"Whose water is it?"
Translation:Чья это вода?
So it's always "это", whatever the gender of the noun it relates to? Is this a general rule or just a rule for this specific question?
My first language is also a Slavic one and this just sounds so... wrong to me. Why would you not change the ending of "это", especially in the written form of communication?
«Чья вода это?» неправильно. Пожалуйста, Почему? Saying something is customarily spoken or normally spoken, or "it must be done that way" without explanation does not explain anything. I hate the idea of "you have to do it this way because everybody else does it this way." It has been said that for most Russian speech word order does not matter except that the speaker might want to emphasize something.
Так, пожалуйста, почему, «чья вода это» неправильно?
After all, in English, both "Whose water is this?" and "Whose is this water?" are correct, with exactly the same meaning. Also it may be correct to say "To whom does this water belong?", and "This water belongs to whom?" That later might be a little awkward, but it is correct.
It isn't a matter simply of what a Russian would say in colloquial speech, but what is grammatically correct in Russian and why? Why are not both «Чья это вода?» and «Чья вода это?» correct? For that matter, why would «Это вода чья?» be wrong? Please include authoritative sources for explanations, not just some personal impressions.
Define "grammatically correct". We do not know the grammars of natural languages—in the sense that, whereas people do study natural languages and write 2000 page long comprehensive grammars, those books still do not cover everything native speakers take into consideration.
The best explanation (model) you can have is that это from "чей это" is an unstressed particle you usually attach to the first stressed word in the sentence. In this sense, чей это + noun is completely different from чей + noun + это. Such particles are covered in grammars.
- for example, "В вопросительных предложениях наиболее обычны модальные частицы, служащие для усиления, подчеркивания, а также для характеристики сообщаемого по связям и отношениям: ну, ну и, да, так, так и, же, и, это, ведь, уж " (Russian Grammar, 1980 : Syntax).
The similarity to "Whose water is this?" is superficial: the Russian question does not have a word that corresponds to "this". However, Grammar-80 pretty much ignores the use of these particles, even though it includes multiple examples of similar questions (e.g., Какое это дерево? Что это ещё за новые штучки? Кто это плачет?)
In Russian National Corpus there are no instances of "чей + something + это?" questions. There are instances of just "Чьё это?" or "Знаешь, чей это?".
I am sure that someone somewhere said someting like "чья вода это" once or twice. We just do not consider it common enough (the frequency of 0 is not enough).
If we dive into purely imaginary grammar, there is another trick. Different tenses are much less controversial. It is "Чья это была вода?" in the past. I think very few native speakers would say that "Чья вода была это?" sounds native, even though some may give "Чья вода это?" a pass. If languages are supposed to be logical, this should mean that the structure must be the same in the present tense, too (just with an "invisible" copula).
(from a practical point of view, the present tense does sound a bit better if you ask me)