Угол, часть первая

by Don  

The word for corner in Russian is угол. It means corner both in the sense of a street corner and the corner of a box or a pointy hat or a polygon. The о is a fleeting vowel, so it only shows up in the nominative singular:

Preоб угле
на углу

Notice that there are two separate forms for the prepositional case. If you are using the preposition в or на to indicate location, then use the углу form, which is sometimes called the locative case since it indicates locations. If you are using the preposition о, use the угле form.

Из-за угла подошёл незнакомый человек. A stranger came around the corner.
В углу стояли часы. There was a clock in the corner [of the room].
На углу стоял милиционер. There was a policeman standing on the corner.
Идите до угла и поверните направо. Go to the corner and then turn right.
За углом находится аптека. There is a pharmacy around the corner.
Мой брат мне рассказал об угле, на котором он раньше встречался с Таней. My brother told me about the corner on which he used to meet Tanya.
Ванька, иди-встань в угол, пока не успокоишься! Johnny, go stand in the corner until you calm down!

That last example shows a cultural difference. In the US we usually tell kids, “Go sit in the corner,” not “Go stand in the corner.” Russians usually tell their kids to go to the corner or go stand in the corner. In the old days the Russians even “ставили детей на колени в угол” sent kids to kneel in the corner, and sometimes they even had the kids kneel on gravelly stuff to increase the misery:

Меня в детстве за большие провинности ставили в угол на колени и подсыпали под них горох… Это конечно лучше чем воспитание ремнем, но все равно это не выход! (source) When I was a kid, for major transgressions they set me in the corner on my knees and spread [dried] peas under them… That's better than disciplining with a belt, but nonetheless it's not a solution!

<sigh> I miss those days.

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