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Thread: Is this sentence correct?

  1. #1
    Увлечённый спикер
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    Is this sentence correct?

    Hi there!

    An element of the following extract from my Russian language textbook is causing me some confusion:

    Ева И Вадим шли по Тверской улице и говорили о её друзьях.

    Should её not in fact be ней, the prepositional?

    Ева И Вадим шли по Тверской улице и говорили о ней друзьях.

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
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    Ева И Вадим шли по Тверской улице и говорили о её друзьях. - it's fine............ говорили о её друзьях = were talking about HER friends (i.e. Eva's friends, cos Vadim is a male name)

    говорили о ней друзьях. - grammatically incorrect, doesn't make sense.

  3. #3
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    I understood it as were talking about friends of Tverskaya street.
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  4. #4
    Старший оракул
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Smith View Post
    Ева И Вадим шли по Тверской улице и говорили о её друзьях.

    Should её not in fact be ней, the prepositional?

    Ева И Вадим шли по Тверской улице и говорили о ней друзьях.
    No, the original version is correct, yours is impossible.

    Explanation:
    "говорили о ней" - "were talking about her".
    Compare:
    "говорили обо мне" - "were talking about me" ("обо" is always used before "мне")
    "говорили о тебе" - "were talking about you"
    "говорили о нас" - "were talking about us"
    "говорили о вас" - "were talking about you"
    "говорили о нём" - "were talking about him"
    "говорили о них" - "were talking about them"

    Here we have personal pronouns in prepositional case. 3-rd person Personal pronouns take initial "н-" when they follow a preposition (о нём, о ней, о них).

    "говорили о её друзьях" - "were talking about her friends".
    Compare:
    "говорили о моих друзьях" - "were talking about my friends"
    "говорили о твоих друзьях" - "were talking about your friends"
    "говорили о наших друзьях" - "were talking about our friends"
    "говорили о ваших друзьях" - "were talking about your friends"
    "говорили о его друзьях" - "were talking about his friends"
    "говорили об их друзьях" - "were talking about their friends" ("об" is used because it precedes a vowel sound)

    Here we have possessive pronouns + noun in prepositional case. 3-rd person possessive pronouns never take initial "н-" (о его друзьях, о её друзьях, об их друзьях).

    Compare: in English you also have different pronouns, personal and possessive (me/my, you/your, us/our, him/his, them/their), but "her/her" is an occasional coincidence, and that is the cause of your confusion. You would not say in English "about him friends", would you? "о ней друзьях" is impossible due to the same reason.

    BTW, "его, её, их" as possessive pronouns are undeclinable in Russian, only the noun changes.
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  5. #5
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    "говорили о его друзьях" - "were talking about his friends"
    "говорили об их друзьях" - "were talking about their friends"
    One addition to this paradigm: the reflexive свой, "one's own" -- which can variously be translated as "his, hers, theirs, mine, ours, yours" depending on the subject of the verb:

    1) Ева говорила о своих друзьях. = Yeva was talking about her (own) friends.
    2) Ева говорила о её друзьях. = Yeva was talking about some other girl's friends.
    3) Вадим говорил о своих друзьях. = Vadim was talking about his (own) friends.
    4) Вадим говорил о его друзьях. = Vadim was talking about some other guy's friends.
    5) Ева и Вадим говорили о своих друзьях. = Yeva and Vadim were talking about their (own, mutual) friends.

    6) Ева и Вадим говорили о её друзьях. = Yeva and Vadim were talking about Yeva's friends.
    7) Ева и Вадим говорили о его друзьях. = Yeva and Vadim were talking about Vadim's friends.

    Note sentence 5 in particular: when you have more than one subject, свой refers back to all of the subjects, not just one of them. So you can't use a form of свой if you mean Yeva's friends only, and not Vadim's.
    Sentence 6 would imply that they were talking about Olga's or Tanya's or Maria's friends, not Yeva's, so to avoid ambiguity you could say о друзьях Ольги, "about the friends of Olga." (And similarly for sentence 7.)

    Finally, a question for native speakers. How would you interpret the following sentence? --

    Ева и Вадим говорили об их друзьях.

    I was always taught that this could only mean "They were talking about other people's friends" (i.e., individuals who are not friends of either Yeva or Vadim) and cannot be equivalent to Ева и Вадим говорили о своих друзьях. ("They were talking about their own mutual friends.")

  6. #6
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    Троберт, вы правы.

  7. #7
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    How would you interpret the following sentence? --

    Ева и Вадим говорили об их друзьях.
    The thing is, what a person says is expected to make sense in the context of a conversation. If you indeed mean "other people's friends", you don't spring a sentence like this on a listener without it being clear who "other people" are. If somebody did that to me (like you did ), I would assume they meant "своих". This is the case of common sense taking precedence over grammar.


    -- Кто о чем вчера разговаривал?
    -- Ева и Вадим говорили об их друзьях.
    (их = своих, Ева и Вадим's, what else could it possibly be?)

    -- Вчера зашёл разговор о Петровых.
    -- О чём именно говорили?
    -- Ева и Вадим говорили об их друзьях.
    (genuine "их", Петровых)
    Last edited by E-learner; April 21st, 2013 at 09:01 AM. Reason: minor orthographic error
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