by Don  

One other verb that is used to express “to ask” is задавать/задать, literally “to pose.” It is used in conjunction with the noun вопрос, which means question. It is conjugated like this:

to pose (a question)
Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive задавать задать
Past задавал
Present задаю
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду задавать
будешь задавать
будет задавать
будем задавать
будете задавать
будут задавать
Imperative задавай(те) задай(те)

The verb combines with the noun вопрос in the accusative case, and the person being queried shows up in the dative case:

Милиционеры задали вопросы жертве грабежа. The policeman asked the robbery victim questions.
Вчера мама задала мне очень интересный вопрос: если бы мы жили во Франции, какая у нас была бы жизнь? Yesterday Mom asked me a very interesting question: if we lived in France, what would our life be like?
Джордж Беркли задал вопрос: «Издаёт ли падающее в лесу дерево звук, если его некому услышать?» George Berkeley posed the question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Не задавай им вопросы о том, как они сидели при Брежневе. Don't ask them questions about their imprisonment during Brezhnev's era.

The quote by Berkeley is not very well known in Russia and does not yet have a generally accepted translation. It is so well known in the US that it spawns regular parodies, the most famous of which is “If a man speaks in the forest and there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?” That one has become so iconic that it is reproduced on t-shirts regularly.

Note: the stress on the perfective past tense forms sometimes varies from the stress here indicated.


Comment from: Martin [Visitor]

Just after sending the comment I realized I wanted to ask about something else. Nevermind, it will be in separate comment.
Is it possible to say “сделать вопрос"? I think I’ve heard it somewhere and I’d probably used it instead of задать.

Don responds: No, Russians do not normally say «сделать вопрос» in the sense of “to ask a question.” If you ever see someone trying to use it that way, assume a foreign influence or an attempt at humor.

You do find вопрос as object of сделать in a very different context, e.g. «Топливный кризис семидесятых сделал вопрос аэродинамики особенно актуальным» “The fuel crisis of the seventies made the issue of aerodynamics particularly germane” (source).

04/15/09 @ 15:07
Comment from: Martin [Visitor]

я думаю, что в вашем тексту находится ошибка. Future tense of задавать is буду, будешь, итд. задавать not задать.

Don responds: Спасибо! Текст поправлен. Между прочим, по-русски мы говорим «в вашем тексте», а не «в вашем тексту».

04/15/09 @ 15:02

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