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"He does not know how to read."

Translation:Он не умеет читать.

November 26, 2015



Is "Он не знает как читать" incorrect? This is what came to my mind and I'm unsure if it can be used. If it's wrong, could someone explain why?


In Russian "знать как ..." only means "to know how to .." in the literal sense: to have knowledge/information about performing some action (OK, there is another use with perfective verbs, which I am not going to cover here). With skills an abilities, the verb «уметь» is used.

With physical possibility to do something in real world (even if not specified when and where exactly), you use мочь (я могу́, ты мо́жешь, он мо́жет and so on). Both with perfectives and imperfectives it is used in the meaning of it being possible for such thing to happen, to be done. For example, Я умею читать и писать, but Я не могу писать и читать одновременно (simultaneously)—at least, without losing some speed and precision. :) The first sentence means that reading and writing are both abilities that I possess. The second sentence means that it is not possible for me to simultaneously do "reading" and "writing" (without any drawbacks).

English happily uses "can" for both meanings.


Thank you, you answered a question I made previously. The confusion stems from the clause "to know how to...", which is ambiguous. Wouldn't it be better to write "He can't read" for clarity?


Too difficult. As a native speaker I think that translation should be "он не знает, как читать". " Он не умеет" in English "he can't"


I legit put the same thing because it makes more sense to me. Maybe this app requires a particular answer for you to get it right.. Who knows.


Yeap, you need to answer the way the app wants. My gf is a native Russian speaker and she said my answer is totally fine, but not fine over here. I already caught myself few times thinking how the app wants me to answer, not what I would naturally say.


Thanks, we added that answer! Just do not use it in real life.


Why not нет!?


Нет isn't used for verbs.

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