt+0169
® = Alt+0174
÷ = Alt+0247
§ = Alt+0167
Do not try to use the Windows virtual keyboard, because that is missing a number of Russian letters.
Maybe not. My two living sisters are far away and I miss them. My other sisters died. I miss her, too.
I know that сёстры and сестры are different words, i just don't understand the difference ir how to use them.
This question has two pronunciations for сестры depending on whether you click on the single word or on the speaker icon, which repeats the whole phrase. Which one is correct?
This sentence should be pronounced сестры́, the genitive-case singular form of сестра́. (After нет, we use genitive case.)
Other pronunciations don’t work here. Сёстры ‘sisters’ is a nominative-case plural of сестра́ (another option is се́стры, an alternative old-fashioned variant of сёстры used in Church, and it’s even less likely). You can’t use nominative after нет.
Walter kl. Here: the boy doesn't have a sister is marked as wrong,,WHY? THIS IS THE VERY SAME AS THE BOY DOES NOT HAVE A SISTER .doesn't =Does not! ! !
Probably me not dinstinguishing it properly, but even though there is no "ё" in сестры, I could swear it is being pronounced as сёстры, something like syostre (implying the presence of ё) rather than sistre. Can anyone who knows this explain it to me?
It is common (and usually considered ok) for Russians to not write ё at all, instead writing always е for both е and ё. This is due to historical reasons (ё is a very modern letter compared to the other Russian letters, and appeared in order to explicitly write a "pronunciation shift" that occurred over the centuries in some words where there was previously a е sound).
In this course and in learner's/children material in general, ё is always written explicitly so that you can learn. However, probably due to this ё/е thing, the text-to-speech software gets it wrong many times. In this sentence, it is сестры, the genitive singular. The audio is plain wrong because it is getting confused with сёстры (which is spelled the same if you write everything with е). You can check all the forms in wiktionary: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D1%81%D0%B5%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B0
What is the difference between, сестра, сестры, и сёстры? Спасибо. ( :
What's the difference between 'sestry' and 'sestry'????????????????????????????? I look really long and carefully and could not see any difference (such as a faint apostrophe).
This is a bug. In Cyrillic version, it's сестры́ 'of sister' and сёстры 'sisters'. The former is pronounced with 'e', the latter is pronounced with 'o'.
Dots over ё are often left out, so that's why the English transliteration writes both as e. (In the past, it was the same letter. 'E' became 'yo' in many words, so that's why a modified version of 'e' is used for the 'yo' sound.)
However, Duolingo uses Cyrillic internally, and the algorithm for choosing variants doesn't know that сестры and сёстры will be rendered identically in Latin script.
You could try nagging Duolingo developers about this, or just ignore this bug (it won't happen often), or switch to Cyrillic.
Thanks. The problem with Cyrillic is that I don't know the Cyrillic keyboard.
If you often practice at duolingo, you will learn the Cyrillic keyboard very quickly [been there], the most common letters are placed at easy to reach keys, and far away keys are used only for the rarer letters. The usefulness of the course is undoubtedly much larger in Cyrillic. You will basically never see Russian written in the latin alphabet.
IT'S ONE THING TO HAVE A KEYBOARD WITH THE LETTERS AND GRADUALLY LEARN THEIR LOCATION THROUGH PRACTICE (THAT'S HOW I LEARNED TO TYPE IN KOREAN), BUT I DON'T WANT TO WASTE MY TIME SEARCHING BY TEST-TYPING: IS THERE A PICTURE OF A RUSSIAN KEYBOARD LAY-OUT SOMEWHERE?
I learned by trial and error with a standard English keyboard. It might be just me, but the time it took to get used to it felt like such a small percentage of the time I've spent on duolingo, that I would recommend everybody to go for Russian alphabet too.
You can keep this around as a cheat sheet: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/60/KB_Russian.svg/2000px-KB_Russian.svg.png
Also, in case you use a smartphone or tablet, I think that it is easy to switch keyboards there and see the actual letters written on the touchpad keyboard.
this has typing lessons for a whole bunch of different languages/keyboard layouts- http://www.typingstudy.com/ru-russian-3/ so does keybr.com but i don't like that one as much since it sticks with just letter combos instead of actual words. all of the typing lesson-type websites that i've used have a keyboard on screen that will light up the correct key. as for typing into duo, i kept a keyboard image on the bottom of my screen til i got used to it. just google search cyrillic keyboard and find one that works well for you
This drop-down panel has the word sestry and the word sestry - How on this earth can we choose which one is correct, Duolingo needs to fix this!!!!!
In the cyrillic version, it gives сестры and сёстры. It might just be an understandable transliteration error, but perhaps when this sort of ambiguity arises one might switch between alphabets for clarification, with minimal effort required to decipher the difference in the spellings. This is speculation, but more time may be put into the cyrillic version than the transliteration, as learning a language in its native alphabet is likely to be more useful long-term.
Thanks for the suggestion about switching scripts BethPritch1. However, I think if Duolingo is providing an english script option it ought to do it whole-heartedly, and offering identical answers and marking one right and one wrong is not helpful to learners. It would be a mistake too, to think that for those of us who have got this far with the english script sorting this out from the cyrillic script would require minimal effort. I for one am starting to make the effort with the cyrillic script but I don't find it easy. I'm beginning to think that it would be a good idea to lay out the choice of scripts - and the implications of the choice - clearly at the start of the course. The ability to switch scripts could also be mentioned at this point.
Hope I'm not treading on any toes with this! I get the impression it is a sensitive subject.
I absolutely agree that the way it's currently implemented is very bad. However, Duolingo is really opaque about how such decisions are made, and it's not clear how the community can change them.
Duolingo made the decision to add Latin script without consulting either the community or the teams of course developers. I don't know for Russian, but here's what the Ukrainian course developers said about the Latin script: "Our team is not really approving this way of learning Ukrainian". So, even the course developers don't have a say in the script question!
It's clear why the Duolingo admins added the Latin script. Duolingo in its current state doesn't have a good way to learn new alphabets. While the course developers added a few lessons with simple words (that's why some rare names like Тим and rare words like мотор are introduced), it didn't solve the input problem. This lesson could teach letters, but provided no real way to enter them. Instead of providing normal input methods for different platforms, Duolingo developers implemented a half-assed transliteration... And there's little we can do to change this.
Some people might argue that Latin script could be useful for people trying to learn conversational Russian. But this is hardly a possibility, since Latin transliteration still follows Cyrillic orthographic rules. Любит (lyubit) '[she] likes' and любят (lyubyat) '[they] like' are pronounced in the same way (lʲubʲɪt), but you have to spell them differently in Duolingo. If someone just wanted to learn speaking Russian, then why would they need to know the difference?
I hope one day an transparent and open-source alternative to Duolingo will appear, where the community would be able to influence the decisions about transliteration.
Many thanks for your informative reply! It was clear that there were issues lurking behind some of the difficulties with the course. Duolingo has been absolutely brilliant for me and I'm very appreciative of all that I have gained from the community. Those gains can only be enhanced by clear communication about the issues - even if there are disagreements about the best methods - or actually, especially when there are such disagreements.
There should be a switch on the upper-left part of the exercise "window", at least in the PC version. I don't remember seeing the option on mobile at all (but I think that it matches the computer version).
I only use a laptop. If you mean that pale 'a,' I've clicked on it with no effect.