by Don  

The Russian word этот is a demonstrative adjective that can be translated as this/that/these/those, depending on the context. (For a discussion of the this/that distinction, see the entry on тот.) It declines like this:

Masc Neut Fem Pl
Nom этот это эта эти
Acc * эту *
Gen этого этой этих
Pre этом
Dat этому этим
Ins этим этими

For first- and second-year Russian students, I call this word ‘changing это’ because it changes it's ending for case, number and gender. Beginners often confuse it with ‘unchanging это’; for discussion of the distinction, see this blog entry.

— Что ты читаешь?
— Анну Каренину.
— Ох, как я люблю эту книгу!
“What are you reading?”
“Anna Karenina.”
“Oh, I love that book so much!”
— Кто живёт в этом доме?
— Откуда мне знать?
“Who lives in that house?”
“How should I know?”
Эти упражнения очень трудные. These exercises are really difficult.
Ты давно работаешь с этими людьми? Have you been working with these people for a long time?

1 comment

Comment from: Robert Mion [Visitor]

Great stuff but always try to make the English as close to the russian as possible:

So “How I love that book!” rather than “I love that book so much”

Don responds: Robert, thanks much for your comment. Nowadays in translations for this blog I prefer to avoid word for word translations if the resulting English is rather more marked. In the case of that particular translation, I went back and forth on which to use. The word for word translation, of course, makes the Russian equivalent structurally clearer to a beginning student. On the other hand, my current impression—not yet confirmed by native speakers—is that the как version of such sentences is used significantly more often than the так version. In American English the ‘so’ version is much more common than the ‘how’ version, and seems to require a rather more marked environment. Since the Russian как version and the English ‘so’ version seemed to me more neutral in style, I ended up going with the ‘so’ version.

I note your e-mail address has a UK domain. I have no instinct for the niceties of British English, so perhaps in the UK the как version is more common?

In either case, your suggestion has merit. For now I’m keeping the ‘so’ translation until I can investigate the matter a bit more.

Warmest wishes, Don.

06/21/11 @ 10:11

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