"У нас нет масла."
Translation:We do not have butter.
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You have to figure out the context. I've heard my father in law and others call automotive oil масло as well. Along those lines, in English we use the word hot to mean the weather is hot, food is hot temperature wise and food is hot (spicy), but in Russian they have different words/phrases for each of those.
Масло (butter) and повидло (as in 'apple butter') are also very different substances, but English calls them with the same word. When I want to fry something, I could put either butter or vegetable oil on the frying-pan, but not apple butter! Does that make English less logical than Russian? Hardly. Russian and English just name substances according to the different criteria.
For 'butter' in English, the distinguishing feature is that you can spread it on your bread. For «масло» in Russian, the distinguishing feature is that you can use it for frying. Each language has its own set of concepts chosen according to different criteria. That's why learning foreign languages broadens your outlook: it helps to see that the world can be described differently, with other distinguishing features being important.
If you need to distinguish the words that are unified under the same concept, you could add qualifying adjectives, both in Russian and English:
- fruit butter 'пови́дло',
- milk buter 'ма́сло',
- сли́вочное ма́сло 'butter',
- расти́тельное ма́сло 'oil'.
As for grease, the English word 'oil' also has a food meaning (vegetable oil; Russian масло) and a technical meaning (oil which Russia and Saudi Arabia sell; Russian нефть), and having them combined in the same word never hurt anyone. The context in which they are used are just so different that it's practically impossible to put butter (масло) in your engine, or to put нефть (oil) in your salad.
In New York, and probably elsewhere, you can also find pear butter, apricot butter and prune butter. Their consistency differs from jams and jellies, and are closer in similarity to a thick, more concentrated version of applesauce, which is in no way like tomato sauce or any other, for that matter;-) Of course this has nothing to do with the lesson. However, one of the great things about learning other languages is learning about other countries and all they have to offer- condiments only being a miniscule example. Since beginning Russian, the language of my long-deceased grandparents, I've enjoyed learning about other aspects of Russian culture via YouTube, including food and drink and an ocassional mention of butter:-)
Great point! And this was the very reason I started to learn Russian, France and German.
Chinese here. While we are on it, масло, milk butter is literally translated as 奶(milk)油(oil)/牛(cow)油(oil),or 黄(yellow)油(oil), in Chinese. As you can see, two of it are similarly distinguished as Russian, one of it is distinguished by colour:)
Russian nouns have several case-forms.
When the noun is the subject of the sentence, «ма́сло» is used. It’s called nominative case.
When you speak about absence of something, you use a construction «нет» + Genitive case. Genitive case of «ма́сло» is «ма́сла».
Butter is uncountable. It's a substance, you don't normally say 'one butter': instead, you say something like 'one stick of butter' or '100 grams of butter'. Therefore it's not used with article 'a', because 'a' is used only before countable nouns.
Great mnemonic: think of Mazola vegetable oil... OK, but I could really use some etymology detectives on the Mazola brand name. A quick Google Translate quest seems to eliminate Italian, (Hungarian mazol- seems to mean "painter," ??) and the brand's website isn't much help. The resemblance to масло/масла meaning oil or butter can't be a coincidence!
It is genitive case: http://www.russianlessons.net/lessons/lesson10_main.php In the future please read other comments if you have questions like these - I can see the comment right below this one has a good explanation provided by Dimidov, for instance.
«У» is a preposition, it indicates a possessor («у нас» is like 'at our possession').
«Есть» is ‘there-is’ or ‘is’ (у нас есть масло 'at our [possession] there-is butter). «Есть» can be omitted sometimes when it’s not emphasised in the sentence.
«Нет» is ‘there is no’, the negative form of «есть» (у нас нет масла 'at our [possession] there-is-no butter).
The audio in this course is getting worse... I'm sorry but whoever is doing the pronunciation in the recordings is either not a native speaker, or it's just pieced together from other snippets. The emphasis is frequently on the wrong vowel, often in a way that never actually occurs in Russian. In this sentence, for some reason they emphasize the final A? It should be at the beginning.
A parte tutte queste disquisizioni su olio e burro, avete rotto le scatole con traduzioni dove a volte in inglese bisogna mettere l'articolo e a volte no. In russo non c'è, quindi la traduzione in inglese deve essere sostanzialmente corretta sia che io metta l'articolo oppure no.