Senior Member
English English
Could anyone help me with this one little word?
It appears three times in a sketch by Chekhov (ВВЕРХ ПО ЛЕСТНИЦЕ, 1885): Provincial Councillor Dolbonosov has met his children's former tutor at a swanky party and is rather embarrassed/discomfited by the encounter
(1 & 2)

— Вы это... тово... как же сюда попали? — спросил он, зевая в кулак.

— Так же, как и вы...

— То есть, положим, не так, как я... — нахмурился Долбоносов, оглядывая Щепоткина. — Гм... тово... дела ваши как?


— На пле-мян-ни-це? Гм... Скажите... Я, знаете ли... тово... всегда желал вам... пророчил блестящую будущность, высокоуважаемый Иван Петрович...
Is it as simple as he's just about to say товарищ then changes his mind because it's too familiar and cuts the word off in the middle? (Just an idea ...)
  • Awwal12

    Senior Member
    It's simply the (more) phonetic spelling of "того", which functions basically as an interjection here (~"um", "erm"). As such it usually marks that the speaker struggles to gather his thoughts (occurs particularly frequently after "это", which has basically the same role in this context).
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Гм is easier to understand for an English-speaker ;)
    I don't say it. In fact, I can't even imagine anyone saying it, let alone I have no idea how to pronounce it but it's indeed used in literature in abundance. We usually say "hm", well, basically the same thing that you hear in English every day.


    Senior Member
    "Того" is a folksy usage, associated with something like country side, a simple-minded character; probably writers, in addition, used that phonetic 'тово' to stress that; as for modern writers, I'd rather expect 'того' because the sense is itself clear from the context.
    I like to use 'того' sometimes in my speech - for e.g. trolling someone, playing a naive person.