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  5. "Меня вчера тут не было."

"Меня вчера тут не было."

Translation:I was not here yesterday.

December 26, 2015



Why is the accusative меня used here instead of я? And why the neuter conjugation of был? There's something vital I'm missing here.


It is Genitive. TheGenitive of negation, to be more exact. Russian has two ways of saying a person is not at a certain place:

  • you can explicitly say the person is "not here": Мама не тут.
  • you can say that no such person is found here: Мамы тут нет / Тут нет мамы.

You can compare it to У меня есть яблоко / У меня нет яблока.

A person may say "Вчера я тут не был" or even "Вчера я был не тут" but these would be slightly different and make the "absence" less emphasised in favour of stating a person's whereabouts.

Now, if you remember У меня есть / У меня нет structure, it has its past and future counterparts:

  • У меня будет яблоко. У меня будут планы.
  • У меня был сок. У меня было яблоко. У меня была проблема. У меня были друзья.

The negation is always не было and не будет regardless of gender and number of the absent object:

  • У меня не будет яблока/планов.
  • У меня не было сока/яблока/проблемы/друзей.

P.S. it is quite amusing that, unlike English. the past form of the Russian "to be" behaves almost like any other damn verb. The only thing different is the stress shifting to не in the negative non-feminine forms (не́ был, не была́, не́ было, не́ были). Otherwise the verb is perfectly regular, featuring the usual zero , а-, о-, и- endings depending on the gender of the subject.


I usually find your explanations so elucidating, Shady_arc. Here I am still confused.

So are you saying "Мама не тут" is "(Your/our/some known) mom is not here?"

Whereas "Мамы тут нет" / "Тут нет мамы" is more like "There is no <<mom>> here." (no "mom-like person").

But then how do I apply this to ""Меня вчера тут не было." That would seem to me to be there was no me-like person here yesterday. Is there a way I could think of this so I could understand it better? Also, could I say "Вчера, Я не тут."

PS I was a bit confused about your PS until I realized that you were talking about all past-tense verbs, not all verbs.


These two structures convey the same meaning, only the shades of meaning are different. The Genitive option treats a person more passively, along the lines of "this person cannot be found here". The Nominative option treats "being" as a more active action of visiting some place or remaining at a certain place, so if you ARE NOT somewhere, it is because you went somewhere else.

IRL «не здесь» would be used if you want to focus on "somewhere else" part. If you just want to say someone is absent, the Genitive option is preferred.


It is becoming clearer. Thank you!


Sorry for being such a low, slow learner shady, but may I ask, since word order is "flexible" (which I love), is it OK to have вчера меня не тут было Would this be commonly spoken or is there a "specific way" that native speakers would form this phrase. (taking into account all of the subtlties that your have mentioned of course like stressing if you are thinking of .....the where ..... or the who ..... or the whatever is important


Не is attached to a phrase it negates and goes right before it.


"меня не тут было" sounds unnatural like a "me not here was"

[deactivated user]

    So far I thought that we can use genitive only after -нет- but not after -не- so is there a such thing as "we could use it after -не- too if it is past or futer tenses"


    For practical purposes, не было and не будет work as the past and future of «нет» when you mean non-existence of something. They both will use the Genitive, just like нет.

    [deactivated user]

      Спасибо большой


      Two things make this harder for me to grasp, although begin to understand:
      1. the word order is not logical to an English speaker. I've learned to deal with у меня есть [thing]. There's no у in this sentence, so the genitive connection is not readily apparent, especially since меня is at the other end of the sentence from не було. 2. The flow in syntactical logic is just not readily apparent to me, again because of the word order. Меня seems isolated, disconnected. It just feels like there should be some sort of preposition in front of меня, even if it's prepositional relationship expressed in English which translates the meaning and intent of using the Genitive here.

      Something like "Of me = my presence yesterday was not here." Getting меня to fit into this seems peculiar.


      This comment, or at least its essense, should be in the notes to this lesson... Thanks for that!


      I tried to keep notes fairly short. Some courses did have three page long "tips" back then; never liked these.

      This particular skill is not my favourite. If we had had more features available I would have definitely split this scary giant into two skills rather than teach a bunch of varied stuff at once.


      When is it не было and when не будет?


      было - past (was) // будет - future (will be)


      Shady, things are not going right this time. You said that the negation is only было, but a few lines above you wrote "Вчера Я тут не был", adding that it has a slight different meaning, not that it is wrong. Moreover, in the clause нет мамы, нет is the subject, and everything goes ; by contrast the original sentence has no subject, so how can it stand ? But, from a practical point of view, when referring to a past state, is it correct to omit the verb "be" like it is in the present ?


      I was talking specifically about the negation of existence, similar to the one you see in the present tense (e.g., Меня тут нет → Меня тут не было, Меня тут не будет).

      Нет is not the subject.

      You cannot omit verbs from Russian sentences in the past tense (for the obvious reason that verbs are the only things that can express the grammatical tense).


      That's not actually true. The presence of a time notation (Вчера )makes in clear that we are dealing whith a past action


      Вчера makes it clear we are dealing with a past action but it does not express the past tense.


      I think it's genitive not accusative. The construction is literally equivalent to something like "There was not of me". It's equivalent to using "нет" + genitive, this is just the past tense version.


      я не был тут вчера .. Is also ok


      i would also like to know why it's neuter. why aren't these taught in the notes?


      Because this sentence doesn't actually have a subject. Neuter is used in cases like this, where supplying a subject in English you would say "there wasn't". In cases where you could supply plural "they" as a subject, then you would use plural.


      I often try to decipher the text before i refer to the word bank, so this was probably the most difficult sentence so far. "My yesterday here was not" is what i got from that at first. Hahaha is there an easier way to say "i wasnt here here yesterday" in russian?


      I do the same, but меня is not "my", it needs the "У" before it to become "my", otherwise it is just another form of "я". I read another comment that translated "У меня есть _" as literally "by me there is _"


      "There was no me here yesterday"??


      That's about the idea of the Russian, but we can't say it that way in English.


      I was just about to ask if that was the phrase transliterated. It makes sense now, with Shady_arc's explanation of the passiveness of "меня".


      I have not been here yesterday - wrong?


      Yeah, "have not been" doesn't work with absolute time, only relative time. "I haven't been here for a year" - OK, "I haven't been here last year" - wrong.


      From reading Shady_arc's post, I've gathered that this is genitive because you are negating yourself from existence, or in this case, "being" in the past.


      The correct Russian is missing from the answer (except here in the forum).

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