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John Martin
Где ему быть? vs Где он? Why is the first "more native" than the second? Don't they translate to the same meaning?
Oct 1, 2018 12:46 AM
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Answers · 7
In general, these two are used in the following situations: 1) Где ему быть? - a quite unceremonious question to specify where someone has to be, his location or position. Sounds kind of like the expectation of an order for implementation. - Где ему быть завтра? - Пусть ждет меня возле дома. 2) Где он? - to inquire about someone's whereabouts. - Где он? - В магазине.
October 1, 2018
1) где он? is a regular neutral question"where is he?" 2) где ему быть? is an independent infinitive construction. Infinitive is a nonfinite verb. Nonfinite verbs cannot perform action and lack tense forms, therefore, when a nonfinite verb stands alone in the sentence (without a dependent), it usually expresses modality: где ему быть? = где он должен быть? = где он ещё может быть? (usually as a kind of a rhetorical question)
October 2, 2018
John, please, provide us some more context.
October 1, 2018
I'd translate "Где ему быть?" as "Where is he supposed to be?" when it a shortned version of "Где (же) ещё ему быть?" or "Where would he be?" depending on the context. - Где молоко? - Он в холодильнике. Где ещё ему быть? Also it can be a very high style: Царь: "Этому храму быть здесь." = King: "The temple is to be here (This temple must be built here))"
October 13, 2018
Thanks for the responses.
October 2, 2018
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John Martin
Language Skills
English, German, Russian
Learning Language
Russian