by Don  

Вкусный means tasty or delicious.

Masc Neut Fem Pl
Nom вкусный вкусное вкусная вкусные
Acc * вкусную *
Gen вкусного вкусной вкусных
Pre вкусном
Dat вкусному вкусным
Ins вкусным вкусными

As a standard hard adjective it works pretty well like you'd expect it to in sentences:

Чай очень вкусный. The tea is really tasty.
Вампиры выбрали вкусную жертву. (adapted from here) The vampires chose a tasty victim.
Бабушка всегда готовила вкусные и полезные блюда. Grandmother always made her food delicious and healthy.
Где в Интернете можно найти рецепты вкусных блюд? Where on the Internet can you find recipes for tasty dishes?

This adjective, like most other qualitative adjectives, also has short and comparative forms:

Short forms Comparative
Masc вкусeн вкуснee
Fem вкуснa
Neut вкуснo
Pl вкусны

That by itself is not so interesting, but it gets interesting when we think about the neuter short form, which for most hard adjectives also doubles as an adverb. Russians use adverbs a lot more than English speakers, and they use them in ways that are quite unnatural to the American ear. An English speaker would almost never use the word 'tastily,' but you can find it all the time in Russian:

Мама вкусно готовит. Mom is a good cook. (Lit., Mom cooks tastily.)
В этом кафе кормят вкусно и дёшево. This café has cheap and tasty food. (Lit., In this cafe they feed [you] tastily and cheaply.)
Мы вкусно пообедали и вернулись на работу. We had a good lunch and went back to work. (Lit., We lunched tastily…)
— Как говядина?
— Очень вкусно.
“How's the beef?”
“Very tasty.”

That last example is of a type that used to drive me crazy. I wanted people to write вкусна in the feminine form, in other words with standard adjectival agreement. But in these types of contexts, the вкусно isn't referring directly to the beef. Instead it means something like “it is tasty to eat the beef”, in other words the ‘it’ isn't referring to the noun itself, but to the more abstract experience associated with the beef. Frankly, it still stresses me out that the Russians do that.

The subject of the wide use of adverbs in Russian is an interesting one. We'll try to include other examples in the near future.


Comment from: Arthur [Visitor]

I am going to agree with Max. “питание” is not the right word here. It sounds… wrong.
Also, here might be misunderstanding, because “своё питание” means the food Grandma eats by her own.

It would be much better to put there “еда” or morover change the sentence to

Бабушка всегда готовила вкусную и полезную еду.

Don responds: Actually, when I first thought up the line, I had in mind that it was grandmother’s own food, not food she prepared for others. Still, you and Max have convinced me the article is better without the word питание. The text has been updated.

The inspiration for the original line, incidentally, was my own grandmother, who lived alone for many years. She never allowed herself to eat in a sloppy fashion. She always made tasty and sensible food, always sat down at the dinner table with a place mat, cloth napkin, and decorated table, ate slowly and with dignity. It was always artful and wise. I’m afraid I have succumbed to the American weakness of eating on the run, but I can always sense Grammy’s example in the background of my mind. I won’t be at all surprised if I finally change that habit.

08/14/10 @ 14:49
Comment from: Max [Visitor]

“Бабушка всегда делала своё питание вкусным и полезным.”
Wrong adoption. “Питание” isn’t right word for food, it’s for “nutrition". For GranMa’s food you should say “Еда".

Don responds: I’ll allow myself to disagree with you: one of the meanings of питание is пища/еда. See gramota.ru for details.

11/30/09 @ 02:17
Comment from: Edgar [Visitor]

Yes, your explanation of the “it” factor taking a neuter or adverbial form is excellent. I never thought of that and often wondered the same. “Uzhasno” is another one that almost never agrees with the noun, too.

10/09/09 @ 19:06
Comment from: Bryan [Visitor]

“Frankly, it still stresses me out that the Russians do that.”

Ha, I laughed at that.

10/09/09 @ 07:56

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