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The difference between ничего and нечего...

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I wanted to know the difference between ничего and нечего...

I think somebody already asked this, but I couldn't find it.. :(

asked Oct 20, 2013 by bluewmelon (2,560 points)

1 Answer

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Dear Bluewmelon,

The negative pronoun ничего́ means "nothing" or "anything" in negative sentences: Я ничего́ не хочу́ де́лать (I don't want to do anything).

The negative pronouns не́чего (please, note the difference in the stress) means "there's nothing that..." or "there's nothing somebody can...": Мне не́чего де́лать (I don't have anything to do). 

There are more pronouns like that:

1. никого́-не́кого

The first one means "nobody", the second one "there's nobody who..."

2. нигде́-не́где

The first one means "nowhere", the second one "there's nowhere to..."

3. никуда́-не́куда

The first one means "nowhere" (direction), the second one "there's nowhere to..." (direction).

4. ниотку́да-не́откуда

The first one means "from nowhere", the second one "there's from nowhere that...".

There's no subject in the sentences with "нечего", "некого"..., they are used with the infinitive. and the person is always used in the Dative case.

Ему́ не́чего де́лать.
Ей не́кого спроси́ть.
Нам не́куда пойти́.
Им не́откуда позвони́ть.
Тебе́ не́где занима́ться.

Best,

Yulia Amlinskaya,
Russian Language Teacher.
answered Oct 20, 2013 by RussianTeacher (19,690 points)

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