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"Что вы можете сказать о его лице?"

Translation:What can you say about his face?

November 21, 2015



I'm slightly uncomfortable with the lack of an object pronoun here. Usually, you tell someone. Although "to tell" can be used on its own, it usually carries a slightly different meaning. So: "What can you tell about his face?" would mean something more like: "What can you conclude about it?" So you might answer: "That he's about 40, that he's probably European, that he might have had a broken nose one time", and things like that. You probably wouldn't list attributes like eye colour, size of nose and mouth etc. But if the question is: "What can you tell ME about his face", you'd probably interpret it more literally, and list eye colour, type of features, whether he has a beard, and so on. Although there is no "мне" in the original, I felt better translating it as: "What can you tell ME...", as this felt more natural, but was not accepted. By contrast, "What can you say about his face?" sounds perfectly natural, without having to add an artificial "me".


I agree that your sentence with the object pronoun is natural. I also think the Duolingo sentence has an unnatural feel to it. People also might say "what can you tell by his face" viz is he lying etc.


I suspect that the more natural translation may be "what can you say about his face".


I was thinking, "How would you describe his face?" would be best. (Without context, it is really difficult to understand what Duolingo is saying here.)


Describe = Описать. I think the literal translation here is fine.


I completely agree. Just to clarify, the lacking constituent is the indirect object. (The sentence does have a direct object: what.)


yes you are right it is a mistake


That's a very impolite question :)


I feel like this is one of the rudest trees to date. : P


Poor hygiene. He has an unsanitary face.


The correct answer here is given as: Что вы можете сказать о его лице?

Why don't we use о него here? Can somebody point me to a set of rules for this?


The н is added if the pronoun is used as the object by itself, not when it's used as an adjective to modify a noun. What can you tell about him? - Что вы можете сказать о него? What can you tell about his face? - Что вы можете сказать о его лице?


"Что вы можете сказать о него?" doesn't make sense. The correct sentence would be: "Что вы можете сказать о нём?"

Here is declension table - always helpful ;)

  • Им. он (nominative)
  • Р. его́, него́ (genitive)
  • Д. ему́, нему́ (dative)
  • В. его́, него́ (accusative)
  • Тв. им, ним (instrumental)
  • Пр. нём (prepositional)

The rule when to add н- is pretty simple: you just add it when он is being used after a preposition, e.g.


  • без него - without him
  • вместо него - instead of him
  • для него - for him


  • благодаря нему - thanks to him
  • к нему - towards him


  • за него - behind him (when movement is involved, e.g. "get behind him!")
  • на него - onto him (when movement is involved)


  • за ним - behind him (no movement, e.g. "the tree is behind him")
  • над ним - above him
  • с ним - with him


  • о нём - about him
  • по нём - after him

You may notice that the prepositional case doesn't have a form without the н- prefix. It is for a reason - you cannot use a prepositional case without a preposition :)


In general, if I get confused and use 'него' or 'его' (or any other similar pronouns) incorrectly, will I still be understood by a native speaker?


Not a native speaker so I can't answer that definitely but I'd guess so. At least if you use "его" when it ought to be "него" I would think it should still be clear what you mean.


Generally, yes. And generally, you'll be corrected and the conversation can continue. It's kind of similar to confusing his and he's in English, which can occasionally be heard from less educated native speakers. It's annoying, but it rarely obstructs communication.


In this case, it's his and him that are being confused. So, "..about him face". Not ideal, but understandable. :)


When его is the personal pronoun = "him", you add "н", but when it's the possessive pronoun, you don't.


One of the best Duolingo insults


Weird sentence. I don't get it.


Basically, "what are you able to describe about the person's face" - Is it round, narrow, does he have a thick nose, etc.


What could you say about his face? This is apparently wrong but why?


What can you tell about his face isn't correct. Why?


You will(my girlfriend understands me if I get confused, although she gives a mocking smile, like saying "Really?, you can do better than that") lol


Is this in the sense of, "What can you tell me about his face?" or "What can you say about his face?" or basically asking for a description of his face?

I am not certain what information the Russian question is asking for.


I said "What can you say about his face and it was accepted." That sounds like natural English as well.


Well, yes. But the translation they give is simply wrong.

Though it's exactly what I hear foreigners say, surprisingly often.


"What can you tell..." I thought it was asking what do you read from his face.. as in what can you suspect about his life from his face. If it was asking for identifiers like eye color, it would more accurately have been written "what can you tell me about his face"


bad English again :-(


In "о его лице" его is genitive and лице is prepositional, right?

So literally, it would be "what can you say about the face (prepositional) of him (genitive)"?


Post Match.com date conversation with girlfriend. This is very usable!!


This came up in a select the word mode, and one of the options was "do". I was tempted to put "What can you do with his face?"!


Why isn't "what can you tell about his face?" accepted?


That was the translation originally given, but has a slightly different meaning in English, similar to: "What can you conclude about his face?", or: "What does his face tell you?" If the request is simply to describe what you see, "say" is better.


Tell does not work???

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