"Я ничего не знаю о ней."
Translation:I don't know anything about her.
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That's really not correct. If the question is: Whom do I love? then the answer is I love her/Я её люблю. In fact, whom (which is accusative) is better paired with её and "to whom" is paired with ей.
Your example only works because the two verbs have different grammatical properties. "help" takes an accusative object while "помочь" takes a dative object.
I understand that "ничего" is the genitive, with "ничто" being the accusative (same as nominative). But I would have expected accusative here since знать acts directly on "ничто". So now my understanding of "direct object" has to be revised.
Is it because it is a negative sentence? Does the genitive always pop up like that in the negative or is it only for что/ничто? Does it happen for other verbs apart from знать?
This sentence makes me think that it will probably be like:
Я знаю Марию "I know Maria"
Я не знаю Марии "I do not know Maria" (genitive appears because of the negative? I am copying the example sentence here... I thought accusative was used also in the negative).
And the same for люблю I guess... I need the help of an expert now :P
It seems that ничего is now preferred to ничто even for genitive and accusative uses outside of literary work and idiomatic speech.
This thread on the topic (or what I could manage to understand of it, anyways :-P) is pretty interesting: http://rus.stackexchange.com/questions/37548/Ничто-не-интересует-или-ничего-не-интересует
In English, a double negative as you constructed here turns it into a positive. A double negative is where two negatives are attached to the same thing in a sentence.
Think of it this way:
I know nothing about her. That means you know .......nothing about the person.
When you say I don't know...... nothing about her you are saying everything that follows don't know is false. That means knowing nothing about her is not true. Therefore you do know something about her.
Always, always avoid double negatives in English. As you yourself have experienced, they are confusing as to their meaning.
"ничего" is "не́чего" in the dictionary. https://dict.leo.org/russisch-deutsch/%D0%9D%D0%B5%CC%81%D1%87%D0%B5%D0%B3%D0%BE
This is a massive amount of grammar, more than I can cope with. Most people (you children for example) don't learn language this way. What I can't understand is the word order... I nothing not know about her ? Is there a simple explanation that non language majors can understand? I studied engineering to avoid grammatical nuances. My brain is exploding...
You are trying to figure it out. Don't bother. Just do it. It is what it is so just remember how it goes.
Once you are comfortable in the language then go back and try to figure out the rules so you what are you are doing when it comes down to writing and speaking sentences that are more than a half dozen words at most. Until then your spelling and accent will be what makes it hard for people to understand you, not some minor grammar error or word order violation.
Language learning is the opposite of engineering. Language is all about....don't sweat the details.
No, no. The discussion topics are a valuable part of Duo's learning method. But it's like looking at a movie review by a film critic. You can learn a lot just by reading it. But you can't let it get in the way of watching and enjoying the movie. It can be helpful but not neccessary.
What you want to do with the comments is....oh, so that's why I always do that..... Or....oh, so that's why people look a little puzzled whenever I say that. Not....I have to know all this stuff before I can communicate.
Read more, talk more. The first will help you increase your vocabulary. The second will teach you what not to say because no one understands it.
Talk more by taking interesting sentences that you can handle and simply repeating them out loud. By interesting, I mean helpful.
Take a Duo example and work with it. Expand it, saying it each time.
I have an apple......he, she it we etc has/have an apple. Everyone has an apple, Some people have an apple, a lot of people have a lot of apples, forgot their apples, threw their apples away, have rotten apples, beautiful apples. And so on.
That way when you come across similar example in Duo, you can say ...been there, done that... At some point, your choice of words will change the word order (according to the Duo example) Don't try and figure out why. Just notice that the change altered the word order.
After a while, instead of apples you can try things that your friends might talk about. Like cars or game or football teams. Try saying Ronaldo sucks. Learn the sound of someone saying ...what??!!?? Trust me, saying something like that will not draw any comments about your grammar or word order. You will immediately be schooled on what you should say instead and how to say it. When you make a credible attempt at doing so, you will get many complements on your newly acquired ability to make sensible comments about football.
Basically there are two things going on here. 1) Russian will always use не in negative sentences. If there's another negating word (nothing, never, none,...) that will be added as double negative. 2) If there is another negative word it sounds best to stick it up front before не.
"do" is necessary to form questions and negations. In other cases it's not normal but it can add emphasis to a sentence. So if you said "I know nothing about her" and someone else said you were lying, you could emphatically say "You have to believe me, I do know nothing about her!".
What might trip up non-English speakers is that in English "I know nothing about her" is not a negation in English because the word "nothing" has absorbed the negative word. In most other languages I've seen this would still be a negation, maybe there would be a double negative like they do in Russian and Spanish. But in English, if you paraphrase the sentence to avoid the use of "not" (like "I know nothing about her") then it's not a negation so "do" is not required.