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Thread: A couple of questions...

  1. #1
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    A couple of questions...

    Hey, I started learning Russian for my degree in September and I am obviously finding loads of things I don't understand.

    At the moment I am trying to understand when and how to use the 'ли' partical.

    And also, in what situations should you use 'ты не мог бы' and 'вы не могли бы'? I know the first is informal and the second is formal, but in which formal and informal situations should they be used?

    Please can someone help me out with these.

    Thanks

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    I am surprised that they are teaching you 'ли' so soon!

    You use formal for people you don't know, business and such, teachers. But I am sure your teacher has told you this, no?
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    Yeah I know about when to use the formal and informal, what I don't understand is when you should use 'ты не мог бы' and when not to, for example, what is the difference between:

    Ты не мог бы сказать мне?
    Ты можешь сказать мне?


    They aren't teaching us ли in lectures yet, it's just I keep hearing it and want to understand what it means and how to use it.

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    Ты не мог бы сказать мне?
    Ты можешь сказать мне?
    They are equal but the first construction is more polite, more formal. Therefore you'd hear more often "Вы (not "ты") не могли бы мне сказать?" because "ты" is used in informal situations, with somebody you know well. When you ask somebody in the street, for example, you can say "вы не могли бы мне сказать...":

    Извините, вы не могли бы мне сказать, как проехать до цирка?
    Извините, вы не могли бы мне сказать, где (находится) пятый дом?

    Although I think more common (and shorter) version would be "не подскажете...":

    Извините, не подскажете, как проехать до цирка?
    Извините, не подскажете, где (находится) пятый дом?

    Generally speaking, "Вы не могли бы.../Ты не мог бы..." can only mean some request while "Вы можете.../Ты можешь..." can be just some question, not necessarily a request.

    As for "ли", it's a particle that is used in questions and in those types of sentences where you use "whether/if" in English.

    Интересно, слышал ли он меня. = I wonder if he heard me.
    Он спросил, можно ли ему идти. = He asked whether he could go.
    Придешь ли ты? = Will you come?
    Не знаю, приду ли. = I don't know if I'll come.
    Курит ли он? = Does he smoke?

    Usually you can rephrase the question without "ли":
    Ты придешь?
    Он курит?
    Please correct my mistakes if you can, especially article usage.
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    Thanks, that helps a lot. I made it a lot clearer. I just have a couple more questions

    So if you use 'вы не могли бы' in formal situations what is the difference when saying:

    вы не могли бы помогать мне?

    вы помогать мне?


    And you said you normally only find it used with 'вы' not 'ты', but in what situations would you use 'ты не мог бы'?


    And finally what would be the difference in meaning and usage between:

    Курит ли ты?

    Ты придешь?

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    Quote Originally Posted by начало
    Thanks, that helps a lot. I made it a lot clearer. I just have a couple more questions

    So if you use 'вы не могли бы' in formal situations what is the difference when saying:

    вы не могли бы помогать мне?

    вы помогать мне?
    "Вы не могли бы помочь мне?" or "Вы поможете мне?" is correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by начало
    And you said you normally only find it used with 'вы' not 'ты', but in what situations would you use 'ты не мог бы'?
    Yes, with "you" it works too: "Ты не мог бы мне помочь?"
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by начало
    And finally what would be the difference in meaning and usage between:

    Курит ли ты?

    Ты придешь?
    Куришь ли ты - Do you smoke?
    Ты придешь - Will you come?

    Completely different meanings, so naturally they'd be used in completely different situations.
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    opps, sorry I made a mistake (again lol) I meant what would be the difference in meaning and usage of:

    Куришь ли ты?

    ты Куришь?

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    Quote Originally Posted by начало
    opps, sorry I made a mistake (again lol) I meant what would be the difference in meaning and usage of:

    Куришь ли ты?

    ты Куришь?
    Куришь ли ты? - Do you smoke or do you not?

    ты Куришь? - Do you smoke?
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    Ok, that makes sense, but when would you use 'Куришь ли ты?' instead of 'ты Куришь?'? Or is it just about what you feel like saying at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by начало
    Ok, that makes sense, but when would you use 'Куришь ли ты?' instead of 'ты Куришь?'? Or is it just about what you feel like saying at the time.
    Мне хотелось бы знать, куришь ли ты.
    I would like to know if you smoke.

    "Ли" forms the question like "if" does.

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    начало, if you would like to know if your friend smokes, you'll ask him: "Ты куришь?"
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by начало
    And you said you normally only find it used with 'вы' not 'ты', but in what situations would you use 'ты не мог бы'?
    The choice between 'вы' and 'ты' (archaic 'ye' and 'thou'?) is determined by the person you are addressing, not by the situation per se. If you are on formal terms, you call that person 'вы'. On the other hand, using "бы", which is equivalent to using 'would' instead of 'will', 'could' instead of 'can' in a request, depends entirely on the situation and how polite you want to sound. It is possible for a person to call you 'вы' while giving you an order (no 'бы'), take a policeman for example, well, in a perfect world. It is possible for a friend to ask you politely to give him back his money, etc.

    In the latter case 'ты не мог бы вернуть мне деньги?' is perfectly fine.
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    And you said you normally only find it used with 'вы' not 'ты', but in what situations would you use 'ты не мог бы'?
    I said you normally only find it used with 'вы' not 'ты' because you normally don't need to be polite and formal with your friends. But you can use 'ты не мог бы' when you request something politely from a person to whom you can say 'ты' (e.g. your friend).

    opps, sorry I made a mistake (again lol) I meant what would be the difference in meaning and usage of:

    Куришь ли ты?

    ты Куришь?
    There's no significant difference. You can use either. "Ты куришь?" (and generally, questions without "ли") is a more common version though.
    Please correct my mistakes if you can, especially article usage.
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    Thank you all very much! You have all made that make sense now

    Thanks a lot

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