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  5. "Ни у девочки, ни у мальчика …

"Ни у девочки, ни у мальчика нет карандаша."

Translation:Neither the girl nor the boy has a pencil.

January 15, 2016



The English verb needs to be 'has' rather than 'have' because of the 'neither... nor' construction.


Yes, but we're trying to learn Russian here.


Unless it's subjunctive


Is there a pencil deficiency in Russia?


Yep, bears have stolen all pencils in Russia.


And a Spanish-speaking ant wrote a book about it.


It's only temporary. In 5 years every man, woman, and child shall have 500 pencils a piece!


Here's the rule which native English speakers learn, taken from a random online source: "Rule 2. Two singular subjects connected by or, either/or, or neither/nor require a singular verb.

Examples: My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today. Neither Juan nor Carmen IS available. Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations."


Unless it's subjunctive, then "have" is correct


for anyone interested why девочка in genitive = девочки and not ы as regular hard stem femine nouns in genitive I found the explanation: That surely isn't true for many feminine nouns. Nouns ending on -ка/-га/-ха give -ки/-ги/-хи in genitive anyway In native words, due to historical reasons, velar consonants /k/, /g/ and /x/ never appear in front of a hard /i/.


Also called the Russian spelling rules:
The following ending changes are made when the ending on the very left of each line below appears after one of the letters to it's right:

ы→и after Г К Ж Ш Щ
о→е after Ж Ч Ш Щ Ц (unstressed o only)
я→а after Г К Ж Ч Ш Щ Ц
ю→у after Г К Х Ж Ч Ш Щ Ц

Thus, for a feminine word ending in -a in the nominative, casting it in genitive case requires that the -a be changed to -ы. However, since that would make the word Девочка become Девочкы (no кы ending under the spelling rules), Девочкы must be changed to Девочки.


Complicated/difficult to remember rule for a beginner, but I thank you very much for explaining it so clearly!


I also extracted a different form of the spelling rules, which I think reduces the number of things you have to remember:

Ш, Ж, Щ, Ч...... ю→у, я→а, о→е, ы→и
Г, К, Х................ ю→у, я→а...............ы→и
Ц......................... ю→у, я→а, о


It would really be helpful if the hovering tooltips would remind us the gender of nouns.


When I'm not sure, I copy the English word into an online translator and add "this" in front of it, so that it's (example) "this table". The translator will give me the Russian, which will be either этот (masc.), эта (fem.) or это (neut.) for "this". It's easier than trying to look it up.


It would, but that's something you have to learn to recognise.


Yes, English verb should be in the singular: "have" -> "has".


Wow. That's so new.


I never know when something is going to be marked totally wrong or just a typo. I wrote "Ни у девочки не у малчьика нет карандаша" and got it marked wrong.


neither... nor = ни...,ни... ; either...or = или...,или...; both...and = и...,и...; both...and = как...,так и...




It's a big problem even for russian native speakers, when we must use "не", when "ни". In this case "ни" increases word "нет" ("нет карандаша" / "net karandasha"). You can say: "У девочки и мальчика нет карандаша" ("U devochki i mal’chika net karandasha").


Out of curiosity, is there something keeping this from being "Ни у девочки, ни у мальчика есть карандаша" ?

The way I translate it with the нет in there is "neither the girl nor the boy have no pencil" meaning that they do... I would think that the нет would be implied by the instance of ни.

Probably just me thinking about it too much.


No, here НИ increases the negation made by НЕТ and is considered to make double negation which is impossible in English. If you want to negate the fact that they have a pencil, you should use НЕ/НЕТ anyway, but НИ -НИ can be omitted - " У девочки и у мальчика нет карандаша"

If you want to say, that they do have pencil, you should use ЕСТЬ, and add И-И if you want. "У мальчика и у девочки ЕСТЬ карандаш" = "И у мальчика, и у девочки есть карандаш"


Okay. That system is strangely elegant, but it will take a long time to get used to it. I suppose it's only fair given that the problem is exactly the opposite if you're coming to English. Thanks! :)


It is similar to saying, "I ain't got no pencil." Used by black people in America. I mean they are literally saying, "I don't have no pencil." It means you have a pencil. Pretty confusing, though.


'has' not 'have' is correct English and should count as correct here.


Could the нет at the end there be omitted? I dont know why it feels like it shouldnt be there to me.


I would definitely say 'have' as a native English speak of 35 years


My take on this...

Sometimes it is useful to simplify compound subjects. If we were to refer only to the boy and remove the negation, instead of saying," Neither the girl nor the boy has a pencil" we would simply say, "The boy has a pencil."

Then add back the negation of the pencil (not the boy), and we get, "The boy has no pencil."

Then adding back the girl, and avoiding double negation in English, we are left with, "Neither the girl nor the boy has a pencil."

That's my method, but perhaps it is easier to look at the "rule". Have is used with the pronouns I, you, we, and they (first and second person), while has is used with he, she, and it (third person). (from Dictionary.com)

In this case, he and she would be the pronouns we would use. "Neither she nor he has a pencil." Using proper nouns, "Neither Anna nor Tom has a pencil." Using the common nouns, "Neither the girl nor the boy has a pencil."

I hope you find this explanation useful.


This is another case of "codified grammar vs. used language." This is probably an even more marginal case because I believe the average student isn't taught the "correct" agreement with the various types of "neither...nor" constructions, whereas most are at least taught to say "My sister and I are..." (even if they never use that outside of an academic paper). Here, both "have" and "has" should be accepted.


I wonder why there is no "есть" in the sentence?


Because the sentence means the subject doesn't have a pencil. You can think of "нет" in this case as "не + есть".


Wait! I thought according to the 7 letter rule, мальчик would become мальчики? What is this "мальчика" business? Why is this word exempt?


Because it is a zero ending masculine noun, like сок the genitive ending is +a.


I believe in English negations, nor is required. I've never heard someone say or in a negation.


In the pronunciation ни у is pronounced as ну. This seems correct as I found the same on some Forvo sentences. Is there a general rule for this form of combination?


Learning language is better than do not learn!


Why девочки's and мальчика's ends are different?


Possession, expressed by 'у,' requires the Genitive Case.


I put neither the girl or the boy have a pencil and I am wrong? Or and nor are basically interchangeable

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