Russian Language Grammar

    Predicative Adverbs

This group of adverbs stands quite apart in Russian grammar. Syntactically, these adverbs express the predicate of impersonal sentences. The logical subject (when there is one) stands in the dative case. These adverbs may refer to:

1. Nature or surroundings: тепло – warm; холодно – cold; жарко – hot; темно – dark, etc.

Сегодня очень жарко.

It is very hot today.

В комнате темно.

It is dark in the room.

2. A physical or emotional state: больно – painful; приятно – pleasant; весело – joyful; скучно – boring; грустно – sad; жалко – sorry; обидно – annoying, offensive; досадно – annoying, vexing; смешно – funny; интересно – interesting; холодно – cold, etc.

Им скучно, а нам весело.

They are bored but we are having fun.

Мне обидно слышать это.

It hurts me to hear this.

Вам холодно?

Are you cold?

Это очень досадно.

This is very annoying (vexing).

3. Feelings or personal evaluations: красиво – beautiful; хорошо – nice, good; легко – easy; трудно – difficult; далеко – far; близко – near; рано – early; поздно – late, etc.

Как здесь красиво!

How beautiful it is here!

До города довольно далеко.

It is quite far to the city.

Как поздно!

How late!

Мне трудно решить.

It is difficult for me to decide.

4. Necessity, possibility, or impossibility: нужно – necessary; надо – necessary; необходимо – (absolutely) necessary; можно – possible; невозможно – impossible; пора – time (to); нельзя – impossible, forbidden, etc.

Вам надо отдохнуть.

You should have a rest.

Детям пора идти в школу.

It's time for the children to go to school.

Здесь нельзя курить.

One must not smoke here.

Notes :

(a) A few nouns may be used adverbially in the same constructions as other predicative adverbs. For instance: лень; охота; грех (lit., laziness; wish, inclination; sin).

Мне лень вставать.

I feel too lazy to get up.

И охота вам ходить к ним!

And why do you really wish to see them (to go and visit them)?

Грех так думать.

It's a shame to think so.

(b) The largest class of predicative adverbs includes those which coincide in form with short neuter adjectives: тепло, приятно, etc. These adverbs may form a comparative degree:

Здесь теплее.

It is warmer here.

Там приятнее сидеть.

It's more pleasant to sit over there.

Usage of Some Predicative Adverbs 

1.  Predicative adverbs may also express the past and the future – with the auxiliary verb быть:

Вчера было тепло.

Yesterday it was warm.

Всем было грустно.

Everybody was sad.

Завтра будет холодно.

Tomorrow will be cold.

Надо будет узнать.

We should find out.

Occasionally, another auxiliary verb is used with predicative adverbs:

Present:

Становится тепло.

It is getting warm.

Past:

Стало тепло.

It has become warm.

Future:

Станет тепло.

It will become warm.

2.  Certain predicative adverbs may govern the accusative case:

Мне нужно верёвку.

I need a rope.

Отсюда видно город.

One can see the town from here.

А то не нужно ли вам кофейник? (Л. Толстой)

Perhaps you need a coffee pot?

These sentences are more impersonal than: Мне нужна верёвка; Отсюда виден город; Нужен ли вам кофейник?

3.  A certain ambiguity may arise with the adverbs надо, нужно, etc. Thus, "Ему надо купить подарок" could mean "We must (one should) buy him a present." or: "He should buy a present." This ambiguity could be partly remedied by reversing the word-order, i.e., адо ему купить подарок" would normally mean only the first alternative.