1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Russian
  4. >
  5. "У него плохая память на лица…

"У него плохая память на лица."

Translation:He has a poor memory for faces.

November 14, 2015



What case is лица in?


Accusative inanimate plural, which is interesting, since the faces are of animate creatures, like humans.


By "inanimate" you nean neutral?


"inanimate" means something that is not a living being.

  • animacy determines the Accusative ending of zero-ending masculine nouns in the singular (e.g., доктор or вектор)
  • animacy affects the Accusative ending of all nouns in the plural

Лицо is inanimate in its literal meaning ("face") and animate in its formal/legal use ("individual").


Sorry Guys, i'm not following any of the explanations for лица. Wouldn't accusative pl (animate of inanimate) = genitive pl = лиц? Ah, didn't read my notes, only animate = gen, not inanimate. Thanks Shady.


People's faces (objects) follow the pattern for inanimate nouns. For them, Accusative plural = Nominative plural, i.e. лица.


It's a commonly used set phrase.


While idioms like this never can be quite fully explaining in terms of strict grammar, the idiom still more-or-less makes sense, in the idea of casting one's gaze at a face - a kind of movement towards the face. It's not simply location (which would require prepositional case), and also the face is the location of an activity - the gazing upon of it.


So if I'm understanding this, there's kind of an implied смотреть? How would you say e.g. "He has a poor memory for names", which doesn't imply any particular activity?


I put 'He has a bad facial memory'. Would this be correct? (Marked as wrong)


No. That would be more like being able to remember the details of someone's face. "A memory for faces" means being able to recall who someone is after having met them only briefly. Your actual memory of what their face looks like might not be very good, but you remember who they are when you see them or a picture of them.


"He cannot remember faces" would sound way better..


"He has a bad memory of faces" is not accepted, though it seems correct to me


To me that would mean that he has a bad memory, as in an event or experience that he remembers, which has to do with faces. To say that he remembers faces badly, you would definitely need to say "memory for faces".


No you don't. I have never uttered this phrase, ever.


"a memory for faces" is an English idiom, meaning a specialized ability to remember who people are after only briefly meeting them. A bad memory for faces means that, when you see someone you've met before, you don't recall who they are simply by seeing them or a picture of them.


Говорят о мне?


We say "обо мне"

О нём, о ней, о тебе, о нас, о них, о тех, об этих, об этом, об этой, but обо мне.


Спасибо! Just when I think I've got it right, an exception sneaks up on me...


With мне and forms of весь you use обо. Everywhere else, о/об are used pretty much the same as the English "a"/"an":

  • о книге = about a book
  • о кошке = about a cat
  • о ёжиках = about hedgehogs
  • об этом ёжике = about this hedgehog
  • об алой кошке = about the scarlet cat
  • обо мне = about me
  • обо всех кошках = about all cats
  • обо всём = about everything
  • обо всей галактике = about the entire galaxy
  • о вторнике = about Tuesday
  • о мнениях других людей = about other people's opinions


Don't worry, every language is full of exceptions. This one is easy to remember since обо мне is close to "about me" :)


Or perhaps he has a poor memory for faces. In English a poor face memory sounds more like people with poor or bad faces have a certain kind of memory.


During review, I read пицца at first glance. That's not a good thing.


He is faceblind. (A real condition that can exist in varying degrees of severity.)


Sounds weird in English


Maybe it is just a habit we have in Irish English.


He has a bad memory when it comes to faces?


хахаха я слышал "а лицо" xD


Why not "weak memory"?


A google translate grade sentence in both russian and english. Wouldnt you rather say "he poorly remembers faces" or something?

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