Polysemy of the word «Давай»


Давать Дать

It is a regular Russian verb which means “to give”. But in Russian it’s used in a lot of different contexts and idioms, which can confuse foreigners.

Of course, the verb is used in its original meaning:

Она дала ему конфету - She gave him a candy
But imperative form of imperfective aspect of the verb – Давай (-те) – has o lot of different uses.

1. It can mean «Let’s» or «Let me»

кушать! – Let’s eat!
Used in this form when you want to do something with one other person, whom you are directing the speech.
Давайте смотреть фильм! – Let’s watch the movie!
Used in this form when you want to do something with a group of people, and you are addressing them.
Давай я сделаю! – Let me do this!
Always used in this form when it refers to “Let me”.

2. «Давай» can be used as a motivational word, when we want to cheer or hurry up somebody.

Давай, давай! – Go, go!

3. «Давай» can mean «OK», when a person offers to do something.


- Я хочу купить мороженое
- Давай!

- I want to buy an ice-cream
- OK / Go for it

  Don’t use it, when you are asked to do something:

- Помой посуду.
Давай! - Хорошо!

- Do the dishes.
- OK

4. We use «Давай» to say «Bye» or to end a phone conversation.


- Увидимся! Пока!

- See you! Bye!
- Bye bye!

Others forms of the verb also might be used in a lot of ways 

5. In the future tense perfective aspect can represent a threat or a warning.

Я тебе дам! – I will “give” you, which technically means “Don’t do this, or I’ll punch you”.

6. We use word «Давать» describing a person’s age.

Normally we use dative case for this, but if we are showing uncertainty, we would say:

- Я дам тебе 20 лет.
- Тебе 30 лет? Я бы дал тебе 20!

- I think you are 20.
- You are 30? You look like 20!


7. It’s widely used to describe a situation when a woman agrees on having sex.

Она ему наконец-таки дала.

She finally “gave” him.


8. Used in the same way as “to sell”

Там дают книги.

They sell books there.

9. Conjugated for 2nd person verb is used in slogans and watchwords.

Даёшь революцию!
Даёшь мир!

Give us a revolution!

Give us peace!


Some of the idioms with this verb are used in everyday life and it might be very important to know them.

1. Дать слово (lit. To give a word)
To promise, to swear. 

2. Ну ты даёшь! (lit. You are giving!)
Used when a person surprises you.

3. Дай бог! (lit. God gives!)
It is used when you hope for something, when you wait for something to happen.

4. Дать дуба (lit. to give oak)
To die.
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29 июля 2013 (11:19:34)

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