Exclusively Russian answer "Да нет!" How to understand it?

"Да нет!" How to understand it?

The longer you learn Russian, the more often you will encounter phrases that will confuse you. These phrases cannot be translated verbatim, and even explaining them is not easy. “Да нет!” — how to understand this phrase? Is that a yes or a no? Or is it something else entirely?

Russian expressions that would confuse any foreigner

Often, you may hear a strange answer to your question: “Да нет!” Individually, each word in this phrase means the following:

  • да — yes;
  • нет – no.

How can two words with completely opposite meanings be combined in one short phrase? In Russian – easily! In addition, the most difficult thing is that depending on the context and intonation can change the statement meaning.

1. Complete Denial

English analogue: No no! Not at all! Pronounced very emotionally and confidently.

Неужели он действительно решил жениться на Люси? — Да нет! Не может такого быть! — Had he really decided to marry Lucy? — Not at all! That’s impossible!

Ты не возражаешь, если я открою окно? — Да нет! — Do you mind if I open the window? — Of course not!

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2. Unsure denial

English analogue: No, I don’t think so! Not really. Pronounced with slight uncertainty: “I guess not, but I’m not quite sure about it,” “not really”.

В доме ничего не пропало после взлома? — Да нет, вроде, все на месте. — Did anything go missing in the house after the break-in? — No, I don’t think so! It seems, nothing is missing.

Ты голодный? Будешь суп? — Да нет. — А может, все-таки немного поешь? — Ну, только если немного, спасибо. — You are hungry? Would you like soup? — No, thank you. — How about a little food? — Just a little, thanks.

In the unsure denial case, it often makes sense to get a more specific answer, because the person may be unsure for reasons a variety: doesn’t remember exactly (as in the first example), wants to be persuaded (as in the second example).

3. Great doubt

Uncertain denial another variant, which is closer to “no” than to “yes”, — that phrase “Да нет, наверное“. That is, to the two words that are opposite in meaning, an introductory word with the probability meaning is also added.

English analogue: Well, probably, not. It is pronounced with great doubt.

– Пойдешь сегодня на вечеринку? / – Are you going to the party tonight?

– Да нет, наверное. / Well, probably, not.

– Если передумаешь, мы будем тебя ждать. / – If you change your mind, we’re waiting for you.

In this case, too, you can try to persuade, but the success chances are less.

In most classical textbooks, there is no such vocabulary, it is considered untranslatable, because such words and expressions constitute language material a certain layer, which refers either to cultural features, or to colloquial, informal vocabulary.

If you want to learn to understand such complex phrases in Russian and use them appropriately in speech, sign up for classes at the Russian school as a foreign language Leader. Choose the best format for your lessons: online or in person, in groups or individually – and learn Russian with pleasure!

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