Надо (часть вторая)

by Don  

We mentioned previously that one of the words in Russian that is translated as need is надо. Sometimes you will run across sentences like this:

Мне надо книгу. I need а book.
Вите надо гаечный ключ. Viktor needs a wrench.

Such sentences are conversational, and they really have an implied verb in them. Thus the first sentence probably implies something like «Мне надо купить книгу» "I need to buy a book," and the second probably implies something like «Вите надо взять гаечный ключ» "Viktor needs to get a wrench."

People often use these phrases to ask you what you need:

Что тебе надо?
Что вам надо?
What do you need?

That reminds me... the phrase is used in a wonderful children's poem by Корней Чуковский called «Телефон». Read it out loud to yourself in Russian. The rhymes are delightful:

У меня зазвонил телефон. My phone started ringing.
— Кто говорит? "Who is calling?"
— Слон. "It's me, Elephant."
— Откуда? "Where are you calling from?"
— От верблюда. "From Camel's place"
— Что вам надо? "What do you need?"
— Шоколада. ¹ "Some chocolate."
— Для кого? "For who?"
— Для сына моего. "For my son."
— А много ли прислать? "Do I need to send a lot?"
— Да пудов этак пять
Или шесть:
Больше ему не съесть,
Он у меня ещё маленький!
"Oh, just 180 pounds' worth,
Maybe 200.
He won't be able to eat much more.
He's still pretty small."

You can find the complete text of the poem here.

¹ Шоколада here is in the genitive case, not the accusative. The genitive adds the 'some' idea.

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