147 – Particles “-то” and “же” in Russian

If you have been learning Russian for a while, you have surely came across the particles “-то” and “же“. Today we’ll look at this chapter of Russian grammar in more detail and explain on examples the role of these particles in the sentence.

The particle -то

The particle -то is used to emphasize the word to which it’s attached (unless it’s a part of indefinite pronouns like кто-то, како́й-то, which we’ll cover in the next lesson; also don’t confuse with demonstrative pronoun то).

Let’s look at some examples and compare the meaning of the sentence with and without it. Keep in mind that since there is no analogues of -то in English, the translations for the examples with it are quite approximate and serve to demonstrate the emphasis.

Я всё по́мню, э́то ты забыва́ешь.
I remember everything, it’s you who is forgetting.

Я-то всё по́мню, э́то ты забыва́ешь.
~ It’s me who remembers everything, you are forgetting.

Пого́да кака́я дождли́вая после́днее вре́мя.
The weather is so rainy lately.

Пого́да-то кака́я дождли́вая после́днее вре́мя.
~ What a weather lately, so rainy!

Пого́да кака́я дождли́вая после́днее-то вре́мя.
~ Lately, the weather is so rainy.

Как мы тепе́рь домо́й попадём?
How are going to get home now?

Как мы-то тепе́рь домо́й попадём?
~ What about us? How are we getting home now?

Как мы тепе́рь домо́й попадём-то?
~ And getting home, how are we doing it now?

As you can see, the particle -то can be attached to different parts of the speech.

The particle жe

In many cases, the particle жe emphasizes not the word but the whole phrase, therefore its place in the sentence doesn’t depend on any word and can be changed without affecting the meaning. Examples below demonstrate that:

Мы же так и не позвони́ли роди́телям!
Мы так и не позвони́ли роди́телям же!
Oh, we have never called the parents!

Я же не зна́ю, как э́то де́лать!
Я не зна́ю же, как э́то де́лать!
But I don’t know how to do that!

Куда́ без ша́пки? Ты же у́ши отморо́зишь!
Куда́ без ша́пки? Ты у́ши же отморо́зишь!
Куда́ без ша́пки? Ты у́ши отморо́зишь же!
Where are you going without a hat? You are going to freeze your ears!

But there are some situations where жe is used for other purposes. In those cases you can’t change the positions of же in the sentence without affecting the meaning. Let’s take a look at those:

– Comparison:

Ух ты, э́та ры́ба тако́го же разме́ра, как наш сын!
Wow, this fish is the same size as our son!

In a comparison like “same as” the particle always goes after “тако́го”: тако́го же цве́та, тако́й же высоты́, тако́й же глубины́.

– Opposition:

Я не люблю́ ко́фе, мой муж же, напро́тив, пьёт его́ ка́ждый день.
I don’t like coffee, but my husband, the opposite, has it every day.

The particle stands after the word which serves as an opposition – the husband.

– Urgency:

Я сде́лаю э́то сего́дня же.
I’ll do it today (without delay).

Же goes after the time indicator – today. For comparison let’s change the position:

Я же сде́лаю э́то сего́дня.
Я сде́лаю же э́то сего́дня.
I will do it today.

In this configiration the sentence takes the intonation of a reminder: we already agreed that I’ll do it today, but you seem to forget it, so I remind you.

– Identification:

Вчера́ случи́лось то же са́мое.
Yesterday the same thing happened.

Identifies the demonstrative pronoun то by adding to it a meaning of “the same thing”. Же goes strictly after the pronoun.

We can get the same meaning for the previous example by placing же after the demonstrative pronoun э́то:

Я сде́лаю э́то же сего́дня.
I’ll do the same thing today.

Using both

To add to your phrases the maximum of intonation, you can use -то and же in one sentence. Let’s compare:

Да что ты де́лаешь?
What are you doing?

Да что же ты де́лаешь-то!
~ What the heck are you doing?

That’s it for this lesson. As you can see, the use of the particle же is not as straightforward as -то, but mastering them both will make your speech to have just the right intonations for people to say: “Wow, your Russian is so good!” 🙂

Study the examples, listen to the audio, post your questions in the comment section and let us know if the lesson was helpful!

Spotted an error? Let us know please!

2 comments on “147 – Particles “-то” and “же” in Russian”

  1. mirella says:

    i realy want to learn russian because i speake romanian but my famiy is from ukrain so plaese teache me russian

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hi Mirella,

      Welcome to our site. Our site is designed for self-learning, all the lessons are free and available in three languages. You can start studying them one by one or in any order you like.
      If you have any question, you can ask them in the comments. We are happy to help.

      Happy learning!

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