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Thread: sense and nonsense with negation

  1. #1
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    sense and nonsense with negation

    'у меня не были автобусов'
    I know that this sentence means 'i had no buses'.

    are the following sentences wrong or nonsense?
    'у меня не были нет автобусов'
    'у меня не были не автобусов'

    i tried to use double negation with the previous two but maybe it doesnt apply?

    'у меня были не автобусов'
    'у меня были нет автобусов'

    with these previous two, i tried to follow the english syntax but maybe it is also wrong.

    'у меня нет были автобусов'

    and the last one, i believe is nonsense.

    thank you.

  2. #2
    Старший оракул
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    The only valid option is: "У меня не было автобусов".

    Note: you use neutral verb gender: "не было", since the sentence is impersonal. There is no subject. And "автобусов" cannot be a subject (a subject is always in nominative, and there is nothing in nominative in this sentence).

    Think of it this way: "At me (at my possession) it wasn't (any) of buses".

    Other two options are theoretically possible, but sound VERY strange (if taken out of context):

    У меня были не автобусы. - I had non-buses. I.e. I had something (maybe trunks, trains etc.), but not buses.
    Actually, it can be used, if a specific context provided...

    У меня не было неавтобусов. - I did not have non-buses. It sounds extremely unusual. It can mean "I only had buses, and no other things except buses".

    All other options you proposed are ungrammatical.

  3. #3
    Увлечённый спикер krwright's Avatar
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    Is this the same principal for expressing "I was (age) years old."

    You don't say "Мне был 15 лет", but "Мне было 15 лет". Is that correct?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by krwright View Post
    Is this the same principal for expressing "I was (age) years old."

    You don't say "Мне был 15 лет", but "Мне было 15 лет". Is that correct?
    Exactly!

    Literally, it is like "It was 15 years to me".

    But there's another example:

    Я был пятнадцатилетним парнем. = I was a 15-years-old guy. Now "я" is a subject, and therefore we say "Я был".
    krwright likes this.

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