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Thread: the use of "при"

  1. #1
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    the use of "при"

    Hi there!

    I was wondering about the correct use of "при" I know that it is used in some contexts with a verb of motion and then sometimes in different contexts, such as: <<Также трудно запоминать все новые слова, но это проблема при изучении любого языка.>>

    Can someone explain the different meanings? Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

  3. #3
    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    ABBYY Lingvo says:

    при

    1) (около, возле, рядом) near, close to, at, by; (в названиях битв) of при впадении реки — near the river's mouth битва при Бородине — the battle of Borodino

    2) (в присутствии) in smb's presence это надо сделать при нём — this must be done in his presence при посторонних [при детях] — in front of [before] strangers [the children]

    3) (во время, в эпоху) in the time of; (о правительстве, власти и т.п.) under при Пушкине — in Pushkin's ['pu-] time при Петре Первом [при Стюартах, при царе] — under Peter the First [under the Stuarts, under the tsar]

    4) (с собой) by; (на себе) about, on у него этого при себе нет — he hasn't got it by / on him у него нет при себе денег — he has no money with / on him

    5) (при обозначении обстоятельств действия) by, when (+ ) при электричестве [свечах, дневном свете] — by electric light [by candlelight, by daylight] при переходе через улицу — when crossing the street

    6) (обладая чем-л) with; (несмотря на) for при таких знаниях [талантах] — with such [so much] knowledge [talent] при таком здоровье — with such health; (о плохом состоянии здоровья) when one's health is so poor при всём своём уважении [любви, преданности] он не мог — for all his respect [love, devotion] he couldn't

    7) (в составе неосновных подразделений какой-л организации) under институт при Министерстве труда — Institute under the Ministry of Labour бюро при премьер-министре — bureau (functioning) under the prime minister школа при соборе — cathedral school при фабрике действуют курсы — the factory runs a training course; there's a training course operating on the factory premises (присоединённый) attached to; (прикомандированный) assigned to госпиталь при дивизии — hospital attached to the division
    Antonio1986 likes this.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

  4. #4
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    My thought on learning prepositions.

    Nearly every preposition has a wide set of meanings and uses, both in English and in Russian. And they never fully intersect. That is what one has to bear in mind.

    I would not recommend to learn all the usages of a preposition at once. That would create a mess in your memory, and it is a very ineffective way. Instead of doing that, try to figure out what a preposition means in each specific occasion step by step, do not bother with its other meanings at the same moment. And try to construct some more examples with the same meaning. Repeat them many times until you feel you are getting used to it.

    Examples for your case (I tried to make simple ones), all of them use more or less the same meaning of "при" (при + action noun):
    При изучении языка необходимо запоминать новые слова.
    Будьте осторожны при работе с электричеством!
    При покупке билета проверяйте сдачу.
    При чтении книги не выключайте свет.
    При просмотре фильма не разговаривайте слишком громко.
    При повышении температуры обратитесь к врачу.
    При пожаре звоните 01.
    Antonio1986 likes this.

  5. #5
    Почтенный гражданин
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    in this context, it would usually be translated as "when/while + gerund." Будьте осторожны при работе с электричеством! - be careful when working with electricity.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Douglas View Post
    in this context, it would usually be translated as "when/while + gerund." Будьте осторожны при работе с электричеством! - be careful when working with electricity.
    John, I agree with you. But the problem is it only works in one direction: Russian -> English. Yes, it can be translated this way.

    However, it is not always possible to translate the English construction of "when/while + gerund" into Russian using "при + noun". I can provide many examples when it does not work. And also many examples where it does.

    Examples (sorry for my English if there are any mistakes):

    The boss talked to his colleagues while smoking a cigarette.
    Wrong: Начальник разговаривал с коллегами при курении сигареты.
    Right: Начальник разговаривал с коллегами и курил сигарету. Начальник разговаривал с коллегами, куря сигарету. Начальник разговаривал с коллегами, пока курил сигарету.

    While driving a car, he saw a meteorite in the sky. (Hello, Chelyabinsk )
    Wrong: При вождении автомобиля он увидел метеорит в небе.
    Right: Когда он вёл машину, он увидел метеорит в небе. Во время поездки на машине он увидел метеорит в небе. Ведя машину, он внезапно увидел метеорит в небе.

    Please do not spill ash on the floor when smoking a cigarette!
    Просьба не сорить пеплом при курении сигареты. - Possible.

    While driving a car do not exceed the speed limit!
    При вождении автомобиля не превышайте скорость! - Possible.

    What I can conclude from those examples - "при + action noun" can be used when the whole sentence expresses something which is directly related to the action expressed by the noun. E.g. spilling ash on the floor is directly related to smoking. Exceeding the speed limit is directly related to driving.

    But I am not sure if this explanation is complete. Sometimes non-native speakers know the grammar rules better than natives do. So, I have a question to non-natives (John and others are welcome): do you know any rule when this construction with "при" is used?

  7. #7
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    It seems to me that this use of при is only used when talking in general terms about an action. I'm not sure you if you can say я получил ожог при работе с электричеством... at least it sounds a bit strange to me.

    Another fairly common expression is при наличии, meaning "if/ when something exists/ is available/ present".

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Douglas View Post
    я получил ожог при работе с электричеством... at least it sounds a bit strange to me.
    To me it sounds normal. At least, I would not surprise if I hear this phrase. Maybe, it is a bit "official", but just a little bit.

    But if you suggest "Я разговаривал с начальником при работе с электричеством", then yes, it is awkward. I would replace it with "... во время работы с электричеством" then.

    Other opinions are welcome

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Боб Уайтман View Post
    To me it sounds normal. At least, I would not surprise if I hear this phrase. Maybe, it is a bit "official", but just a little bit.

    But if you suggest "Я разговаривал с начальником при работе с электричеством", then yes, it is awkward. I would replace it with "... во время работы с электричеством" then.

    Other opinions are welcome
    So I guess your previous post is more or less correct - this construction with при is used when one action is a part of the other action, but not when two unconnected actions are just happening at the same time, whereas in English "while/when" can be used for both.

  10. #10
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    Wonderful responses! Thanks everyone!!

  11. #11
    Завсегдатай maxmixiv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Douglas View Post
    So I guess your previous post is more or less correct - this construction with при is used when one action is a part of the other action, ...
    Not always though. There must exist the proper noun in Russian: курение, вождение, ...
    Hence no ПРИ in the sentence:
    Ёжики плакали, кололись, но продолжали жрать кактус.

    Но ПРИ большом желании, можно переписать его:
    При поедании кактуса ёжики плачут и колются.
    "Невозможно передать смысл иностранной фразы, не разрушив при этом её первоначальную структуру."

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