by Don  

The word уже means already. Be careful to get the stress right because if you say уже that means narrower.

Я уже смотрел тот фильм. I've already seen that film.
Я уже написала домашнее задание. I've already finished my homework.

When уже combines with the negative particle не, we translate the combination into English with the phrases “no longer” or “not anymore.”

Оля уже не живёт в Москве. Olya no longer lives in Moscow.
Olya doesn't live in Moscow any more.
Эдик пять лет работал в итальянском ресторане, он уже не любит есть спагетти. Ed worked at an Italian restaurant for five years. He no longer likes to eat spaghetti.

The Russians use уже much more than the English speakers use the word already, and very often the meaning is somewhat attenuated. That kind of “faded” уже is sometimes captured by the word “now” or “really,” and sometimes it's best left simply untranslated.

Он уже давно живёт в Москве. He has been living in Moscow for quite some time now.
Она уже скоро пойдёт домой. She'll be heading home soon now.
Я хотел сегодня почистить тарелки, помыть полы, и постирать, просто не было возможности. А убирать квартиру уже можно. Today I wanted to wash the dishes, clean the floors and do laundry, but I simply didn't have the chance. But I can straighten up the apartment.
— Боря сказал, что у тебя хорошее лекарство от головной боли.
— Это уже не лекарство, а целебные травы, которые обновляют правильную функцию организма.
“Borya said that you have good medicine for a headache.”
“It's not really medicine, but rather medicinal herbs that restore the body's proper functioning.”

One last quirk is that уже is sometimes shortened into уж. There is also a noun уж that means “grass snake.” So how do you tell when the Russians mean “already” and when they mean “grass snake”? Frankly, if you can't tell the difference between those two things in context, you aren't smart enough to study Russian. Consider switching your major to French.


Comment from: Shady_arc [Visitor]

Я хотел сегодня почистить тарелки, помыть полы, и постирать, просто не было возможности. А убирать квартиру уже можно. –> doesn’t make much sense to me. Probably you could use a particle “уж” like this: “Но уж убраться в квартире я могу". But here it is only an emotional particle with no meaning of “already". I would say it is more like “But as for such a simple thing as tidying up the apartment - I can do it” (clumsy, but I can’t think of a better way).

“А убирать квартиру уже можно” means that someone can already straighten up the apartment. Probably you. Or the listener.

“Это уже не лекарство, а целебные травы, которые обновляют правильную функцию организма.” –> I’m not sure about this one. A sentence could be written by a native, but it is most likely not the best piece of written Russian ("This isn’t a medicine anymore, but herbs that update/renew the correct functioning of the body") I would write “…которые восстанавливают/возобновляют правильную функцию организма". Or even “правильное функционирование” in written speech (though “restore the body’s proper functioning” is already quite stiff for a natural conversation). Or “восстанавливают правильную работу организма". “Уже” seems out of place here. However, if both people who talk knew that the speaker had been taking the medicine previously, then this person could use “уже". It means “Now it is not a medicine that I’m taking, but herbs that […] “.

Here’s a good example. I found it on gramota.ru:

“Уже по глазам видно всё” ~ You could see everything by merely looking at his eyes (= by taking a look at his eyes or glance one could already understand what’s going on [in his mind]/ what’s troubling him/ what he’s about to do/ what happened). This isn’t explained well by my guess, but the meaning is quite clear from English “already".

Another example (http://www.interfax.ru/txt.asp?id=117332&sec=1483):
“Уже хорошо, что новых проблем не прибавилось.” ~ “It’s good enough that new problems didn’t arise". Here the use “уже” may be understood as “Now the situation is good enough already (and better than one might expect)".

Without “уже” the sentence would rather mean “It’s nice that no new problems arised” or “Thanks god no new problems arised”

Don responds: I like the use of ‘enough’ in the translation of the last example.

05/19/10 @ 16:32
Comment from: Konstantin [Visitor]

I’m honored to have inspired your word of the day; what’s even better is that I now have an inkling of how to use уже in addition to pronouncing it!

03/29/09 @ 22:34
Comment from: Martin [Visitor]

Ты живёшь почти в лесе. Тебя уж куснул уж?
Which one is the snake? :-)
(If it is even correct. Perhaps “Уже тебя куснул уж?” is better, but doesn’t sound that good.)

Don responds: Ah, a reader with a sense of humor! Your note made me laugh.

On the serious side, if you write «Ты живёшь почти в лесу. Тебя уж куснул уж?» “You live right near the forest. Have you already been bitten by a grass snake?” and if the intonation center is on the verb, then the last уж is most likely to be interpreted as being the snake. Words like уже and ещё commonly come before the verb. If you place the intonation center on either of the уж words, that уж will most likely be interpreted as the snake.

By the way, grass snakes are fairly timid. It’s uncommon for them to bite a person. They are not poisonous, so even if they did bite you, you would not be harmed.

03/24/09 @ 15:06

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