Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Words that are always plural in Russian

  My husband and I were talking (in English) about chess the other day, and I referred to the game as 'them'. He asked me why, and I realized it was because chess in Russian – шахматы – is always plural. It's not the only word like that. For example, just like in English scissors and trousers are always plural, their Russian brothers are plural as well.

брюки - (formal) trousers
штаны - trousers, pants
джинсы - jeans 
шорты - shorts 
ножницы - scissors 
плоскогубцы (пассатижи) - lineman's pliers
кусачки (острогубцы) - diagonal pliers, wire cutters
щипцы - tongs, pliers, hair crimper
вилы - pitchfork
ворота - gate, gates
очки - glasses
шахматы - chess
весы - weigh-scales
часы - clock, watch
носилки - litter, palanquin, stretchers

Ножницы is always plural.

деньги - money
дрова - firewood
обои - wallpaper
белила - whitewash
кудри - curls
сливки - cream; the toffs
каникулы - holidays, vacation
выборы - election, voting
переговоры - negotiations, parley
проводы - farewell ceremony
похороны - funeral
хлопоты - ado, fuss, business, cares, trouble
прения - debate, discussion, controversy 
дебри - thicket, jungle, wilderness
недра - minerals, the bowels of the earth

Now you understand why your Russian friends sometimes say funerals instead of funeral. ;)

Note: there is a word провод (wire, cable) whose plural form is провода, not проводы (farewell ceremony).
Another word to remember is очко (point, ace, pip), plural — очки, just like очки (glasses).
Час means hour, so часы means both hours and a watch. There are many such homonyms in Russian.


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