"I am a girl, and you?"
Translation:Я девочка, а ты?
"I play football, and my brother plays rugby". That kind of contrast.
There is a great explanation on this topic by Shady_arc here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1590329
Summarizing it a lot, for Russian - English translation:
"и" --> "and"
"но" --> "but"
"а" ---> "somewhere in between the two".
So the translation could be "and" or "but" depending on the sentence. "а" Shows contrast in speech, but typically not a real factual contradiction which is more common of "но". For example, the fact that I play football does not contradict my brother playing rugby. But in my speech, I contrast these two different activities.
I appreciate that you are trying to explain something about Russian to me (for which many thanks), but in English "and" and "but" always convey totally different (implied) meanings. For instance, "I play football and my brother plays rugby" implies that we are both really fit sporting types, one of us playing football and one rugby. Change it to "but" and the implication is that football is the sensible sport to choose, but my brother has chosen something vastly inferior.
Yes and still no. Native English speaker (of the American flavor which may, or may not, make a difference - and it might!).
I can't speak to how this fits in with the Russian, but you're so close on the nuance in English. You're just missing it. Maybe it's just context.
"Hey, are you guys into sports?"
"I play football and my brother plays rugby" - we're both really fit, sporty types but we choose different outlets for that.
"Hey do you guys play football?"
"I play football, but my brother plays rugby" - We're BOTH STILL sporty types. I don't want my brother to seem like a couch potato just because he doesn't play football.
I agree on the English.
Having "three words" in Russian vs "two" in English, it is impossible for Russian and English to perfectly agree on "the level on contrast" present in a sentence (in relation to the "и" "а" "но" "and" "but" ). I have some notion of the use of "и" "а" "но", but the best I can do is try to interpret Shady_arc's post and keep practising the word's use in specific sentences to get the pattern and learn common examples by heart.
The following are some quite off-topic personal thoughts of mine:
It is somewhat like the distinction between почему and зачем. Being a native Spanish speaker, I have been able (I think) to understand them quite fine by relating them to "por qué" vs "para qué": however, English would most of the time just use "why" for both words, eliminating the distinction (unless one resorts to the "what for" construction, but that is less common than simply using "why").
It seems a bit strange to me to use the informal ты with someone (presumably a correspondent) whom you do not know well enough to know the gender of! Is this because if I am a девочка I must be a child, and am speaking to another child? Would a single female adult ever decribe herself as a девочка?
I used и in this sentence as it seemed it could go either way between this and а, given the question. If the "девочка" doesn't know whether to expect that the other person is a boy or a girl, why does it matter which conjunction is used - unless she is expecting the other person to be a boy, in which case there's no need for the question - ?
No, because тебя is accusative and the nominative is needed here. The implied sentence is "I am a girl, and/but you are a boy/adult/alien." So "you" is the subject of the second clause (and the verb is omitted because Russian does not use a present tense of "to be"). Hence "you" needs to be in the nominative case, which is ты.