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  5. "What are the girls eating?"

"What are the girls eating?"

Translation:Что едят девочки?

November 25, 2015



Does word order matter for this sentence-- could you say "что девочки едят"? And if so, is one better than the other?

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They are both possible. It is hard to say which is better because the sentence is so short. With pronouns "Что ты ешь?", "Что они едят?", "Что мы едим?" would definitely be more common if you do not wish to put a special emphasis on the subject. As for "girls", both work. If you were interested what girls (or the girls), of all other people present, are eating, you would use the sentence in the header. If you were just interested in what they are eating (regardless of what other people eat), "Что девочки едят?" would work rather well.


I wrote "девочкичто едят что ?" Why is this wrong? Is it simply unnatural?


Question words (such as "что") typically go at the beginning of a sentence/clause.


When I hear/read Что едят девочки (What are the girls eating), for some reason I think it means "What is eating the girls". Is that a common misconception? Is that an interchangeable meaning of the sentence? It happens often in English, where for example, reed and read are two different things that sound exactly the same in speech. Is this something where you would need more context to understand the difference?


This is where the noun cases are important, since Russian word order is not as important as English word order.

Что едят девочки? What do girls eat?

Что ест девочек? What eats girls?

In the first sentence, the subject is always in the nominative case, so the noun девочки is in the nominative. In the second sentence, the subject is что, and what it eats is in the accusative case, so the noun девочек is in the accusative.

Also "девочки" is plural, so the verb "есть" is conjugated to third-person plural "едят." "Что" is singular, so the verb "есть" is conjugated to the third-person singular "ест." So the construction of the sentence is completely different based on the subject and the direct object.


Спасибо! I was wondering the same thing.


Why not "что эти девочки едят?"


That would be what are "these" girls eating rather than "the" girls.


But then it should be: what are girls eating. In my opinion as soon as there is the, these or this it has to be это, эти ...


Not exactly. Almost all nouns in English require articles, with numerous exceptions. "What are girls eating," sounds incorrect in English. The present continuous tense implies the current moment which implies specific "the girls are eating." The simple present tense works without an article, though. "What do girls eat?" In Russian there are no articles, so you don't need эти unless you're specifying "these/those girls."


Could this also be "What do girls eat"?


Yes it can, depending on context. In Russian there's no difference between "do eat" and "are eating." Context determines the meaning


Why is it wrong: Что девушки кушают?


You can say so also. Кушают sounds like dialectic, perhaps southern/western/jewish russian.


Kiev is definitely western lol, and my father's side of the family is Jewish. Makes sense


Aye! Moreover, Kiev is also southern. Travelling around Russia I noticed that кушают said in that regions very often, a much less in central Russia and very rare on east (where кушают in colloquial talks I heard only from Jewish). But every russian will understood you quite well.


Here in Almaty, Kz, I can't remember hearing anyone say est: I always hear kushaiot. But when I use est, I am understood.

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That is odd. Есть (поесть, съесть) are quite a bit more common than кушать (покушать, скушать) though the latter are by no means rare. At least, they are common when talking about real meals you have or inviting someone you know to have lunch with you. I do find кушать funny in generic or non-human contexts like "I do not eat meat" or "These animals eat insects" (but you can sometimes encounter such use).

Also, linguists are fond of кушать—for obvious reasons.


@Shady_arc, you're from St. Petersburg, right? To us from Kiev, at least to the emigrants from the '70s-'90s, it's much more rare to hear есть than кушать. That must be a feature of our dialect. Есть sounds so formal.


Кушают is what I leaned from my father, who is from Таджикистан (grew up there) and his parents' families came from Украина . I was also a bit confused but learned ест, to be a good Student :-) When I read this, I suddenly understood a lot. Thank you!


why is девочки more correct than девушки?


Age. Девочки are definitely girls, девушки would be more like young women.


Что кушают девушки? Why is it not accepted, I have always heard the кушать to be used instead of есть by Russians that I have had a chat with?


I wonder if CaioFranca2 said what I'm thinking right now


Why 'Что эти девочки едят?" was not accepted?


That would be, "What are these girls eating?" Slightly different.


When do we use и versus ы when talking about plurals?


Usually after hard consonants, the plural uses ы, as in мост/мосты, except certain consonants never take ы, such as к, ч, ш, and щ. If a word ends in ь, then the ь gets dropped before и in plural, as in дождь/дожди


I don't understand, what's the difference between "ем" "ест" аnd "едят"?



Я ем = I eat

Он/она/оно ест = he/she/it eats

Они едят = they eat

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