"We need to prepare lunch."
Translation:Нам надо приготовить обед.
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The difference is that «нам на́до гото́вить обе́д» uses an imperfective verb, and it can means either:
- that the process is more important than the result (for example, we're children, and our parents force us to cook; we don't care about the results, we just need to cook because we're expected to be cooking something), or
- that we need to cook lunch more than once (e.g. we need to cook lunch every day).
«Нам на́до пригото́вить обе́д», on the other hand, uses a perfective verb. It means we're interested in having a lunch prepared, and we need to do it one time: we need to prepare a lunch now.
Maybe you did not read Tips & notes
In this skill, we used perfective verbs for "cook", "cut", "wash". The reason is simple: that's the verb you'd use when you want a single specific action, often with a result—rather than referring to "activity" (activity may be fun but, in some cases, pointless).
For those who are doing the tree for the first time, only a few unfinsihed modules are open - the remainder of the tree is closed off. So it's helpful when posting comments about Tips and Notes to copy and paste a link to those tips and notes, which we should be able to access directly. I look forward to learning more about Russian verbs. I have been collecting conjugations of the verbs we've used so far, so most of what is there in the tables is still a mystery to me.
When you use them with infinitives, there's no real difference.
However, нам нужно can also be used with neuter nouns without a verb (i.e. нам нужно полотенце 'we need a towel'; as opposed to нам нужно/надо купить полотенце 'we need to buy a towel'). With neuter nouns, you can't use надо.
(There are also masculine and feminine forms: нужен and нужна. These also cannot be replaced with надо.)
«Нам» is dative case ('to us'), «мы» is nominative case ('we', used as subject of the sentence).
While «Нам ну́жно пригото́вить обе́д» and 'We need to prepare lunch' look superficially similar, they're actually different grammatically. Russian sentence means something like 'to-us [it is] neccessary to-prepare lunch'. This is how we usually translate the verb 'to need'.
That's why we don't use «мы». «Мы» is used for the subject of the sentence (e.g. «мы гото́вим обе́д» 'we're cooking the dinner), and this sentence has no real subject.
It's wrong, мы нужны would mean something like "we are needed". It literally translates as нам- to us надо/нужно- its is needed приготовить обед- to prepare lunch.
Нам is dative, so it means "for us" in this sentence.
The verb Надо means "it is necessary"
It helps understand this phrase if you think of it as "It is necessary for us" rather than "we need/must/have to", although the latter phrasing is better generally idiomatic English.
The difficulty with understanding the Russian is in realizing that the preposition "for" is "built in" to the dative case, although in other sentences, this "preposition" might be "to" or "by" or something else. For example: они дают нам пищу = "They give food to us" or "They give us food".
It's the absence of the preposition in Russian and sometimes in English which makes it difficult to understand the function and translation of the dative case.
You’d use a reflexive verb «пригото́виться», because you’re basically preparing yourself: «Нам ну́жно пригото́виться к обе́ду».