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хотеть + imperfective/perfective verbs

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by jamtland76, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. jamtland76 Junior Member

    I'm new to the forum, could you please explain me the meaning of the phrases below and if they are correct? I think I understand examples 1 and 3, are examples 2 and 4 wrong? What happens if I add a negation? Thank you!

    1) я хочу помогать людям

    2) я хочу помочс людям

    3) я хочу помочь этому человеку

    4) я хочу помогать этому человеку
  2. morzh

    morzh Senior Member

    1. I want to help people (in general).
    2. I want to help people (with some particular plight of theirs).
    3. I want to help this person (with his particular problem).
    4. I want to keep helping this person.
  3. Wertis

    Wertis Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Agreed. However in #4 it's also possible to say "I want to help this person".
  4. morzh

    morzh Senior Member

    Not agreed.
  5. jamtland76 Junior Member

    Thank you! Is it correct to say that when I use "помогать" the action of helping will last for a not definied period, and when I use "помочь" the action of helping will happen once and the object is well definied? Isn't necessary to add "этим" in example 2?
  6. Natalisha Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum, Jamtland! :)

    It depends.
    In the sentence "Я хочу помочь людям" "люди" can be also translated as "mankind" and the action of helping may take a lot of time and be continuous.

    If you want to specify who you want to help, say:
    Я хочу помочь этим людям.

    Otherwise "люди" can be translated either as "people" or "mankind".
  7. Wertis

    Wertis Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Right, "людям" can mean "mankind" here. For example:

    1) Необходимо всегда помогать людям - It's necessary to always help people
    2) Помогать людям - очень непростая работа - To help people is very hard

    In both sentences you mean people in general without distinguishing who exactly you're going to help.

    We can use a pronoun like "этим" or any other word to indicate what people we're speaking about. In this case the sentence will be intended to characterize a particular group of people:

    1) Необходимо помочь людям, выжившим в авиакатастрофе - It's necessary to help people who have survived in the plain crash

    2) Очень важно помочь людям, решившим в одиночку бороться ворами, похищающими урожай на дачных участках - It's very important to help people who have decided to single-handedly fight thieves who pilfer crop from private estates
  8. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Not if it's clear which people you are talking about.
  9. Evgeniy Senior Member

    If you search some more for informations on Russian aspect usage, you will certainly find lots of explanations featuring the words 'process' and 'event' and similar. Given the context of the construction under discussion, I would like to share some additions. Following the rule of the distinction between a process and an event results in non-natural Russian sometimes.

    If you say, 'I want to demonstrate that black cats can be found in black rooms', then the difference between the aspects for the Russian verb for 'demonstrate' is not explained by whether you want really to provide a proof or you want only engage in the process of demonstration as much as your time and your skill permits you. "Я хочу показывать, что можно отыскать чёрного кота в чёрной комнате" is a frequent mistake made by European speakers of Russian, and this phrase makes no sense. The difference between the two phrases is not what you want to do: whether you want to engage in a process or participate in an event. The difference is why you want to do that, what properties of the action mean something valuable for the future state of your mind that you wish to share with people you are talking to. That is, whether those properties lie in the field, "what do I want to be bothered with, to think of, to act upon", or they lie in the field, "what action do I want to plan, to execute or to consider": all these verbs, as you can see, signify different actions of your active mind. It is non-sensical to want to be bothered with demonstration, at least in the generic context of this phrase alone: your mind's being involved in demonstrating something does not constitute the essence of what you want, such state of your mind is not a meaningful cause. However, both options are possible in the case you want to play dominoes: "я хочу сыграть в домино" and "я хочу играть в домино"; since the distinction lies in the choice of the set of the action's properties that are important for the state of your acting mind, not for the outer situation, the two words mean actually the same action with the same outer properties. If you want to imply that you plan a non-complete demonstration, that you are only attempting a demonstration and not implementing it for real, then your implication is important for the outer situation and therefore has to be expressed with other means. As aspect pairs are usually imperfect, the aspect choice may indeed imply different consequences for the outer situation, but this is not what the grammatical category of aspect is intended to be used for in Russian, this is only a side effect.

    I hope this is helpful and clear enough.
  10. Linguoman Senior Member

    Russian - Russia

    your post in general is very interesting. This is a completely new point of view I have never heard before. I know there are many different attempts to explain the usage of Slavic aspects to non-natives, but unfortunately, none of them seems to work as a universal explanation.

    However, your post is not clear enough even for me, for a native Russian. Some points (especially those where you are trying to define two different states of speaker's mind) are too vague. Please do not take it as a personal offence, I find your thought really interesting, and it is directly related to the topic. Can I ask you to elaborate this idea more clearly?
  11. Evgeniy Senior Member

    Yes, I see why the words that described the distinction between the states must have been unclear. I shall try to explain the point better.

    A human is a natural mechanism for taking decisions. To represent actions that a human might implement, the notion of an action needs to be represented in his mind. That means, the mind needs to represent in itself the notion of any action along with all properties that affect handling of such notion. The handling of any action depends, first of all, on the properties that differentiate this action from other actions on the basis of real-world events that this action implies. Those properties are not my focus here. Also, the handling of any notion that represents an action depends on its properties that differentiate notions on the basis of what the mind needs to internally do to the notion to organise its work correctly; of course, the choice of notions with their properties depends on the moment, as there are many possible states of thinking. You might call them 'service properties', if you like. What may be those service properties of an action? Well, the mind needs to refer to an action in two different cases: first, while this action is active, it needs to dispatch other actions or states per the model that the active action suggests; second, it may consider the action in light of how to organise it together with other actions and states, which are connected with it, taking in consideration the properties of how the entire action influences other notions or is influenced by them. Among those other actions and states, there may be particular action-steps to achieve the implementation of an action, involuntary states like the state of joy or hate, subquests, possible eventualities or reactions to them, subevents, causes, effects, conditions, preconditions and so on.

    A human talks about the outer properties of an action; but, since saying words is a way of directly influencing the mind of the listener in a loosely predictable way (extremely loosely, but still in a way), he may message the reason for taking the action in mind as well in the clause that he is saying. What is the intent of the notion of helping when imagining the situation of "я хочу помогать людям" in regard to analysing the connections and the work with other actions? Why am I interested to think about helping, the notion that I say I want? The intent lies in the work of being busy with various subactions and substates while the notion of helping is being taken in consideration and is the guiding one for the work of the mind; such work of the mind is a goal in itself here. And when imagining the situation of "я хочу помочь людям"?.. This is the work of analysing actions that are related to the notion of helping so that helping can be achieved. Now, let me proceed from the task of interpretation of Russian sentences to the task of their composition. When I want to demonstrate something, is the notion of demonstration interesting (i.e. I want it) because I, as a mechanism which only is able to work with actions mechanically, need to dispatch actions while I am being caused by the fact that the action of demonstration is active? No, that is not the reason why I want it, because I want such a state of work of the mind machine (for the mind machine works always) that is directly pleasant for me or directly desired by me in any other way, because of my mindset, as I consider this state of mind a goal in itself, not a goal in light of having to make something. Is this notion interesting because I, as a mechanism, need to find ways for such demonstration and therefore need to work with my machinery of notions accordingly, considering those service properties of demonstration that are valuable for making my plans about it? Yes, indeed; that is the work of the mind that I want. In English, one could refer to the state-action that happens after the action is done, that state being a real goal in itself: I want to have demonstrated that. In Russian, one does not have to refer to a different action, one could simply point out that the method in which the mind has to handle the action is different.

    I hope it was not too long to read and decipher.
  12. Linguoman Senior Member

    Russian - Russia
    Thank you, it reads more clear now. The theory seems quite interesting, although I am still not sure if it can be considered as more or less universal explanation. Now I need to think over it some more time.
  13. Evgeniy Senior Member

    Meanwhile, I shall bring an apparent counter-example. In "я хочу побыть с тобой", what the speaker wants is the situation of being with his friend; his mind has to find itself in this situation and to work somehow in it, as this situation is a goal in itself; so an imperfective verb must be used, yet the perfective one is used here. This counter-example is apparent and not real, because the situation that the verb signifies is "to be with my friend for some time"; the time factor should not be considered for construction of the desired guiding state. So, the method of handling this named action is to evaluate its connections with other actions; for example, by evaluating ways of achieving such state. Here, we have a meaning puzzle in addition to an aspect puzzle, the aspectual pair быть/побыть being far from perfect. When preoccupation with plans of reaching the action is not significant ("я хочу всегда быть с тобой"), быть sounds well instead. I am looking for any more counter-examples, whether apparent or real…

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