дава́й/дава́йте

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Anita hk

Senior Member
Hong Kong Chinese
I have always thought that the difference between the two is that one is informal and the other is formal. But I've read somewhere that дава́й is used when you say to one person in informal tone and дава́йте is used when you say to more than one person or in formal tone. Is it true? Thanks.
 
  • vodol

    New Member
    Russian
    Yes, it's true. Saying to one friend "давай пойдем в кино" ("let's go to a cinema") and to a group of people "давайте пойдем в кино" both sound natural to me. But the part about formal is also kind of true.

    Plural form in Russian is used when you are talking to someone formally or with respect (someone you meet for the first time or who is older but it's not for instance your close relative or a friend). So in a formal situation "let's begin" would be "давайте начнем" even if you are talking to a single person. Also, in that formal situation instead of "ты" you'd use "вы" (which is plural form of "you") though it's only one person.
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The polite form is always the second person plural, for imperatives as well; it is also true for short adjective forms, e.g. согласен, знаком:

    Здравствуй, Иван! Входи(, пожалуйста). ... Давай это обсудим. .... Ты согласен? ... Ты знаком с Сергеем?
    Здравствуйте, Иван Иванович! Входите, пожалуйста. ... Давайте это обсудим. .... Вы согласны? ... Вы знакомы с Сергеем?
    Здравствуйте(, господа)! Входите, пожалуйста. ... Давайте это обсудим. .... Вы (все) согласны? Вы все знакомы/ кто-то из вас знаком с Сергеем?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I have always thought that the difference between the two is that one is informal and the other is formal.
    It's missing one phrase: "...when speaking to one person". :) In that case "дава́йте" becomes just one more example of polite plural.

    The contexts where polite plural is used will slightly vary depending on the social strata, the region, the epoch, up to individual situations in some cases (e.g. most people will likely address their uncles or aunts in singular, but exceptions here are quite easy to imagine). Basically the singular number marks being close to the person, social equality, a considerably greater age of the speaker or his vast social superiority. E.g. plural will be usually used towards strangers when they're not considerably younger (although it does depend on the cultural and regional background - in some particular situations it may be safer to address the stranger in singular); singular will be used between students or soldiers, as well as between really close friends/relatives (although addressing a parent in plural wasn't uncommon in the 19th century among middle/high strata or in some particular regions); a school teacher will also normally use singular towards his/her student (but not the other way around), as well as an officer or a general will most commonly use singular towards a soldier.

    Addressing the person by the first name plus the patronimic will nearly 100% correlate with using the plural number (as well as personally addressing him/her by the first name and the surname in the same time, which is extremely formal); obviously enough, using familiar/diminutive forms of the first name will practically guarantee using singular; so does addressing someone by a patronimic only (in a "familiar respectful" way, particularly common in lower strata towards older or generally old people). Using the full form of the first name only (which may be a tad formal as long as there are more familiar forms), as well as the surname only (formal, usually from superiors), is a kind of no man's land and the number will depend on the more detailed social context.
     
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    Anita hk

    Senior Member
    Hong Kong Chinese
    Thank you for all the replies. My book doesn't mention this distinction between addressing one and more persons.
    Does this principle apply to other cases too? for example:
    приходи к нам завтра - speaking to one person and informal
    приходите к нам завтра - one person formal / 2 or more persons formal or informal
    Пойдём пообе́даем вме́сте - speaking to one person and informal
    Пойдёмте пообе́даем вме́сте - one person formal / 2 or more persons formal or informal
    Поговори́м по-ру́сски - speaking to one person and informal
    Поговори́мте по-ру́сски - one person formal / 2 or more persons formal or informal
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Yes, it's applicable for all named imperatives, except the latter is rarely used and sounds obsolete. Давайте поговорим is more usable.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yes, it's applicable for all named imperatives, except the latter
    ...Is not imperative (cf. imper.pl. поговори́те, пойди́те) but hortative (morphologically, future 1p.pl.). Those forms have a lexically limited productivity with -те, and -те hardly can be analyzed as a plural affix here at all (e.g. "пойдём, де́ти..." = "пойдёмте, де́ти..."), unlike in true imperative forms with their consistent grammatical number (иди́ - иди́те, клади́ - клади́те, дава́й - дава́йте, etc.). Obviously, the analytic constructions "давай(те) + inf." and "давай(те) + COMP." do contain a grammaticalized imperative form of "дава́ть", which still requires putting it in the correct number (depending on the physical number of the interlocutors and the social context).
     
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