Нет ничего плохого в том, чтобы выпить

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by wonlon, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. wonlon Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese - Cantonese
    Нет ничего плохого в том, чтобы выпить, если только не пить слишком много.
    The language website translates this sentence as: Drinking is OK as long as you don't do it in excess.

    I understand it literally as: There is nothing bad ??? drink only if you don't drink too much.
    and fail to figure out чтобы.

    What is the meaning and function of чтобы here?
  2. Ёж! Senior Member

    The phrase with the adjective «плохой» (I think it means 'wrong' rather than 'bad' in this context: 'There is nothing wrong about drinking as long as you […]') talks about the action that is expressed in the whole clause; to introduce the clause, one uses the conjunction «что»; since the action, expressed by the clause, is conceptional & imaginary rather than actual – the clause is here to pose the concept of drinking and then consider its pros and cons, not to tell that somebody is drinking, – «бы» is appended to «что», and, in this case, the infinitive is used instead of a finite form. If there was somebody whose drinking would be considered specifically, then the conditional mood could be used: «Нет ничего плохого в том, чтобы Павел Иванович выпил немного, если только он будет знать меру», or the future tense: « […] что Павел Иванович выпьет немного […] ». Or the dative case together with the infinitive: « […] чтобы Павлу Ивановичу выпить […] ».

    Yet another example: «Плохо, что ты не вернул мне книгу вчера» (indicative mood – because the action is not imaginary, it is real and occured in the past, so the past tense is used).
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  3. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    The word чтобы has the function of transforming the verb выпить into something that could be used as an object in the sentence. You can't use the verb, not even in infinitive here (as it is possible in English), and Russian lacks apparently a suitable* form of a verbal noun for the verb выпить. That's why you have to use a more "rigged" construction using чтобы which has principally the function of introducing conjunctive clauses (and then with the meaning "in order to", or "that")

    Making an oversimplification one can say that чтобы has HERE the same function as to in "to drink".

    * For some reasons neither выпитие nor выпивание can be used.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  4. Ёж! Senior Member

    There is «питие» and «выпивка» («Нет ничего плохого в питии/выпивке, если только […] »), but neither fits stylistically. The first is too high, the second is too low.
  5. wonlon Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese - Cantonese
    It is simpler if it were "Нет ничего плохого в питии/выпивке" as you put it. There is nothing wrong in drinking.
    в том, чтобы выпить looks something like "There is nothing wrong in that to drink, if ...." to me and I don't know how to understand this subordinate clause.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  6. Ёж! Senior Member

    «то, что люди выпьют» can designate either something that will be drunk by people, like beer or vodka, or the fact that people will drink; in our sentence it means the process, not the object of the process, but this process is imaginary (by using the conditional mood, transform this into: «то, что люди выпили бы»), and no subject fits the case well enough (by using the infinitive get rid of the subject and transform this into «то, чтобы выпить»). So we get a construction that can be used like: «Я [говорю] про то, чтобы выпить». The rest is to transform this construction into the prepositional case. That's all.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  7. zambala Senior Member

    чтобы выпить = in order to drink
  8. Ёж! Senior Member

    Well, sometimes. Not now. :)
  9. Colora

    Colora Senior Member

    USA, Denver, CO
    Нет ничего плохого в том, чтобы выпить
    There is nothing wrong with just consuming alcohol

    Нет ничего плохого в том, чтобы выпить, если только не пить слишком много
    There is nothing wrong with just consuming alcohol unless it is really abused

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