Friday, June 20, 2014

Q&A: What is The Russian Equivalent for Continuous Tense And How to Decline Dates In Russian

How would you say "I was talking"? Just "я был говорить" or is there a special way of adding the Russian equivalent of "ing"?

Very good question!

In Russian we have only three tenses - past, present and future, but we have aspects to differentiate between continuous actions and actions that have been completed.

'ing' in English indicates the continuous tense. We normally use the imperfective aspect for continuous actions. So, Я говорил is a suitable translation for 'I was talking'.

'I said' would be 'Я сказал' (perfective).

I am really struggling with the declension of numbers in Russian dates. When do I use the prepositional case and when the genitive case? Or the real question is: when do I use the preposition в with dates? Why is it "я родилась 25-ого мая" and not "я родилась в 25-ом мая"? And what do I do with the years? Thank you so much for all your help! :)

I can understand your frustration.

Genitive case for months when saying dates is because you actually say ‘25th OF May’, and ‘of’ normally equals Genitive in Russian.

Indeed, saying dates in Russian is confusing. I really don’t know why we say ‘Я родилась двадцать первого января’, but ‘Я родилась в пятницу’. I hate the phrase “this is how we say it”, but I can’t find any better answer.

As for years, it depends. If you want to say I was born in 1998, then you should say ‘Я родилась в тысяча девятьсот девяносто восьмом (1998) году’. You indicate the year you were born, so you are kind of ‘inside’ the year -> В … году.

If you want to say “I was born on May 25, 1998”, in Russian this phrase sounds like “I was born in 25 of May of 1998” -> Я родилась двадцать пятого мая тысяча девятьсот девяносто восьмого года.

I hope my explanations make it a little bit clearer.

Photo by Steven Mueller