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Thread: A sentence in Genitive case

  1. #1
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    A sentence in Genitive case

    hello everyone,

    i have a question about a sentence in genitive case.

    Мне нечего делать.


    why does the sentence use "нечего" genitive case?
    Where is the possesion in the sentence?

  2. #2
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    It is an impersonal sentence. As for the Genitive, consider the word "нечего" a separate pronoun with a meaning "there is nothing to ..." Since Genitive is used with negatives, the pronoun doesn't really have a Nominative form. It has other forms, though, and it does divide into не + чего when you have a preposition (i.e. when used with verbs that require a certain preposition for a specific meaning, like "думать о ..."). It is also used in the meaning "Shouldn't", "No reason to".

    Examples:
    Мне не с кем играть.
    Незачем так волноваться.
    Им нечем писать.
    Мне нечем похвастаться.
    Нечему радоваться.

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    so you are saying that i can use "нечего" as the subject of a sentence?
    what about the accusative case for this word? do i use "нечего" as the object of a sentence?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    so you are saying that i can use "нечего" as the subject of a sentence?
    No, you cannot. But there are sentences with no subject at all, they are called impersonal.
    "Мне нечего делать" does not have any subject. Literally, it's like "To me (there is) nothing to do".

    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    what about the accusative case for this word? do i use "нечего" as the object of a sentence?
    I think, technically, "нечего" is the object here. But the object is often used in genitive if there is a negation.
    Consider:
    Я знаю его имя (accusative) - I know his name.
    but
    Я не знаю его имени (genitive) - I do not know his name.

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    Since Genitive is used with negatives, the pronoun doesn't really have a Nominative form.
    so basically i cannot use "нечто" for the nominative case?
    also i cannot use "нечто" for the accusative case?
    also i use "нечего" for the nominative case and accusative case?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    so basically i cannot use "нечто" for the nominative case?
    "нечто" IS the nominative form. And it is used as an indefinite pronoun which means "something":

    Там происходило нечто странное. - Something strange was going on there.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    also i cannot use "нечто" for the accusative case?
    You can. "нечто" is the same form for both nominative and accusative. And, as I said, it means "something":

    Сегодня я узнал нечто новое. - Today I've learned something new.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    also i use "нечего" for the nominative case and accusative case?
    I'm afraid I do not understand this question. "нечего" is the genitive form. So, your question (about genitive case being used for nominative and accusative) does not make sense.

    Please provide a more specific example, to make it clear what you mean.

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    Please provide a more specific example, to make it clear what you mean.
    Мне нечего делать.

    tell me please, why is 'нечего' here in genitive case? i do not see the possesion in this sentence.
    why use 'нечего' instead of 'нечто'?

    thank you

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    Мне нечего делать.

    tell me please, why is 'нечего' here in genitive case? i do not see the possesion in this sentence.
    why use 'нечего' instead of 'нечто'?

    thank you
    1. This example has nothing to do with possession. If you think that the only purpose of genitive is to indicate possession, that is very far from the truth. Genitive has many more other usages. One of them is to indicate negation or lack of something.

    I've already provided an example above:

    Я знаю его имя (accusative) - I know his name.
    but
    Я не знаю его имени (genitive) - I do not know his name. .

    Another example:

    У меня есть собака. (nominative) - I have a dog.
    but
    У меня нет собаки. (genitive) - I do not have a dog.

    And coming back to your example, "Мне нечего делать" is a negation (I have nothing to do), the genitive here indicates "lack of things to do".

    2. "нечего" and "нечто" are not only different cases. They are different pronouns with different meanings!
    "нечего" is a negative pronoun (there is nothing to ...)
    But "нечто" is an indefinite pronoun (it means "something").

    Here is an example for you with both of them:

    Мой друг делает нечто интересное, а мне всё ещё нечего делать. - My friend is doing something interesting, but I have nothing to do yet.

    "нечто" is nearly the same as "что-то". But "нечто" usually sounds a bit more "bookish", "что-то" is more often used in colloquial speech.

    In contrast, "нечего" is colloquial, it always means "there is nothing to ..." (Мне нечего тебе сказать = I have nothing to tell you; Ему нечего читать = He has nothing to read), and it does not even have any nominative form!

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    Sorry, i dont want to sound stubborn but i am still confused.
    right now my understanding is that:

    "нечто" is an indefinite pronoun (it means "something"). This is not the nominative or accusative form of "нечего".

    so when i see a negation 'не' i will always attach 'чего'.
    when i want to say 'there is nothing', i resort now to always use 'нечего'.

    'нечему' is in dative form but i would rather use 'нечего' because of 'не', the negation.
    'нечем' is in instrumental form but i would rather use 'нечего' because of 'не', the negation.
    'не о чём' is in prepositional form but i would rather use 'нечего' because of 'не', the negation.

    somehow my application and understanding is flawed.
    please correct me.

    help!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    "нечто" is an indefinite pronoun (it means "something").
    Correct!

    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    This is not the nominative or accusative form of "нечего".
    Correct!

    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    so when i see a negation 'не' i will always attach 'чего'.
    This logic seems strange. "If I see something, I attach something" - that makes no sense. If you read a text, you do not need to attach anything. If you speak, then you have to know which word should be used. So, you have to learn how those words are used.

    Quote Originally Posted by tiudavidharris View Post
    when i want to say 'there is nothing', i resort now to always use 'нечего'.

    'нечему' is in dative form but i would rather use 'нечего' because of 'не', the negation.
    'нечем' is in instrumental form but i would rather use 'нечего' because of 'не', the negation.
    'не о чём' is in prepositional form but i would rather use 'нечего' because of 'не', the negation.
    No, that is not correct, I did not say that "нечего" is always used in genitive! I just explained why genitive is used IN YOUR SPECIFIC EXAMPLE.

    "нечему", "нечем", "не о чем" are all valid options, depending on the case you need.

    There are 3 distinct things: ничто, нечто and нечего. All of them have different meanings, and are used differently.

    1. Ничто is a negative pronoun equal to "nothing". It is pronounced with the second syllable stressed: [ниШТО]. It can be used in any case:

    Nominative ничто (Ничто мне не поможет - Nothing will help me)
    Accusative ничего, pronounced [ничиВО] (Я ничего не вижу - I see nothing)
    Genitive ничего (same as accusative, I cannot think of a suitable example)
    Dative ничему (Я не удивляюсь ничему - I do not surprise to anything)
    Prepositional ничем (Он мне ничем не помог - He did not help me by anything)
    Instrumental ни о чём (Мы разговаривали ни о чём - We talked about nothing)

    Note: all the forms have their stress on the last syllable.

    2. Нечто is an indefinite pronoun which means "something". It is pronounced with the first syllable stressed: [НЕчта]. There is no negation in this word! Note: ничто and нечто are spelled and pronounced differently.

    Нечто can only be used in nominative and accusative:

    Nominative нечто (Случилось нечто невероятное - Something impossible happened)
    Accusative нечто (Я увидел нечто странное - I saw something strange)

    Нечто is a bookish word, not so often used in colloquial speech. You may always replace it with "что-то":
    Случилось нечто невероятное = Случилось что-то невероятное.
    Я увидел нечто странное = Я увидел что-то странное.

    Нечто cannot be used in any other case (except nominative and accusative). If you need a different case, just replace it with "что-то":
    Они разговаривали о чём-то интересном. - They were talking about something interesting. (You cannot use "нечто" here, since this case requires prepositional. But you can use "что-то" instead: "о чём-то").

    Another example: there is a famous philosophical question
    Почему существует нечто, а не ничто? - Why does SOMETHING exist, but not NOTHING?
    It shows that "нечто" is opposed to "ничто".

    3. Нечего is quite a special word. It is pronounced with the first syllable stressed: [НЕчива]. Note: ничего and нечего are spelled and pronounced differently.
    Нечего is used in impersonal constructions only (i.e. in sentences without any subject). It is used when you want to express the idea like "There's nothing to do", "There's nothing to worry about", "There's nothing to read", "There's nothing to drink", "There's nothing to be surprised to" etc. I think you've got it.

    It can be used in any case, except nominative and accusative! (And now compare with нечто)

    Nominative - does not exist
    Accusative - does not exist
    Genitive нечего (Мне нечего читать - I have nothing to read)
    Dative нечему (Нечему удивляться - There's nothing to be surprised to)
    Prepositional нечем (Мне было нечем дышать - There was nothing to breath for me)
    Instrumental не о чем (Нам было не о чем разговаривать - We had nothing to talk about)

    Note: all the forms have their stress on the first syllable.

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    Indeed difficult subject

    Genitive ничего (same as accusative, I cannot think of a suitable example)
    "Там не было ничего похожего на молоток." Genitive here I guess, or still Accusative?

    In addition, one have to differentiate "ни о чём"[ниачЁм] and "не о чем"[нЕачим] .

    "ни о чём" could be seen here:
    Юрий Антонов-Я не жалею ни о чём - YouTube

    "не о чем" could be better understood with a analogies:
    Ямщик, не гони лошадей,
    Мне некуда больше спешить,
    Мне некого больше любить
    We could continue a-la: "Мне не о чем больше жалеть"
    "Невозможно передать смысл иностранной фразы, не разрушив при этом её первоначальную структуру."

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxmixiv View Post
    Indeed difficult subject


    "Там не было ничего похожего на молоток." Genitive here I guess, or still Accusative?
    Perfect! It's genitive in your example, thanks!

    Compare: Там не было молотка - genitive. So, там не было ничего - genitive, too!

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