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Learning Russian can be frustrating. But in the end, it’s so worth it! This photo, taking years ago in St. Petersburg, is not really related to anything in this post. But it’s good memories for me, so I thought I’d share.
When it comes to me writing grammar posts, I either don’t do them or do a few in a row.
In my previous post I talked about when to use «тоже» and «также» and I ended it with a trick question (which I really hoped more readers would try to tackle):
What’s wrong with grammar in this sentence «Я люблю грамматику также, как математику» [I love grammar just as I love mathematics]?
But before we discuss this sentence, let me ask you something else. We’ve all heard that Wikipedia is full of factual errors. But have you ever come across a Wiki page with a big honking error on it? If not, then this hyperlink is your chance.
Wait, hold a sec. Isn’t it the same exact page I linked to in my previous post, the page with a simple and clear rule for the use of «тоже» and «также»?
Yes, it is! It is the same page. Can you spot the error?
Ok, so not to drag it out any further, here it is. Do you see the word “adverb” in big bold letters? Except that «тоже» as well as «также» isn’t «наречие» [adverb] at all! It’s a «союз» [conjunction].
Why is it so critical, you ask? After all, the rule still works, right? Yes, the rule still works. But it works for conjunctions. It does not at all apply to adverbs «то» and «так» with the particle «же».
Yes, can you believe it? In Russian language there are two sets of these pesky words that sound exactly the same:
«Союзы» [Conjunctions] – тоже, также
«Наречия с частицей же» [Adverbs with particle «же»] – то же, так же
So how do you tell these two apart? And when are you supposed to write them «слитно» [as one word] or «раздельно» [as two words]?
Remember Rule #2 from the previous post:
When in doubt, simplify – replace with «и» [and]
Turns out, this is also a handy way to check whether you are dealing with a conjunction or an adverb. If you can use «и» in a sentence instead of «тоже» or «также» without losing the original meaning, then you are dealing with a conjunction. Hence, write it as one word.
If, on the other hand, the sentence becomes meaningless, then you are dealing with an adverb and a particle «же» which have to be written as two words.
«Я тоже смотрела телевизор» [I also watched TV] can easily become «И я смотрела телевизор» [And I watched TV].
Compare to this sentence:
«По телевизору показывают одно и то же» [Same old stuff is on the TV]. If you try to replace «то же» with «и» the sentence becomes meaningless.
Another way of checking whether it is a conjunction or an adverb with a particle is to omit «же» and see if the meaning is going to change (or, most likely, disappear).
«Сегодня по телевизору то же, что и вчера» [Same stuff is on TV today as yesterday]. Skipping «же» leads to «Сегодня по телевизору то, что и вчера» [Same stuff is on TV today as yesterday]. Sounds just a bit awkward, but the meaning is preserved.
«Я тоже смотрела телевизор» [I also watched TV]. If we were to omit «же» in this case, it’d become «Я то смотрела телевизор» which, depending on whether you place an emphasis on «я» or on «то» can mean either “I did watch TV” (emphasis on «я») or an unfinished “Sometimes I watched TV and sometimes I didn’t” (emphasis on «то»).
Fortunately you don’t have to perform this type of analysis every time you need to make a choice between «тоже/также» and «то же/так же». There are some helpful words that serve as indicators for using the latter and not the former. These words include «самое» [same], «что» [what], «как» [as].
«То же самое кино идёт в соседнем кинотеатре» [The same movie is playing in the nearby movie theater]
«Она всегда соглашается смотреть то же кино, что и он» [She always agrees to watch the same movie as he watches]
«Я люблю грамматику так же, как и математику» [I love grammar as much as mathematics].
I hope this has been helpful and not at all intimidating. But if you feel a bit dizzy from all this, here’s some encouragement. Don’t let this particular sticky grammar point stop you from speaking Russian! The difference becomes critical in writing and reading, not in speaking. After all, in spoken language both «тоже/также» and «то же/так же» sound «абсолютно так же» [absolutely the same]!