Categories: "Adverbs"

Сейчас

March 17th, 2014 — posted by Don

Russian distinguishes two words for ‘now,’ one of which means ‘nowadays,’ and the other means ‘at this moment.’ The one that means ‘now, at this moment’ is сейчас. Beginning Russian students in the US often have а disgustingly limited knowledge of grammar, so for them I have this piece of advice: if your instructor asks you to what part of speech a particular word belongs and if you have absolutely no idea, then guess ‘adverb.’ Consider this dialog:

Glorious instructor: “What part of speech is сейчас?”
Vapid student: “It's an adverb.”
Glorious instructor: “Correct!”

You see? By taking RWOTD's sage advice the vapid student now has curried the instructor's favor and will doubtless eventually enter grad school.

Here are a few example sentences:

Мама сейчас на работе. Mom is at work now.
— Хочешь пойти со мной в кино?
— Извини, но я сейчас занята.
“Do you want to go to the movies with me?”
“Sorry, but I'm busy now.”
— Почему ты сейчас здесь?
— Потому что не хочу идти домой.
“Why are you here now?”
“Because I don't want to go home.”

Interestingly enough, сейчас can also mean “right away”:

— Ваня, где ты? Приди домой поскорей, а то тебя накажут.
— Я сейчас буду!
“Vanya, where are you? Come home right away or you'll be in trouble.”
“I will be right there!”
Я сейчас приготовлю ужин, а потом мы пойдём в кино. I'll make dinner right away, then we will go to the movie.

Часто (часть вторая)

February 6th, 2012 — posted by Don

If you want to ask how often something happens in Russian, you can use the phrase «как часто»:

Как часто вы ходите в ресторан? How often do you go to restaurants?
Как часто ты звонишь бабушке? How often do you call your grandmother?

Now here's one of those subtle differences that occur between languages. Although the «как часто» phrase is perfectly grammatical in both Russian and English, the frequency of the use of the phrase is not the same. The English phrase is much more common in usage. In Russian it is more common to ask the question slightly differently, phrasing it simply "Do you often?":

Вы часто ходите в ресторан? Do you go to restaurants very often?
Ты часто звонишь бабушке? Do you call your grandmother very often?

When you ask the question, it is usually used with intonation construction three, jumping up on the stressed syllable of часто:

Часто (часть первая)

February 3rd, 2012 — posted by Don

The adverb часто means frequently. Since it tells how often something happens, we can more specifically call it an adverb of frequency. It's often used much the same way as its English equivalent:

Я часто спрашиваю себя, почему девушки так любят моего брата, а на меня вообще не обращают внимания. I often ask myself why girls like my brother so much but don't pay any attention to me.
Мы часто водим собаку в парк гулять. We often take the dog for walks in the park.
Раньше я довольно часто ходил в кино, но теперь я фильмы скачиваю на компьютер с Интернета. I used to go to the movies pretty often, but nowadays I download films onto my computer from the Internet.
Нина слишком часто жалуется на своего парня. Nina complains about her boyfriend too often.

Часто is what we call the the "positive form" of the adverb; adverbs often have a "comparative form" as well, and in this case that form is чаще.

Вера ходит в кино чаще, чем брат. Vera goes to the movies more often than her brother.
Вера ходит в кино чаще брата.
Я пью водку чаще, чем молоко. Молоко ведь бесполезно для мужчин. I drink vodka more often than milk. After all, milk isn't healthy for men.

Домой

January 24th, 2011 — posted by Don

There are three words that native speakers of English often confuse at first in their studies of Russian:

  1. The first one of those is дома, which is an adverb that means “at home.” It never changes its endings.
  2. The second is домой, which is an adverb that means “home” in the sense of “homeward/to home.” It never changes its endings.
  3. The third is дом, which is a noun that means “house” or “building” and occurs in the singular and plural of all six cases.

Today we are focusing on домой in the meaning “home/to home/homeword.” Here is a subtlety. In English we can say “She is home right now” and “She is heading home now.” The former indicates location, and the latter indicates motion. In Russian you have to use дома in the former sense because it is a location phrase, and you have to use домой in the latter phrase since it indicates motion. Note also that as an adverb домой cannot be used with a preposition:

— Куда ты идёшь?
— Я иду домой.
“Where are you going?”
“I'm going home.”
— Когда я шла домой, в витрине я увидела красивейшее платье! “When I was walking home, I spotted the most beautiful dress in a [store] window.
Иди домой, мальчишка. Go home, [you rotten] little boy.
Зайди ко мне домой, я помогу тебе написать доклад. Come to my place, and I'll help you write your essay.

That last example is particular interesting. When you want to specify that you are going to someone's home, the word домой can be made more specific by adding a prepositional phrase using к followed by the dative case:

В воскресенье мы ездили к Смирновым домой. On Sunday we went to the Smirnovs' place.
Когда пойдёшь к Пете домой, увидишь полнейший бардак. When you go to Petya's, you'll see it's a complete mess.

Actually in the previous three examples it's more natural to leave домой out, but it's perfectly grammatical to include it.

Как (часть первая)

December 17th, 2010 — posted by Don

The Russian word for ‘how’ is как. When you start studying Russian, you first encounter it in “How are you?” phrases:

Как дела? How are things going?
Как живёшь? How are you?

Since the word asks about the manner in which something is done, we call it an adverb. Since it poses a question we call it an interrogative adverb. In the following sentences the word is an interrogative adverb. In English we often use the pronoun ‘you’ or ‘I’ or (if you are really pedantic) ‘one’ in sentences that ask how to do something. Similar sentences in Russian often ask usе an infinitive construction:

Как доехать до университета? How can I get to the university?
Как лучше добраться до Москвы? На поезде или на самолёте? How is it best for one to get to Moscow? By train or by plane?
Как приготовить борщ? How do you make borshch?
— Как можно избежать штрафов за превышение скорости, зафиксированное фото радарами?
— Приобретите себе радарную систему с выведенной из эксплуатации подводной лодки и установите её в своей машине. Её сигнал пересилит сигнал радаров городского движения и вы будете кататься по всему городу, не получая никаких штрафов.
“How can I avoid photo radar fines?”
“Get yourself a radar system from a decommissioned submarine and install it in your car. The signal will overwhelm city traffic radar, and you will be able to ride all over town without any fines whatsoever.”