Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by ka_, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. ka_ Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)
    what's the difference in the meaning of these sentences?

    Вы очень красивый
    Вы очень красив
    Вы очень красивые
    Вы очень красивы
  2. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    The meaning is the same. The short form of adjectives is used in higher register speech. The full form is more colloquial.
  3. Maroseika Moderator

    Вы очень красивый - you (singular, polite form, masculine) are very nice
    Вы очень красив :cross:
    Вы очень красивые - you (plural) are very nice
    Вы очень красивы - you (singular, polite form, masculine and feminine) are very nice
  4. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
  5. ka_ Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)
    thank you for explaining!
  6. Explorer41 Senior Member

    As for me, I'd choose the 4th sentence in most cases (the first one - maybe in a jocular manner; as of the second one, I don't know what to do with it; and concerning the third one, the word "красивый" here sounds better with a noun - "Вы очень красивый человек").

    Generally, the difference between a short adjective and a full adjective is that a short adjective may be used only as a predicate whereas a full adjective may be used as an attribute as well. In the predicative role they differ subtly, the difference is hard to explain and you often may use both. I could say (it is only my feeling, nothing more!) that a short adjective describes a quality of a thing, and a full adjective classifies that thing together with other things sharing that quality.
  7. marco_2 Senior Member

    I was taught that for some adjectives there is a difference in meaning, e.g.

    Он больной (a permanent disease)
    Он болен (a temporary disease)

    Она хорошая (she is a good woman)
    Она хороша (she is pretty)

    Am I right?
  8. Explorer41 Senior Member

    marco_2, you are right.
  9. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    I wouldn't generalize this way: the difference you mention is observed only in a limited set of adjectives, those migrating from one grammar to another. For the vast majority of cases the difference is entirely stylistic — some short adjectives (especially with the monosyllabic stem in the masculine form) are more rare even in the written language («он нов» is strange, but the rhythmically longer «он не нов» or occasionally even «он был нов» is OK), whereas other (longer ones, «свободен», «наряден», «волосат») have no such limitations. The general trend is that the spoken language tries to get rid of the short forms, starting with the phonetically shortest ones, while the written language with a more or less success withstands this. Especially the polite form «вы/Вы» requires a short adjective in the written form («вы красивы», whereas «а вы красивый» is spoken).
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  10. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    By the way, a historical note™. The etymologically original adjectives are continued in the short ones; until some 1000 years ago they were used in the majority of cases. The long adjectives where originally compound, formed by adding the word "which" to the end of the short form; both parts were originally declining separately: «новъ — новъи», «нова — новаꙗ», «ново — новоѥ» ("new — new-which"); «нова — новаѥго (> новааго > новаго)», «новы — новыѣ», etc. The same thing happened in the Baltic languages. With time, the second element tended to fuse to the stem, but the details and the extent to which this occurred differ across the Slavic languages (say, Russian and Byelorussian still preserve the forms like «новая, новую», while in the most other languages they have shortened). This fusion made original and compound adjectives phonetically similar and more than anything else contributed to the disappearance of either form (simplifying, short adjectives won in Bulgarian and Macedonian, long ones in the remaining languages, with the Serbo-Croatian still in the process).

    The original meaning of the compound (> long) adjectives was not the definiteness of the noun as in the modern Serbo-Croatian or Latvian and as researches familiar with the definite and indefinite articles often postulate, but the definiteness of the adjective itself — as the meaning of the word "which" suggests an as it is still in the Lithuanian language. So, «зелено ꙗблъко» originally meant both "a green apple" and "the green apple", but «зеленоѥ ꙗблъко» stood for "an/the apple which is green". The same in the modern Lithuanian: «žalias obuolys» versus «žaliasis obuolys». In English this meaning can be occasionally expressed by placing the adjective after the noun and preceding it with the definite article "Peter the Great" ("Peter which is great, which stands out by its greatness"). The strong and weak adjectives in the Germanic languages had originally exactly the same difference in meaning, only the emphasis was expressed not by adding "which" to the original form, but by using the suffix "-n-", which served a similar role since the Indo-European times (say, in Greek "platys","broad" but "platon", "the square-built one")
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  11. Sobakus Senior Member

    Thanks for your very interesting insight, ahvalj!
  12. Explorer41 Senior Member

    ahvalj, Thank you for your notes. You are convincing, and I agree with you: I'd say "Король голый" ("The king is naked") even if I just name his quality. And I see now that the choice between short and full forms of an adjective is often a euphony issue.

    Would you please clarify, what do mean your words "migrating from one grammar to another"? When I wrote that post, I was thinking about adjectives "тёмный", "длинный". ("ночь тёмная, вроде ночей в Севастополе" vs "ночь темна, как ночи в Севастополе" - very slight difference, but it exists). But I can't imagine where and how are they migrating...

    Thank you...
  13. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    I meant that there is a number of words with this distinction between a permanent/transient quality, and many of them are cited in any grammar (a very typical situation with the secondary literature when examples listed by some previous authors are then repeated for decades from one work to another — that is what I call migration).

    I agree that such words exist, but I just would like to point out that this distinction is far from universal. As it often happens with overlapping words and grammatical categories, the short and long adjectives develop some random subtle differences in meaning, this difference being one of such variants. After the polite «вы», for example, this doesn't work even with «больны» or «хороши» («Иван Иванович, вы больны» may mean both a permanent and a transient quality).
  14. F. Julien

    F. Julien New Member

    French - France
    Thank you very much for this answer.
    If I understand, the polite "Вы" behaves in fact, morphologically, like "он", in all situations, yes?
    Therefore, one should say to a lady:
    "Вы очень элегантный" (or "элегантны"), because the polite Вы form grammatically behaves like third person singular masculine -- regardless of the fact that one is adressing a lady.
    Is that correct?
  15. Maroseika Moderator

    No, it behaves as the 3rd person singular depending on the gender:
    Вы очень элегантная (to a lady) or элегантный (to a gentleman).
    But in short form we should use plural form with both genders: элегантны.

    By the way, with verbs polite Вы behaves like plural вы: Вы приехали, не хотите ли Вы.
  16. F. Julien

    F. Julien New Member

    French - France
    Thank you for this precise and very helpful answer! Now I get it. :)
    Спасибо Вам огромное.
    С уважением

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