"Два голубя летали над домом."

Translation:Two pigeons were flying above the house.

December 3, 2015

This discussion is locked.


Some recordings sound garbled.


Interesting. Here, Russian is like Spanish in that the word for dove is also the word for pigeon. In Spanish, it is paloma.


Just like Swedish (duva)! I wonder, what languages do really have separate words for pigeons and doves? Sure, English has it, but according to Wikipedia, the terms are in facto used interchangeably, although there is a discrete difference.


As far as I know, doves are white and a symbol of purity and hope. Pigeons are brown or grey and often called "flying rats"


In French we have separate with pigeons and colombes (doves). Noah used doves in the French translation of the Universal Flood (a picknik compared to what is coming).


Well doves are essentially just smaller, more delicate pigeons. They seem to technically be a different animal though.

It is interesting that the building where domesticated pigeons are kept is called a dovecote (голубятня)


Good point - most of the world may just see them as variants of the same bird. And not just Indo-European. Hato (ハト, also written as 鳩) means either dove or pigeon in Japanese, for example.


For "dove" (as a symbol of purity - the white bird on weddings) you can use the female form of голубь - голубка. Or го́рлица which translates as "turtle-dove". Works in most Slavic languages.


Почему здесь 'голубя', а не 'голуби'?


My educated guess: Dual , not plural. There are two of them


Ah that's right it's the genitive singular. Thanks.


'Over' the house got rejected. Any specific reason or just unexpected answer?


Does this mean that the pigeons were flying back and forth without any direction and that's why perfective aspect has to be used? I'm somewhat confused about 'were flying' and the fact that the flying action has not been completed. How would 'two pigeons are now flying above the house' be translated?


It's not a perfective verb. The perfective for "летать" is "полетать".

"летать" (without any direction) is an abstract verb. For flying in a certain direction use the concrete verb "лететь" (where from, where to).

There are also pairs

  • ходить (abstract) - идти (concrete)
  • плавать (abstract) - плыть (concrete)
  • ездить (abstract) - ехать (concrete)

Abstract verbs are always imperfective.


Aha, ok. I like the terms 'abstract' vs. 'concrete', that explains it a little better. I'm not even going to try to process the perfective по at this point. (Not to mention all the different prefixes like от-, у-, вы-, при-, до-)


Here are some examples:

  • Птицы лета́ют в небе (лета́ть, abstract) - Birds fly in the sky. No one knows where and why.
  • Этот самолёт лета́ет в Москву (лета́ть, abstract) - This plane flies to Moscow. Regularly.
  • Этот самолёт лети́т в Москву (лете́ть, concrete, imperfective) - This plane is flying to Moscow. At this moment, is in the air now. It's also used if I'm sure that the plane is going to fly right now.
  • Этот самолёт полети́т в Москву (полете́ть, concrete, perfective) - This plane is going to fly to Moscow. For sure, right now or in the future.
  • Этот самолёт прилета́ет в Москву (прилета́ть, concrete, imperfective) - This plane is arriving to Moscow. Right now, still flying.
  • Этот самолёт прилете́л в Москву (прилете́ть, concrete, perfective) - This plane flew to Moscow. Right now, just landed.
  • Этот самолёт прилети́т в Москву (прилете́ть, concrete, perfective) - This plane will arrive to Moscow. In the future.
  • Этот самолёт улета́ет (улета́ть, concrete, imperfective) - This plane is flying away. Right now.
  • Этот самолёт улете́л (улете́ть, concrete, perfective) - This plane flew away.


Спасибо за подробный ответ! I will print it out and study it :)


A well enumerated, daunting list of nuances.


Are all prefixed verbs necessarily concrete? How can we say something like "this flight always arrives to Moscow in the evening"?


Nope. Here are lists of some verbs:

You can find that both бегать (to run) and побегать (to run for a while) are abstract and бежать (to run with some intention) is concrete.

Don't confuse "concrete-ness" and "perfective-ness". All abstract verbs are imperfective but not all concrete verbs are perfective.


Are these the drunk pigeons from the Hebrew course?


Why isn't it пролетели? It's a one -way trip, isn't it?


No, the Russian sentence implies they were flying back and forth or circling above the house. As to "why?" the only answer is "because that's what the author wanted to say". It's a Russian-to-English exercise, so the Russian version is the original.

Also if it was "пролетели" it would be translated as "Two pigeons flew over the house." That's because it's a perfective verb, so it's about a completed action. If we wanted to say "Two pigeons were flying above the house." with a one-way trip in mind, we'd say "Два голубя летели над домом". "Летели" is an imperfective verb, so it describes a process, similar to Past Continuous tense in English.


Could I say "Two pigeons flew above home"?


Why can't numbers be accepted?


This reminded me of a saying we have in Polish: "Lepszy wróbel w garści niż gołąb na dachu" (better sparrow in hand than dove on the roof / лучше воробей в руке, чем голубь на крыше), which people used to jokingly paraphrase as "better ruble in hand than dollar on the roof".

Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.