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"He asked if you had a permit."

Translation:Он спросил, есть ли у тебя пропуск.

November 16, 2015



Can someone help me out with the difference between если and есть ли? I thought the former was a contraction of the latter.

[deactivated user]

    I thought the former was a contraction of the latter.

    You’re right, it was originally a contraction, and was in fact written «естьли» in the past (according to Vasmer). However, in modern Russian they are not interchangeable: «если» is used in subordinate clauses of condition (е́сли у тебя́ есть про́пуск, заходи́ = if you have a permit, come in), while «есть ли» is used like other verbs with «ли», in object clauses (like in this sentence) and sometimes in the main clause to form a general question (Е́сть ли у тебя́ про́пуск? = У тебя́ есть про́пуск?).


    Another great explanation. You should be teaching this course!! There is nobody better than a native speaker for getting explanations. If you decide to learn Spanish I could help you if you help me with Russian. I am poor so I cannot pay you but I would love to have you as my Russian instructor.


    I disagree with one point here! I don't think a native speaker is the best to explain points like that! Many times they just speak the language and don't know how to explain some structures. It happened with me recently when I asked a German girl about distinguishing two confusing words and she said : ' wow, how can I explain that'? Later on, I found out by studying it and comparing to other languages!


    Not any native speaker, obviously. But a native teacher will always have better insight in theirs own language than a teacher in a language foreign to them.


    Not necessarily, they will however be better at pronouncing.


    I completely entirely agree. I sincerely believe that if szeraja_zhaba made a youtube channel or something to explain advanced language questions, it would become popular very quickly.


    если...то... if...then... Use если in Russian when you would use "if" in English. Place the Russian word ли after something you intend to question in the sentence; we'd often do this with intonation in English, Russian does too. It's like when you'd say "whether" in English. In this example, the existence of the permit is being questioned, thus "есть ли". If, say, a police officer was asking 5 people if they have permits, and the cop gets to you and you don't understand if he's pointing at you or the person behind you, your friend could lean over and say, "Он спросил есть у тебя ли пропуск" (imagine the intonation going up on тебя).

    Other example. Your friend would ask if it's raining, but you've been inside all day so you wouldn't know and you'd say, "Я не знаю идёт ли дождь" and your friend would keep talking about the flipping rain like it's the end of the world or something and would be all, "Если идёт дождь, то я не поеду в магазин." You can also use если...тогда...


    I liked this explanation, thank you!

    • 2102

    Not quite. "Eсли" means "if" or "whether". "Ли" is a shortened form of "если" which is always placed after a verb. "Есть" is just a verb here (which literally means "is"), and aside from looking similar to "если", it has nothing to do with this "если"-to-"ли" contraction. E.g. "I wonder whether he likes music" - "Мне интересно, любит ли он музыку". The part "whether he likes" becomes "любит ли он".

    EDIT: Apparently I was wrong about contraction - see the post by szeraja_zhaba.


    As for my understanding, ли doesn't have to be placed after a verb, it must only be the second element of the question, for example:

    Передала ли она вам письмо? - was it passed?

    Она ли вам передала письмо? - was it she?

    Письмо ли она вам передала? - was it a letter?

    • 2102

    I stand corrected. (Albeit I think the most common use of "ли" would still be after a verb.)
    In any case, what I really meant to say is that unlike English "if" or "whether", "ли" always comes after a word that is being questioned.


    Почему "есть ли у тебя пропуск"? had - past tense


    Why is "он спросил ли у тебя есть пропуск" wrong?


    I wrote the exact same thing. I can never get this sentence right. The word order for the correct answer seems completely random to me. Swedish is my native language btw.

    • 2102

    "Спросил ли он ...?" means "Did he ask ...?" (Aside from the wrong placement of "он", this is really a different question.) "Ли" should follow the verb that is being questioned.


    Alright I get that part, but why is есть before у тебя when it's normally always after?


    I put "он спросил у тебя есть ли пропуск", which was wrong, but I think I know why and was hoping for a confirmation. Since "he" is asking a question about which there is doubt, we have to indicate the doubted part immediatly after the question. Yes?

    So if Dchekhov made up an example: "Он спросил есть у тебя ли пропуск", that should really be "он спросил у тебя ли есть пропуск". Or no?


    Can someone please confirm that "он спросил у тебя есть ли пропуск" is indeed wrong in Russian? I am insisting because in other Slavic languages (such as Bulgarian) both word orders would be correct.

    • 2102

    It is wrong in Russian. Most likely you'll be understood, but your word order sounds really, highly unnatural.


    So it turns out English is not the only language with nonsensical, unexplainable exceptions to basic grammar rules ;)


    So can we summarise: Not only must ли follow the thing in question but also the latter must stand alone giving ли always the second position of the subordinate clause?


    It is wrong indeed. Your version could go for direkt speach:

    Oн спросил : "У тебя есть ли пропуск ?" But even in this case it is still not 100 % OK, a little bit old fashioned, not natural.

    And your version is sensless by using in undirect speach.


    Why "есть" and not "был", when there is written had and not have??

    [deactivated user]

      Because Russian tenses are relative to the main clause.

      This sentence consists of two clauses:

      • the main clause «он спросил, есть ли у тебя пропуск», he asked a question;
      • the dependent clause «есть ли у тебя пропуск»; 'do you have a permit?'

      The dependent clause is included inside the main clause as an object.

      When you have a dependent clause, it’s tense in Russian is understood to be relative to the main clause. So, present tense in the dependent clause means 'at the same time he asked' (i.e. in the past), not 'now'. 'Past tense' in the main clause means 'before he asked', not 'before now'. Future tense in the main clause means 'after he asked', not 'in the future'. So:

      • Он спросил, будет ли у тебя пропуск? = He asked if you would have a permit.
      • Он спросил, есть ли у тебя пропуск? = He asked if you had a permit.
      • Он спросил, был ли у тебя пропуск? = He asked if you had had a permit.

      Updated 2018-03-03: fixed the mistake reported by richard547513.


      сейчас я понимаю! спасибо большой!


      Your last two sentences are the same. Did you mean to use был?

      [deactivated user]

        Indeed, thanks for noticing!


        Permit = разрешение. Pass = пропуск.

        It's so simple, why do admins like to confuse people? "Permit" has a broader sense in English, a permit could be a pass. The same goes for "разрешение" vs "пропуск"

        • 2102

        Agreed. I've just commented on the same thing above.


        It does not help! The same now. "разрешение" is rejected. Pity.


        Can someone give me an explanation why "он спросил если у вас есть пропуск" is wrong? I suspect I'm being far too literal with translations but I thought если was used for "if" while "ли" is more similar to "whether".

        • 2102

        You will be understood, but it sounds wrong - it's a word-for-word translation from English. In fact, that's exactly how many second-generation Russian immigrants in the US speak, an it always irks me when I hear this construction.


        Ok, which part of it though? The use of если, the position of есть or both? Also, if the position of есть is the problem, what is it in the sentence that causes it to move from its usual position?

        • 2102

        It's hard to differentiate the two. I would say, the incorrect part is "если", but using it actually forces "если" into the position where you have used it. In a sense, what you propose is the least offensive structure of the sentence once you have used "если" - but it's wrong.


        он спросил, есть ли у вас разрешение no?


        This has to be one of the most Soviet sentences ever.


        Permit - пропуск, разрешение. Объясните пожалуйста, почему не принимает перевод "разрешение"?


        I asked the same question. Permit has two translations in the Russian language and this answer must be accepted both ways. That's my opinion, because пропуск here we talk about usually a document ( permit de conduire from french language - driving licence or a pass) and разрешение which means that somebody allows you to do something. In the context I think the answer should be accepted both ways. I am not a native speaker, my aunt was Russian and she was speaking with me only in Russian language despite the fact that she was able to speak Bulgarian language. She just wanted to teach me Russian, that's it


        Он спросил, есть ли у вас разрешение.???


        он спросил есть ли у тебя есть пропуск - is this wrong? It was disallowed

        [deactivated user]

          Because you don’t need the second есть, it sounds very unnatural with it.


          thank you, that's very helpful.


          Well, the translation of the word "permit" as "пропуск" isn't the most popular or obvious, unless you live in the closed sites, where you need to show credentials every now and then. I'd go with "разрешение", but, it's not permitted!


          Разрешение means permission, not permit. A permit is a more concrete object (a badge, certificate...) granting you permission to do something.

          • 2102

          A parking permit, anyone? How about a building permit? You would most certainly not translate either of those as "пропуск".
          "Пропуск" comes from the verb "пропускать" - "to let someome/something through". It's a document that gets you in. In that sense Russian "пропуск" it's much closer to an "entry badge". Meantime English "permit" is a document that permits someone/something to be somewhere (e.g. a car in a parking structure, no entrance gate/control is implied).


          What about он спросил, есть ли у вас разрешение ? That's what google translate says

          • 2102

          I would personally accept it, but the sticky issue here is how you translate "permit": depending on the context, it can mean "пропуск" (an entry permit) or "разрешение" (e.g. a building permit). Without such context, "разрешение" would be best translated as "permission" though.


          If you speak you don't get to do what you want - oh gee seems effective


          The question is "He asked if you HAD a permit." As one deactivated user said In «Есть ли у тебя пропуск», «есть» is the main piece of question. You want to know if the listener HAS a/the permit or no. Is there an implied past tense with есть ли у тебя пропуск?


          Am I the only one who doesn't understand ли and the effect it has on its sentence?


          Nope! That and же are two words I don't know if I'll ever understand.


          I will try to help you. Ли comes form the full или (or) or vise versa, I don't know, but they definitely have the same historical root. Now it is a different word and makes a bit different sence but generally this knowledge might help you in the translation. Ли gives a light color of doubt in your question (if I can say that): Есть ли у вас билет? Do you have a ticket [or maybe not]? Compare: У вас есть билет? (without any implied или).

          Же comes from the old Russian иже - который - which. In this case, the meaning changed quite hard, but, despite that, some piece of the meaning is still left. Here, you already have to turn your fantasy on as to come up with a place for "which". For example: Это же нечестно! We translate: "That is unfair!" but we have in mind "That is such a situation which can only be called unfair".
          Also I would translate же as 'after all'. Я же просил тебя не ходить туда. After all, I asked you not to go there. Она же тебя поцеловала, чего ты ещё хочешь? After all, she kissed you, what else do you want?

          This is only my opinion, not a science)).


          Than you, Rumata_! That is a very good explanation. Have a lingot.


          Where did you find "же" ? I couldn't find it in this forum and don't remember having ever seen it


          Maybe Duolingo doesn't teach that word... It is very commonly-used in Russian, though.

          EDIT: Actually, I just found it in this exercise: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/26932308


          Thank you. But what's the comment you were referring to when you wrote "Nope, that and же..." ?


          What's the correct intonation here (for reporting someone else's question)?

          • 2102

          Он спросил [short pause], есть ли у тебя пропуск [same intonation as if you were asking this question].


          Why "you had a permit" - past simple but in

          "He asked if you had a permit." (if you had a permit.) - present simple


          If you're using the smartphone app, switch to the website and you'll see it explained in the lesson itself. Tenses in subordinate clauses aren't necessarily in the same tense as the one in the main clause.


          could i say.... что у тебя пропуск ?

          [deactivated user]


            Is this correct: "Он спросил, у вас есть ли пропуск"?

            It was marked wrong :/

            • 2102

            It is wrong. The "verb + ли" combination should be in front of anything else in a question.


            Is the есть necessary? Can't you say Он спросил ли у тебя пропуск?

            [deactivated user]

              «Он спросил ли у тебя пропуск?» is definitely incorrect. It means "Did he ask for your permit?" with an emphatic word order (the corresponding neutral word order is «Спросил ли он у тебя пропуск?»).

              Ли works this way: you put the word that represents the 'main' piece of the information asked, put it in the beginning of the sentence, then put «ли», and then put all the other words. In «Есть ли у тебя пропуск», «есть» is the main piece of question. You want to know if the listener has a/the permit or no. Basically, the question can be rephrased as «есть или нет».

              You omit «есть» when it's not the main piece of information (and then, you put the word representing the main piece of information asked before «ли»). For example:

              • Он спросил, пропуск ли у тебя? = He asked if you have a permit [or something else]. He asked if it's the permit you have.
              • Он спросил, у тебя ли пропуск? = He asked if you [or someone else] have the permit. He asked if it's you who has the permit.

              In these sentences, you're not asking a question about 'having', 'having' is implied, and you're asking what exactly you have (permit or something else), or who exactly has a permit (you or someone else).


              Great explanation. By the way, when you mentioned есть или нет while explaining ли, it made me wonder one thing: does the conjunction или come from и + ли?

              [deactivated user]

                Yes, it is.


                Could you say: Он спросил, что у тебя был ли пропуск, if the questioner had been asking about a past event? (e.g. "Did you have a permit when you went to that event?")

                [deactivated user]

                  You can't combine 'что' with 'ли', this is definitely incorrect.

                  «Он спросил, был ли у тебя пропуск» works, but I believe it's translated 'He asked if you had had a permit' into English (?).


                  Thanks. I notice that you have also changed the sentence order from my (clumsy) suggestion; is there any significance to this?

                  As regards the English version, to be honest, I am not 100% sure but I think either would be possible.
                  Your construction is certainly the correct one for verbs in general. (e.g. "He asked if you had bought a ticket") But the clumsiness of "had had" means that in practice you are unlikely to hear that said. Remember that the backshift in tense need not occur if the reported statement is still true. So certainly "he asked if you had had too much to drink" (because that only applied then, and now you are sober), but you probably have not discarded your permit (and that is not really the important issue in the conversation), so I think the "he asked if you had a permit" is viable (and certainly more euphonious)
                  Reference: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/reported-speech-indirect-speech.

                  [deactivated user]

                    «Ли» normally changes the word order. «Ли» refers to some word, or sometimes to a phrase, in the sentence (here, it's «был»). So, the word order is usually like this:

                    • the word which constitutes the main point of the question,
                    • then «ли»,
                    • and then the rest of the sentence.

                    In this sentence, «ли» refers to «был» (the question can be rephrased like this: did you have or didn't you have?), you you begin your sentence with «был ли». If you started the sentence with something else, you'd have different meanings. See my answer to @kpagcha above.

                    My English is not good enough to say anything definitive about the translation, sorry. ^^"


                    Ok, I think I have got it now. I had understood that ли needed to go with the point that was queried, but not realised that it also subverts the sentence order.


                    I thought word order did not matter with a case system... Why does « есть » need to be placed before « ли »? ):

                    • 2102

                    "Ли" is always placed after the word that is being questioned, which is usually (but not always) a verb.


                    Почему не у вас есть пропоск?


                    what's the difference between спросил and попросил?

                    • 2102

                    Спросил = asked (e.g. a question); you would typically expect an answer in response.
                    Попросил = asked for; you would typically expect a thing, a favour or whatever else you may have asked for.

                    • 1742

                    Should't "Он спросил, был ли у вас пропуск" be also correct, depending on the context?

                    [deactivated user]

                      I think that would correspond to ‘He asked if you had had a permit’. (I’m not 100% sure since I’m not a native English speaker. But in Russian, the question would refer to the time before the question was asked.)

                      • 1742

                      When I was learning English, I was taught that:

                      "He asked if you had a permit." = if you had a permit at the time of asking a question

                      "He asked if you have a permit." = having a permit is something permanent

                      So thinking this way:

                      "Он спросил, есть ли у тебя пропуск." would mean that having the permit is constant, and

                      "Он спросил, был ли у вас пропуск" would mean that the state of having a permit was in the past.

                      I'm not sure myself if I am consistent with this...

                      [deactivated user]

                        No, it’s different in Russian and in English. In Russian, when we transform a direct speech into indirect, we leave the tense unchanged:

                        • Он спросил: «У вас есть пропуск?» → Он спросил, есть ли у вас пропуск (спросил was in the past; «есть» was at the time the time he asked)
                        • Он спросил: «У вас был пропуск?» → Он спросил, был ли у вас пропуск (спросил was in the past; «был» was before the time he asked)
                        • Он спросил: «У вас будет пропуск?» → Он спросил, будет ли у вас пропуск (спросил was in the past; «есть» was/is after the time he asked)

                        In Russian, tenses in the indirect speech are relative to tenses of the main sentence. This is how Russian manages to do with just three tenses.

                        English, on the other hand, doesn’t use relative time. So, when transforming direct speech into indirect, you need to change its tense:

                        • He asked: ‘Do you have a permit?’ [present indefinite] → He asked if you had/have a permit [past or present indefinite]
                        • He asked: ‘Did you have a permit?’ [present indefinite] → He asked if you had had a permit [present perfect]
                        • He asked: ‘Will you have a permit?’ [future indefinite] → He asked if you would have a permit [future in the past]

                        So, the tenses are absolute. ‘You had had a permit’ would mean ‘you had a permit before some other past event’ even if you moved it out of the subordinate clause.

                        (This is my understanding, native English speakers might have more to say here.)


                        Is this not correct?

                        "Он попросил если бы у тебя пропуск."

                        • 2102

                        No, it's not correct.
                        "Cпросить/cпрашивать" (perfective/imperfective) = "to ask" in the sense of "to inquire" or "to ask a question".
                        "Попросить/просить" (perfective/imperfective) = "to ask" in the sense of "to request", "to ask for something (a permission, a thing, a favour)".
                        An expected response to the former is the answer, a response to the latter is the thing or action you have requested.
                        So, it's either "Он спросил, есть ли у тебя пропуск" (the expected response is "yes" or "no", at least formally, from the grammatical point of view) or "Он попросил показать (to show) пропуск" - the response is the produced permit/ID badge.


                        Why not: Он спросил или у тебя есть пропуск? Is it wrong for the same reasons that using если is wrong here?


                        structure with "или"= "or" is unnatural. in such case i would expect another another "или"= "or" following by a suggestion of alternative methods to resolve the lack of proper papers i.e. a bribe . i would use "если" but being a native speaker does not mean that we know\understand\follow the prescribe laws of language structure


                        Is it impossible to say "он спросил у тебя есть ли пропуск"?? Does it have to be .."есть ли у тебя"


                        it is possible. but depending on how you put punctuation marks it will have a different focus .

                        он спросил " у тебя есть ли пропуск" - he asked "do you have a permit\if you have a permit "

                        он спросил у тебя " есть ли пропуск" - he asked you " is there a permit"


                        We are speaking here in the puntuation which already done by DUO - no kind of direct speech were presentet, just one sentence which reminds indirect speech. In some imaginated context. In some figurative context, everything is possible in Russian. Here, on this site, we are within very simple constructions. And the only correct answer here is the one, given by DUO. The only thing that i could allow "разрешение" instead of "пропуск", because of "пропуск" is rather specific.


                        the word "sprosil" is missing


                        Он спросил, есть ли у вас разрешение. Why it is not accepted? Permit in Russian can be a пропуск к что то или для что и разрешение делать что то...Why?


                        Here there are a lot of strange things. May be, there are not enough real russians who works for DUO? To much trash. Especially those voices with stupid intonations and acsents. Agree with you. Permit - "Разрешение" here better than "пропуск" in many ways, less specific, more common.


                        Он спросил, ли был у вас пропуск?


                        Просьба объяснить значение фразы ... if you had a permit. все словари переводят ее как "был ли у тебя пропуск" - то есть в прошедшем времени. почему в данном случае настоящее - есть ли...? что это за оборот if you had? без контекста вообще переводится "если бы вы имели"

                        • 1246

                        Is it correct to say "он спросил вы ли имели пропуск"?


                        I withdraw the question. It was explained in another comment that the dependent clause tense depends on the primary clause in this question.


                        Why, in the hints, had is translated with "имела"? I don't understand why the hints in Russian classes are often wrong or put me in a wrong way to translate


                        Can I say Он спросил если у тебя есть пропуск?


                        Why not "он спросил у тебя был ли пропуск"? Isn't it past tense?


                        He asked is if you have a permit. why does есть suddenly mean 'had'. I have read all the explanations here but do not understand the syntax of this sentence


                        "He asked if you have a permit" doesn't make sense in English because the tenses don't match correctly. When we see a sentence like this in Russian, we must switch the second verb so that the tense is correct (and vice versa).


                        so I get this right by parrotting the sentence but I still don't understand it. Can anyone explain simply in 2 sentences?


                        Why is "он спросил, есть ли пропуск у тебя" marked wrong? Is it because the meaning is closer to "he asked whether it was you who had the permit"? In this case I would still use the same wording in english, and stress you with the intonation.


                        It was hard to determine where the emphasis would be in the dependent clause without actually hearing it. I put the emphasis on "you", "у тебя ли" and it was called incorrect.


                        "Он спросил у меня есть ли пропуск" - Why wrong!?


                        Why not: Он спросил, был ли у тебя пропуск.


                        Он спросил, есть ли у вас разрешение was marked wrong?!


                        What's wrong with Он спросил, есть ли у вас разрешение


                        Он спросил если у тебя был пропуск why is it incorrect? Because of the tense in English?


                        есть ли (у тебя, сейчас) пропуск - correct если у тебя был пропуск - not corresponds with tense of the question. And the main mistake: "если" (if) is not reduced "есть ли" (if you have)


                        "he asked if there is, by you, a permit."


                        Where do you come from ? I've just bumped into "ли" and you have a long debate about "если" whose existence I'm unaware at all?


                        Finally I've found out, where is the czech "jestli" from.. :-)


                        Разрешение - почему не принимает, если выпадает как вариант?


                        Psst...he doesn't have his passport...


                        Thanks a million for such a clear explanation.


                        I dont know what to do, my answer matches the one ths app says is correct

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