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Помогите! Bookish Russian Particles

I have been studying Russian for quite a while now, and I am fairly comfortable with it to this point. But there is still one concept I haven't fully understood yet, and that is the usage of bookish particles, for example, же/ж, да, и, уж, ни, ли, либо, etc.

From what I have learned, да is another way of saying "and" when not being used as a phrase, и adds more emphasis to the word after it, ли acts like a question mark (kind of I guess...), and же marks things that are similar.

But I still don't understand why these particles are used, and more importantly, I have no idea HOW to use these particles. There are some phrases like тот же, да здравствует, хотя и, etc. that I am familiar with, but ask me how to use these individual words in a sentence, and I am lost.

Don't be afraid to use advanced concepts or complicated explanations, I feel like this could take my Russian to a new level! If you have anything that might help, please do!

June 18, 2018



Well, I'm not a master in Russian language (although I'm living here for all my life...), but still I'll try to shed some light on these particles (with examples, of course).

And before I start: if you know Russian language at a pretty high level (meaning you're able to read without problems), I'd like to recommend you the Wikipedia dictionary of Russian language: https://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/

I hope it opens for you because it has almost all the needed information on all the words you encounter (including these too).

1) же ("ж" is a short form of "же"): used to put an emphasis on what is said next to it

Что происходит? VS Что же происходит? (the second is more expressive)
Что ты делаешь? VS Что ж ты делаешь? (same situation; in my opinion, "ж" sometimes sounds more expressive than "же")

UPD: I've forgotten about another meaning: it shows the equality of some things too

Сегодня мы использовали тот же прибор, что и вчера. (here "тот же ... , что и ... " means "the same ... , as ... ")
Это то же самое. (= It is the same)

2) да: either puts an emphasis (as an interjection) or is used with a verb in the imperative mood (as a particle)

Как это возможно? VS Да как это возможно? (the second is more expressive; "да" is an interjection)
Да здравствует новый король! (here, "да" is a particle and has a synonym word "пусть")

3) и: as a particle, puts an emphasis on the remaining part of phrase

Это правильный ответ! VS И это правильный ответ! (the last can be heard in many quiz shows)
И там я был, и мёд я пил (this sentence is taken from the poem of A. Pushkin "Ruslan and Ludmila")

4) уж: puts an emphasis (as a particle)

Что поделаешь. VS Что уж поделаешь.
Как-нибудь справимся! VS Уж как-нибудь справимся!

5) ни: shows that there's nothing of what is being told about, and is also used in some some fixed expressions

Здесь нет ни одного человека. (= Here's no one)
Он здесь ни при чём! (an example with a fixed expression "ни при чём")

6) ли: used (mostly in questions), sometimes to express uncertainty about something, and also in many fixed expressions; it is very close to the union "или"

Давно ли ушел поезд? (= Поезд ушел давно?)
Надо узнать, скрывает ли он что-то. (= Надо узнать, скрывает он что-то или нет)
Едва ли он сможет сделать это. (fixed expression "едва ли", which expresses an uncertainty)

7) либо: used either to connect homogeneous parts of a sentence (as a union) or as a component of some expressions like когда-либо, кто-либо, зачем-либо, etc.

Завтра будет либо солнечно, либо нет. (here it can be replaced by the union "или")
Кто-либо сделает это, в конце концов?

Of course, all of the meanings I've written here are only general, and there are still many others which I just cannot describe in this post (because it would take too much time and efforts). That's why I advise you to go to that site I mentioned above and find out other interesting aspects (again, if you're good in reading Russian texts, because there's everything in Russian).

Good luck! :)


Спасибо очень большое! This will help a lot, especially the Викисловарь.

I guess my main fear is using a particle INCORRECTLY. Like, for example, would these be correct?

Почему же сделаешь это?

Я не знаю ни одну вещь.

Я видел и медведь!


1) First of all, this sentence does not have a subject. It should be either "ты" or anything else. Let's suppose that it looks as follow:

Почему же ты сделаешь это?

Actually, it sounds well (for example, it can be a question to the statement "Я сделаю это!") but you must know that such a construction can have a little connotation of disagreement. Thus, asking the question in the dialogue

  • Я сделаю это!
  • Почему же ты сделаешь это? <-- your question for him

you may mean that it would be wrong if he had done what he wanted to. But more often "же" just adds an expression to the phrase. The meaning of the phrase can be identified by the word on which you put an emphasis. Here is an example (the emphasized word is in bold):

  • Мне плохо.
  • Почему же тебе плохо? (you do not understand why he is sick)
  • Почему же тебе плохо? Как по мне, ты в полном порядке. (you do not agree with that he is sick; I've added the second sentence to show what you would mean in this question)

2) This is right, although the expression "знать вещь" sounds a bit unnatural. You can say "Я знаю этого человека", "Я знаю это место", even "Я знаю много вещей", but this one is unusual, in my opinion.

But it can definitely be used in a phrase "Я не знаю ни одну вещь (= книгу) этого автора" and probably in some others.

3) This is right as well, but here we have the Accusative case, and so "медведь" has to get the right ending:

Я видел и медведя!

Also, the word "видал" instead of "видел" would sound more literary :)


Спасибо Большое!

1) You said же adds emphasis to something next to it. Почему же ты сделаешь это? works, but what if I want to put the emphasis on сделаешь? Should I say Почему ты же сделаешь это?

Perhaps the order is the most confusing thing for me.

2) So does ни emphasize negation?

Like if someone insisted you were familiar with a certain author, you could say Я не знаю ни одну вещь этого автора to add emphasis?

3) I can't believe I forgot the Accusative case! Я такой идиот!))

In this sentence, I put the emphasis on медведя, correct? If I wanted to put the emphasis on my seeing, I would say Я и видал медведя, correct?

Is this видел/видал thing an irregularity or is it a demonstration of a common rule?

Also, is и placed before the emphasized word or an emphasized idea or phrase? I just read a line from Sologub's В Плену, "Видно, и в сказах не всё сказка, а есть и правда, если и взрослые любят читать сказки." A powerful phrase that seems to use и well.

But I see the и в сказах and wonder, is и adding emphasis to сказах? Is it incorrect to say "Видно, в и сказах?"

And it seems like a lot of these particles add emphasis to the word next to it, же, и, уж, etc. Is there a difference between them? Are they synonymous, or are there times I should use one and not the other?


1) Unfortunately, no. There's no such rule which says that "же" puts an emphasis on something next to it. The only exception is when demonstrative pronouns stay before it, and in that case "же" shows the equality of the thing before it to other things, mentioned previously (or later).

Therefore, if you want to put an emphasis on "сделаешь" in the sentence Почему же ты сделаешь это?, then you'll have to emphasize it orally:

Почему же ты сделаешь это?

2) Yes, it does, and yes, you can say so in such situation. Also, to put even more emphasis, you may add a word "вообще" before "ни":

Я не знаю вообще ни одной вещи этого автора.

3) I doubt if there's any rule of using "и" as an intensifying particle, because there are some cases when it can be used only before nouns, and some cases, when it can be used before verbs too, but specifically in this sentence, "и" cannot be put before "видел".

Typical example with "и" before a verb:

Здесь и делать нечего. (= "It is very simple").

I'm not sure if I understand you right about "видел/видал", but if you mean that there are verbs which can be transformed in the same way, then yes, there are some, but they work differently. For example, "сгорел/сгорал": here "сгорел" describes a finished action, while "сгорал" describes a process in the past. But "Видел" и "видал" are formed from the verbs "видеть" and "видать", and actually mean the same, except that "видал" is more like "saw several times".

About "Видно, в и сказах": it is wrong, because "и" is put before prepositions. It adds an emphasis to the whole construction, including prepositions, adjectives, etc. The word you want to emphasize more than all of the other, again, is stressed orally. Examples:

И на этом дело не заканчивается. (wrong: На и этом дело не заканчивается)
И у метких стрелков порой бывают промахи. (wrong: У и метких стрелков порой бывают промахи)

About "же", "и", "уж":

  • "же" is usually used when you talk about something similar to something else, when you disagree with someone (see my 2nd post above) or when you are confused

Как же так? (confusion or dismay)

  • "и" is used either to point out that the thing which is being told about is not the only one (for example, "Я видел и медведя" means you've seen a bear, but not only him) or just to add an expression to the phrase (like in "И это правильный ответ!")

  • "уж" accentuates the current time (thus, it can be sometimes replaced by the words "теперь", "уже") or makes the phrase more insisting

Ничего уж не изменишь. (= Ничего теперь не изменишь.)
Давно уж это было, мало чего помню. (= Давно уже это было, ... )
Уж постарайся выполнить это вовремя. (the phrase sounds more insisting)


Спаисибо Больше!

Someone earlier said Уж was related to the word уже. If that is so, does that mean уж could be considered slang, or is it "bookish" like the rest of the aforementioned particles?


There's no actual difference between "уж" and "уже" (considering they are both adverbs), because they mean the same thing: "now", "at the current time". But if we consider them as particles, then yes, "уж" is more colloquial rather then "уже".

Also, here is one nice website about particles: http://tutrus.com/morpholog/chasticy


That site should be helpful. Спасибо!

This isn't the first time I've seen colloquialisms come from full words. I once heard someone say Говрю in an interview. I thought to myself, "Говрю? What's that?" I turned on subtitles and the captions said "I say."

Considering it was a teenager speaking in the interview, and considering how important colloquial speech can be, I assume shortenings like this can be common.

Is the same true for же (уже), ни (ничего), ли (если, или), and so on and so forth?


As far as I know, "ли" was formed from "или", and so it has some resembling meanings. About the origin of other particles I can say nothing due to not being a philologist :)

And also, I think "говрю" was just a typo in the subtitles, because you can say so in a verbal conversation, but not in written form - it is gramatically incorrect.


Actually, it was a Russian interview with English subtitles. The subtitles had no mistake, but the person they interviewed said говрю. We have these in English too, "gonna" is popular (going to).

Спасибо Большое за помощь!


All these phrases are incorrect.

Почему же ты сделаешь (maybe 'делаешь') это?

Я не знаю ничего.

Я видел даже медведя!


"же" it is a really old particle , from ancient Slav meaning as I understand "what/which" but afaik presently the rules which governed usage of this particle no longer exist so you either have to learn a list of exceptions or use more modern variants. As to "why" these particles are still used - answer (as with many other things in russian language) is "why not".

P.S. "и"- bookish particle? eh?


Thanks. I'm more concerned with HOW to use the particles than WHY.

And as far as и goes, I was thinking more of usage like in "Любовь зла, полюбишь И козла."


'Любовь зла, полюбишь и козла' is a stable phrase. In this phrase 'и' means 'даже' ('even' in English). In everyday language Russians will use 'даже' almost always.

[deactivated user]

    In everyday language Russians will use 'даже' almost always.

    I personally use «и» this way quite a lot. Below are some examples from the logs of a chat I frequent (all those are from real conversations, I’ve only added some punctuation):

    • На PHP. Ну, то́ есть мо́жно и не на нём, но на нём тяп-ля́п и гото́во. ‘In PHP. Well, I want to say, it can be in something else, too, but it can be done quick-and-dirty in PHP.’
    • В конце́ концо́в, мо́жет, у меня́ и нет ключа́. ‘In the end, I might not even have a key.’
    • А ме́неджер позволя́ет храни́ть паро́ли и без паро́ля иногда́! ‘And a manager sometimes even allows storing passwords without a [master] password!’
    • Да в dwm’е то осо́бо и фи́шек нет ‘Well, dwm doesn’t really have any special features’

    That being said, I don’t know how to describe its function here, I use it intuitively :D


    Well, I guess if Russians have endless tribulation with articles, I guess it comes back to bite me here.

    If you can't think of how to use it, can you think of some times when I shouldn't use it? Where should I put it in the sentence? You said, А менеджер позволяет хранить пароли и без пароля иногда, is А менеджер позволяет И хранить пароли и без пароля иногда not correct?

    [deactivated user]

      No, using two «и» this way doesn’t sound right. I think the word after И gets emphasis, and you can’t emphasise two words this way, it would be strange.

      But you can move «и» around:

      • И ме́неджер позволя́ет храни́ть паро́ли без гла́вного паро́ля! ‘And a manager sometimes allows storing passwords without a [master] password, too!’ (There are other programs that do this, but even a password manager is among that! You’d expect those things to be secure, right?)
      • А ме́неджер позволя́ет и храни́ть паро́ли без гла́вного паро́ля! ‘And a/the manager allows, among other things, storing passwords without a password sometimes.’ (It allows other ways of doing things, but even this is an option.)
      • А ме́неджер позволя́ет храни́ть и паро́ли без гла́вного паро́ля! ‘And the manager allows storing, among other things, passwords without a main password!’ (It allows storing many things, there are even passwords among them!)
      • А ме́неджер позволя́ет храни́ть паро́ли и без гла́вного паро́ля! ‘And manager allows storing passwords, among other things, even without a master password!’ (Manager allows many ways of storing passwords, and among them is an option to store passwords without a master password)
      • UNNATURAL: А ме́неджер позволя́ет храни́ть паро́ли без и гла́вного паро́ля! ‘And manager allows storing passwords without even the master password!‘ (Manager allows storing passwords without many kinds of passwords. Among these kinds, there’s even a master password!)
      • UNNATURAL: А ме́неджер позволя́ет храни́ть паро́ли без гла́вного и паро́ля! ‘And manager allows storing passwords without, among other main/master things, a master password!’ (The manager allows storing passwords without many main things. Among them, there’s even a master password)

      So, basically, putting «и» before the word adds a shade of meaning ‘there are other possibilities, among them, even this’. If you know Latin, I think it used ‘et’ similarly:

      Timeō Danaōs et dōna ferentēs = Я бою́сь дана́йцев и дары́ принося́щих = ‘I’m afraid of Greeks even when they are bearing gifts’ (I’m afraid of Greeks when they do many things. Among the actions I’m afraid of, there’s even bringing [huge Trojan horses as] gifts)

      I think «и» works differently when put before the main verb. «Это он и сде́лал» means ‘That’s exactly he who did it’:

      • А ме́неджер и позволя́ет храни́ть паро́ли без гла́вного паро́ля! ‘And that’s the manager that allows storing password without a [master] password.’ (That’s exactly the manager that allows that!)


      Спасибо! (I can't reply to your last post, so I put it here so you would see).

      I think I'm starting to understand it a little bit more. So, и singles something out of a larger group? Like, let's say you were walking through a city and saw a famous actor: "Когда я шел по городу, я видел и знаменитого актера!"

      Does that work?

      [deactivated user]

        «Когда я шел по городу, я видел и знаменитого актера» kinda works, but it actually softens the message: ‘When I was walking in the city, I saw several things, including a famous actor’. This means the actor isn’t the only interesting thing you saw.


        So и puts emphasis on the following phrase. But does that mean it singles something out, or does it mean there are other things pertaining to the verb?

        Take another one of your phrases: "В конце концов, может, у меня и нет ключа." The и doesn't draw specific attention to the keys, but rather, it means that you don't have a lot of things, and you are using the keys as an example?

        Could one say that и and например are synonymous? Or at least closely related?

        Я видал и медведя!=I saw a bear (of all things)!

        В конце концов, может, у меня и нет ключа.=In the end, I may not have (anything, even) a key.

        Когда я шел по городу, я видел и знаменитого актера.=When I walked through the city, I saw (many things, like, for example,) a famous actor.

        А менеджер позволяет хранить пароли и без пароля иногда.=And the manager sometimes allows storing passwords without (anything, even) a master password!



        I think these uses are quite distinct. И has a usage as a particle connecting something to a set of things mentioned previously. Your example with "Я видел и знаменитого актера" makes и quite similar to using "too" in English.

        In может + и the "и" part is more like "indeed, really". A curious fact: you cannot replace может with something else without losing some of the flow (e.g., with наверное, вероятно, похоже, кажется). The sentence will remain grammatical but "наверное" and "и" do not belong together in the same sense "может" and "и" belong together.

        You may also remember и being used with хотя, тоже, пусть. These are clearly idiomatic. They do not work with и the same way they would with any random word.



        So you are saying that the meaning of и depends on the context? Is it more pragmatic than semantic?

        I quoted Sologub's В Плену above: "А сама зачем постоянно читает такие длинныу сказки на французком языке в этих жёлтых книжках! Видно, и в сказах не всё сказка, а есть и правда, если и взрослые любят читать сказки."

        The story В Плену is a sort of сказка. By using и before в сказах, правда, and взрослые, is the writer bringing attention to principle, not necessarily a specific part of the story?

        In the story, Paka's (the main character) keeper accuses him of reading too many fairy tales, and then Paka asks himself why his keeper reads a lot fairy tales herself. Is the usage of и noting a shift from talking about the fairy tales she reads to the fairy tales adults read (for example, the fairy tale being В Плену, and the adults being the readers)?

        A deep question, but I think it might help.

        And with хотя и, тоже и, пусть и, etc., does using и just make it sound better and more complete?



        If that is so, does that mean уж could be considered slang, or is it "bookish" like the rest of the aforementioned particles?

        None of the particles you mentioned are bookish, save for либо. They are all used in spoken speech. I even think that in writing they are slightly less common.


        Good to know. Спасибо Большое за помощь!


        In Czech i has exactly this meaning even today.


        As I mentioned in a previous comment in this discussion, I have considered learning another slavic language that uses these particles more frequently. That's a big decision, and not one to be taken lightly, but I have considered Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian for this purpose (don't mind the Czech flag on my profile).

        I actually was recently working on a report that involved Bulgaria, and I learned some basic Bulgarian phrases, and it did allow me to better understand the usage of ли. In fact, if there is any particle I understand better than the others, it is probably ли.


        "уж", "же" is short form for "уже". You can assume "уж", "же" as "already", "just" or "indeed" (context dependant). Sometimes these words are used to make the expression stronger and you needn't to translate them.

        Question-like word "ли" is equivalent to english question forms like "You are X, aren't you." "ли" is "aren't you" part. Шар красный, не так ли? (The ball is red, isn't it?). Sometimes "ли" means "whether". Красный ли, синий ли, мне все равно. (whether it red or blue I don't care)

        "Ни X, ни Y" (nor X nor Y) "ни" = nor/neither

        "Либо" is almost always = или (or).


        Спасибо Большое!

        "Sometimes these words are used to make the expression stronger and you needn't to translate them." It's not so much about learning to translate these into English, for me, it is more about using these when speaking original Russian sentence.


        Don't take them more than one at a time, or you'll just become more confused! You definitely want to understand и (... и), ни (... ни), ли, либо (... либо). Some words, like же, probably will take a long time to get a handle on. Just keep trying There are whole books written about Russian particles, so there is a lot to learn.

        For starters, find a good grammar book, like Terence Wade's A Comprehensive Russian Grammar, or a good (if old) primer like Stilman, Stilman, and Harkin's An Introductory Russian Grammar, or a good dictionary and look the words up in the indexes. There are online sites such as masterrussian.com that probably cover these words fairly well for starters. There are plenty more books or sites to recommend that are just as good.


        I completed the Russian course on Duolingo about a year and a half ago. I have gone through the pains and pleasures that come with the Russian language. I do consider myself to be at a basic fluency at this point, but this is something that I still struggle with.

        Recognizing them isn't so hard, and even translating sentences with them into English is pretty easy. But ask me to make a sentence using them, and I can't be sure of anything.

        I've considered learning another Slavic language to help me better grasp this aspect of Russian. Of course, that's a big deal, and one I currently feel uncomfortable making. I feel this discussion should help me better grasp this more advanced side of the Russian language.



        I can give you a lingot.


        I am Russian and I use it ALOT with my family. I can give you sentences that use the words you don't know how to use: Это тот же телефон, Да здраствует король, and Хотя и я это зделал. I hope it helped you.

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