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Thread: Frustrated with Russian cases...

  1. #1
    Подающий надежды оратор Nichole.'s Avatar
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    Angry Frustrated with Russian cases...

    This was the part of my Russian study that I have been dreading for a long time.

    I get what each of the cases do, nominative is the direct subject, accusative is the direct object, prepositional is obvious, etc. The thing that is stumping me is looking at a regular English sentence and trying to find out how to translate it into Russian because in school, I never really cared what an indirect object was and just went through the motions in English class, because, hey, I'm a native English speaker, when am I ever going to need to know how to diagram a sentence? I was dead wrong.

    It just seems like there are so many cases that are in a normal sentence that I kind of get confused. I can look at a Russian sentence and kind of know what it means because the words don't change that much through the cases and I get the basic jist of it if I know the vocabulary that is used, but when it comes to translating something from my L1 language to Russian, I get messed up. Seems backwards.

    Can anyone help me make it easier to separate a sentence's cases so it'll be easier to translate it into Russian? Or do I just need to go back to my 6th grade English class?

    Also, are there any good ways to memorize the case endings other than repetition?
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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    What textbook are you using? Maybe you are trying to get ahead of yourself -- take it step by step and you will get the cases one at a time, with the easy ones first!
    Should be: Język polski



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    Hi! Just wanted to chime in that I felt that way about the cases too, though my problem was when someone tried to generally explain cases to me when I just started learning - I didn't really know English grammar, or grammar in general, as a native speaker so had to learn that first to understand Russian. It seems you already have a grasp on that. I think the trick for you, however annoying it is(and it really is because for a long while you really can't say anything or read anything), is to just go through the cases one at a time and master them before you move on. Get a good textbook or workbook that has tons of exercises where you are just constantly putting words into the correct case, finding which verbs require the case, memorizing specific grammar constructions that require a particular case(eg. dative - МНЕ холодно, ЕМУ 6 лет ect), and just writing out random series of adjetives and nouns and put them into every case as practice(we had to do this in my first year a lot).

    I promise that when you do this the cases just get ingrained into the way you think, you will remember specific phrases as well and you will no longer have to "translate" in your head like "'I am going to walk the dog in the park'...so 'the dog' is in accusative.....'I' am in nominative...'in the park' is prepositional...okay."

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    Подающий надежды оратор Nichole.'s Avatar
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    I'm using The New Penguin Russian Course, Living Language Beginners Russian, and Schaum's Russian Grammar.

    I know all of the cases' functions and I can understand a Russian sentence if I recognize the words used. The problem comes about when I want to translate a longer sentence in English, to Russian, and there are so many cases, that even if I remember their endings, I still get confused because I forget which case goes with which word, etc.

    I know what each case does, it's just the fact that in a long sentence, I have to take every word and change it... it's just too much and it totally messes me up. Not to mention, I don't have to do this too much in English (we only have like, two cases, and their the same most of the time and we don't have to match them up to gender, except for in pronouns like "he" "him" "she" "her"... so it's realllllyyyy easy).

    It just seems like Russian has too much add-ons when it comes to grammar for me to deal with. I have to worry about gender, having all of the other words agree with that gender, if it's plural or not, and then I have to add cases to all of that. It's alot to deal with and I have no idea how to manage all of that. I always get the practice problems right in my books, it's when it comes to real life situations such as talking on the phone, or even typing this message, that seems a little crazy and a bit overboard.
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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    Yes, cases are not like German, where you had aus bei mit nach seit von zu and those were all the preopositions that governed the dative. Russian has a lot more. But, as I and the Canadian have suggested, just go at it one at a time. Learn one thoroughly then go on to the next. You probably won't be speaking fluently for a couple of years. I have been at it for nearly a lifetime and still screw up all the time.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Well, coming from English, look at it like this:

    The nominative case is for the subject, and the subject is the one who (or which) performs the action of the verb. The simplest sentences only have a subject and a verb in English: "I breathe".

    The accusative case is the case for the direct object, which means the person or thing the verb acts on. "I read the book". "I" is subject, "the book" is being read, so it is technically in accusative case. Like in English, in Russian the accusative noun looks exactly the same as the nominative noun except in two areas: if the noun is feminine and ending in -а or -я, then the accusative is -у or -ю respectively. And if the noun refers to a living person or animal and is masculine or neuter or in plural (any gender), then the ending of the genitive case is used.

    The indirect object is less directly connected to the verb. In English, "I give him the book" still has a direct object "the book" which is directly acted on by the verb, and "him" is in what we would call the dative case, which term incidentally comes from the Latin "dare", "to give". We call that the indirect object. Case endings will have to be learned, but you'll find that the -m- sound is actually something even Russian uses in dative case frequently.

    You know when to use the genitive in English, as in "father's car". Unlike English, Russian uses the genitive not just for persons (like saying "the door's handle"), and it is used with a lot of prepositions.

    The instrumental is used for the instrument with which something is being done, and with certain prepositions, and the prepositive, as the name says, also with certain prepositions and never without.

    The endings will have to be learned but it's easier to observe the endings as they are being used by native speakers in order to see their practical usage rather than trying to memorize declension tables and then thinking about which ending to use in which situation.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nichole. View Post
    The problem comes about when I want to translate a longer sentence in English, to Russian,
    I think translating from English to Russian should be way down on your to do list. Work from Russian to English and you'll slowly pick up cases. I think the only way to become comfortable with the endings is massive exposure, memorization is not effective. We're talking years here, it's a long term project.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Почтенный гражданин Misha Tal's Avatar
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    You'll be disappointed after reading this, so be prepared! Ultimately you have to learn each verb individually. You have to learn which case and which preposition(s) to use with which verb.

    Take this example: the verb "помочь/помогать" (to help). It obviously requires direct object: when you help someone, you're doing the act of helping directly to him/her. So you would expect it to take the accusative case. Well, it doesn't. It takes the dative: помочь кому-нибудь.

    That's not just one exception to the general rule. There are many more. The only way is to learn verbs one by one: their meaning, their conjugation, the cases and prepositions they take, etc, etc.
    "If in the end, Misha, you are destined to lose this game, there is no need for the reason to be cowardice!"

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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misha Tal View Post
    You'll be disappointed after reading this, so be prepared! Ultimately you have to learn each verb individually. You have to learn which case and which preposition(s) to use with which verb.
    Well it is just as prepositions in English.

    Take this example: the verb "помочь/помогать" (to help). It obviously requires direct object: when you help someone, you're doing the act of helping directly to him/her. So you would expect it to take the accusative case. Well, it doesn't. It takes the dative: помочь кому-нибудь.
    Nope. It is quite logical dative. If you help me then you give me help. You generally do not act directly on me, but on some other object for my sake.

    Grammar is the way of thinking.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Почтенный гражданин Misha Tal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by it-ogo View Post
    Nope. It is quite logical dative. If you help me then you give me help. You generally do not act directly on me, but on some other object for my sake.
    Funny enough, even in my native Persian, the verb for helping is said to be "transitive to indirect object". And it doesn't make sense to me. "To help" is not different from "to kiss" in that they're both performed directly. Well, you could "give someone a kiss", but that doesn't make the verb indirect.

    Grammar is the way of thinking.
    So what? Should I take my hat off to grammar? Well, I won't do that to Russian grammar!
    "If in the end, Misha, you are destined to lose this game, there is no need for the reason to be cowardice!"

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    You know, with "kiss" also could be possibilities
    Поцеловать девушку.
    Поцеловать девушке руку.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    But you don't usually help someone by acting on him directly. You kiss the girl (which is a pretty direct action on the girl ), but you may help someone by doing all kinds of things elsewhere, but not directly to the person themselves.

    It's not a transitive verb in German (where there is no such thing as "transitive to the indirect object") and it is "transitive to the indirect object" in English as well, as you can make a passive sentence: I helped him -> he was helped. No such luck in German. I don't know any Indo-European language in which the verb for "help" is transitive.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misha Tal View Post
    So what? Should I take my hat off to grammar? Well, I won't do that to Russian grammar!
    In Iran you take your hat off to grammar, in Russia grammar takes your head off.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sperk View Post
    I think the only way to become comfortable with the endings is massive exposure, memorization is not effective. We're talking years here, it's a long term project.
    Pretty much. I have been at it for 6 years and I am still crap at it. Just be glad that Russian has only 6 cases and not 15 like Finnish, I know I am!

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    Подающий надежды оратор Nichole.'s Avatar
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    Still kinda confused. I think my problems are:

    1. I don't know enough about English grammar in the first place because why should I have really cared about ever learning it?
    2. Whoever created Russian seriously overdid themselves when it comes to grammar. Why does everything have to agree with everything else?
    3. I have no idea how I would study this without boring repetition.
    4. I hate grammar vocabulary. Logical dative? Present perfect participle? (All I know is present, past, future, and conjugation.) There's too many P's.

    If you guys can't form a simple phrase in a sentence without kind of arguing about it, how am I supposed to? How do L2 Russian speakers do this without thinking about it? There's no possible way I can just look at a bunch of sentences in Russian and have it start to form subconsciously in my mind over time.

    This is too hard for me to handle. There are too many rules needed in one simple sentence.

    Sure, I can do "Samantha likes ice cream." Samantha is nominative, the verb will be in present tense and agree with it, and ice cream will be in accusative. No problemo.

    It's sentences like (let's take one from this message) "If you guys can't form a simple phrase in a sentence without kind of arguing about it, how am I supposed to?" that are stumping me, and probably need every single Russian grammar rule ever created in the sentence in order for me to make sense.

    What did I get myself into?
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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    If conditional marker
    you guys subject with supplemental specification
    can't form modal + bare infinitive of "form"
    a simple phrase direct object (indef. article + adj. + noun)
    in preposition of place
    a sentence indef. article + noun [in a language with cases, the ending of "sentence" would be determined by whatever the preposition "in" requires]
    without what is this?
    kind of and this?
    arguing deverbal noun (i.e., a noun that comes from a verb)
    about it, preposition + pronoun
    how adverb
    am I supposed verb with inverted word order
    to? suffix of a phrasal verb (which is "to be supposed to" as opposed to the nonphrasal "to suppose")

    There is a book called something like English Grammar for Dummies. Buy it and read it. It is intended for native speakers.

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    Властелин
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    Nichole,
    I have no help for you in Russian. I am learning Russian and also hated English grammar as a kid. I am actually learning more about English now then in school. From your note maybe take the language in smaller steps then you are? Your example sentence is a complicated one, no?

    Scott




    Quote Originally Posted by Nichole. View Post
    Still kinda confused. I think my problems are:

    1. I don't know enough about English grammar in the first place because why should I have really cared about ever learning it?
    2. Whoever created Russian seriously overdid themselves when it comes to grammar. Why does everything have to agree with everything else?
    3. I have no idea how I would study this without boring repetition.
    4. I hate grammar vocabulary. Logical dative? Present perfect participle? (All I know is present, past, future, and conjugation.) There's too many P's.

    If you guys can't form a simple phrase in a sentence without kind of arguing about it, how am I supposed to? How do L2 Russian speakers do this without thinking about it? There's no possible way I can just look at a bunch of sentences in Russian and have it start to form subconsciously in my mind over time.

    This is too hard for me to handle. There are too many rules needed in one simple sentence.

    Sure, I can do "Samantha likes ice cream." Samantha is nominative, the verb will be in present tense and agree with it, and ice cream will be in accusative. No problemo.

    It's sentences like (let's take one from this message) "If you guys can't form a simple phrase in a sentence without kind of arguing about it, how am I supposed to?" that are stumping me, and probably need every single Russian grammar rule ever created in the sentence in order for me to make sense.

    What did I get myself into?

  18. #18
    Подающий надежды оратор Nichole.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether View Post
    Nichole,
    I have no help for you in Russian. I am learning Russian and also hated English grammar as a kid. I am actually learning more about English now then in school. From your note maybe take the language in smaller steps then you are? Your example sentence is a complicated one, no?
    My ego is really preventing me from doing things. Sure, I know I need to start with smaller sentences, but I'm so used to being praised in school for my supposedly "wonderful and mature speech", that when I don't know how do translate a simple sentence from my own language into my target language, it bumps me down a peg.

    It's also extremely frustrating when I know exactly what each case does, and I can translate something from Russian to English, but I can't figure out how to translate something from my own language into my target language because I never cared for grammar, so now, I'm confused about so many things, and I can't keep track of them all at once, which sends me into a bit of a tizzy.

    There's too much consternation.
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    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nichole. View Post
    My ego is really preventing me from doing things.
    Learning languages is great for humility, as soon as you think you know a lot you realize you don't know much at all.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Подающий надежды оратор Nichole.'s Avatar
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    Yep.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how I could learn how to place these cases? (Excluding ways that would bore me to no extent...)
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