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Determiners & Interrogatives Declined, with Incidental Notes

Этo often is NOT a determiner, but instead is used in a generic idiom which means "This/it is" or "These are". In this idiomatic usage, Это does not agree in gender or number with the thing or things it is introducing, remarking about, or establishing. For example:
Это тим = "This is Tim" or "It is Tim."
Это мои кошки = "These are my cats".

Determiners are attached to nouns and pronouns, and thus have to agree with them. Example:
Эти кошки — мои! = "These cats are mine!"
Этот мальчик Тим. = "This boy is Tim"

This Masc Fem Neut Plur
Nom Этот Эта Это Эти
Acc (Inan) Этот Эту Это Эти
Acc (Anim) Этого Эту Это Этих
Gen Этого Этой Этого Этих
Dat Этому Этой Этому Этим
Inst Этим Этой Этим Этими
Prep Этом Этой Этом Этих
That Masc Fem Neut Plur
Nom Тот Та То Те
Acc (Inan) Тот Ту То Те
Acc (Anim) Того Ту То Тех
Gen Того Той Того Тех
Dat Тому Той Тому Тем
Inst Тем Той Тем Теми
Prep Том Той Том Тех

Note the тот differs from этот in two ways:
1. Obviously, тот drops the initial Э
2. Where Этот uses "и", Тот uses "e": эти and те; этих and тех, etc.

Этот is often used to mean both "this" and "that", although "тот" appears in phrases such as:
Вон тот/та/то [singular noun] "That [singular noun] (over) there"
Вон те [plural noun] "Those [plural noun] (over) there"

One translation I saw of вон тот is "yonder" or "yon" - вон та кошка "yonder cat", but this is at best archaic English which might be found in extremely rural settings. ("Yonder" means "That [noun] over there".)

(Credit to Shady-Arc for the following) Also, Тот is used to connect clauses, in sentence which in English would be stated as something like "that which", e.g.,
Это то, что я просил? = "Is this what I asked for?"
Скажи тем, кто не придёт, что они уволены. = "Tell those who do not come that they are fired."
То, о чём мы вчера говорили, крайне важно. = "What we talked about yesterday is extremely important (lit. That about which we talked.)"
Этот cannot be used in this format

тако́й "Such..." Masc Fem Neut Plur
Nom тако́й така́я тако́е таки́е
Acc (Inan) тако́й таку́ю тако́е таки́е
Acc (Anim) тако́го таку́ю тако́е таки́х
Gen тако́го тако́й тако́го таки́х
Dat тако́му тако́й тако́му таки́м
Inst таки́м тако́й (тако́ю) таки́м таки́ми
Prep тако́м тако́й тако́м таки́х
весь "all, the whole"
Case Masc Fem Neut Plur
Nom весь вся всё все
Acc (Inan) весь всю всё все
Acc (Anim) всего́ всю всё всех
Gen всего́ всей всего́ всех
Dat всему́ всей всему́ всем
Inst всем всей, все́ю всем все́ми
Prep всём всей всём всех

Russian Interrogative Pronouns

What?/That что
Nom Что
Acc Что
Gen Чего
Dat Чему
Inst Чем
Prep Чём
Who? Кто
Nom Кто
Acc Кого
Gen Кого
Dat Кому
Inst Кем
Prep Ком
Whose? Masc Fem Neut Plur
Nom чей чья чьё чьи
Acc (Inan) чей чью чьё чьи
Acc (Anim) чьего́ чью чьё чьих
Gen чьего́ чье́й чьего́ чьих
Dat чьему чье́й чьему чьим
Inst чьим чьей/чьею чьим чьими
Prep чьём чьей чьём чьих
What/Which Masc Fem Neut Plur
Nom како́й кака́я како́е каки́е
Acc (Inan) како́й каку́ю како́е каки́е
Acc (Anim) како́го каку́ю како́е каки́х
Gen како́го како́й како́го каки́х
Dat како́му како́й како́му каки́м
Inst каки́м како́й каки́м каки́ми
Prep како́м како́й како́м каки́х

Russian makes a distinction between being somewhere (тут/здесь, там), going there (сюда, туда) and coming from there (отсюда, оттуда)—so naturally question words follow suit:

Где? = Where (at)?
Куда? = Where to?
Откуда? = Where from?

Who or what are you?
Russian uses Кто "who?" when asking about identity and occupation and Что is used for objects rather than people.

Since Russian nouns have cases, кто and что also change depending on their role in the implied sentence. Кто behaves rather like a masculine adjective.

Why? — Почему and Зачем
Почему is used when asking a question about a cause of some event or action. It is a question that looks back at the past.

Зачем starts a question about the purpose of some action or some event that can have one. It is a question that looks towards a desired future.

In a few regions of Russia (Tatarstan, for example) people may use зачем for both questions if their usage of Russian is influenced by a major local language that makes no distinction between the two. In Standard Russian these are two clearly separate entities.

January 14, 2019



Большое спасибо )


I would like to amend your translation of the first example. The meaning of the sentences is different. Это мои кошки. These are my cats. (What are we tallking about? The fact that the animals in question are my cats, not his dogs) Эти кошки — мои! These cats are mine. (What are we talking about? The fact that the cats belong to me, not somebody else) Here we encounter the problem of word by word translation trying to affix a singular translation to the word 'Это' when it can have various translations based on the sentence it is used in...


I'm not certain what amendment you are proposing to which translation of which Russian sentence. Could you be more specific as to what you'd change?

Also, the sentence is given to show how это functions without regard to the gender or number of the thing(s) is is linked to by the omitted verb (is/are). As such, it is a bare-bones example of how Это functions when it is not attached to a noun as what could be called an attributive determiner.

I appreciate your input. But I won't change the example, because I'm not sure what changes you're proposing, and because then it would not demonstrate the point I am trying to make about the function of это when it means "this is" or "these are".

Also, further down in the introduction, I do use the sentence "Эти кошки — мои!" - with an exclamation point to emphasize that I am claiming a particular group of cats - to illustrate how the determiner has to agree with the noun when it is actually attached to the noun as "this/these [noun/nouns]".

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