The pronouns are dropped but the verbs are conjugated in the third person singular so they're implied. "Let her think what she wants" would also be an acceptable translation. As well as "let it think what it wants" I suppose, though that would be a somewhat strange thing to say.
To summarize. Translating Eng->Rus "Let him think what he wants" would be "Пусть думает что хочет". Plural does NOT mean ambiguity in Russian, it only means plural (NOT used as the gender neutral "they" in English). Translating "he" as "(они) думают" is simply wrong.
Translating Rus->Eng. "Пусть думает что хочет" -> "Let him/her think what he/she wants" or "Let them think what they want". Since in the Russian sentence it's unclear what person we're speaking about, it can be either "he" or "she" or the gender neutral "they".
As sagitta145 said, "them" can be translated as plural in Russian. But it is also accepted to use "them" to denote plural possibilities rather than plural nouns. In other words, since you can use either he or she, you can replace "he or she" by "them". "The person who leaves last, whoever THEY may be, let THEM shut the light off" <-- use of the plural pronoun to denote a single person
The Russian sentence clearly refers to one person. So the English translation should be either "Let him think what he wants" or "Let her think what she wants". In the absence of context, they are both correct. Your version is not an option here as it allows the reference to more than one person.
I know that. But I am trying to warn the learners of Russian against using the plural to refer to a single person, because if you do, you will sound like a servant speaking of their master: "Пусть [их благородие] думают, что хотят". That usage was common in the tsarist Russia.
No. In English when the speaker does not know the sex of the person, it's possible to say "one" or "they". It is an option. "Let one think what one wants" or "Let them think what they want" are both fine.
It's relatively new thing, I guess. You can check some examples here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they
"Somebody left their umbrella in the office."
"The patient should be told at the outset how much they will be required to pay."
In these sentences "they" still refers to one person, using it as a gender neutral pronoun to avoid saying/writing "he or she" all the time.
I know 'they' and 'one' are used to refer to one person when there's a need to avoid saying, 'she or he'. But in "пусть думает, что хочет' there is no such need. For instance, if I am a talking about a girl, why should I say, "Let one think what one wants"? It sounds deliberately vague, and this vagueness is rendered in Russian by "Каждый волен думать, что хочет". Omission of the subject after пусть/пускай only means that the situation leaves no doubt about who the person is (i.e. both the speaker and the listener know it). So it must be either 'she' or 'he' in English.
IF you're talking about a girl, you will say "she". Depending on the context, "Let them think what they want" can be translated as "Пусть думает, что хочет" rather than "Пусть думают, что хотят". And the other way around, "Пусть думает, что хочет" can be translated as "Let him think what he wants", "Let her think what she wants", and "Let them think what they want".
The first two is when the speaker knows the gender of the person, of course you are right here. The last one is for the case when one doesn't know the gender. Or do you mean that it's never possible in Russian that the gender is not known? I think it is possible, given a context. There are gender-neutral nouns, for example, "сирота" (orphan) that can be either "he" or "she" and the speaker would just say "Пусть думает, что хочет" without the need to inquire first whether it's a boy or a girl.
Gender-neutral words like сирота (orphan), забияка (bully), плакса (whimp), пьяница (drunkard), воображала (a smug person) in their singular form are mostly used to refer to someone whose sex is known. Although they can be used generically (e.g. Пьяница всегда найдет где выпить), the use of the verb 'думает' rules out that possibility. So, when you say, "Пусть думает, что хочет", it will be understood that you know the person's sex simply because it was clearly indicated earlier in the conversation.
The thread is too long, can't keep replying :)
The lecturer stared at me in bewilderment and asked me why it mattered. I had to explain that it was not that it mattered, but Russian simply doesn't have a gender-neuter word for a student.
Really?! In Ukrainian "студент" is the gender-neutral word! Doesn't it work so in Russian? Студентка, вчителька and so on are considered to be spoken versions that carry gender for colloquial purposes. If you speaks officially stating somebody's profession, you wouldn't say "вчителька", you would say "Вона вчитель фізики" or "Вона студент на фізичному факультеті"
After giving it a second thought, I must admit that you are right. The Russian names of certain professions (e.g. врач - medical doctor) ARE gender-neutral. So, in this dialog: - Врач думает, что больному пока рано вставать. - Пусть думает, что хочет., the person who says the last sentence may not know the doctor's gender. In that case the translation "Let them think what they want" will be justified.
The Russian language simply doesn't leave you an option to stay gender-neutral when you speak about a particular person. I remember interpreting for one lecturer who said, "I had a student who...". Before translating the sentence I had to ask him whether the student was male or female, because in Russian we say ученик/студент or ученица/студентка, depending on the student's gender. The lecturer stared at me in bewilderment and asked me why it mattered. I had to explain that it was not that it mattered, but Russian simply doesn't have a gender-neuter word for a student.
jscheible, nobody was saying that using "he" is right or wrong, gender-neutral or not. We were discussing and analyzing whether a gender-neutral translation in this particular example is valid. According to me - yes, according to Dmitry - no, because his opinion is that no matter what context one chooses in Russian, the gender is always known.
I'd argue that nowadays people define how grammar is, and not grammar defines how people should talk.
We don't say "you does" because it doesn't sound beautiful to us and sounds confusing. Not because there is some Grammar God who imposes these rules on us. If somehow saying "you does" became popular, everyone would say it. In German saying "wegen dir" is wrong, the correct way is "meinetwegen", but people say it anyway and it becomes the accepted version now.
When people change their habits, aesthetics etc (could be because of lack of education as well, I don't disagree with that!), the rules change. This is why there are many differences between American and British English, between in Mandarin spoken in Taiwan or in China, German spoken in Austria or in Germany etc., not only vocabulary, grammar as well.
The rules in the written language that are accepted officially follow the changes in the spoken language with a time delay, of course, if the change is popular enough to become "the truth".
If you perceive grammatical rules as instructions from above and not as convenient suggestions on how to speak clearly and beautifully, then stick to never-changing rules. I perceive it as evolution of species in biology and don't see anything wrong with changes or simplifications in the rules.
No, the point is, if you care unnecessarily too much about grammar, it makes you sound like you use grammar to distinguish people by class i.e. by how much money and time they have to study unnecessarily complicated grammar. "Necessarily" complicated serves the purpose of conducting your statement clearly, the "unnecessary" part makes you a snob... That is, if you claim a certain type of grammar is incorrect, which is not true in this case, because your opinion is that of the linguists from the 18 and 19th century, as mentioned in my links.
That's what employers do. Go into a job interview and use lower-class grammar, and either you will not get the job, or the offer will be less than if you sounded educated. If getting a job, and getting the best offer you can, are unnecessary to you, then learning proper grammar is unnecessary to you.
You just seriously wrote "lower class"... What... Either 1) I'm scared to think how old you are and where you come from and how you come to think this way in the 21st century etc; or 2) You're a troll and nothing you wrote is your actual opinion. I prefer (2)... But in either case, I'm just going to stop right here. I thought this a discussion and a conversation, but this is not one...
Lower class... Educated... Do you seriously think education, knowledge, intellect and wisdom boil down to correct grammar... How did this deep topic even come up in Duolingo comments... And, like, discussing whether "they" is a gender-neutral pronoun (which it is in reality). I'm deeply shaken by these blunt statements of yours. Lower class... Gosh.
I hope somebody downvotes both your and my posts so that they eventually disappear and never get read, especially this last message of yours...
Using THEY as a singular noun is grammatically incorrect, wikipedia notwithstanding.
Unfortunately you are the only one having this opinion against everyone else :) Oh, I'm sorry, also some linguists from the 18th and 19th century.
If you don't like Wikipedia, you can scroll down the article and go to "References", "Bibliography" and "Sources of original examples". Or google out articles like this one: http://www.americandialect.org/2015-word-of-the-year-is-singular-they. Or just go talk to someone, and you will hear that they use singular they :)
Grammar changes throughout the years. We don't use "thou" anymore.
It is the same in most languages. In English, HE is the correct pronoun to use when one does not know the gender of the person is question.
I don't think so. I would say it could be so before, but now it's sort of outdated. People use "he or she", "he/she", "they" or "one"; I have never seen "he" being used when the gender is unknown, not in English. Recently everyone tries to be more PC :)
Your wrote "Them"... them = to multiple people = they= они.
"думает"= "Думать" conjugated into the He/She/It form. It is hard to explain, so I will write out the simple list of the present tense conjugations.
1st Person Singular Думаю
2nd Person Singular Думаешь
3rd Person Singular Думает
1st Person Plural Думаем
2nd Person Plural Думаете
3rd Person Plural Думают
I hope this helped!
Please follow the discussion below by Dmitry_Arch, me and other people. The English sentence written above ("Let them think what they want") uses "they" as a singular pronoun (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they). The discussion is not whether "he" in Russian can be translated as "they" in general (answer: yes, it can). The problem was, can it be translated this way in this particular context.
The second sentence is just a reshuffling of the previous one... Somehow the word order changes the feeling, putting "хочет" at the beginning instead of the end. It's a common pattern, "что... то и ..."
"Сделал то, что сказал" (did what he said, neutral statement). "Что сказал, то и сделал" (the same meaning, but emphasizing it, said it - did it!).
In the case of the sentence here, "Пусть думает, что хочет" sounds neutral and soft to me; "Пусть что хочет — то и думает" (I put the dash here to show the pause and the intonation) sounds more upset, aggressive or daring, "pffff, who cares, let him think whatever he wants, duh"
Very cool question. Yes, indeed it can mean both in the sentence without "пусть".
I was also thinking whether there is any difference between "Он думает, что он хочет" and "Он думает, что хочет" and whether there is a comma needed there (I thought there should be one) and whether the comma would change the meaning etc etc etc
I think there are no difference at all no matter how you put it. Maybe intonations could clarify them, but otherwise - only context.
With пусть somehow I would say "Пусть думает что хочет" for "Let him think what he wants" and "Пусть думает, что он хочет" for "Let him think that he wants [it]"
"Let him think that he wants [it]" = Пусть думает, что он этого хочет. To avoid ambuguity, a stress mark is often put above O in 'что' when the word means 'what'. Some forty years ago it was a must in all Russian publications. There is a difference in pronunciation, too. When что means 'that', the letter 'о' is pronounced as shwa (so что sounds similar to "-shed a". in "washed a car").
What does Пусть come from?
I found a verb pair пускать / пустить (to let, allow, permit; to let go, release; to let in; to launch, start, set off), but there's no verb form in the conjugation table which matches пусть. The imperatives are:
Informal- ты пуска́й / пусти́
Formal or Plural - вы пуска́йте / пусти́те
The sentence itself is about one and the same person. Whether that person is male or female, the Russian wording is the same: neither «она» or «он» is mentioned in the Russian version. “The other person” mentioned by RikVlasblom is the addressee(s) of the sentence. Whoever that person is or whoever those people are, it is assumed that they know who the speaker is talking about.
"Пусть думает что хочет." Translation: Let [ ? ] think what [ ? ] wants.
Well, in this sentence not much information is given. So there are multiple possibilities for a translation result. Each of them could be right and wrong.
I can imagine a speaker (#1) talking with a person (#2) about another person (#3 he/she/it). Or even an "it", as in a robot or an animal of some kind that can be thought of being able to think.
I can also imagine "the speaker" (#1) talking or thinking to the self (#1) about (#3 he/she/it).
In any case, I don't think it is up to the translater to fill in the blanks. May be this translation just requires us to go one step up the abstraction ladder, by using "person" or even "entity" :-).
Let this person think what this person wants. Or any of the he/she/it variants...
You know, some people (rare) are actually "one entity". Literally being stuck to "eachother".
«Пусть» is not an infinitive, but a special particle derived from the perfective verb «пустить». In fact, historically, пусть is a frozen shortened version of the imperative form «пусти» meaning “let go”. A colloquial alternative to пусть is пускай, which can also be the imperative form of the imperfective verb «пускать» (literally, “to launch””).
"Думает" and "хочет" are conjugated for he/she/it. So: "Let him/her/it think what he/she/it wants" will do, depending what the situation is. Like, the person saying this could be refering to a guy, a girl, or an alien monster for all we know. (Alien monster being the "it")
For DuoLingo's sake though, in this situation, "him" or "her" works. "It" does not. For now at least, as of 11/27/2018.
I think it's only interchangeable in German where "Ich glaube..." basically means "I think..." and not literally "I believe..."
I think in English it's more literal, so "let him believe what he wants" (sounds more like we're talking about faith and religion, or one's beliefs) is different from "let him think what he wants" (simply thinking and having opinions).
I might be wrong though, not a native speaker of English...
That would be "Пусть думают что хотят" (using plural like that in Russian is similar to "one" in English as in "Let one think what he wants") or "Пусть люди думают что хотят". "Let him think..." refers to a specific person, "Let people think..." refers to all the people.
problem with this is that in English(UK, US, etc) 'them' is perfectly acceptable in the singular when the gender(or lack thereof) of the person is not yet defined or is so unimportant it is omitted from context
obviously this is not the same for Russian where 'they/them' has its own conjugation so cannot be used interchangeably like English