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  5. "сорок маленьких белых мышей"

"сорок маленьких белых мышей"

Translation:forty little white mice

January 11, 2016



When you concentrate so hard on the Russian and absent-mindedly almost write 'mouses'...


What cases are those adjective in and why? The tips and notes regarding this matter was the most confusing section I have seen so far, didn't help me understand :(


Everything is genitive plural here.

Mosfet has written an excellent detailed explanation of the rules for cases with numbers. The aforementioned rules are liable to fry your brain, so you've been warned. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12185422

Edit: To make a long story short, nouns are genitive singular with numbers ending 2-4 and genitive plural with numbers ending 5-0 and 11-14. Adjectives are genitive plural in all these cases, except with feminine nouns, when for numbers ending 2-4 (except 12-14) if the genitive singular and nominative plural of the noun are the same, use the nominative plural of the adjective.


When you're trying to explain Russian numbers, you can tell if you've done it right by whether or not the patient - sorry, I mean the student - sounds like he's contemplating suicide.



Why do I get the feeling that Russians designed their handling of numbers as some kind of shibboleth?

Though the tips section did say that even Russians screw it up sometimes which would make it a pretty ineffective one.


I've nearly got these number rules set in my brain by now, but there's one thing that no one seems to bring up: what happens if the number is not nominative? E.G. if this full sentence was "I'm going to tell you a story about forty little white mice", 40 would change to сорока, right? Then what would happen to the rest of the sentence? What if it was 2 instead of 40? And so on.


If the numeral is in any case other than the nominative and the nominative-like accusative, the following noun or adjective+noun phrase will always be in the same case as the numeral. У меня нет сорока двух белых мышей (gen pl). Я дал корм сорока двум белым мышам (dative pl). Я не знаю, что делать с сорока двумя белыми мышами (instrumental pl). Я расскажу вам о сорока двух белых мышах (prepositional pl). But: Меня атаковали сорок две белые мыши (nom. pl). Я упаковал сорок две новые книги (acc pl = nom pl). Я увидел двух белых мышей (acc pl = gen pl).


Adjectives preceded by numbers have a special set of rules. And the rule that applies here is, that if the last word of the number is not один, this means that the nominative of adjective will use the plural genitive. The accusative will also use plural genitive for the adjective.


“the nominative of adjective will use the plural genitive” — you must have meant to say, “the nominative/accusative of the numeral will require putting the following adjective in the plural genitive”. Otherwise, your statement doesn’t make sense.


No, I meant what I wrote, and it does make sense. Well, at least to me.

When I say that "nominative of the adjective will use the plural genitive", I mean that the nominative case will take the form normally associated with the plural genitive. I'm talking about the adjective here.


The case in grammar is just a word form. One case cannot possibly “use” another. That’s nonsense. In the given sentence, сорок is a cardinal numeral in the nominative or accusative case whereas each of the words маленьких белых мышей is used in the plural genitive case form. No adjective in the phrase is in the nominative case.


The case in grammar is just a word form. One case cannot possibly “use” another. That’s nonsense.

Well, languages have a lot nonsense. But this is not controversial. Like when we say the accusative takes the form of the genitive for animate male nouns. Is that "nonsense" to you? How do you explain it without "nonsense"?

No adjective in the phrase is in the nominative case.

Yeah, not in this case.

But what about this phrase:

шестьсот семьдесят два бе́лых стола́

This is a case where in the nominative case the adjective takes the form of the genitive plural. How do you explain this "nonsense"?


In Moscow, St Petersburg and the area where I live, the second "o" in сорок is pronounced as "shwa" (think of the "a" in oracle). But the DL's speaker pronounced it as "uh" which tells me that she lives or grew up in Ukraine or the south of Russia. It's not wrong to speak like she does, only substandard.


...all patiently waiting for Deep Thought's answer to The Question...


And will these mice be treating us to "3 Blind Mice" or will it be "The Bells of St. Mary's?"


Oh my god... I just got marked wrong for translating this as "forty small white mice." Is it possible these people don't know that small and little are perfect synonyms in English? Apparently.

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