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Thread: Would instrumental case be appropriate?

  1. #1
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    Would instrumental case be appropriate?

    Hi everyone, I am writing a letter in Russian, and I want to find out if these are situations in which it would be appropriate to use the instrumental case. I know that the instrumental case can be used to describe when a noun is accompanied by something else (soup with potatoes), or to describe the manner in which something is completed (I wrote with a pen), but here are some situations which I’m not sure about:
    1). When describing a person with a condition (e.g. the student with dyslexia), should the instrumental case be used?
    2). I am trying to write about my experience tutoring students. I want to say that “I help English language learners with syntax” but I’m not sure if instrumental case would be appropriate here, as I am not helping the ELL's via syntax; I am helping them improve their own knowledge of syntax. Would an instrumental “c” construction be acceptable, or is there another way I could develop this thought?
    3). If I want to use a gerund (“Jess helped him with swimming”) should the instrumental case be used?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    For 2 and 3, infinitives could be used. 2...students to comprehend/understand syntax. 3...helped him to learn to swim. or taught him to swim.
    maxmixiv and Yulia65 like this.

  3. #3
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    For #1 -- Yes, you can say африканцы со СПИДом (Africans with AIDS), for example.

    For #2 and #3 -- if you don't want to use an infinitive, as Seraph suggested, my gut instinct is that you could use по + dative or possibly о + prepositional, depending on the context.

    For example, Я им помогаю по английской грамматике, "I am helping them with English grammar." (Compare with constructions like: Студенты сдают экзамен по биологии, "The students are taking an exam in biology.")

    And with Google, I find that you can definitely say things like соревнование по плаванию ("a swimming competition"), as well as тренер по плаванию ("swimming instructor").

    However, I would get a second opinion from a native speaker!
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  4. #4
    Подающий надежды оратор
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    I just want to add that for #1 I've seen things like, "Я страдаю забывчивостью," where whatever aflliction you replace забывчивостью with would be in the instrumental case. No preposition needed.

  5. #5
    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    Учитель помог мне с домашним заданием.
    Помогите ему с деньгами
    или Помогите деньгами.
    Помогите мне, пожалуйста, с русским языком.

    "Разберитесь, пожалуйста, с беззаконием, которое творят сотрудники МВД, прокуратуры, суда,...", но
    Разберись в себе: чего ты в конце концов хочешь?
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  6. #6
    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    For #1 -- Yes, you can say африканцы со СПИДом (Africans with AIDS), for example.

    For #2 and #3 -- if you don't want to use an infinitive, as Seraph suggested, my gut instinct is that you could use по + dative or possibly о + prepositional, depending on the context.

    For example, Я им помогаю по английской грамматике, "I am helping them with English grammar." (Compare with constructions like: Студенты сдают экзамен по биологии, "The students are taking an exam in biology.")

    And with Google, I find that you can definitely say things like соревнование по плаванию ("a swimming competition"), as well as тренер по плаванию ("swimming instructor").

    However, I would get a second opinion from a native speaker!
    Всё правильно. Можно также сказать : Я им помогаю с английской грамматикой или помогаю разобраться в английской грамматике.

  7. #7
    Властелин
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    1. For medical condition you can technically use c+ instrumental - Там было много людей с воспалением легких (There were many people with pneumonia there). In some cases it's better to add больные чем-либо (африканцы, больные СПИДом, but африканцы со СПИДом colloquially can be used). It's important what other words are beside this c+instrumental (the whole sentence structure is important).

    2. I am helping them with English grammar - in such kind of sentence you can say Я им помогаю с английской грамматикой. But Я им помогаю по английской грамматике is also possible (the latter is mostly used when speaking about subjects , learing, etc.)
    Yulia65 likes this.

  8. #8
    Завсегдатай maxmixiv's Avatar
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    Native speaker has arrived!
    1) Yes.
    In some cases, though, we use slightly different constructions.
    Студент(ученик?) страдающий дислексией
    Пациент больной раком
    Пассажир с большой сумкой
    Заражённые СПИДом африканцы
    etc.
    Not all is as simple as it might seem

    2) Yes,
    however, afaik "syntax" in English could mean not what Russian "синтаксис" means (at least for computer programming languages). "Orthography" (орфография) might be the word you want. "По орфографии" is not correct because "орфография" is not distinct taught subject. "По биологии" would be Ok.
    There is also beautiful construct "помогать в освоении английского синтаксиса" where "в освоении" is prepositional and "английского синтаксиса" is in genitive.

    3) If I want to use a gerund (“Jess helped him with swimming”) should the instrumental case be used?
    Swimming is just not suitable word. "Джесс помогала ему с готовкой" would be alright.

    С уборкой, с озеленением, с украшением, с подготовкой, ... - all these are valid, but "c плаванием" - no.
    You have to use something different:
    "научила плавать", "помогла научиться плавать", "была его тренером по плаванию",...

    HTH
    Last edited by maxmixiv; May 22nd, 2013 at 03:47 AM. Reason: I arrived too lately ;-(
    "Невозможно передать смысл иностранной фразы, не разрушив при этом её первоначальную структуру."

  9. #9
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    There is a thing called "government". Certain prepositions use certain grammatical case, no matter what meaning it conveys (or several cases for different meanings). For example, "с" mostly uses either Genitive ("away from", for objects you would use "на" to say "to") or Instrumental ("with"). Rarely Accusative (to talk about an approximate size: "с тебя ростом" ~ "around your height"). So when you use "с" for any "A with B" meaning, you can be pretty sure it uses Instrumental.
    However, the rules of use differ between languages even when there is a rough correspondence between prepositions (eg. "на"="on", "с"="with", "to"="к", "for"="для/за" and so on). In Russian "with" is expressed just by Instrumental alone (no need for prepositions) when you mean "by means..." But when what you mean is "someone accompanied by something/someone" or "something with something added" - then use "с" + Inst.

    So, I believe, it is not exactly a problem, whether you should use Instrumental or not. It is a more complex one: is a certain construction appropriate for a certain meaning or not, and when it is, the cases are mostly predictable (unless there happens to be a set expression for your specific phrase, which may have an arhaic case usage - i.e. not intuitive).
    Technically, for 1), 2) 3) your suggested construction ("c" + Inst.) works:
    1)Ученик с дислексией.
    2)Я помогаю изучающим английский (разобраться) с синтаксисом (or, as others suggested, "помогаю с английской грамматикой", which is somewhat broader area than just syntax)
    3) Джесс помогал ему с плаванием.
    However, for 3) there are better ways to say it, like, the use of infinitive and then further rephrasing (помогал научиться плавать/ учил плавать/ занимался с ним плаванием and so on).

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