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"Я знаю два иностранных языка - итальянский и французский."

Translation:I know two foreign languages - Italian and French.

November 24, 2015



Why иностранных instead of иностранныe? I thought we use genitive case after 5. Thanks!


there is nothing related in this link. Can you briefly explain what kind of a rule this is? For example my phone says: '2 новых сообщения'. I couldn't figure it out.


If you scroll down to "Plurals with numbers" there's an explanation of which case to use with which numbers when counting objects: http://www.russianlessons.net/lessons/lesson11_main.php
With 5, the genitive plural case is used and if you look at the declension table at the link mosfet07 provided, you will see that иностранных is in this case.


mightypotatoe, I'm afraid this link will not help.

Russian has an over-complicated declension system for numerals, but we also have an adjective here.

The analysis for this sentence:

"Я знаю" takes the accusative case (I know what?):

  • "Я знаю" (what?) "two foreign languages"

The structure of this sentence is:

  • pronoun + verb + cardinal number + adjective + noun

The noun ("язык") is masculine inanimate

Nouns become the genitive singular after the numbers end with 2,3,4 (see Tips and notes in the Time and Numbers skill: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ru/Time-and-Numbers):

  • nominative: один (nom.sg.) язык (nom.sg.) (1)
  • nominative: два (nom.) языка (gen.sg.) (2,3,4)
  • nominative: пять (nom.) языков (gen.pl.) (5,...)

Masculine nouns use an adjective in the genitive plural with numbers >1:

  • nominative: один (nom.sg.) иностранный (nom.sg.) язык (nom.sg.) (1)
  • nominative: два (nom.) иностранных (gen.pl.) языка (gen.sg) (2,3,4)
  • nominative: пять (nom.) иностранных (gen.pl.) языков (gen.pl) (5,...)

accusative = genitive for masculine animate nouns, numbers and adjectives
accusative = nominative for masculine inanimate nouns, numbers and adjectives:

  • accusative: (Я знаю) два иностранных языка



Almost. There is an exception for feminine nouns: if the last word of the numeral is "два", "три" or "четыре", and the nominative plural form of the noun is identical to the genitive singular form, use the nominative plural form of the adjective in the nominative case:

  • две бе́лые ко́шки (ко́шки = ко́шки)
  • две бе́лых козы́ (ко́зы != козы́).

But this exception can be less strict in some situations.

Check my article for the full explanation: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12185422



According to the author of Русская корпусная грамматика (rusgram.ru), in the 19th century, the nominative plural form of adjectives was commonly used instead of the genitive plural between два, три, четыре and a noun of masculine or neuter gender (e.g. it was OK to say два главные подъезда or три незнакомые лица). However, this usage became rare over time - it was established that in 1850 the structure was 6 times as frequent as in 1920. Nowadays it sounds incorrect to most native speakers. In 1981 I lost a point for writing something like три белых берёзы in my essay (белых was counted as a mistake by a university professor of Russian language and literature). These days it is considered by some linguists as an acceptable variety.



The rule illustrated with кошки and козы is some thing I have never seen before, although I am a native Russian speaker and philologist at that. Some linguists, e.g. D. Sichinava, the author of Корпусная грамматика (rusgram.ru), claim that, in modern Russian, the nom. pl. and gen. pl. forms of adjectives in phrases such as две белые кошки are interchangeable. That doesn't sound right to me; intuitively, I find your rule more plausible. Will you please refer to the source?


Nice analysis, thank you!


This is really interesting. I suppose it's something in natural variation - some use one, some use the other. I would be really curious to see a corpus study on it that assesses the construction over time - ie, are speakers moving from gen pl to nom pl or vice versa? (Any variation theory linguists looking for a paper topic?)


Wow, I think only very few Russians can repeat this.


so this means that regardless of whether the noun is animate or not, as long as it's with a number >1, we just use a genitive pl adj for the acc case


Как в этих комментариях вы ставите ударения над буквами? Как выделяете слова курсивом? Научите, пожалуйста.



The best link on this subject I've seen is this one: http://nekin.info/math/imya_chislitelnoye.htm (in Russian)

His conclusions are confirmed by common sense, that's enough for me :)
See "2. Конструкция «числительное + прилагательное + существительное» в именительном падеже", the last paragraph there.

Another source is Розенталь: http://www.evartist.narod.ru/text1/65.htm See §193.2

Like I said, this is not a strict rule, though.


@ Dmitry_Arch
Посмотрите, например, здесь:
Форматирование сообщений на форуме


@ Dmitry_Arch
А здесь об ударениях:
Как поставить знак ударения


Is "-" in russian the same as ";" in other languages? Do you use it often? Because in french, — is used to put an idea given by the author, making lists and - is used for linking words together (mot-valise, etc.).


The former, which is called "hyphen" in English and дефис or чёрточка in Russian, is not a punctuation mark and is only used in hyphenated words like пол-яблока (half of an apple) or чёрно-белый (black and white). The latter, which is called "dash" in Engish and тире (pronounced тирэ) in Russian, is a punctuation mark that has lots of uses. One use is introducing the authors words after a quote, another one is conneting clauses in a complex sentence where there's no conjuction. A third one is equivalent to the present forms of the verb 'to be': "This is a / These are" = "Это — ". The problem is that the Russian keyboard doesn't have a button for тире, so in typing it is often replaced with a дефис and nobody cares that it is incorrect.


тире? Lol, it sounds exactly like tiret in french and it is the same thing! :D

Yeah I understand. "One use is introducing the authors words after a quote, another one is conneting clauses in a complex sentence where there's no conjuction." I think in french, we use the tiret only when the author wants to give his opinion or point of view on a scene and for lists. To separate two clauses, we use this ";" (a coma with a longer break between the sentences)*. Is it used in russian and english?

*« En province, les femmes dont peut s’éprendre un homme sont rares : une belle jeune fille riche, il ne l’obtiendrait pas dans un pays où tout est calcul ; une belle fille pauvre, il lui est interdit de l’aimer ; ce serait comme disent les provinciaux, marier la faim et la soif ; enfin une solitude monacale est dangereuse au jeune âge. »


Я знаю иностранных языка?


That’s the way Russian works: Я знаю [один] иностранный язык. Я знаю два/три/четыре иностранных языка. Я знаю пять (or any number greater than 4 which does not end in 2, 3 or 4) иностранных языков.


Since итальянский and французский are in nominative case, wouldn't a more literal translation (from a grammatical point of view) seems to me to be: "I know two foreign languages - (the) Italian [language] and French [language]."


Итальянский and французский are both part of the direct object here — along with the numeral два, hence their case is accusative, not nominative. For inanimate objects of the masculine gender, though, the two cases happen to be identical. As for the phrase «иностранных языка», it is a different story. According to some weird and inexplicable Russian tradition which only exists in Eastern Slavic languages, an “adjective + noun” phrase following any of the numerals два/две, три or четыре in either nominative or accusative case must have the adjective in the genitive plural and the noun in the genitive singular. In the case of feminine nouns whose nominative/accusative plural form is identical with their genitive singular form, the adjective may also and is more likely to be put in the accusative plural. Thus, we say три белых кота, три белых козЫ (the nom/acc plural of коза — she-goat — is кОзы), but три белые берёзы (three white birch trees). Три белых берёзы is also acceptable these days, but was considered a mistake as far back as 30 years ago.


Why isn't it иностранного языка? I thought it was genitive singular for 2, 3, or 4.


The 2-3-4 genitive singular rule doesn’t apply to adjective. Even nouns that are formed from adjectives or participles by means of conversion are put in the genitive plural after 2,3 or 4: Я сьел два мороженных. Они обедают в трёх столовых.


Clearly this should be a colon in English, not a hyphen, but does Russian use colons in the same way?


First, it is not a hyphen, but a dash that is used here (hyphens are only used within one word). Second, a colon in a Russian sentence is used differently. It can replace the conjunctions / linking words потому что (“because”), что (“that”), а именно (“namely”) and например (“for example”) in connecting two clauses. It is also used after reporting verbs before a quote. In the latter case English requires a comma. Within a simple sentence, a colon is put after a generic term before the list of examples; however, in that case, a dash is also acceptable. In the given Russian sentence, either is OK.


Thanks for the explanation!

(And for the record, I know it's supposed to be a dash here, but Duolingo is incorrectly using a hyphen. It should be this symbol: —. So your correction should be aimed at Duolingo.)


Something is wrong with the page, not possible to write the answer


As said before there is something wrong with this task and not able to write the translation. And because of that I cannot move ahead with the excercise.

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