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ничего

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by Jervoltage, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Jervoltage Senior Member

    Persian
    Hi,

    From Teach Yourself Russian:

    ...note that ничего is the accusative of ничто: Он ничего не сказал об этом.

    Isn't ничего the genitive of ничто, not the accusative, please?
     
  2. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    It's both.

    EDIT: I was wrong, see my next post below.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  3. Jervoltage Senior Member

    Persian
    Thank you - what about ничто as the accusative then?
     
  4. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Actually I was wrong the first time. "ничто" is the correct accusative, but "ничего" is very commonly used colloquially as the accusative.
     
  5. Jervoltage Senior Member

    Persian
    I see. Thank you very much.
     
  6. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    And by the way, it is the same thing with "что". "что" is the correct accusative, but "чего" is very commonly used colloquially as the accusative.
     
  7. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    And now that I think about it, "ничего" is used colloquially as the nominative as well: "Ничего меня не мучает." (= "Nothing bothers me.")
     
  8. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Some Russian dictionaries interpret this ничего a bit differently - as the colloquial indeclinable negative pronoun. However it seems to me you are right. If it really were accustaive, the following two phrases would be grammatically equal:
    Он не спел песню.
    Он не спел ничего.
    But in fact Он не спел ничего is equal to Он не спел ни чего as in Он не спел ни слова.
     
  9. igusarov

    igusarov Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Russian
    You're absolutely right, "ничего" is the genitive case. I think the book got it wrong. It is perfectly legal to use genitive for objects in negative sentences: "Это не имеет значения", "Я не хочу пива", nothing colloquial about it. Though, accusative is also possible.

    This is not an easy example, even for an experienced Russian speaker... Keywords: "генитив субъекта". In brief, sometimes the object in genitive acts as the subject.
    "Отец не был на море" - "Отца не было на море".
    "Письмо не пришло" - "Письма не пришло".
    "Катастрофа не произошла" - "Катастрофы не произошло".
    One of the possible explanations is that the noun is genitive is actually the object to an impersonal sentence, but it looks (and is perceived) as the subject.
     
  10. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Then how do you explain the other forms some as "ничему", "ничем", "ни о чём"?
     
  11. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    But then it is inconsistent with "никто". You say "Никто меня не мучает.", not "Никого меня не мучает."
     
  12. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    But you say "Никого не было ". Slavic languages had once a general rule that the object in a negative sentence was in gentive, instead of accusative. Russian has moved away from this rule, introducing accusative also in negative sentences.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  13. Awwal12 Senior Member

    Moscow, the RF
    Russian
    The variation "ничто/ничего" and "что/чего" haven't much to do with the examples mentioned above. Both "чего" and "ничего" can be considered not just genetive forms, but also as separate pronouns in modern Russian (and are mentioned as such in many dictionaries, in fact; see Ozhegov).
    ...And it's just impossible to say "никто не было" or even "никто не был" (the last one means "nobody was" instead of "there was nobody"); no variation again inside the same synthactical construction. In the same time, pronouns "что" and "чего", as well as "ничто" and "ничего", are basically interchangeable in colloquial speech (in fact, "genitive" variants are preferred in it).
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  14. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Ни о чем is not the form of ничто (actually, ничто and никто have no Instrumentals).
    As for other two, I think they also can be interpreted like ничего.
     
  15. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Что вечно под луной? — Ничто не вечно под луной
    Чего она боится? — Ничего она не боится
    К чему не прикасаться? — Ни к чему не прикасаться
    Чем это измерить? — Ничем это не измерить
    Перед чем не пасовать? — Ни перед чем не пасовать
    О чём не беспокоиться? — Ни о чём не беспокоиться

    Likewise, «кто/никто».
     
  16. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    «Никто не был столь далёк от истины, как Awwal в эту минуту»
     
  17. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Господа, что за пургу вы тут развели?
     
  18. Awwal12 Senior Member

    Moscow, the RF
    Russian
    You cannot say "никого не было столь далеко от истины". And you cannot say "никто не был в комнате". Again, here you're trying to mix two different constructions with both different meaning and different synthax.
     
  19. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Then, please, try to make it clear to the foreign speaker who has started the topic. My impression is exactly that the posters have confused everything during the discussion.
     
  20. Awwal12 Senior Member

    Moscow, the RF
    Russian
    I just wanted to point out that "чего" instead of "что" (pr.) and "ничего" instead of "ничто" don't have much to do with the provided examples of genitive subjects amd similar constructions, at least on the synchronistic level. Here it's more productive to consider them as the separate pronouns, not as the genitive forms.
     
  21. Jervoltage Senior Member

    Persian
    Thank you all very much for your input on this.
     

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