by Don  

Love... it comes in so many forms... specifically nouns and verbs, and today we are going to talk about the Russian noun любовь, which is a third declension noun, complicated by a fleeting vowel:


You don't encounter the plural forms very often, but theoretically they exist.

Любовь has several meanings. First off, it's love, the positive feeling that binds people to other people in the best sense:

Наша любовь длится уже тридцать лет. Our love has lasted for thirty years now.
Я раньше не верил в любовь, но как только я познакомился с Клавой, я понял, что всё было не так, как я раньше думал. I used to not believe in love at all, but as soon as I met Klava, I knew that everything was different than I had previously thought.
Молодые люди вообще женятся по любви, но совместная жизнь складывается удачно по другим причинам, точнее по дружбе и взаимоуважению. Young people usually get married for love, but life together thrives for different reasons, specifically due to friendship and mutual respect.
Наша бабушка относилась ко всем своим восемнадцати внукам с любовью. Our grandmother related to all eighteen of her grandchildren with love.

Любовь can also mean the person that instills love in you:

Мы с Таней поженились сорок лет назад, и она ещё моя любовь. Tanya and I got married forty years ago, and she is still my true love.
Мы с Антоном скоро поженимся. Жду не дождусь. Он ведь был моей любовью с детского сада. Anton and I will be married soon. I can't wait. After all, he has been the love of my life since kindergarten.

Now here's an interesting cross-cultural parallelism. In the Christian tradition there are three theological virtues, which are usually called faith, hope and love. But if you read a King James Bible, you will find that one of the older words for love is charity. Faith, Hope and Charity can all be women's names in English. And in Russian those words can also be women's names:

Russian woman's name
and virtue
English woman's name
and virtue
Вера Faith
Надежда Hope
Любовь Charity

I Cor 13:13 still makes me tremble:

А теперь пребывают сии три: вера, надежда, любовь; но любовь из них больше. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


Comment from: прохожий [Visitor]

Привет! я очень извиняюсь,что пишу не по-английски,но надеюсь,что автор блога меня поймет;)
В примере: “Мы с Таней поженились сорок лет назад, и она ещё моя любовь",- я бы написала, что “она всё еще моя любовь". “Всё еще” и “еще” несколько различаются по смыслу.

08/14/12 @ 21:46
Comment from: Kira [Visitor]

Hi Don! Your blog is very interesting and I appreciate your talent for explanation!
Hoewever here you did a mistake with the plural forms. There are: любови, любовей, любовям, любовями, о любовях.
I wish you good luck!

Don responds: Kira, thanks much for the comment. Oddly enough, all the standard references I can find so far leave the о out of the plural forms, so I’m sticking with that for now, but a quick Google search finds many examples as you have them, although of course the search also includes the plural of the woman’s proper name Любовь, which makes the numbers difficult to interpret. This may be one of the places where dictionaries have fallen behind modern useage.

04/25/12 @ 10:27
Comment from: Kaz [Visitor]  

There is a common mistake in the example “… Жду, не дождусь …". If it is used in the meaning of being eager for something to happen, then the comma is not needed. Sure, punctuation rules say otherwise, but it is an idiom.

P.S. I hope you don’t mind me messing with your old posts, posting comments and correcting mistakes.

Don responds: Kaz, thanks! I appreciate all constructive feedback. This blog is something I put together in a rush in spare moments. Anytime someone corrects a typo or punctuation I am very grateful. I don’t mind people pointing out mistakes at all.

03/07/12 @ 20:02

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