About describing agent of any job in a verb phrase

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by Edguoglitigin, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. Edguoglitigin

    Edguoglitigin Senior Member

    I am at beginner level of Russian and I have come across with a phrase type that I have not understood it yet.
    The phrase "I work as (a) teacher" is translated into Russian as "Я работаю учителем". I dont understand why is the name of job's agent used in instrumental case?
    As a person who uses English (and natively Turkish) I tend to say "Я работаю как учитель". When I had described what I do in Russian as "Я работаю в университете как научний помощник" it was corrected in this way "Я работаю в университете научним помощником". My Ukrainian friend has said that it is related to the question "Кем ты работаеш?" because кем is used in instrumental case. But if one tries to translate it literally into English, it is like "I work with/by teacher" that it is nonsense for me.
    Can anyone explain what I miss?
  2. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    You just have to memorize that. Some grammar rules do not have a logical explanation, especially if you try to draw parallels between very different languages. As a speaker of Russian, actually, I'd say, the English "to work as a teacher" would sound illogical, because, if you compare it to the Russian construction, it sounds llike someone "works like a teacher" or 'pretends to be a teacher", rather than actually do teacher's work.

    BTW, I suppose, in Russian you can say я работаю как учитель, but it would mean a different thing, e.g. Я работаю как учитель: у меня отпуск с июня по сентябрь. (I work like teachers do: I have vacations from June to September).
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  3. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    This kind of meaning is called the Essive and there are languages, say Finnish, which have a special case to express it: your example in Finnish will look something like "työskentelen opettajana" where "-na" is the marker of the Essive case. Since there is no Essive in the Indo-European languages, those of them which pay attention to this kind of meaning may use the Instrumental — besides some Slavic languages, this also exists in Lithuanian («dirbu mokytoju», with the Instrumental «mokytoju» from the Nominative «mokytojas»). Among Slavic languages, this is most developed in Polish where the Instrumental is used even in the Present tense after the verb "to be": «jestem nauczycielem» (but «я — учитель» with the Nominative in Russian and «aš — mokytojas» also with the Nominative in Lithuanian).
  4. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    That is because Russian in this context does not distinguish between "as" and "like" ("I work as a teacher/I work like a teacher").

Share This Page