"Men eat bread."
Translation:Мужчины едят хлеб.
Forgive my ignorance. I hated Duolingo with a passion when I first used it years ago and haven't touched it since until I recently had to, so I'm not at all familiar with it. My question is does Duolingo actually teach us conjugations somewhere? Just going through the lessons linearly, it appears to me that we are just basically supposed to be inducted into them. What does smallfurrything even mean when he/she says "again?" Just a figure of speech? I didn't miss any actual direct conjugation instruction somewhere in the Duolingo process, did I?
No, this is just a figure of speech when smallfurrything says "again." As in - "Now, who do you work for again?" which is something I might say when I know that I should know but have forgotten where someone works.
Duolingo does not teach the conjugations in any kind of a grid format. It is not an exhaustive program - it gets us started, and there are other resources we may need to use to augment what it teaches us. I have myself gotten a Barron's 501 Russian Verbs book (hardcopy) for conjugations, but I am one of those who just likes real books. However, there are many just-as-suitable websites with conjugation resources, as well as other resources you will need.
Several that I recommend:
- https://en.openrussian.org/ - This site has conjugations, declensions, stress marks, pronunciations on many common words. Other comparable sites are ru.wiktionary.org and Wiktionary.org.
- https://forvo.com/languages/ru/ - This site has more pronunciations by native speakers. I recommend it when you think that Duolingo's Voice Lady's pronunciation is a bit sketchy.
- http://russianlearn.com/grammar/category/table_of_prepositions - This is a great site that has a table of prepositions, for when you are unsure what case возле, около, у, etc., will take.
- http://starling.rinet.ru/cgi-bin/morphque.cgi?flags=endnnnnp - This is a wonderful site that will decline nouns that you input.
- http://www.russianlessons.net/ - Just a great site in general. It has a lot of the lessons that Duolingo has, but without the gameplay interactivity. (Well. I should clarify. That's not true. It has gameplay interactivity, but it is a different sort.)
These may get you started. I hope they are helpful to you.
Duolingo is made to feel more like a fun game. Therefore, conjugation is taught by trial and error. By seeing it repeated enough, conjugation starts to happen naturally.
It's somewhat similar to when we first learned our native languages as young children. We weren't sat down and taught how to conjugate, we just learned by listening to and practicing with our families. Eventually, we learned that "eated" is not a word, but "ate" is.
Personally, I wish the language trees were infinite. I've learned so much more this way than 6 years of language classes had taught me in the past. This is a personal preference however, and since the language trees are not infinite, other resources will be needed to continue on.
Bread is uncountable, so you won't change it to plural хлебы. Also, inanimate masculine / inanimate neuter nouns do not change form in the (singular or plural) accusative, and will instead imitate their (singular or plural) nominative form. High five for recognizing that bread is accusative!
Человек is grammatically masculine but is a generic “person.” Мужчина is a male human. You might be able to make the argument that you can use человек in this sentence, speaking of men as mankind. However, you would need to use the irregular plural of this word: The plural of человек is люди. (The genitive singular of человек is человека.)
Russian verbs have 6 different forms depending on the subject. есть is a particularly regular one, but most verbs are much more regular. The present tense conjugations for есть (to eat) and читать (to read) are:
Any other combination is incorrect: я ест and мужчины ест are never correct. They do not mean anything.
English only has 2 forms (except for to be which has 3) but the idea is the same:
Saying "я ест" is just as wrong as saying "I is" in English: it's doesn't change the meaning, it's just not correct.