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Which one of the sentences means "Ne ustanovili pravila", but don't "Ne ustanavlivali pravila"?

They didn't set rules.

or

They didn't have to set rules.

What is the difference? Which one makes sense "Ne ustanovili pravila" in Russian? Both words "set" means verb.

  • Sorry, I lost the "to". – Владимир Смирнов Jan 19 at 10:44
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    have + marked infinitive = be required to DO. I have to go = I must go. So, "they did not have to set rules" means "They were not required to set rules". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 19 at 10:44
  • I'd say that you need to more context if you want to translate them into English properly. – Michael Rybkin Jan 19 at 10:51
  • Context: The programmer is setting up algorithm into a calculator. He is using the software environment that means moving some direct rules from brain to machine. Then, something in program execution goes wrong. And the user is thinking: "Oh, may be there is no some necessary rules in the program, because they were skipped." And then we have a question: there were not rules setup was started at all or there is the programmer's mistake. – Владимир Смирнов Jan 19 at 11:00
  • What does sentence "marked infinitive" means? The internet provides very strange explanation. – Владимир Смирнов Jan 19 at 11:23
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установить is perfective and устана́вливать is the corresponding imperfective. I am just a novice in Russian but my understanding is that they are roughly equivalent to past perfect "had established" and past simple "established". So

Не устанавливали правила - did not establish rules (past but no specific reference time)

Не установили правила - had not established rules (at a specified time of reference, the rules were not established)

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