Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Russian Word of the Day: ли

ли — whether, if

It's one of those tricky-to-translate words, so let's look at the sentences with ли.

Не пойти ли нам погулять? - Won't we go for a walk?
Не знаю, могу ли я это сделать. - I don't know whether I can do it.
Купить ли мне новый телефон? - Should I buy a new phone?
Мне ли не знать. - I should know.
Далеко ли до города? - How far to the town?
Сможет ли она выучить русский за год, я не знаю. - I don't know if she's able to learn Russian in a year.
Стоит ли читать эту книгу? - Is there any use reading this book?
Вряд ли я смогу. - I doubt I'll be able to.
Есть ли возражения? - Any objections?
А нельзя ли отменить нашу встречу? - Can we cancel our meeting please?
Нельзя ли потише? - Can you be more quiet?
Были ли у вас какие-нибудь трудности? - Did you meet any difficulties?
Видите ли, дело обстоит так. - It's like this, you see.
Видели ли мы его? Конечно! - Have we seen him? Of course!
Не думаешь ли ты остаться дома? - Are you going to stay home?
Не знаю, куда отправить тебе деньги, в Москву ли, в Волоколамск ли, в Калугу ли. (А. С. Пушкин) - I don't know where to send you the money — to Moscow, to Volokolamsk or to Kaluga. (from A.S.Pushkin)


  1. I'd like to make some corrections to the examples you've provided, if I could.

    1. "Why don't we go for a walk"
    4. "I'm the one who knows"
    5. "How far is the town"
    7. "Is this book worth reading?"
    12. "Meeting difficulties" is not widely used sentence. It would probably be better to use "Did you have any problems (with/doing smsg)," I believe
    The last sentence should contain "either/or", although there is always a certain level of freedom in translation of a fiction novel.


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