Category: "Marriage"


by Don  

Лучше means better. It can be used either as an adverb or as a short-form adjective.

Я плохо говорю по-немецки, но хочу говорить лучше. I speak German poorly, but I want to speak it better.
Обещаю тебе, мама, я буду лучше учиться! I promise you, Mom, I'll study harder! (Lit. “better”)
У тебя красивая машина, но моя — лучше. You have a pretty car, but mine is better.

If you want to include a “than” in the sentence, then the word you want is чем:

Таня говорит по-французски лучше, чем я. Tanya speaks French better than I.
Моя сестра пишет лучше, чем она поёт. My sister writes better than she sings.

Interestingly enough, if the чем is followed by a noun or pronoun in the nominative case, you can make an equivalent construction by dropping the чем and using the genitive of the noun/pronoun:

Мой брат старше, чем я. My brother is older than I.
Мой брат старше меня.
Твой муж играет в теннис лучше, чем моя жена. Your husband plays tennis better than my wife.
Твой муж играет в теннис лучше моей жены.

Лучше is also often used with future tense verbs or imperative verbs to express the idea of “it would be better”:

— Можно я переночую у тебя?
— Лучше ты пойдёшь домой.
“May I spend the night at your place?”
“It would be better if you went home.”
— Я спрошу папу, где ключи от машины.
— Лучше ты спроси у брата. Они только что были у него.
“I'll ask Dad where the car keys are.”
“You had better ask your brother instead. He just had them.”

Last but not least, here we have a standard mother-in-law joke that uses the word:

Жена разговаривает по телефону, потом кладёт трубку.
Муж (читая газету):
A woman is talking on the phone. She hangs up. The husband, reading the paper, asks:
- Это кто был? “Who was that?”
- Да мама. Она, по-моему, уже наполовину сумасшедшая. “It was Mom. I think she is half crazy.”
- А-а-а… Значит, получше стало. “Hmmm… sounds like things are getting better.”

Совместная жизнь (однополые браки)

by Don  

No discussion of marriage would be complete in the twenty-first century without addressing однополые браки same-sex marriages:

Однополые браки в 2005 г. узаконили Испания, Бельгия и Канада. Spain, Belgium and Canada legalized same sex marriages in 2005.

In the Russian context this immediately poses a conundrum because the most common marriage words are gender specific: the Russian word used to describe a man getting married can be morphologically paraphrased as “to wife himself upon,” and the word that describes a woman getting married can be morphologically paraphrased as “to go out husbanding after.” So a foreigner might be tempted to put together sentences like:

Борис женился на Олеге.Boris wifed himself on Oleg.
Лена вышла замуж за Анну.Lena went out husbanding after Anna.

Nope, the Russians won't say it that way. Well, a comedian on stage might, but certainly no one would ever say it with a straight face. The муж- and жен- roots produce too much gender dissonance. Actually that's a problem in English, too. My buddy John won't refer to his long-term partner Adam as his “husband” because “What does that make me, the wife?” Considering how well you cook, John, yeah, I think it does make you the wife. Get over it.

So how will the Russians refer to this? Not surprisingly, they can use the verbs that have no gender-specific roots, e.g. вступать/вступить в брак and заключать/заключить брак. What perhaps is surprising is that if both partners are the subject of the sentence, the verb жениться/пожениться mostly works, too. In other words all these phrases sound grammatically fine:

Хосе и Педро заключили брак в Мадриде.José and Pedro got married in Madrid.
Карен и Лиса вступили в брак в Торонто.Karen and Lisa got married in Toronto.
Борис и Олег поженились в Амстердаме.Boris and Oleg got married in Amsterdam.
Лена и Анна поженились в Брюсселе.Lena and Anna got married in Brussels.

Here are some examples from the Russian-language press:

Канада стала четвёртым государством, в котором геи и лесбиянки могут заключать браки. (source)Canada has become the fourth nation in which gays and lesbians can contract marriages.
В испанской армии впервые заключат брак два солдата-гея. (source)For the first time two gay soldiers will marry in the Spanish army.
Американская телеведущая Эллен Дедженерис объявила о своем намерении заключить брак с актрисой Порцией де Росси. (source)American TV-host Ellen DeGeneres has announced her intent to marry actress Portia de Rossi.

Other phrases that are used in discussing the issue of same-sex marriage are:

однополая любовьsame-sex love
однополая параsame-sex couple
домашнее партнёрствоdomestic partnership
брачная параmarried couple

Совместная жизнь (вступить, заключить, состоять)

by Don  

The most neutral of all the the marriage phrases is вступать/вступить в брак which means to enter into marriage, to get married. By “neutral” I mean that the subject of the verb can be a man or a woman, and the context can be religious or non-religious:

Она вступила в брак с однокурсником.She got married to a classmate.
Почему люди вступают в брак?Why do people get married?
Скоро мы вступим в брак. Для нас это — самый счастливый день в жизни.Soon we will get married. For us it will be the happiest day of our lives.
Вступить в брак по любви — невозможно!It's impossible to marry just because of love!

(BTW, if you want to read an article that seriously makes that last claim, you can find it here.)

The phrase заключать/закючить брак “to contract a marriage, get married” means about the same thing as the вступать/вступить в брак, but I've noticed that it seems to be particularly used in contexts where the legal complications of marriage are involved or where the legal implications of marriage are involved:

Я еду в США по туристической визе, на лето, и могу захотеть заключить брак со своим женихом-американцем.I'm going to the USA for the summer on a tourist visa, and I might want to get married to my American fiancé.
Борис Березовский заключил третий брак с уроженкой Латвии Анникой Анквериной, не расторгнув два предыдущих. (source)Boris Berezovski has contracted a third marriage with Annika Ankverina, a native of Latvia, not having dissolved the previous two.*
Сегодня все больше пар заключают брак без интима… По утверждению Спарр никто и не догадывался о том, что скандально известная Мадонна и обаятельный Гай Ричи уже полтора года обходятся без секса. (source)Now more and more couples are contracting marriage without physical intimacy… According to [Pam] Sparr, nobody even guessed that the scandalously famous Madonna and the affable Guy Richey had done without sex for a year and a half.
8 августа в Москве заключат брак 1678 пар.1,678 couples will marry in Moscow on August 8.

Last but not least the verb состоять “to be a member of” is often used with the word брак in offical contexts to ask «Вы раньше состояли в браке?» “Have you ever been married?”

* This is an example of what happens when we try to translate a Russian sentence too literally: it comes out strange sounding and wooden. Long Russian sentences, especially those with participial phrases or verbal adverbs, sometimes need to be broken up into two or more sentences so that they sound natural in English. A better translation would be something like: “Boris Berezovski has married Annika Ankiverina, a native of Latvia. This is his third marriage; the previous two have not been dissolved.”

Совместная жизнь (выходить/выйти)

by Don  

When a woman gets married, the verb commonly used is выходить/выйти, which is irregular in it's conjugation:

to marry
Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive выходить выйти
Present выхожу
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду выходить
будешь выходить
будет выходить
будем выходить
будете выходить
будут выходить
Past выходил
Imperative выходи(те) выйди(те)

The verb in this meaning is always used with the adverb замуж, and the man she marries appears in the accusative case after the preposition за:

Раиса Максимовна вышла замуж за Михаила Сергеевича в 1953-ом году. Raisa Maksimovna married Mikhail Sergeevich in 1953.¹
Почему американские девушки всегда выходят замуж за русских мужиков? Why do American women always marry Russian guys?
Моя сестра родила сына через шесть месяцев после того, как она вышла замуж. Я и не знал, что беременность может так быстро протечь. My sister gave birth to a son six months after she got married. I didn't even know that pregnancy could proceed so quickly.
Оля выйдет замуж за Дмитрия в октябре. Olya will marry Dmitri in October.

¹ Americans get extra points if they can identify these folks.

Совместная жизнь (жениться)

by Don  

When a man gets married, the verb commonly used is жениться, which is an odd verb in that it can be interpreted as either imperfective or perfective in this meaning. The woman he marries is expressed in the prepositional case as the object of the preposition на:

После того как Борис женился на Оле, он бросил пить и стал намного серьёзнее относиться к работе. Вот какой тебе нужен муж! After Boris married Olya, he quit drinking and started to take work much more seriously. That's the kind of husband you need!
Мужикам нельзя жениться на родных сёстрах. Men are not allowed to marry their sisters.
Я хочу жениться на Кристине Агилере. Такой мужик, как я, мог бы придать её жизни весёлую стабильность. К тому же, мне не пришлось бы больше работать. I want to marry Christina Aguilera. A guy like me could add a happy stability to her life. Plus I wouldn't have to work anymore.
Иван женится на Людмиле в августе. Ivan will marry Lyudmila in August.

1 2 3