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Thread: то/что constructions

  1. #1
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    то/что constructions

    In class we're doing some exercises using то/что constructions, and there's something I'm unclear about.

    One of the example sentences is:
    Она не знала о том, что он умер.

    How would this be translated? Would you actually say something like "She didn't know about (how?) he died", or would you simply say "She didn't know that he died"?

    And if the latter translation is correct, why not simply say:
    Она не знала, что он умер.

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    your latter would be "She didn't know [that] he died"

    The former could be translated as:
    "She didn't know about his death" or to be more literal (not always a good idea): "She didn't know about the fact that he died"

    What the real difference is, I think I'll leave for a Russ to answer, but I think the former is more formal and bookish, while the latter is more informal.
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    Re: то/что constructions

    Quote Originally Posted by Uvula
    Она не знала о том, что он умер.

    And if the latter translation is correct, why not simply say:
    Она не знала, что он умер.
    Semantically, there is no difference whatsoever, both mean "She didn't know he died".

    Stylistically, KV has it right. "О том, что" is more bookish, but the difference is not too great.

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    Re: то/что constructions

    Quote Originally Posted by Uvula
    In class we're doing some exercises using то/что constructions, and there's something I'm unclear about.

    One of the example sentences is:
    Она не знала о том, что он умер.

    How would this be translated? Would you actually say something like "She didn't know about (how?) he died", or would you simply say "She didn't know that he died"?

    And if the latter translation is correct, why not simply say:
    Она не знала, что он умер.
    Она не знала о том, что он умер is more formal/bookish than simply Она не знала, что он умер. Both mean "She didn't know that he died."

    If you think about English you can say "I didn't know he died" and "I didn't know that he died". It's sort of the same as in Russian, the longer construction is more formal and probably what you'd use in writing, especially formal writing, while the short construction is used in colloquial speech.

    In other contexts the то, что construction can't be removed.

    Я согласен с тем, что она сказала.
    I agree with what she said. Here you can't remove the то, что as it is vital for the grammar of the sentence to work.
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