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  5. "Зрители смотрят пьесу."

"Зрители смотрят пьесу."

Translation:The audience is watching the play.

November 22, 2015



I would say here "the audience ARE watching". That might be a British thing, we use plurals a bit differently sometimes.


Yes, it's a British thing. Corporations are also theys. But not in the US.


I (also British) would use them interchangeably, but I've heard "is" more than "are".


"Is" sounds normal as well, but probably both should be accepted.


In this particular case, the subtle difference between "is" and "are" can easily be rendered in Russian: "the audience are watching" - "зрители смотрят", "the audience is watching" - "публика смотрит". By the way, we more often use the word "спектакль" than "пьеса" as the object of "смотреть". Обычно мы читаем пьесу, но смотрим спектакль.


There is no difference in English apart from dialect so either should be accepted.


I wouldn't say this has anything to do with dialect. It's true that both/either can be used, but it doesn't depend which dialect you speak. The same person might choose either, but they're not "switching dialects".


That makes it all the more baffling that "are" isn't accepted. The Russian conjugation is plural, but a plural translation is rejected.


Loved the "Обычно мы читаем пьесу, но смотрим спектакль" sentence. Beautiful.


"Are" wasn't accepted? I would report that.


Hmmm. Technically, "audience" is singular, but I too answered: "are watching". It's always a bit tricky with nouns designating a lot of people (the company, the crowd, the group, the class etc.) Should it be: "The government is" or: "The government are"? Collectives like governments and audiences aren't disembodied entities, so sometimes it feels correct to say: "are". I don't think I have a firm rule on this, except to stay consistent within the same piece of writing. If I start off with the plural form, I have to make sure not to revert to singular halfway through.


My view on this as a non native: audience is singular, while audiences is plural. If you want to make one "audience" a plural thing in my language, you would need to use another word like "spectators"


"Audience" belongs to a grammatical category called "collective nouns," a defining feature of which is that either singular or plural verb agreement possible. See my comment below.


For the benefit of English non-natives, and probably many a native as well, this is an excellent description of verb conjugation for subjects like 'audience'.


Grammatically, whether one chooses "the audience is" or "the audience are" indicates something about the unanimity with which the speaker conceives of the audience as acting. In practice, in this case, it probably simply says more about the geographic origins of the speaker.


However, I'd like to add that in English, 'audience,' while it is a collective noun, can also be made into a plural: 'audiences.' With the first, you can use either "is watching" or "are watching;" with the second, of course, one needs to always use the plural verb forms. Personally, as a native speaker of American English (and a trained linguist), I would say "the audience is watching." But I can see how this could vary.

It may be worth noting, however, that one can switch freely from one to the other, e.g.: "The audience is watching the play; the audience are beginning to twitch in their seats at the three hour mark." In a way, as you say, Adam, it's a matter of whether you perceive the audience to be one single entity, or a number of individual people.


What is the difference between пьеса and спектакль?


Пьеса is a piece written by a playwright (the Russian word was once borrowed from French "piece" - pronounced "pyes") or a short piece of instrumental music. Спектакль is what you watch on the stage of a theater or opera and ballet house.


I had a feeling the Russian word for play derived from French. I'm always in awe that the more languages I speak (mostly Indo-European), the more associations and connections I'm able to make. Too bad only a handful of my students heed my advice.


Interestingly enough, in Portuguese it is called "peça" almost exactly like in Russian (that ç has the same sound as the Russian с)

[deactivated user]

    Turkish has it too. "Piyes". It's nowadays more used for short amateur productions, school plays, etc.


    Was спектакль also borrowed from French "spectacle"?


    It's possible, but not certain. It's a Latin word initially: "spectaculum", and could come to Russian through various languages including but not limited to French.


    also пьеса is a drama play, when actors mostly talk. спектакль can be anything - opera, ballet, musical performance etc.


    You guys all got hung up on the English and no one pointed out that the word is actually "spectators", so has anyone tried "The spectators/viewers are watching the play?"


    But we don't use the word 'spectators' for those watching a play or a musical performance - not in British English, anyway.

    I think of 'spectators' as those watching a purely visual performance, such as a sporting event.

    Plays and musical performances not just watched, but listened to, and we use the word 'audience' in relation to those watching them. (With television, that becomes 'viewers' for those watching at home, but 'audience' for those who are present at the live studio recording.)


    Почему Пьеса в данном случае доступна для выбора только как play?


    А какую ещё пьесу смотрят? Другие пьесы (не play) слушают.


    However, in this particular case, it doesn't look (to me) that зрители is a collective noun, but the plural of зритель (and therefore literally the spectators, not the audience). So it makes sense that the verb is in the plural.


    Can it be The audience sees the play?


    People watch performances/plays/movies/TV. They may see what they watch as an entertainment. "watch" renders the meaning "следить за развитием событий на сцене или на экране", whereas "see" renders the meaning "воспринимать глазами /умом".


    Very strictly an audience only "hears": it cannot "watch". "audire" = "to hear"


    So a group of people has ears but not eyes? What am I missing?


    I guess his point is that an audience hears and spectators see!


    I love Latin. That does not imply I think that senses of Latin terms have a direct correspondence to the definitions of their descendent forms present in English; last time I checked "mayor" and "greater" are not synonyms ;)


    The audiences are watching a play.


    The primary definition of audience is the set of all spectators, so this winds up being a bit of a weird sentence. I am not confident in my understanding of the nuances of the word "зритель"; it seems like it primary means "a single audience member" as opposed to a whole audience, e.g. here.


    Yeah, that sounds a bit weird. Technically, mulitple audiences - which is what your sentence implies - cannot watch the same play at the same time. They can watch different productions of the same play, but not the same play, since by their very nature of being plural audiences, they cannot be in the same auditorium or hall at the same time. You would have to say, "The audiences are watching plays" for this to truly work.

    On the other hand, you CAN say, "[The] audiences love the play," meaning that multiple audiences have seen a given play at different times, and they all love it. So, that sentence structure actually works grammatically in and of itself; just not with the particular verb "to watch."


    The rules on whether to use singular or plural with collective nouns vary from language to language. In my native portuguese, with a (singular) collective noun the verb should be in the singular. There might be exceptions, and it is a common mistake even in native speakers, but it is usually considered a sign of poor education to use singular collective with plural verb. Of course with plural collectives (e.g. audienceS) the verb should be plural.


    Singular or plural?


    Audience is singular, but the matching Russian word зрители is plural. In other contexts (e.g. if we talk about a circus show or an opera) the word “audience” may translate into публика, which is also singular.

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