Where is the personal pronoun in the sentence? Is 'him' actually gender neutral?
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.
Let it think what it wants was considered incorrect for me [25-08-17]. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be correct, though. And yes, it does sound strange.
Firstly, not only humans can think. Secondly, a human baby can be an "it".
"It" should be accepted.
Babies are too young to think, and when we talk about an animal’s “thinking”, we personalize the animal and tend to refer to it as “he” or “she”. So the “it” scenario is very unlikely with the given sentence.
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
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".
The Russian sentence doesn't specify the gender since the pronouns are omitted there (which is typical enough), but the English translation does require a pronoun.
Thank you! Is the the pronoun commonly dropped in Russian, like Spanish & Italian? I've received conflicting answers regarding this...
No, Italian drops personal pronouns more than Russian. It is more common to include a personal pronoun in Russian. However, there are cases when it's normal to omit it, "пусть" is one of them (kind of 3d person imperative).
I wrote "let them think what they want" (them referring to one person of course) because i didn't know the gender. this should be accepted. Either that or context should be given
You can report the sentence and in the free write section include that they/them is often used as a singular gender neutral subject in English.
It's possible to find a context for "them": There's someone on the phone. - Tell them I'm in a meeting. - They don't believe you! - Let them think what they want! (Or rather "They can think what they like"). However, I don't think "them" should be accepted as people are unlikely to think such a situation.
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.
Yes the Russian sentence clearly refers to one person. There is no contesting this. In English though, it is perfectly acceptable to use "them" or "they" in certain situations to refer to a single 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.
"[It] is perfectly acceptable to use "them" or "they" in certain situations to refer to a single person."
No, it's really not.
Yes, really, it is in English. Ask Shakespeare and the OED, in case you need confirmation.
It's something that's become much more accepted over time. It's more accepted in speech than in writing still, but in regular use:
On the contrary, using 'them' is perfectly normal and not bad practice if used in the right context.
It's still bad practice. Especially in this case. Because the verbs are singular, not plural, the person is known, so his sex is known. The whole problem stems from people's confusing grammatical gender with anatomical sex. Take up Georgian -- it has no gender.
What are you talking about? Please rephrase what you wrote, because I don't understand what your statement is.
Because the verbs are singular, not plural, the person is known, so his sex is known.
The verb does not show you the gender, the pronouns do. The person is known here (3rd person singular), the sex is not known. What did you mean in this sentence?....... Therefore, several translations are possible in this case ("he" and "she"), because in Russian one can omit the pronoun while in English it's not the case.
The whole problem stems from people's confusing grammatical gender with anatomical sex.
Grammatical gender of a noun coincides with anatomical sex, if that noun represents something that has anatomical sex. Otherwise it doesn't. How is it possible to confuse? Also, what does it have to do with the sentence in this exercise?
Take up Georgian -- it has no gender.
Many languages have no grammatical gender (Georgian, English, Chinese, ...), and many do (Romance languages, German, Slavic languages, ...). Georgian is a fascinating language, I have several coworkers from Georgia. Why did you mention it here? Just as a random example of a language without gender?....
What I mean is, anyone saying this sentence would know the person to whom he was referring, thus he would know the sex of the person to whom he was referring.
English has grammatical gender -- HE and SHE. (And ships are female.) Georgian does not. HE is ის and SHE is ის. (Pronounced EES.) Yes, just gave Georgian as a random example. I understand that some African languages have several genders.
Given that the speaker knows who the thinker is, the thinker's sex is known to the speaker. Therefore, in this particular situation, "Let them think what they want" is not an option. It should be either 'he' or 'she'.
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.
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"
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.
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.
I agree that in most of the cases the speaker does now the gender of the person they are talking about. However, I don't see how it excludes the possibility of a gender-neutral translation completely.
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.
Actually, "Let him think what he wants" IS the gender-neutral translation. By the rules of English (and some other languages), one uses the masculine gender is used when he does not know the sex of the person about whom he is speaking.
My last sentence is an example. Using ONE, HIM, and HE, the sentence actually covers the possibility that the ONE of whom he speaks is female.
The point is that anyone saying this sentence WOULD know the person he was talking about, and so would know that person's sex.
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.
We simply dropped the familiar "thou." That did not change the grammar. If you say, "you hast" or "thou has," you are still wrong.
Yes, grammar does not change; grammar is changed. It is predominately by the ignorant, then their ignorance becomes standard.
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 :)
Using THEY as a singular noun is grammatically incorrect, wikipedia notwithstanding.
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.
Aha! I was confused about why this was being argued when it seemed to be a simple topic to me. Thanks ))
I thought "что" can also be translated as "that". How would one translate "Let him think that he wants"?
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").
Why is "Let him think whatever he wants." not accepted, doesn't it mean the same?
OK, I'd say it can be accepted.
To emphasize the feeling "whatever" I would also phrase it as "Пусть что хочет, то и думает". Just shuffling words around, but creates a "whatever" flavour :)
Thanks for your reply. Can you please help me understand the structure of that sentence, it sounds unnatural to me (my native language is Serbian, and I can't make it sound good there either with this word order). Or do I have to just memorize it like that?
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"
Could infinitive "думать" be used or would that construction be incorrect in Russian?
Still awful. пусть isn't even "legible" (or whatever the aural equivalent of that word is, since it pertains to writing). After playing the thing like 10 times, I got everything except the first word. And now, after coming back for a 2nd look-see, it is still not "legible" - the т isn't being pronounced, for one.
I can understand if this were a more advanced course, where we'd maybe be able to fill in the aural blanks, but it's important now for things to be pronounced fully and correctly. This isn't one of the those times.
So, I'm reporting it.
When it is followed by another word starting with a consonant, пусть is pronounced as пусь or пузь depending on whether the first consonant of the following word is voiceless or voiced. In other words, the phrase "пусть думают" is supposed to sound like "пузь думают" where пузь sounds somewhat similar to "poois". Think of missing out "t" in "don't know" in speech. That's the same phenomenon.
Пусть is not a verb, it's a special particle.
(I think to type this takes the same time as "See the explanation..." :D )
In English "let" is always used with a verb in a bare infinitive form. In this Russian sentence I can see the adjunct verb is conjugated in a 3rd person singular present form. Is this always the case? What if we let "them" (explicitly, e.g. "пусть им") instead of the implied "him/her"? How would the verb be conjugated then?
I think that we would be saying пусть они думают что хотят based on the model that wiktionary provides, пусть being a "participle" rather than a sort of weak undirected command like English formulates it.
"let/allowed that he thinks what he wants"
"let (command directed at listener, or at 'fate') him (object) think (infinitive) what he wants.
I too was wondering if something like this ever exists:
пускай его думать что хочет
Because actually the current wiktionary article says "let + direct object + infinitive" but then gives the example "пусть он пи́шет"
edited: Thanks for the correction Dmitry
Пусть думают, что хотят. (Хотеть is irregular: хочу, хочешь, хочет, but хотим, хотите, хотят)
Пусть [она] думает что хочет. "Думает" is not gender sensitive, so "Пусть думает, что хочет" can be interpreted either as "Let him think what he wants" or as "Let her think what she wants", depending on the context.
It really should depend on context. Since there's no context, either gender should be acceptable in the English translation.
Because it has a slightly different meaning, in English as well.
Your sentence would translate to "Пусть думает про то, что (он) хочет".
Furthermore, I'd say without "он" it means he knows what he wants to think about; with "он" it means he doesn't and needs to think "What do i want?"
This is so confusing.
I think it has already been discussed that the meaning is slightly different.
Пусть думает, что хочет - Let him think whatever he wants
Пусть думает, о чём хочет - Let him think about whatever he wants
Slight difference of feeling. Thinking about something is a kind of "activity", thinking something is a more about an opinion.
My native language is not English but Slovak so I do not find Russian hard, however:
Said sentence in Slovak would be:
Nech si myslí, čo chce.
Nechajte ho, nech si myslí čo chce.
The Russian sentence seems closer to the first variant.
You are right, it has a different meaning.
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
Historically, пусть used to be a short form пусти. These days it is perceived as some kind of interjection or special particle. In modern Russian, пусть is interchangeable with пускай except the latter may also be used as the imperative of пускать in various meanings.
Would this sentence only be used when the other person (or reflective to oneself; thought) knows whom is being talked about? Otherwise, I can't see how to translate something that is unknown hehe.
I couldn't really understand what you meant, sorry :')
Who is the "other person" in this sentence? The speaker? In the Duolingo sentence there are two people: the speaker, and the "he". That's about as much as I can comment since I didn't get the rest :)
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.
So, you think this is what Rik was asking about? If it is, then your comment answers it. My comment was that I'm not sure if he's asking about this, or what he's asking about at all :)
"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””).
No. We do not omit the pronoun unless the person in question has been mentioned earlier in the conversation. Thus omission of the subject implies that the person’s sex is known to us. “One” is therefore ruled out.
"Let one think what one wants" is a general statement, and not a statement about a particular person. For these cases "they" is used in Russian: Пусть думают что хотят. Or e.g. "What does one do when there is no water?" can be phrased as "Что делают когда нет воды?"
"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.
Why is "let him believe what he wants" not accepted? The meaning of the sentence is clear, of course (in German you would say "Lass ihn glauben/denken, was er will").
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...
What is wrong with "Let people think what they want? In English this could be either a single person or plural since it is an abstract statement in the first place.
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