imperfective x perfective after Надо.

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by ka_, May 10, 2012.

  1. ka_ Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)
    I googled the following sentences and both seem to be grammatically correct.
    Do they mean the exactly same thing?

    Надо убирать комнату.
    Надо убрать комнату.
  2. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    The meaning is similar, but not exactly the same
  3. 過客 Member

    To be simple (and also I presume, the clauses stand alone, they are not parts of compound sentences):

    The first is a general statement ("always keep your room clean"). Of course, "always" may be changed for something else, depending on context ("don't forget to clean your room" is another way to translate this). Or, the other way, it may also mean disappointment, as rusita preciosa noticed: "Oh, I have to clean my room... :-(".
    The second is about a particular action (depending on context, it may mean, for example, "and now you have to clean up your room". The parts of the translation, that drastically change when context changes, are the words "you" and "your" — they may get replaced by something else, for example, by "he" and "his").

    So, for me, the sentences are not the same thing at all... ;)


    By the way: usually the second sentence means the sweeping will be done to its logical end (the room is clean). But, strictly speaking, not necessarily: the sentences like "я не до конца убрал свою комнату" are absolutely correct.
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  4. grinski Senior Member

    Far East
    You have to clean the room everyday.
    Надо убирать комнату каждый день.:tick: (It's our everyday chore, usual process)
    Надо убрать комнату каждый день.:cross: (The perfective verb implies here that after the room is cleaned, you can't repeat the cleaning again everyday)

    You have to clean the room right now.
    Надо убрать комнату прямо сейчас.:tick: (Let's enjoy how clean it's going to become)
    Надо убирать комнату прямо сейчас.:tick: (Let's start the process)
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  5. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    :thumbsup: Good additon, grinski.
    Context is king!
  6. 過客 Member

    Yes. An example of a correct sentence:
    "То принеси, это унеси, и каждый день, видите ли, комнату ему надо убрать! Я устала!",
    ("Bring him that, take away this, and His Majesty's room, you see, must be cleaned everyday! I'm sick!")

    that freely can be rephrased as:

    "То принеси, это унеси, да ещё ему, видите ли, надо убрать комнату каждый день! Я устала!"

    (The first variant is a bit better (meanings very slightly differ though), but the second one goes very well too. You see, the word sequence marked as "incorrect" appeared in it, as the context broadened).

    We are not provided with any context. Unfortunately.
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  7. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    The difference explained by rusita preciosa in #2 can be brought out in English in this particular context as follows:
    Надо убирать комнату. I/you etc. need to do some cleaning/tidying in this room; this room needs some cleaning/tidying.
    Надо убрать комнату. I/you etc. need to clean up/tidy up this room; this room needs cleaning up/tidying up.

    убирать (here) - to do some cleaning.
    убрать (here) - to clean up.
  8. 過客 Member

    Hello, Enquiring Mind,
    "Надо бы подобраться в этой комнате"

    Did I catch the role of 'some' right? It should draw a person's attention from the end result of cleaning. If so, then the Russian sentence above translates your sentence, "надо убирать комнату" doesn't fit so well.

    The thing is that the focus on process, that rusita preciosa mentioned, doesn't mean that the focus sets to the points of the process because it goes away of the process' end point. Nope; when we wish to achieve this effect (to move the focus from one point to another point, or to another handful of points), we just use other perfective verbs, or employ adverbs.
    Rather, it means what it means: that the whole process of cleaning, its manner and its style, its look&feel, so to say, its essence and existence, is focused because of some, no matter what, reason. For example, because I want to say that the process of cleaning, taken as a whole, is tiresome for me, and I am really depressed ("Ох ты, опять что-нибудь... Теперь надо комнату убирать"); or because I wish to say, how happy I am because I shall be cleaning the room (I shall enjoy the process: "Ура! Мне надо убирать комнату!"); or because I wish to say that doing the process of cleaning is needed if one wants to achieve its end point ("Чтобы убрать комнату, надо убирать её"); or because we just have no reason to discuss any points inside the process, what is important is the process itself ("Не надо забывать тщательно убирать комнату по воскресеньям"); or because we wish to talk about our life's general flow ("Дорогой, вообще-то полагается убирать свою комнату. А ты что думал?"); etc.

    I hope, it became more clear now. :)
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  9. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    To do some cleaning, to clean (in general,) to do (the activity of) cleaning, without implying that all the cleaning that is necessary will be done. It's one way in which the imperfective can be expressed in English in this context.
    What needs to be done in this room? Some cleaning - убирать.
    What do we need to do to this room? We need to clean it up - убрать.
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  10. 過客 Member

    OK, so I understood the role of 'some' right (in the part that it removes assumptions about the result). Therefore, I'd say, the sentence "this room needs some cleaning/tidying" may be translated with a perfective verb at least no worse than by an imperfective verb. In fact, when this sentence is alone, I can't find a way to translate this by an imperfective verb.

    You said also, the sentence is about an activity (and if this focus is strong, then my translation "Надо бы подобраться в этой комнате" maybe is not as straitforward, though it's very close — in fact, the information about the need for an activity is easily inferred from the Russian sentence); but "поубирать комнату" doesn''t sound good here (because in fact it implies that all the necessary cleaning will not be done — because of the prefix "по"), and "убирать комнату" doesn't say anything about dropping out assumptions about results, its use cases are different. I could translate "cleaning" by a noun: "Надо бы подзаняться уборкой в этой комнате". :) (or, straitforwardly: "что-то эта комната нуждается в метле и щётке" :) )
    I'm sorry :confused: , I don't understand what exactly you mean. :(

    Какое дело нужно сделать в этой комнате? — Уборку, надо слегка прибрать комнату.
    Каким делом придётся заниматься в этой комнате? — Уборкой, нам нужно будет убирать её (никто не сказал, сколько времени и как тщательно).
    Что нужно сделать в этой комнате? — Убрать её.
    - Убрал комнату?
    - Да, убрал, на четверть.
    - Дальше убирай!
    - Мам, а можно я лучше кино посмотрю?.. А потом кончу убирать.

    - Did you tidy your room?
    - Yes, I did a fourth. :)confused: not sure how to render it... He means, a fourth of the work is done)
    - Well, continue!
    - Mom, may I better watch a movie? And then I shall finish.
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  11. ka_ Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)
    Thanks everyone for explaining! I think it's clear now.
    Sorry for not providing a context,in the fact there wasn't one.
    It was a fill in the blanks exercise in which I had to choose the appropriated aspect.
  12. Sobakus Senior Member

    He meant that cleaning stresses the process (corresponding to the imperfective), while to clean up stresses the result. Убирать isn't the most natrual answer to the first question, of course (the perfective verb прибраться is better), but your translations aren't that good either.
  13. 過客 Member

    I mean, I'm not sure what he meant by his examples.
    Also, doesn't "cleaning" here rather stress an action in its entirity (like Russian verbal nouns, not like imperfective verbs)? I think, it should do — here. :)
    The point of my posts was not what translation is good and what is not; in fact; those all are translations for texts living in vacuum, so there's no true way for them to be perfect, very good or rather bad, or something like that. The point was, what translation is grammatically correct. And, as it may be seen, translations employing imperfective verbs fit hardly for the English sentence — this was the point of my post. The rest was my finding out, why the mistake could be there and what considerations could be made if one wishes to avoid it.
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  14. Sobakus Senior Member

    Uh, let me simply translate the original examples by rusita preciosa again:
    Надо убирать комнату - There's some cleaning to be done (in this room)
    Надо убрать комнату - The room has to be cleaned up

    You are trying to back-translate into Russian, and in this case an imperfective verb may not be ideal due to the context, but what Enquiring Mind was trying to do, and successfully at that, is to express the imperfectiveness in English.
  15. 過客 Member

    Sobakus, I do agree that Enquiring Mind has translated some bit of this imperfectiveness in English — as succesfully as it can be done without a context. But I feel in rusita's phrase something special, something that made obligatory the use of an imperfective verb — maybe the person is disappointed, maybe he/she is particularly happy that he/she will do cleaning, maybe something else — I do not know what exactly, but without that something there's no way for Russian imperfectiveness to come into the play, so his translation gets in fact a perfective sense, when translated (again, in vacuum) back in Russian. And this is, of course, hindersome for anyone reading the discussion...

    Well, I just think that we can see a true way to render the imperfectiveness of the phrase in English only when it's clear what that "something" really is, in a particular text.
    Last edited: May 12, 2012

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