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Are you tempted to use the infamous “nyet” in front of any word to make your sentences negative? Do you get confused between не, ни, and нет? Then read on to learn some common uses of these words.
This is probably the most famous and the easiest of the three words. It is used to deny, reject, or negate the content of the entire utterance. Нет can function as its own sentence.
Ни, repeated before multiple coordinated nouns, adjectives, adverbs, or verbs, signals that none of the options is true.
Ни is used in concessive expressions that can be summarized as “whatever the circumstances.” They are usually followed by a verb. Here are some of these expressions. Note that in many cases, бы can be omitted.
Ни followed by a noun in the genitive case means “not even a single (noun).” The noun in the sentence would normally be preceded by не (see more below).
Не used before the predicate (often a verb) makes the entire sentence negative.
You can also use не to negate a specific quality, expressed by an adjective or an adverb. Whether не is a particle that’s written separately from the word that follows or a negative prefix that is part of the word is a different subject beyond the scope of this post. More information is available here (in Russian) and here (in English). To briefly touch upon the subject, contrasting qualities within a sentence normally warrants a space after не:
I hope this helps you distinguish between the various kinds of negation in Russian. Is there any specific usage you struggle with?
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