The whole perfect/imperfect verb distinction is still very new to me so I am not sure if this is correct but I thought that "what have you said?" might also be a correct translation. If I remember correctly сказать is a perfective verb, so couldn't it in a past tense correspond to a perfect present tense in English?
I translated the same (in present perfect). You wrote correctly, except for a present perfect tense (it is correct not only for this tense) - the Russian sentence - "Что вы сказали?" corresponds with English sentences:
"What did you say?"
"What have you said?"
"What had you said?"
"What had you said" would only be correct grammar if you were asking a group of people (plural "you", as in "what had you guys said?").
EDIT: I'm wrong, it's plural in the present perfect (describing what just happened recently), but can be singular in the past perfect (describing an event that happened before another event in the past.)
I could totally be wrong but I thought вы had to be plural. It's the formal/(always) plural version of "you" (ты being the singular/familiar - or do I have this backwards? Please don't tell me I do. I looked it up to double check, I don't think I do but...)
So Neon_Iceberg (based on your reasoning - since s/he was using вы) is correct and thus the "What had you said" sentence is also correct, yeah?
Apologies if I offended, that wasn't my intent. I'm not allowed to respond to your most recent comment for some reason, so replying here.
Russian is my third language, behind English (native) and Spanish. Ironically relevant, Spanish actually also uses the third person ("usted") and used to use the plural second person ("vosotros", at least in Spain) to indicate politeness. I have no background in French whatsoever.
Yes, «Вы» means second person plural, grammatically and also frequently conceptually. It also frequently means polite singular second person, conceptually. But, although it's grammatically plural in Russian (and could be in Castilian Spanish as well century ago -- you'll find it in a lot of old books to refer to counts and such), that's all unrelated to whether an English sentence is sensible or what makes it so.
I wasn't saying that it was always incorrect, only that it was usually incorrect, and classifying when it would actually be correct ... one doesn't frequently find use of the phrase, "What had you guys said?", because generally multiple people don't say the things in a context that would result in asking what was said by them all (though it certainly happens). There are a lot of non-native English speakers here, who likely wouldn't have realized that the "you" in the last sentence was plural, so I wanted to point it out.
No disrespect intended. Would appreciate if a native Russian speaker could chime in here and elaborate more clearly.
«Вы» is always plural grammatically, but commonly used to refer to a single person, for politeness. Think of it as similar to "your eminence" or "your grace" in English, where we use the third person for politeness' sake, except in Russian they use the plural second person.
However, the English sentence, "What had you said?" doesn't have the same "use second person plural to be polite" semantic, so it doesn't make sense in general, and is simply incorrect unless you actually mean "What had you guys said?"
Yes, you wrote correctly about the word "вы". For greater courtesy in messages it can be written with a capital letter. But it's not a necessity, it is up to you.
I have to eat crow here; I was actually wrong and it doesn't have to be plural to be correct. The past perfect singular is "What had you said?" (which is the same form as the present perfect plural), the present perfect singular is "What have you said", and the simple past is "What did you say?". I'll edit the original with a correction.
I think it might be useful to contrast this phrase with the imperfective: "Что вы говорили?", which might be something like: "What were you saying?" -- Let's hear from a native speaker though.
That's correct, although sometimes imperfective verbs in past tense may correspond with the English past simple tense or perfect tenses. For example "я уже много раз вам говорил" — "I have already told you many times" and "вы говорили с ним?" — "did you speak to him?" or "have you spoken to him?"
Came here just for this comment. The hobbits the hobbits the hobbits the hobbits...
If "what did you say" is ok, then so should "What were you saying?" which is good British English
Yes strictly speaking I see that govorit' is imperfective and skazat' perfective but certainly in the UK we would use the continuous ie imperfective even if someone had said something and then stopped, that is "What were you saying?" would be perfectly OK even though strictly it's inaccurate as they were no longer speaking.....
The English tense is different, though. "What were you saying" would be considered in Russian as an imperfective action, but "what did you say?" requires the perfective verb.
A question because I am still coming to grips with the perfective/imperfective distinction: does this only refer to a reported conversation some time in the past? In English, "What did you say?" is a common response if you think you have misheard (or misunderstood) something someone has just said. Can Чтo вы сказали? be used that way, to refer to the immediate past, also?
Would this still be «Что вы сказали?» if the вы was formal singular you (as opposed to plural you)?
Doesn't accept "What did you all say?". Isn't 'вы' supposed to be the second-person singular pronoun too?
We use "you" as a translation for both "Вы" (second-person formal singular/plural) and "вы" (second person familiar plural) in our course. Outside of Duolingo, you'll have more context to help you figure out which 'you' is being used, but here "you" can be translated as ты or вы, unless context suggests otherwise.
что ты сказал? что вы сказал? что вы сказали? all translate as "what did you say?" correct?
right, so even though I'm using вы to refer to one person it is still сказали? just to be clear.