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Concise Beauty: Understanding Russian Short Adjectives

Russian short adjectives

Russian is known for its concise language. You're able to describe things very precisely with just a few words. This is partially the reason why Russian poets and writers are known worldwide. A person's feelings and thoughts can be expressed extremely precisely so that the listener can fully understand the depth our your intention and meaning.

Partially, this precision is achieved through grammar rules. Aspects, prefixes, cases, tenses, and, of course, short adjectives, which is the topic of this article. Let's take a look at how short adjectives are used in Russian and how YOU can use them!

Forming short adjectives

Unlike other grammar topics in Russian, forming short adjectives is extremely easy. We Simply take away 1 last letter from a long form adjectives in each gender:

forming short adjectives

The only difficulty with this comes with masculine short adjectives when they end on 2 consonants. Like an adjective низкий, if we follow the table above, it should be низк. It ends on 2 consonants which we can't allow. We must break it up with a vowel о - низок.

If the last letter of a consonant cluster is К, break it apart with a vowel О
If the last letter of a consonant cluster is Н, break it apart with a vowel Е

Низкий becomes низок for masculine, and должный becomes должен for masculine.

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Using short adjectives

The main usage of a short adjective is when the description of someone is the main point of the sentence. For instance:

  • Она была очень красива - she was very beautiful

Her being beautiful is the main point of this sentence, that's why we use a short adjective. Compare it to this sentence:

  • Красивая девушка вошла в ресторан - a beautiful lady came in the restaurant

In this sentence, lady's beauty isn't the main point anymore, that's why we use a long adjective. Her coming in the store is the main point.

And another example:

  • Ты слишком глуп, чтобы понять это - you're too dumb to understand this

Глуп is a short adjective, because you being dumb is the main point of this sentence. Compare it to:

  • Глупые люди ничего не поймут - dumb people won't understand anything

People being dumb isn't the main point anymore, right? That's why a long adjective is used.

Another usage is when a short adjective is describing a temporary description of someone, while a long adjective will talk about more of a permanent quality. The same sentence can be used:

  • Она была очень красива - she was very beautiful

In that moment she was beautiful. Maybe it was her outfit, maybe make-up. We're describing her temporary look. While as this sentence will describe something different:

  • Она очень красивая - she is very beautiful

Now we're talking about her facial features or her "permanent" beauty.

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