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Lets look at these 2 sentences:

  1. у нас есть / We Have.

  2. что вы хотите есть? / What Would You Like To Eat.

(In both of them the word "есть" is used differently).

I'm confused as for the use of "есть" in both "ordering scenarios" where on one hand it refers to "having" (which I don't get since "у нас" should include having on its own same way that "у меня" on its own does without having to include this "есть" addition) and on the other hand it means to eat. Also Also how would the phrase in Russian "what do you HAVE to EAT" be written and if it includes "есть" 2 times? I am guessing it would be something like: "что есть у вас есть"? or "что у вас есть по есть"?

Maybe these last 2 sound grammatically horrific but I'm a newbie here, thanks a lot !

September 25, 2018



These 2 есть are different words.

To be - быть are the infinitives. One of the forms of быть is есть. быть has lost many of its present forms, but one that survived is есть. It means to be, and to be also has other forms like "is" for third person.

to eat - есть are the infinitives. Now this time the infinitiv is есть, unlike the previous verb. есть has its own forms like ем (I eat).

Bonus info.

To have, like "I have a dog" does not get expressed in russian with a verb. So the construction is different. Instead they literally say "By me is/exists a car" = "у меня (есть) машина". This construction does not always need есть. In fact Duo over uses есть. In any scenario, where its clear that you do not have to point out the existance of something, you can omit the есть.

Your sentence "you have to eat" uses a different "to have". It means something must, and not the same as above. "я должен есть" = "I have to eat".


Hey, thanks a lot for the previous info, even though very very helpful, I'm still left with 2 questions:

  1. You pointed out that the infinitive of "есть" is "быть" which indeed translates to "to be". But when I was asking about the different "есть" forms and I pointed out a different one to "eating" (as I asked on the 1st phrase), it referred to me wondering the role of "есть" as having not BEING. So now it seems that there are 3 forms of есть ??

  2. On the last part when I asked about a phrase that would include both of the "есть" I asked for in a single scenario, and formulated the "what do you HAVE to EAT" case, I was asking for HAVING in the "possession" way rather than having as an obligation or: "having...TO DO something". I point out this distinction since on your very last example you interpreted "you have to eat" as "you must eat". But I was asking for how to write this made up phrase in russian of "what do you have to eat" not as in "Jerry, what did the nutritionist said? What do you HAVE (obligation) to eat?" but rather "Hey nice menu may I know what you guys HAVE (possession) to eat?"


Take it easy. I have, they have, it (a dog ) has. In Russian: у меня есть, у них есть, у собаки есть. To eat, in Russian - есть ( a coincidence ) or поесть. У меня ( у нас, у них, у собаки ) есть что есть or that is better - есть что поесть. So, Что у вас есть поесть? Что у вас есть есть? grammatically is good but sounds funny.


— Есть пить?

— Пить есть. Есть нет.


"Был, есть и буду есть." ))


Да нет, наверное.


Unfortunately, these two are homographs in Russian. Like "bear" (carry) and "bear" (grizzly) in English. One can only tell the difference in the context.

I believe, historically, "есть" (eat) would have looked like "едсть" since "д" is preserved in its plural forms: 1 едим 2 едите 3 едят and such nouns as "еда" (food) and "едок" (eater), but early Russian grammarians preferred to record it the way it sounded to them: "есть". Just like Americans aimed at simplicity rather than etymology when changed the spelling of "plough" to "plow".


By the way, there are much more homographs in Russian. Check this out:
коса - plait
коса - scythe
коса - tongue of land
коса - skewed (short feminine form)


I wanted to ask about the word есть, too. Why is duolingo forcing to use it so much? From what I know, and I learned russian before, I also speak with my russian friends quite regularly, you dont really say eg. у меня есть собака, but simply у меня собака. Am I wrong?


The word "есть" is used in situations where you emphasize it:

"У меня есть черепаха"
"У меня - собака" (У меня есть собака)

"У меня разродилась кошка"
"У меня - собака" (У меня разродилась собака)

"У меня заболел хомяк"
"У меня - собака" (У меня заболела собака)

"У меня улетел попугайчик"
"У меня есть собака" (Не улетела, не потерялась, а именно есть)


Thank you! That's how I was taught by my russian teacher, but I just got really confused because duolingo marks my answers without есть as wrong.


I guess, Duo emphasizes literary Russian. You can easily make it colloquial later.


I wanted to write as much in as low words as possible, that the comment looks kinda strange to me when I read it. What I mean is, I was learned that you use есть when that's different to what someone else has. For example, person 1: у меня нет собаки, person 2: у меня есть собака.

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