До завтра vs до завтры

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by Jervoltage, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Jervoltage Senior Member


    до завтра (= till tomorrow)

    Please, why isn't завтра in the genitive, i.e. завтры, as it is preceded by the preposition до?

    I came across this which seems to be dealing with the same question. However, I could not make much of it as it was all Russian to me!

    Many thanks.
  2. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    «Завтра» is an adverb, so it is indeclinable, hence «до завтра» or «послезавтра». Etymologically, «завтра» comes from the older «за утра», where the last word looks like a Genitive of «утро». The development у>в is unique for Russian but is characteristic of Ukrainian and Belarusian, so the existing form may be borrowed from there.
  3. Maroseika Moderator

    In combination with preposition завтра is indeclinable noun. The reason of the indeclinability is that in the sense of the noun it is substantivated adverb.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  4. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    There is actually a parallel story with «вчера», which has «позавчера» with even two prepositions (по+за+вчера). The word «вчера» again is an adverb in the modern language, while historically it is an ancient Instrumental of the word «вечер» (i. e., the predecessor of «вечером» which in its turn has become an adverb).
  5. Maroseika Moderator

    With all that, in the phrases like собрание была назначено на вчера, газета за вчера the word вчера is not an adverb, but an indeclinable neuter noun.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  6. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Вечное вчера = неизменное почему = холодное пока etc. These are just occasional substantivations.

    «На вчера» is essentially similar to the more restricted and formalized «от-куда, по-куда, до-туда». And let's not forget the occasional «по сегодня» etc.

    So, I think the traditional interpretation of all these as adverbs is the most convenient one. The adverbs themselves are a cemetery of petrified nominal forms.
  7. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    And, by the way, I have just thought that -а in «завтра» is not a Genitive but is most probably of the same origin as in «вчера», being in both words the old Instrumental — thus, the original meaning of «завтра» («за утра») would be «за утром», 'behind the morning'.
  8. Maroseika Moderator

    I'm not sure what tradition you mean, but in all the dictionaries they are marked as neuter indeclinable nouns.
    And although etymologically дотуда and откуда really are preposition plus adverb, the difference between до завтра and дотуда is substantial: just compare на завтра (for tomorrow) and назавтра (the next day).
  9. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    The proper indeclinable nouns have no restrictions in usage with prepositions («на такси, в пальто, от радио, из метро, под бра»), whereas these two words («завтра» and «вчера») are used in such constructions with great difficulty and in the very spoken register, despite being much much older than any indeclinable borrowing. «Назавтра» etc. is the same pattern as «наряду, наспех», which in the modern language are considered adverbs.

    We are dealing here with the periphery of the grammatical system, so this discussion is really splitting hairs.
  10. Maroseika Moderator

    To say the truth, I've never heard of such rule and cannot see what's the difference with how many prepositionы a noun can combine. Besides, comparing immaterial and material nouns is a but unfair. We can do many things with things, but not too many with anstractions. How many prepositions you can use with либидо, па or алиби? More than with вчера, but much less than with пальто.
  11. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Learner, is this you?

    The truth is that the declension of these two words is necessary and yet impossible, so that the literary language has to resort to combinations like «до завтрашнего дня, по сегодняшний день, со вчерашнего дня». When these words were still perceived as Instrumentals with temporal meaning («утром/вечером», also «летом/зимой/прошлым годом»), they could not be used with prepositions, and when this meaning had faded away, the literary language was already codified, so we are in this strange situation.
  12. Maroseika Moderator

    I'm afraid I am really in the strange situation, because I do not understand too well what you want to say.
    Well, coming back to the question of the topicstarter, maybe we can agree at least in the folloiwng: dictionaries define these words as neuter indeclinable nouns, and they really behave like nouns, although prepositionally handicapped nouns, combining only with limited number of prepositions. Which is, however, by no mean derogatory for their noun dignity.
  13. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    I want to explain the oddity of their behavior.

    What are the reasons to treat them as nouns? Except that extremely limited possibility to be used with prepositions, their syntactic role is exactly as in any adverb.

    «Я был там вчера = Я был там тогда = Я был там поздно = Я был там опять» ≠ «Я был там зима ≠ Я был там метро».
  14. Maroseika Moderator

    Why do you compare adverbs with nouns instead of comparing nouns with nouns?

    Syntacticly, Заседание перенесли на завтра = Заседание перенесли на понедельник.
  15. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Заседание перенесли на потом.

    Again, we are dealing with marginal elements of the grammar that dwell between nouns and adverbs. Etymologically they are nouns that became adverbs and started to obtain some nominal characters again in the spoken language in the absence of normal nouns with the meaning "tomorrow" and "yesterday". I am arguing that their treatment as adverbs makes more sense. Anyway, this is relevant only for classificatory purposes: what mark to write in the dictionary after these two words.
  16. Maroseika Moderator

    The word потом here also is an indeclinable neuter noun. If потом were an adverb, it could not combine with the preposition, and if на потом were an adverb, we might put the question to the whole word combination, but we can't:

    Заседание перенесли на потом. (Когда? Потом. Перенесли на когда? На потом).

    Назавтра пришла повестка в суд (Когда пришла повестка? Назавтра.).
    Ему пришла повестка на завтра (На когда, на какой день повестка? На завтра.).

    До хрена надо нарезать морковку (До чего? До хрена).
    Надо нарезать до хрена морковки (Сколько нарезать? До хрена).
  17. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    This is called "occasional substantivation": a different part of speech functions as a noun in some restricted circumstances (the pure adverb «когда» behaves exactly the same in your example). These are all grammar abstractions aimed at a more economical description of the language reality: we refer words to the major classes judging from their typical behavior, regarding the details that don't fit as exceptions or secondary cases etc. OK, I have no more arguments.
  18. Maroseika Moderator

    Exactly. I'm glad we finally agreed that they are nouns in such contexts.

    With this I cannot agree, but this is of course beyond the scope of the thread. Thank you for interesting discussion.
  19. Jervoltage Senior Member

    Thank you both very much for your input on this - interesting indeed

    In my dictionary, too, завтра in до завтра is marked as a noun, hence my confusion.

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