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Thread: old" help" me phrase

  1. #1
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    old" help" me phrase

    Здравствуите!!
    Как дела
    When I first started to learn Russian,all of 3 months ago,I was stuck on this phrase, вы не могли бы мне помоч -"can you help me "--which I eventually overcame.
    It was suggested to me that rather than learn whole phrases,that I looked more closley to the structure of each word,which was very god advice.
    I noticed the other day while looking through my notebooks,that there seems to be a negative in this phrase...as theres the word "He"So with this,wouldnt the below phrase actually read as..."can you NOT help me/would you not help me"

    вы(You) не (not) могли (can) бы мне (me) помоч (help)

    Have I got this wrong???
    As allways,many thanks

  2. #2
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    Don't be so unsure of yourself! Of course there is a negative in there.

    The English equivalent is:
    You wouldn't be able to help me (by any chance), would you?

    The difference is that this is a bit contrived and a bit too polite in English, whereas in Russian it's certainly polite, but much more normal.

    Russians often use не to indicate a question, although there are other ways too (such as "ли")..

    Reading your post again, I guess what you haven't got clear yet is the бы particle - which has a lot in common with the English 'would'.
    Море удачи и дачу у моря

  3. #3
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    Brilliant...Thank you so much.
    I actually thought that this meant "You wouldnt be able to help me,would you?" after learning from Pravit on these boards about the use of бы.
    I have seen other sentances with similar "pit falls"
    I guess sometimes,especially us English,"we cant see the wood for the trees"
    Thanks again...at least I know that Im heading in the correct direction,altough very slowly..lol

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