Быть (predicate adjectives)

by Don  

The verb быть is also used in sentences with predicate adjectives. You may recall that in copular sentences (“to be” type sentences), the subject is the thing you are talking about. The predicate is everything else:

John wants to be healthy.
John will be healthy.
John was healthy.
John is healthy.

There are two types of adjectives in Russian: long form adjectives, which are the vast majority of adjectives, and short form adjectives.

An adjective that is in the predicate is, not surprisingly, called a predicate adjective. Long form predicate adjectives in Russian normally occur in the instrumental case. The only exception is when it is directly a part of a present tense is/am/are phrase, in which case the predicate is in the nominative case:

Иван хочет быть здоровым.
Иван будет здоровым.
Иван был здоровым.
Иван — здоровый.

A short form adjective in the predicate will always be in the nominative case:

Иван хочет быть здоров.
Иван будет здоров.
Иван был здоров.
Иван — здоров.

Of course feminine, neuter, and plural forms are also possible:

Анна была здорова. Anna was healthy.
Чудовище было здорово. The monster was healthy.
Мы были здоровы. We were healthy.

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05/10/09 @ 10:30

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