Timeless Russian Adverbs Posted by bota on Aug 5, 2020 in grammar, language, Russian for beginners
I’ll never pass up the chance to start a blog post with a poem by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. This stanza is the beginning to a childhood favorite of mine, Руслан и Людмила (Ruslan and Ludmila) published in 1820, and it’s a great example of how to use adverbs of time in Russian.
У лукомо́рья дуб зелёный;
Злата́я цепь на ду́бе том:
И днём и но́чью кот учёный
Всё хо́дит по це́пи кругом;
(А.С. Пушкин, “Руслан и Людмила”, 1820)
The words “днём” and “ночью”, respectively “in the daytime” and “at nighttime”, are two adverbs in that sentence that modify the verb “ходит” (“walks”). “Кругом”, meaning “to walk in circles” is also an adverb, but we will only focus on adverbs of time for now. So, let’s go over a couple of other adverbs that answer the questions “Когда?” (“When?”) and “Как долго?” (“How long?”). Note, that this blog is structurally divided into three sections for different levels of Russian learners/speakers. We start off with examples of adverbs of time in sentences to see how they are used. Then, we dive a bit deeper by looking at the difference between adverbs and nouns in the Instrumental case. And wrapping up with a little throwback to the good old school days of sentence diagraming in relation to adverbs.
Вчера́ мы ходи́ли в кино́ с друзья́ми. – Yesterday, we went to the movie theatre with friends.
У неё сего́дня День Рожденья! – It’s her birthday today!
Ма́ма бу́дет серди́ться е́сли за́втра ты вернёшься домо́й по́здно. – Mom will be angry if tomorrow you come back home late.
Чи́стить зу́бы ну́жно у́тром и ве́чером!– You have to brush your teeth in the morning and in the evening.
Саша всегда́ ко́рмит кота́ перед тем, как уйти́ на рабо́ту. – Sasha always feeds his cat before leaving for work.
Они́ позвоня́т по́зже. – They will call later.
Similarly to derivative prepositions I mentioned in my last blog, some adverbs of time have homonymous nouns in Instrumental case (существительные в творительном падеже) that might try to confuse you. For example, the following words can appear as either adverbs or nouns in a sentence:
Про́шлым летом я жила с ба́бушкой. – Last summer I lived with my grandma. (“летом” is a noun in Instrumental case here)
Летом де́ти не хо́дят в шко́лу. – Children don’t go to school in the summer. (“летом” is an adverb here)
Они́ встре́тились ра́нней весно́й. – They met in early spring. (noun in Instrumental case)
Жа́воронки верну́тся в на́ши края весно́й. – Larks will come back in the spring. (adverb)
На́ши но́вые сосе́ди э́той зимо́й уе́хали в Казахстан навести́ть родны́х. – This winter our new neighbors went to Kazakhstan to visit their relatives. (noun in Instrumental case)
Его́ друзья́ прие́дут зимо́й. – His friends will visit in the winter. (adverb)
Adverbs are consistent in their form and do not change in any way. So, if a word is preceded by an adjective, it has to be a noun, since an adverb simply wouldn’t be modified by an adjective.
Other blogs on this channel have also covered adverbs. I highly recommend Jenya’s educational post to help you practice using adverbs with pronouns here and Yelena’s post on making comparatives with adjectives and adverbs here.
Image by author
Lastly, one of my favorite things about adverbs has always been the way we had to mark them as “обстоятельство” (“circumstance”) during sentence diagramming in school (синтакси́ческий разбо́р предложе́ния). I always thought the dot-and-dash line was the most exciting one to draw as opposed to wiggles or double lines. On the picture above, the adverb “вечером” (“in the evening”) is marked with the said dot-and-dash line to signify that the adverb’s purpose in the sentence is to answer the question “Когда?” (“When?”). While the words “на дачу” are also marked with the dot-and-dash line, it’s only because they also modify the verb and explain the circumstances in the sentence. Here, “на дачу” is a noun with a preposition that means “to the country house” [уехали (куда?) на дачу] [went (where?) to the country house].
What are some other things about adverbs you would like to learn? Or, perhaps, does anyone else here have fun memories of doing sentence diagramming in school?