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Russian grammar - The third‐person imperatives пусть and пускай

The third‐person imperatives пусть and пускай

We have seen how to form the imperative in Russian to give instructions, commands and warning.

These imperatives applied only to the 2nd person (singular and plural).

In Russian we can use the particles пусть and пускай to form a 3rd person imperative.

пусть is used for invitation or authorisation.

пускай is used for actions that would nevertheless have been carried out.

The difference between these two is often subtle and colloquially they are used interchangeably.

Note that in these examples the pronouns are often omitted. This is very common in Russian where the conjugation (and context) often are sufficient to know the 'who'/'whom' of the sentence.

Пусть он прочитает.
Let him read (to the end).

прочитает from прочитать - the perfective of читает. Using it here implies 'read it completely'.

Пусть читает, что хочет!
Let (him) read what (he) wants.

читает from читать - imperfective so implies 'to continue reading' - an incomplete action.

Пусть не думает, что я забыл о ней!
Don't let (her) think that I (male) have forgotten about her.

забыл the past tense of the perfective verb забыть (to forget)

Пускай он поест.
Let him eat/finish eating.

поеcт from поесть (perfective) which has the sense of completing a meal

Пусть она всё сначала проверит.
Let her check everything first.

cначала means 'initially' or 'at first'

проверить (perfective) means 'to check' or 'to verify'

Пускай играют, оставь их в покое.
Let (them) play, leave them in peace.

оставь is the singular imperative of оставить (perfective)

оставить means 'to leave'

покой means 'peace', or 'rest'.

Пусть Х равен Y.
Let X equal Y.

In mathematics.

Пусть Олег приготовит обед.
Let Oleg cook lunch.

приготовить is the perfective of готовить

готовить means 'to prepare' or 'to cook'.

Пусть Нина напишет письмо.
Let Nina write a letter.

напишет is the perfective of пишет

the sense is that we should let her finish writing the letter.

Не мешай, пускай он читает.
Don’t bother (him), let him read.

мешай is the singular imperative of мешать (to bother, to disturb

читает is imperfective so the sense is to let him continue reading.

Пусть думает что хочет.
Let (him/her) think what (he/she) wants.

Note the missing pronouns. But we know from the conjugation that it refers to 'him' or 'her'.

Пусть думают что хотят.
Let them think what they want.

Note the missing pronouns. But we know from the conjugation that it refers to 'them'.

Оксана меня больше не любит, ну и пусть!
Oksana doesn't love me anymore, but never mind!

больше here means 'anymore'

*ну и пусть* is an expression meaning 'never mind, or 'so be it'.

Пускай, это не моё дело.
Whatever, it is not my business.

Here пускай has the sense of 'let it go' or 'whatever'.

Пускай знает, что я в порядке.
Let (him/her) know that I am fine.

Note the first missing pronoun. But we know from the conjugation that it refers to 'him' or 'her'.