«Уже» (already) and «ещё» (yet, still) - It is simpler than it seems

Your action in relation to a time period can be characterized with the help of two adverbs in Russian – «уже» /already/ and «ещё» /yet |still/. What do they mean, and how should they be used in speech?

The adverb «ещё» /yet | still/ shows that:

- a process or an action haven't started till the moment of speaking;

- a result of an action hasn't been achieved;

- an action which should have ended still lasts.

For example:

- Ты идёшь в кино? /Are you going to the cinema?/

Ещё нет. Я пойду позже. /Not yet. I will go later/.

(The action «идти в кино» /to go to the cinema/ haven't started yet).

- Твоя сестра говорит по-английски? /Does your sister speak English?/

Ещё нет. Она только начала учить английский. /Not yet. She just started learning English/

(The result of the action «говорить по-английски» /to speak English/ has not been achieved).

- Вы обедаете? /Are you having lunch?/

- Нет, мы ещё работаем. /No, we are still working/.

(The action «работать» /to work/ is going on).

The adverb «уже» /already/ tells that:

- a proces or an action finished;

- a result was achieved;

- a new process started instead of the expected by the conversationalist one.

For example:

- Сходи, пожалуйста, в магазин. /Go to the shop, please/.

- Я уже сходил. /I already did/.

(The action «сходить в магазин» /to go to the shop/ finished)

- Я помню, ты собирал деньги на машину. Ты купил её? /I remember you have been collecting money for a car. Have you bought it?/

- Да, я уже купил машину. /Yes, I've bought a car already/.

(The result has been achieved – a car has been bought).

- Твоя мама работает? /Is your mom working?/

- Нет, она уже отдыхает. /No, she's having rest already/.

(Mom finished working and started having rest).

 

That's all the difference! It is easy, isn't it? But there is a nuance.

Often the tasks on differenciating adverbs «ещё» /yet | still/ and «уже» /already/ are found in textbooks in Russian language for foreigners. However, there is no complete context, a situation this or that sentence is taken from. For example:

«Ты сейчас работаешь? – Нет, я … отдыхаю». /Are you working now? - No, I'm ... having rest/.

«У вас есть деньги? – Да, спасибо, … есть». /Do you have money? - Yes, thank you, I ... have/.

What adverb would you put in these sentences? Actually, there are two variants, depending on context.

The first example can be solved the following way:

 

  1. The work was finished, so I'm having rest. So, adverb «уже» /already/ should be used: «Нет, я не работаю, я уже отдыхаю». /No, I'm not working, No, I'm already having rest/.
  2. I'm having rest because the work haven't started or there is no any work yet. So, let's use adverb «ещё» /yet | still/: «Нет, я не работаю, я ещё отдыхаю». /No, I'm not working, No, I'm still having rest/.

 

The second example will be solved as:

 

  1. A person bothers whether I have money. I still do, and it means we'll answer this way: «Да, спасибо, ещё есть». /Yes, thank you, I still have/.
  2. I didn't have money, but I've got some now – came into money or borrowed from somebody. We'll answer: «Да, спасибо, уже есть». /Yes, thank you, I already have/.

 

These examples are given for you to be always able to look at one and the same situation from different viewpoints, and answer the questions correctly and clearly.


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