я не знаю свой урок

Catullus91

Member
English - United States
I'm trying to get a hand on the accusative/genitive distinction in negated Russian sentences. I've read several threads on this forum, as well as online posts and sections of grammar book. Working through concrete examples helps me the most though.

So I've gotten the sense that negated nouns in the genitive carry the meaning of 'not any', much like the 'pas de' in French. As a result, it makes sense to say я не вижу собаки as that means "I don't see (any) dog" but я не вижу вашу собаку "I don't see your dog," i.e. a particular dog. If, in the conversation, you were talking about a particular dog, and then someone asked you if you see it, you could also say я не вижу собаку.

Now in my book "Conversational Russian" these example sentences are given:
Ты знаешь свой урок?
Нет, я не знаю своего урока

Could this also be Нет, я не знаю свой урок?
 
  • Q-cumber

    Senior Member
    Frankly speaking , I wouldn't call the given sentences 'samples of conventional Russian '. They sound unnatural to me.
    Ты выучил урок? :tick:
    Ты сделал (своё) задание?:tick:
    Ты подготовился / готов к уроку? :tick:
    Ты знаешь свой урок? :cross:

    Getting back to your primary question: I'd say that your interpretation makes sense.
    Я не сделал задание. :mad: (This particular exercise). Я не сделал (ни одного) задания. (Rather not any).

    - Видишь, там на горе стоит собака?
    - Нет, я не вижу никакой собаки. - Да, вижу какую-то собаку.

    -Видишь в кустах нашу собаку?
    -Нет, (собаку) не вижу. Уже куда-то убежала.
    Alternatively an impersonal wording may be used with "собака" in the Genetive.
    - Нет, собаки что-то не видно. Уже убежала.
     
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    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    I agree, that this phrase sounds unnatural. However from the grammatical point of view, you are quite right, this is the difference between Accusative and Genitive negations. In general, Genitive presumes a stronger negation and/or refers to a less concrete subject, while Accusatrive presumes a softer negation and/or refers to a more concrete subject. Negation is softer because refers only to one subject and not to all the subject of the same kind.

    Я не вижу собаку (I don't see the dog).
    Я не вижу никакой собаки (I don't see any dog).

    But in this example the difference is quite formal and subtle:
    Я не выучил урок (softer or neutral negation).
    Я не выучил урока (at all - stronger negation).
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    I think the sentence sounds unnatural because урок is typically a tutoring session or by extension a lesson, but it requires a more verbose wording («Ты знаешь, какой урок тебе задан?»). That's presuming it's supposed to be "do you know which lesson you have to do?" If it's supposed to be "are you ready with your lesson?", it's just plain wrong – it can only be «сделал».

    On the other hand, it could be addressed to a teacher that's tasked with preparing a particular lesson.
     
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    Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I think the sentence sounds unnatural because урок is typically a tutoring session or by extension a lesson, but it requires If it's supposed to be "are you ready with your lesson?", it's just plain wrong – it can only be «сделал».

    On the other hand, it could be addressed to a teacher that's tasked with preparing a particular lesson.
    It may apply to both teacher and student. Уроки они могут не только делать, но и готовить, учить, и не выучить, и могут знать или не знать.

    Говорит Серёжка В час по чайной ложке, Он урок не знает, Так и отвечает. © Copyright: Тимур Меженский, 2012
    На следующий день Вовочка опять урок не знает. Марь Иванна ему ставит «кол».
    А порой урок не знает,. И шпаргалку сочиняет.
     

    Catullus91

    Member
    English - United States
    Ok, so I thought that I had this feature of Russian grammar figured out until I ran into this example sentence in the Cortina book:
    я не знаю ни этого работника ни этой работницы.
    This sentence is translated as:

    "I don't know know this working man nor this working woman."

    The gen.+accus. forms are identical for the man, for the woman wouldn't it be preferable to use the accusative negation?

    ...ни эту работницу.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    The gen.+accus. forms are identical for the man, for the woman wouldn't it be preferable to use the accusative negation?

    ...ни эту работницу.
    The Accusative if you're saying "I don't know her, I'm not acquainted with her", the Genitive if you're saying "I didn't even know we had someone by that name". Ни quite often triggers the Genitive in either case.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    "I don't know know this working man nor this working woman."

    The gen.+accus. forms are identical for the man, for the woman wouldn't it be preferable to use the accusative negation?

    ...ни эту работницу.
    From the stylistic point of view, both nouns in the ни... ни... constructions should be used in the same case, because they are equal as regards to Я не знаю. Hence only Genitive is possible here:
    Я не знаю ни этого работника, ни этой работницы.

    In other contexts different cases are possible:
    Я не знаю ни этот город, ни его жителей (a bit weird, because presumes different grade of negation for город and жители; but still possible in some context).
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    In other contexts different cases are possible:
    Я не знаю ни этот город, ни его жителей (a bit weird, because presumes different grade of negation for город and жители; but still possible in some context).

    But those are both in the accusative, because жители is animate. So it's the same case and same grade of negation.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    But those are both in the accusative, because жители is animate. So it's the same case and same grade of negation.
    You are right, lame example. Let it be like that:
    Я не знаю ни этот город, ни его улиц.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    But those are both in the accusative, because жители is animate. So it's the same case and same grade of negation.
    «...этого работника...» as well actually, hence Catullus91's question. Though it's possible that the formal Genitive of the masculine noun influences the case of the following one, I'd rather attribute it to ни.
     

    Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Isn't it better to say:
    Я не знаю ни этого города, ни его улиц. ( Я впервые здесь оказался. )
    In Russian, in the given situation, you better say: "Я не знаю ни город, ни улицы".
     
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    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Isn't it better to say:
    Я не знаю ни этого города, ни его улиц. ( Я впервые здесь оказался. )
    Of course this is more natural/typical. I specially noted that different cases are possible in some special context, if someone really means to express various degree of negation referring to those two nouns.
     

    Catullus91

    Member
    English - United States
    Ok, in the same book I've encounter similar examples with the same use of the genitive negation:
    отец делает окно. -человек не делает окна
    господин знает дело. -дядя не знает дела.

    In the first example, I'd assume that if you used окно instead of окна you would have a more specific meaning (i.e. [this] window). However, how does the genitive work in the second example? I thought дело would be more appropriate. What's the difference in meaning between дядя не знает дела/дело. ?
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    отец делает окно. -человек не делает окна
    господин знает дело. -дядя не знает дела.

    In the first example, I'd assume that if you used окно instead of окна you would have a more specific meaning (i.e. [this] window). However, how does the genitive work in the second example? I thought дело would be more appropriate. What's the difference in meaning between дядя не знает дела/дело. ?
    Are you sure this is окна́ and not о́кна (Plural)?
    Anyway, in the second example Genitive means a stronger negation (совсем не знает).
     

    ziarot

    New Member
    Russian, Russia
    Hi, here are my five cents. Returning to your original post (the one about seeing a dog): I'd say that the sentence "я не вижу собаки" would be more appropriate when there's no dog (in other words its non-referential) whereas the other one "я не вижу собаку" could be used when there's an actual dog around (or just in your head, meaning it's referential). Another example to support this referentiality theory: Я не дам тебе конфету, даже и не проси -I'm not going to give you the/a candy bar. You wouldn't say: не дам конфеты, as the candy bar here is referential, ie. it's thought of as existing in the world. That's the reason why we say: не дам я тебе никакой конфеты - никакой here is a marker of non-referentiality.

    Another batch of examples:

    Is there a house nearby where we could spend the night? -> нам не найти дома для ночевки, давайте сделаем шалаш. (non-referential)

    There's a house where we could spend the night, John told us about it the other day - > Мы кажется заблудились, дом нам теперь точно не найти, давайте сделаем шалаш (referential)

    Although I suppose at times it can be rather vague and it's quite possible that there are not one but a few of different rules at work here (I mean in these types of sentences)
     
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    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    The thread has broadened into a wider discussion about genitive/accusative after a negated verb, and a number of posts have stated that the accusative will normally be used when the object is something contextually definite (referential), and the genitive when the object isn't definite, or is thought by the speaker not to exist (non-referential).
    я не вижу собаку - I can't see the dog (I accept/know there's a dog, but I can't see it)
    я не вижу собаки - I can't see a/any dog (As far as I'm concerned, there's no dog at all)

    If we apply this generally accepted logic to the OPs' original sentence, we can see the problem clearly. Let's leave aside the fact that we don't know (because of lack of context) if я не знаю свой урок is said by a teacher who hasn't done his lesson preparation, or a student who hasn't done his homework. Whatever the case, it can't be I do not know my lesson :confused: :cross:but that's a translation issue, not a grammar one.

    The point about the OP's sentence is that it contains the possessive adjective свой урок, so the thing (урок) is definite and referential. In English too, the possessive adjective will almost always carry a definite referential "definite-article" sense. Since the урок is definite/referential (it's the work that I know should have been prepared or done), I think that is the reason we cannot (normally - in the year 2016 :p) say я не знаю своего урока :confused::cross:, though (unless I've missed something), no Russian native has said that explicitly in this thread, and, of course, I bow to the natives' superior grasp of their own language ;).
     
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    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    The point about the OP's sentence is that it contains the possessive adjective свой урок, so the thing (урок) is definite and referential. In English too, the possessive adjective will almost always carry a definite referential "definite-article" sense. Since the урок is definite/referential (it's the work that I know should have been prepared or done), I think that is the reason we cannot (normally) say я не знаю своего урока :confused::cross:, though (unless I've missed something), no Russian native has said that explicitly in this thread, and, of course, I bow to the natives' superior grasp of their own language ;).
    The problem of this example is the obsolete usage of the word урок. Nowadays it mostly means "lesson" and, in learning context, "task" - i.e. learning task (делать уроки). In a past, урок meant "task" in the broader sense (not only educative, cf. неурочное время - an inopportune time) and знать свой урок meant "know one's task' (отвечать урок, выучить урок).
    Therefore I think in the present case, distinction не знать свой урок / своего урока refers only to the strength of negation.
    More information about Acc./Gen. negation is in § 201. Падеж дополнения при переходных глаголах с отрицанием.
     

    ziarot

    New Member
    Russian, Russia
    Enquiring Mind, you just hit the nail on the spot. Definite articles, demonstrative and possesive pronouns are always referential, hence the use of Accusative in the corresponding Russian negative sentences. However, the Indefinite article can be either referential or non-referential, depending on th situation, and that's where the issue is quite difficult to solve. I would even argue that in many cases non-referentility leads to a broader meaning - that of emotionally distancing yourself from the object or the "possesors" of the object.

    Here are a few examples:

    [Вы государственном учреждении, вам нужно сдать некие бланки. Принимающий вам говорит] -мы таких бланков не принимаем - Personally I would detect rudeness/lack of sympathy in such an answer, since the operator construes the meaning of the word "бланк" as non-referential and therefore feels more distant from the petitioner.

    [В университете, после экзамена вы говорите друзьям] - Препод гад, мучил-мучил, а пятёрку так и не поставил. - The A mark is something which you believe you deserved whereas if you said "пятерки" in this context it would sound strange.

    [В университете, после экзамена вы говорите друзьям] - Фух, повезло, хоть по этому предмету двойки не поставили. - You're quite indifferent about which mark you got. If you used "двойку" it would mean that the bad mark is something you either deserved or the teacher explicitly said he was gonna give it to you, but didn't.

    [Вы работаете в конторе по ремонту электроприборов, к вам приходит посетитель со сломанным телевизором, но вы их не чините] - Я не чиню телевизоры, извините - A polite answer. If you said "я не чиню телевизоров" - you'd sound irritated or just plain rude. However in the sentence: я чудес не совершаю - the genetive case is ok, since it's hard to think of miracles as being referential (they are usual something which everyone is expecting but hasn't actually been a witness of), and if you were to use Accusative here, it'd sound a bit off. So the difference between the two situations is that sometimes you can choose how to see a certain object: either as referential (which leads to you being more interested in the object or the people connected with it) or as non-referential (and hence the object or the people connected with it are of little importance to you), but when there's hardly a choise to be made (as in the example of miracles) the phrase sounds more neutral as the disctinction is neutralized.


    UPD. After some consideration, I'd like to correct my initial statement that "Definite articles, demonstrative and possesive pronouns are always referential" because they can take non-referential meanings too, although maybe not as often.

    E.g.

    (1) "Я за тебя твою работу делать не буду" VS "Я за тебя твоей работы делать не буду" the latter would be apt to be used in a situation not involving any real work, ie. as a warning that if you should find yourself in a situation where you have work to do, you are on your own, whereas the former is readily found in a situation when the work is already at hand

    (2) "народы не знавшие книги" - people not exposed to the concept of the book, ie. not accustomed to the written word.
     
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    Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    В университете, после экзамена вы говорите друзьям] - Препод гад, мучил-мучил, а пятёрку так и не поставил. - The A mark is something which you believe you deserved whereas if you said "пятерки" in this context it would sound strange.
    It would be just fine (and even better) to say "пятёрки" in the given phrase that you made up apropos, not context.
    The issue can't be simply split along the English "a/the" grammar.
     
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    ziarot

    New Member
    Russian, Russia
    It would be just fine (and even better) to say "пятёрки" in the given phrase that you made up apropos, not context.
    The issue can't be simply split along the English "a/the" grammar.

    You must have misunderstood me. I wasn't talking about definiteness. Referentiality does not strictly correspond with the Definiteness split in English which I, by the way, did mention.

    I'd argue that to say пятерку is fine in the context I provided, пятерки sounds a bit iffy. But I suppose that can be chalked up to difference in language perception.
     

    Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'd argue that to say пятерку is fine in the context I provided, пятерки sounds a bit iffy. But I suppose that can be chalked up to difference in language perception.
    Please put it this way: "Препод гад, мучил-мучил группу, а пятёрок так и не поставил."
     
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    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    I'd argue that to say пятерку is fine in the context I provided, пятерки sounds a bit iffy. But I suppose that can be chalked up to difference in language perception.
    Sometimes context is not sufficient to decide, because mental background is in the speaker's brain. Since the choice between Acc. and Gen. negation corresponds to the strength of negation, both variants are possible in each context, depending on what exactly speaker means to express.
     

    ziarot

    New Member
    Russian, Russia
    Please put it this way: "Препод гад, мучил-мучил группу, а пятёрок так и не поставил."

    Changing it to plural makes it quite different (you can't very well relate to what other people are supposed to get, so it's natural for you to distance yourself from it). Consider another batch of examples: 1)You're a teacher. Before the lesson starts you make an announcement: "Оценок/двоек я сегодня ставить не буду" (non-referential - there haven't been any marks yet) and 2)You're a teacher. At the end of the lesson you say: "Сегодня я в журнал оценки/двойки ставить не буду - можете не беспокоится" (referential and overlaps with definite - the marks that you've earned today).

    Maroseika is right in saying that it mostly depends on the speaker's intention/etc, however, I believe it's quite obvious that some contexts beg one form over the other more readily (than other contexts).
     

    Rosett

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Changing it to plural makes it quite different... 2)You're a teacher. At the end of the lesson you say: "Сегодня я в журнал оценки/двойки ставить не буду - можете не беспокоится" (referential and overlaps with definite - the marks that you've earned today
    In order to make (2) natural and unambiguous in Russian, you really need to add an explicit determinator, as if in: "Сегодня я в журнал ваши оценки/двойки ставить не буду - можете не беспокоиться".

    Grammatically, use of the plural should not affect use of the cases in the way you suggested, at least, in the given case.
     
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