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The correct use of "есть" in "у меня есть"

Tuesday 11, October 2016, 12:37 pm Red

All kinds of students of Russian, and not just beginners, are unaware of the importance of knowing when to add "есть" in phrases like this:

  • У меня есть деньги = I have money
  • Деньги у меня = I have the money

As you can see, the translation into English is not the same. In order to understand it clearly, let's look at two examples that explain everything.

The Russian bureaucracy, a pen and the use of "есть."

Let's assume that I have to sign a document of the famous (and complex) Russian bureaucracy. Right now I do not have a pen. So I asked a friend who came with me:

  • У тебя есть ручка? = Do you have a pen?

Luckily, my friend has one, so he lent it to me, and I signed the document. A few minutes later, I have to sign another piece of paper. I start to look for the pen between the mountains of paper that I have before me and ... I can not find it! Perhaps, my friend took it and put it away, so I ask:

  • Ручка у тебя? = Do you have the pen?

As you can see, the translation into English (a pen/the pen) and the context does not help you understand when to use "есть". But to have clearer ideas, let's look at another example.

how to use in russian

The money, a trip and the use of "есть."

A few friends and I are planning a trip to St. Petersburg. It will be great, and I mentioned it to a coworker. In my opinion, to go or not to go on a trip, is very simple: if you have money, it's not to be missed. So I ask him if he has money for the trip.

  • У тебя есть деньги? = Do you have money?

We collect all the money, and a few days later, we go to the train station to buy the tickets. And now I can not remember who has all of our money. I think that Igor has it, so I ask:

  • Деньги у тебя? = Do you have THE money?

In this new example, we clearly see the difference between "having money" and "having the money" that we had gathered for the trip to the city of Russian culture.

Summary on the use of "есть."

If you understand the context of the above examples, starting today will have no problem in using "есть". We summarise it in two simple points:

  1. When we add "есть" We are asking if anyone has something indeterminate: something to sign, enough money to travel...
  2. When not using "есть" We are asking for something concrete, something that we know exists; the pen I used a while ago, the money we collected to go to St. Petersburg...


On the other hand, if we pay attention to the examples in Russian, we see that the position of the words "деньги" and "ручка" changes depending on whether you use it or not "есть". This is a natural way of speaking Russian, and therefore we should keep it in mind if we want to speak well.

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