Does Russian omit -oв from 5...10 military personnel?

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by franknagy, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    How do you say 6 soldiers, 7 sailors, 8 guerillas in Russian?
    Do I remember well that -oв is omitted, zero endings are used: 6 солдат, 7 матрос, 8 партизан?
    When can I say "9 человек"?
  2. JSV

    JSV Senior Member

    In general it is not correct. Ending "-ов" depends of the used word.

    - 6 солдат
    - 7 матросов / котов / портов / зонтов
    - 8 партизан
    - 9 человек
  3. Maroseika Moderator

    Sometimes it is really omitted, but far not always: in your examples it is not the case with матрос - 7 матросов.
    The general rule is rather complicated, for a reference you may use the list here (par. 154).
  4. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    Respected JSV and Maroseika:
    Thank you for the correction and reference.
    Such enormous books deter beginner pupils from learning Russian.
    Please, do not feel offended from my simplified interpretation of paragraph 3) & 4).
    The human life has no value in the mind of a general. So he refers soldiers in Singular.
    If 50 people are queuing in a shop before you then the omission of -oв by them means 50*1 seconds saved from your time.
    If the captain omits -oв from his commands 50 soldiers ahead, 20 houssars to the left wing , 20 ulanes to the right wing the he will save again valuable seconds.
  5. JSV

    JSV Senior Member

    It's quite often that nonnative Russian speakers "think" that in such cases "солдат", "партизан", "человек" refer to singular. It is not. It is hard to explain, but "солдат" in two following sentences:
    - Мимо проходил один солдат
    - Мимо проходили пять солдат

    "sounds" different (while looks and pronounced the same way). It just happens that singular nominative form of "солдат" completely matches plural genitive in look and pronunciation.

    I usually compare it with the following sentences:
    - I have one fish
    - I have five fish

    Both have fish, but in first case "fish" means one fish, while second "fish" means many fish. Then looks and pronounced the same way, but "mean" different things.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
  6. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Indeed, those forms with zero ending are not Nom. Sg. but Gen. Pl. They casually coincided with the Nom. Sg. some 15–5 centuries ago (depending on the dialect: in Pskov they were still residually different in the 17th century) due to phonetic developments, but even then there are words in which both forms are distinguished by their stress, e. g. волосволос. In most cases the ending -ов from another declensional type was used in the Gen. Pl. to avoid ambiguity, but in a number of words the original zero ending has preserved. In any case, a Russian speaker does not perceive these as Nom. Sg. so the military explanation doesn't work.
  7. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    My military explanation is planned for Hungarian beginners.
    Does the Russian speaker perceive the Sg./Pl. from the verb of your example sentences?

    To English "fish" examples:
    a) "Sheep" means Sg. and Pl., too.
    b) "Fishes" exist. It means more kinds in this class of animals.
  8. punctuate Senior Member

    The word пять is enough to make know the associated noun is plural. (I am confused somewhat, because the example sentences are JSV's).
  9. JSV

    JSV Senior Member

    Yes, "sheep" means singular and plural at the same time (as well as deer, fish, grouse and others). The main issue is that in mind of speaker and listener "real" meaning is detected from the context (for example, numeral near it).
    The same is for Russian with the only difference that in English there are just a few such words, while in Russian there are quite many words that has the form of singular matching plural gen. All of them should be just remembered - there is no rule to "detect" them.

    For example, "солдат" and "офицер" are very similar (both are military persons, masculine, with "zero" ending). But "5 солдат" and "5 офицеров".

    One could hear mistakes even from native Russian, such as "10 помидор" :cross: instead of "10 помидоров" :tick:.
  10. JSV

    JSV Senior Member

    Nope. Only numeral changes the meaning.
    - Мимо проходил один солдат
    - Мимо проходили два солдата
    - Мимо проходили пять солдат

    As you can see in second and third cases verb is in similar form but солдат(а) differs. On the other hand in first and third cases verb differs but солдат is the same.

Share This Page