Conjunctions connect the clauses of compound sentences.

@ The Russian T-K Constructions @

We've mentioned this problem before, but now we will investigate its major implications: case cannot be assigned to clauses but sometimes it needs to be. For example, it is easy to say in English We talked about what you were reading  x , because what may be in two places at one time: simultaneously serving as the objects of both about and read (invisibly occupying the position 'x'). In Russian, however, the preposition о(б) requires the prepositional case while читать "read" requires its objects in the accusative case.

The Governance Rule
Russian case governance must be observed at all times at all costs!

So what happens when Russians want to say something like "We talked about what you were reading?" First notice that a pronoun like what is required. The problem is that what plays a role in both the main clause and the subordinate one, where different cases are required. Because of the rule above, however, if two cases are required in Russian, two pronouns are required, and that is precisely Russians resolve this problem.

The first pronoun is a demonstrative pronoun (usually beginning with 't') and the second is a relative (interrogative) pronoun (usually beginning with 'k' or a related sound), e.g. Мы говорили о том, что вы читали. These constructions are called 'T-K Constructions'. Remember, a comma is required between the two pronouns, as the examples below illustrate.

Гоша настаивал на том, что хотел.
Gosha insisted on what he wanted.
Мы думали о том, что ты сказал.
We were thinking about what you said.
Надя интересуется тем, о чём вы говорили.
Nadya is interested in what you were talking about.
Я посмотрел на то, (на) что он указывал.
I looked at what he was pointing at.
Я знаю, о чём ты думаешь.
I know what you are thinking about.
Он сказал (то), что он хотел сказать.
He said what he wanted to say.

There is one exception to this rule. If the T-form is the direct object of a regular verb, that takes the accusative case, the T-form is not required. This is illustrated in the last row of the table above.

*** More Amusing Exercises ***

In the following exercises, choose the Russian sentence most closely expressing the sentiment of the English sentence above by clicking the corresponding radio button. If you choose the wrong sentence, the explanation box will tell you exactly what your mistake is, so that you may quickly correct it.

1. How do you say in Russian "Rodya was surprised at what you said"?
Родя удивился то, чему вы сказали.
Родя удивился, что вы сказали.
Родя удивился чему вы сказали.
Родя удивился тому, что вы сказали.

2. How do you say in Russian "There is no way out of what you describe"?
Нет выхода из чего вы описываете.
Нет выхода из того вы описываете.
Нет выхода из того, что вы описываете.

3. How do you say in Russian, "We were thinking about what you were insisting on yesterday"?
Мы думали о чём вы вчера настаивали.
Мы думали о том, на чём вы вчера настаивали.
Мы думали о том, что вы вчера настаивали.
Мы думали на том вы вчера настаивали.

Now, I wish that were the end of it, but it goes on. Not only must you use the nominal T (demonstrative) and K (interrogative) pronouns in constructions like these, the adverbal T- and K-pronouns may, and often must, be used in similar constructions. First of all, let's review all of them. Click here for a new review window. (Close the new window to return here.) This is the entire T-K family of pronouns and all may occur in T-K constructions with the exception of почему-потому что. Here are some more examples.

Он такой мужчина, с каким я часто сталкиваюсь.
He is the kind of man I frequently bump into.
Я иду туда, где живёт Надежда Семёновна.
I am going where Nadezhda Semёnovna lives.
Он жил тогда, когда Пётр Первый напал на Азов.
He lived when Peter the First attacked Azov.
У него столько детей, сколько у Толстого.
He has as many children as Tolstoy had.


Here are some fill-in-the-blank exercises to check whether you are catching on. Complete the T-K conjunction then press the «| ? |» button to see if your answer is correct (правильно).

T-K Construction Exercises
Fill in the Blank with the Correct T- or K-Form Push Correct?

Образец (Example)
Я знаю того, вы говорили.
I know the one you talked to (with)

Я видела другую такую, живёт у тебя.
I saw another one like the one who lives with you.
Она идёт оттуда, ты вчера пошёл.
She is coming from where you went yesterday.
У Андрея есть столько машин, у меня.
Andrei has as many cars as I.
Меня обидел тот, ты раньше обидел.
I was insulted by the one you insulted before.
Я боюсь именно того, ты боишься.
I'm afraid of exactly what you are afraid of.
Ничего похожего не было , когда он жил.
There wasn't anything like it when he was alive.
Он всё это делает именно так, и вы это делаете.
He does that precisely the way you do it.
Мы подумали , что ты только что сказал.
We have thought about what you just said.
Мы интересуемся тем, вы говорите.
We are interested in what you are saying.

Subordinate Clauses on POKA The Bucknell Russian Studies Homepage The top of this page On-line Grammar Table of Contents Still other conjunctions
Lexiteria LLC, Lewisburg, PA 17837
© 1996 Robert Beard