Число (часть первая)

by Don  

One of the meanings of the word число is date in the sense of the first of the month, the second, and so forth. Probably the most common usage is this:

Какое сегодня число? What is the date today?
What is today's date?

Since число is a neuter noun, and since words like first and second are adjectives in Russian, the adjective must show up in the neuter singular form when answering the question:

Сегодня первое. Today is the first.

An English speaker will never say “Today is the first date,” but Russians sometimes do include the word число in the response. Of course, when translating that response into English you must leave the word ‘date’ out:

Сегодня первое число. Today is the first.

It is also possible to ask about future and past dates:

— Какое вчера было число?
— Вчера было тридцатое.
“What was the date yesterday?”
“Yesterday was the thirtieth.”
— Какое завтра будет число?
— Завтра будет второе.
“What date is it tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is the second.”

Back when I first started studying Russian, it irritated me that no textbook ever gave a complete set of examples of how to say today's date. Instead they gave a general instruction with a few examples and just assumed the student could get the rest right. That's awful teaching methodology. A non-Russian student has to deal with the quirks of Russian stress, plus he has to correctly generate the neuter form of the adjective. That seems very easy after you have worked on Russian for several years, but at first it's tricky. Rejoice, therefore, ye Russian novices: here I present a complete table of all 31 dates marked for stress so you may double check your work.

Сегодня первое.Today is the first.
Сегодня второе.Today is the second.
Сегодня третье.Today is the third.
Сегодня четвёртое.Today is the fourth.
Сегодня пятое.Today is the fifth.
Сегодня шестое.Today is the sixth.
Сегодня седьмое.Today is the seventh.
Сегодня восьмое.Today is the eighth.
Сегодня девятое.Today is the ninth.
Сегодня десятое.Today is the tenth.
Сегодня одиннадцатое.Today is the eleventh.
Сегодня двенадцатое.Today is the twelfth.
Сегодня тринадцатое.Today is the thirteenth.
Сегодня четырнадцатое.Today is the fourteenth.
Сегодня пятнадцатое.Today is the fifteenth.
Сегодня шестнадцатое.Today is the sixteenth.
Сегодня семнадцатое.Today is the seventeenth.
Сегодня восемнадцатое.Today is the eighteenth.
Сегодня девятнадцатое.Today is the nineteenth.
Сегодня двадцатое.Today is the twentieth.
Сегодня двадцать первое.Today is the twenty-first.
Сегодня двадцать второе.Today is the twenty-second.
Сегодня двадцать третье.Today is the twenty-third.
Сегодня двадцать четвёртое.Today is the twenty-fourth.
Сегодня двадцать пятое.Today is the twenty-fifth.
Сегодня двадцать шестое.Today is the twenty-sixth.
Сегодня двадцать седьмое.Today is the twenty-seventh.
Сегодня двадцать восьмое.Today is the twenty-eighth.
Сегодня двадцать девятое.Today is the twenty-ninth.
Сегодня тридцатое.Today is the thirtieth.
Сегодня тридцать первое.Today is the thirty-first.

Notice particularly that третье ‘third’ has a soft-sign as the next-to-the-last letter, not an o. Notice also that одиннадцатое has not just one н but two in a row as the fourth and fifth letters.


Comment from: Bryan [Visitor]

Also agreed. It’s things like this that really make a language learning source really worthwhile.

01/27/10 @ 07:11
Comment from: Roberta [Visitor]

I agree with Charly’s comment.

01/26/10 @ 20:58
Comment from: Charly [Visitor]

Thanks for this great post! :) And thanks especially about giving a complete example list! I often wondered, why they only give you one or two examples, and the rest you have to guess (until you find out you guessed all wrong, as of course there are lots of exeptions…. ;) ), that goes for a lot of grammar questions.

Great blog!

01/26/10 @ 03:32

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