All posts by Elena

Lesson 7: Present Tense

Today we will speak about tenses in the Russian language. More specifically about Present Tense. Before that I would like to introduce in short the entire Russian tenses system to you.

Unlike the tenses system in English the Russian one is less complex. There are only five tenses in the Russian language grammar system: one present, two past, and two future. The rules for formation of the tenses are pretty simple and sometimes even similar to formation of tenses in English (i.e. future tense).

Today we will speak about formation and use of present tense in the Russian language.

First of all, I would like to know that Russian verbs are conjugated (or change their form) based on the person it refers to. Here I would like you to remember our previous lesson and the personal pronouns we learned because they can come handy right now.

я – I

ты – you

он – he

она – she

оно –  it

мы – we

вы – you

Вы – you

они – they

Meaning

Now when we refreshed our memory we can go further. First of all, we will focus on the meaning that Russian Present Tense has.

The present tense in the Russian language corresponds to the present simple tense and  to the present continuous tens in English. What we mean here is that the Russian present tense can express bot the general action and the action that takes place at a certain moment (in the present).

Examples:

I work at home. Я работаю дома. 

Я работаю сейчас.

I am working now.

Formation

Now, it is time to learn how we actually can form present tense in Russian.

As we have already discussed Russian verbs change for person and number. For each person there is its own personal ending.

Based on the endings we can distinguish two conjugation patterns. They are called the  First Conjugation Pattern and the Second Conjugation Pattern. The difference you will be able to see from the table below.

The Present Tense
First Conjugation Pattern Second Conjugation Pattern
Infinitive: читать Infinitive: говорить
я читаю я говорю
ты читаешь ты говоришь
он читает он говорит
она читает она говорит
мы читаем мы говорим
вы читаете вы говорите
они читают они говорят

As you can see the main difference is that in the personal endings of the first pattern there is a letter е while in the personal endings of the second pattern there is a letter и. Besides when we refer to ‘they’ (они) there is the ending –ют for the first pattern and the ending ят for the second pattern.

Now our only concern is to get to know what verbs belong to the first pattern of conjugation and which ones belong to the second.

First Conjugation Pattern Verbs

  • Most of verbs that end with –еть and –ать (-ять).
  • All verbs that end with –овать.
  • Two verbs that end with -ить: брить (shave) and стелить (lay as in lay a carpet, or make the bed).

Second Conjugation Pattern Verbs

  • All verbs that end with –ить other than брить and стелить.
  • Seven verbs that end with –еть and four verbs that end with –ать (see below).
  • Some verbs that end with –ать (-ять), when the ending is stressed (i.e. лежать (lie as in lie in bed), стоять (stand)).

Now, there is a simple poem that helps you to learn all the exception words, such as already known брить and стелить and yet unknown seven verbs that end with –еть and four verbs that end with –ать.

Гнать, держать, смотреть и видеть,

Дышать, слышать, ненавидеть,

И зависеть, и вертеть,

И обидеть, и терпеть

Вы запомните, друзья,

Их на «Е» спрягать нельзя.

 

Ко второму же спряженью

Отнесем мы без сомненья

Все глаголы, что на «-ить»,

Исключая: брить, стелить.

А еще: смотреть, обидеть,

слышать, видеть, ненавидеть,

гнать, дышать, держать,

И зависеть, и вертеть.

In the poem in green there are exceptions that belong to the first conjugation pattern and in blue – the exceptions that belong to the second conjugation pattern. Please note that the verbs in the beginning and in the end of the poem are the same.

Vocabulary

Below you will find a list of verbs you can use in your daily life.

бриться to shave
вставать to get up
гладить to iron
готовить to cook, to prepare
завтракать to eat breakfast
заниматься (уроками) to study
мыть посуду to wash the dishes
одеваться to get dressed
принимать душ to take a shower
работать to work
чистить зубы to brush your teeth
бегать to run
гулять to walk

 

Exercises

1. Using the vocabulary and the rules from the lesson translate the following sentences into Russian

He is shaving.

My mom is cooking breakfast.

Ann is brushing her teeth.

They work in school.

Pete is washing the dishes.

You will find the correct answers in our next lesson.

2. Tell about your day.

Hints: When do you get up? What do you eat for breakfast? Do you go to school or to the office?

3. Conjugate in present tense the following verbs. Build sentences with those verbs in all persons

Работать, держать, стелить, учить.

Lesson 6: Basic Russian Phrases and Personal Pronouns

Last time we talked about gender of Russian nouns. Today we will proceed with Russian pronouns. More specifically about one of pronouns’ groups, such as personal pronouns.

Like nouns pronouns in the Russian language depend largely on the case. Today, in order to get an idea we will start with the personal pronouns in the nominative case. It is the form of a pronoun (or a noun) used in the subject or predicate nominative.

Below you will find a table that represents Russian personal pronouns in the Nominative. Usually they replace the name of a person of an object. They answer the question Who? Or What?

Table 1. Personal Pronouns in the Nominative Case

Nominative 

кто? (who?)

что? (what?)

Number
я – I Singular
ты – you Singular
он – he Singular
она – she Singular
оно –  it Singular
мы – we Plural
вы – you Plural
Вы – you Formal “you”
они they Plural

We will need to know them by heart before we start on Present Tense in our next lesson.

But today I would like you to pay special attention to the personal pronouns он, она, оно. They are used to indicate the person of a man or object spoken about, 3rd person.

Here you can apply your knowledge of gender in the Russian language.

Он replaces masculine nouns.

Она replaces feminine nouns.

Оно replaces neuter nouns.

For more information see table 2.

Table 2. Use of the Personal Pronouns он, она, оно.

 

ОН ОНА ОНО
автобус – bus 

банк – bank

билет – ticket

брат – brother

вагон – carriage

город – city

дом – house

друг – friend

отец – father

парк – park

стол – table

стул – chair

суп – soup

сын – son

вода – water 

рыба – fish

буква – letter

сумка – bag

лампа – lamp

улица – street

страна – country

шапка – cap

группа – group

машина – car

комната – room

земля – earth

песня – song

неделя – week

окно – window 

утро – morning

лицо – face

озеро – lake

слово – word

место – place

молоко – milk

письмо – letter

яблоко – apple

дерево – tree

кресло – armchair

море – sea

поле – field

солнце – sun

Examples of use:

This is a lamp. It is red.

Это лампа. Она красная.

This is a table. It is black.

Это стол. Он чёрный.

This is an apple. It is yellow.

Это яблоко. Оно жёлтое.

As you can see the English pronoun “it” was replaced with different Russian pronouns, based on the gender of the nouns they replace. Additionally the endings of the adjective change, too.

Exercise

Translate into Russian the following sentences:

  1. This is a house. It is big.
  2. This is a lake. It is large.
  3. This is a car. It is white.
  4. This is a bus. It is small.
  5. This is a tree. It is green.

You will find the correct answers in the comments section.

Basic Russian Phrases

Here are a few Russian phrases that might be helpful in your daily communication.

Повторите, пожалуйста. Please repeat what you said.)
Говорите, пожалуйста, помедленнее. Please, speak more slowly.)
Скажите, пожалуйста, как пройти до метро / остановки / театра / музея Please tell me how to get to the subway station / bus stop / theater / museum
Спасибо. Thank you.
Спасибо большое. Thanks a lot!)
Извините, пожалуйста, я Вас не понимаю. Excuse me; I didn’t understand what you said.)
Поздравляю! Congratulations!)
Желаю удачи! Good luck!)
Ничего. No problem, it’s all right
Всего хорошего! All the best!)
Приятного аппетита! Bon appetit!

This is all for today. In our next lesson we will learn about Present Tense and start building short sentences on our own.

Lesson 5: Gender

Today we will speak about Gender in Russian language. Basically all nouns depend largely on gender, number, and case. We will talk about the latter two in our next lessons. In order to grasp Russian grammar it is recommended to take one step at a time only.

All nouns can be masculine, feminine, or neuter. Why is it important? Mostly, because when you build up phrases in Russian, all endings of adjectives and nouns change according to the gender and case (not to forget the number!).

The thing about Russian nouns’ gender is that you will not have to memorize the words and their gender. You will have to memorize the rules instead.

First of all, all human beings’ gender is defined by their sex.

Мужчина – man is obviously masculine

Женщина woman – feminine

Дочь – daughter – feminine

Сын – son – masculine

Now, let’s start with the rules that are not so obvious.

Masculine

  • Most of masculine nouns in the Russian language do not have an ending, or more specifically, they end with a consonant.

Examples:

Компьютер – computer

Карандаш – pencil

Стол – table

  • Masculine nouns may also end with a “й” or a soft sign.

Examples:

Учитель – teacher

Король – king

Музей – museum

  • Sometimes masculine nouns might have an ending –а or –я. While it is usually a sign of a feminine noun (we will talk about it later in this lesson), if the noun refers to a male human being, then it obviously is masculine.

Examples:

Папа – dad

Слуга – servant

Дедушка – grandfather

Some of such words can be either masculine or feminine based on the person it refers to.

Example:

Убийца – murderer

It is masculine if the murderer is a man, and it is feminine if the murderer is a woman.

More words that fall into this category:

Пьяница – drunkard, плакса – crybaby, сирота – orphan.

This group is not really large and the correct use of such words only requires some common sense, not more than that.

  • There is a group of masculine nouns that you will have to memorize.

Here are a few of them:

Фламинго – flamingo, маэстро – maestro, кенгуру – kangaroo.

  • Words that end with –тель

Examples:

Строитель – builder

Предатель – traitor

Житель – citizen

Feminine

  • Nouns that have an ending –a or –я (except those discussed in previous section)

Examples:

Линия ‑ line

Тётя – aunt

Неделя –week

Тьма – darkness

  • Nouns that end with a soft sign.

Here you should pay some special attention. If a soft sign is preceded by one of the following consonants ‑ ж, ч, ш, щ – then the noun is definitely a feminine.

Examples:

Вещь – thing

Мышь – mouse

Помощь – help

However, there is a group of words that ends with a soft sign which you have to memorize as feminine.

These are among others: любовь – love, смерть – death, мебель – furniture, площадь – square, очередь – queue, etc.

  • Words that end with –тельница (feminine equivalent of masculine words that ends with –тель)

Examples:

Учительница – teacher (a woman)

Предательница – traitor (a woman)

Some nouns can be considered feminine despite all the endings because they refer to a particular category.

Examples:

Миссисипи ‑ Mississippi is feminine when the noun refers to the river (река). The words река is feminine. However, if it refers to the state (штат, masculine) then the same word is masculine.

Кармен – Carmen is feminine when it refers to the opera (опера, feminine)

Таймс – Times referring to the newspapers (газета, feminine) is feminine, too.

Neuter

Neuter nouns is the smallest category of nouns. They are recognizable by the ending –о, -ё or –е. Sometimes also the ending –мя.

Examples:

Небо – sky

Колено – knee

Богатство – wealth

Мученье – suffering

Бельё ‑ linen

Время – time

Имя – name

Exercise

Your task is to define the gender of the following nouns based on the rules explained above. Sometimes you do not really need to know the meaning of the world to know the word’s gender. More often than not you will be able to find out the meaning just by reading the word.

  1. Миссисипи
  2. Плакса
  3. Какао
  4. Маэстро
  5. Темя
  6. Кентукки
  7. Знамя
  8. Нью-Йорк Таймс
  9. Шоссе
  10. Государство
  11. Глупость
  12. Растворитель
  13. Кафе
  14. Кенгуру
  15. Бельё
  16. Фламинго
  17. Нью-Джерси
  18. Скамья
  19. Писательница
  20. Любовь

You will find the correct answers in the comments section to this lesson.

In our next lesson we will learn some basic Russian phrases other than those that you already know, and will get an idea about personal pronouns.

Lesson 4: Numbers

At some point of your communication in Russian will require knowledge of basic numbers use. No matter if you need to tell/understand time or count your money.

Russian numbers might not be hard to remember, yet the real problem is that they keep changing based on the cases. Since we do not know anything about Russian cases yet we will learn today the basic numbers in their nominative case, i.e. the form that is used in dictionaries.

0-9

Let’s start with the numbers from 0 to 9. You will definitely use them more often than the rest.

0 – ноль

1 – один

2 – два

3 – три

4 – четыре

5 – пять

6 – шесть

7 – семь

8 – восемь

9 – девять

An important thing here to remember is that the number 1 (один) can change its form even in Nominative case, based on the gender it is used with.

For example,

Masculine – один (один дом = one house)

Feminine – одна (одна книга = one book)

Neuter – одно (одно облако = one cloud)

The number 2 (два) also depends on the noun it is used with.

For example,

Masculine, Neuter  – два (два дома = two houses, два облака = two clouds)

Feminine – две (две книги = two books)

Also, pay attention to the endings of the nouns in plural. Do not try to remember them yet; just see that they are different.

The rest of the numbers from 3 to 9 will not depend on the gender. No matter if it is 3 books, 5 houses and 9 clouds.

3 книги

5 домов

9 облаков

10-19

Now let’s move further and discover the numbers from 10 to 19.

10 – десять

11 – одиннадцать

12 – двенадцать

13 – тринадцать

14 – четырнадцать

15 – пятнадцать

16 – шестнадцать

17 – семнадцать

18 – восемнадцать

19 – девятнадцать

If you see the pattern it will not be complicated for you to remember them.

Starting from 11 you take a number from 1-9 and add  -надцать. You only have to ignore the soft sign in the numbers from 5 through 9, and see that you take a feminine form of 2. The rest is pretty simple.

20-99

Now we are going further and it gets even simpler. We will have to learn the numbers 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and in order to get 21 or 32 or any other number we will add the respective number from 1 through 9.

20 – двадцать

30 – тридцать

40 – сорок

50 – пятьдесят

60 – шестьдесят

70 – семьдесят

80 – восемьдесят

90 – девяносто

Here you can see some patterns too.

For numbers 20 and 30 you take a respective number (2 or 3) and add -дцать.

For numbers 50, 60, 70, 80 you take a respective number (5, 6, 7, or 8) and add –десят.

You will only have to remember 40 (сорок) and 90 (девяносто).

Now, in order to make a complex numbers such as 21 or 35, you just add a respective number from 1 to 9 where appropriate.

21 – двадцать один

35 – тридцать пять

94 – девяносто четыре

Exercise: Write down the following numbers – 33, 49, 24, 55, 61,78, 86, 97.

Remember that for numbers that have 1 or 2 as their second part the rule about genders applies.

Двадцать один дом but двадцать одна книга

100-999

100 – сто

200 – двести

300 – триста

400 – четыреста

500 – пятьсот

600 – шестьсот

700 – семьсот

800 – восемьсот

900 – девятьсот

It is not complicated to figure out a pattern now when you know what to search for, right?

The rest comes easy.

201 – двести один

330 – триста тридцать

426 – четыреста двадцать шесть

You just add numerals as needed.

1,000-1,000,000

The rest of the numerals one way or the other follows similar patterns.

1,000 – тысяча

2,000 – две тысячи (the word “тысяча” is feminine)

3,000 – три тысячи

4,000 – четыре тысячи

but

5,000 – пять тысяч

6,000 – шесть тысяч

7,000 – семь тысяч

8,000 – восемь тысяч

9,000 – девять тысяч

1,0000 – десять тысяч

but

21,000 – двадцать одна тысяча

22,000 – двадцать две тысячи

23,000 – двадцать три тысячи

24,000 – двадцать четыре тысячи

The pattern repeats itself.

1,000,000 – один миллион

Now you can practically build any numbers you want to if you follow the simple patterns that we have learned.

Ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers are numbers like the first, second, etc.

Here is the list of Russian ordinal numbers from 1 to 10.

Первый – the first

Второй – the second

Третий – the third

Четвертый – the fourth

Пятый – the fifth

Шестой – the sixth

Седьмой – the seventh

Восьмой – the eighth

Девятый – the ninth

Десятый –the tenth

Одиннадцатый – the eleventh

Двенадцатый – the twelfth

Тринадцатый  – the thirteenth

Четырнадцатый – the fourteenth

Пятнадцатый – the fifteenth

Шестнадцатый – the sixteenth

Семнадцатый – the seventeenth

Восемнадцатый – the eighteenth

Девятнадцатый – the nineteenth

Двадцатый – the twentieth

Starting from the 21st it is pretty simple. Only the second word will be changed and it changes the same way as in the list above.

Example:

21st – двадцать первый

33rd – тридцать третий

59 – пятьдесят девятый

etc.

The ordinal numbers are changing depending on the gender, the case and the plural. Basically they have the same changes as adjectives do. But we will deal with it at some later stage. For now, let’s just learn the numbers.

In our next lesson we will talk a little bit more about gender in the Russian language.

Lesson 3: Introducing Yourself and Basic Russian Grammar

In Russian it is important to be introduced or to introduce yourself. You can’t just start talking with a person, you have to follow some formal etiquette.

The etiquette is not really complicated, usually just a phrase or two, the entire meaning would be “Let’s get acquainted!” with a response “Okay, sure!”

As you remember from Lesson 2 there are 2 ways to address a person in Russian – a formal one and an informal one.

So, let’s get acquainted!

Formal or more than 1 person addressed: Давайте познакомимся (pronounced as duh-vahy-tee puhz-nuh-koh-meem-sye)

Informal: Давай познакомимся (pronounced as duh-vahy puhz-nuh-koh-meem-sye)

Response:

Formal: Давайте! (pronounced as duh-vahy-tee)

Informal: Давай! (pronounced as duh-vahy)

What is your name?

The next step in introduction process is asking about the name. Here again we have a formal and an informal approach.

Formal: Как Вас зовут? (pronounced as kahk vahz zah-voot?)

Informal: Как тебя зовут? (pronounced as kahk tebya zah-voot?)

Response:

Меня зовут (pronounced as Mee-nya zah-voot) + your name

Some of Russian names can be complicated to understand but many are quite like the American or European names. See Table 1.

Table 1. Some Russian Names

1.1 Women

Full Name Nickname English Equivalent
Анна Аня Anna
Alexandra Саша Alexandra
Вера Vera
Виктория Вика Victoria
Елизавета Лиза Elisabeth
Мария Маша Mary
София Соня Sonia
Юлия Юля Julia

 

1.2 Men

Full Name Nickname English
Александр Саша Alexander
Игорь Igor
Евгений Женя Eugene
Константин Костя Constantine
Петр Петя Peter
Михаил Миша Michael

 

A polite response after someone has been introduced to you is “Nice to meet you”. Or, if we keep speaking in Russian: Очень приятно (pronounced as oh-cheen’ pree-yat-nuh). In response you can hear “Мне тоже” (pronounced as mnye to-zhe) with the meaning ‘me too’.

Introducing someone

Sometimes you will be the one to introduce your colleague or a family member to another person.

In this case you say “This is…” or Это (pronounced as eh-tuh) and add the name of the person or some more information.

i.e.

Это мой брат Питер. (This is my brother Peter).

Это мой коллега Александр (This is my colleague Alexander)

Это мой друг Алекс (This is my friend Alex).

Here you have to pay attention to gender. If you talk about a female you use the word

Моя = my

And if you refer to a male, you use the word

Мой = my

Here comes the bit of basic Russian grammar that I have promised to you in the beginning of the lesson.

GENDER

Russian nouns are distinguished by gender and change for number and case. All the nouns belong to one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter. The gender of a noun is generally (but not always!) shown by its ending.

Nouns without an ending whose stem terminates in a hard consonant or the consonant are masculine.

Examples: дом – house, город – city, музей – museum.

Nouns ending in -a or are feminine.

Examples: страна – country, земля – earth, ground

Nouns ending in or -е/-ё are neuter.

Examples: письмо – letter, море – sea, ружьё – gun

Nouns ending in Ь (the soft sign) make up a separate group and may be either masculine or feminine.

Словарь – dictionary (masculine) BUT тетрадь – exercise-book (feminine)

Lesson’s Vocabulary

Here is the list of the words that will come handy in the situation of introduction.

Russian English
Это This is
Мой My (male)
Моя My (female)
Colleague коллега
Знакомый Acquaintance (male)
Знакомая Acquaintance (female)
Брат Brother
Сестра Sister
Друг Friend (male)
Подруга Friend (female), girlfriend
Мать mother
Отец Father
Сын Son
Дочь Daughter

 

Exercises

  1. Translate the following sentences into Russian.

 

  1. Hello. My name is Adam.
  2. It is nice to meet you.
  3. This is my sister Amanda.
  4. This is my house.
  5. This is my father Nick.
  6. What is your name?

 

  1. Read the following dialog and try to translate it into English, make up a similar dialog using active vocabulary from the lesson

 

Мария: Привет, Аня!

Аня: Привет, Маша! Как дела?

Мария: Ничего. А у тебя?

Аня: Неплохо.

Мария: А это мой брат, Александр.

Аня: Привет! Приятно познакомиться.

Александр: Мне тоже.

  1. Write down all the new words and practice their pronunciation.

 

In our next lesson we will talk about Russian number and continue learning basic Russian grammar.

Lesson 2: Greetings and Communication Formulas

Greetings and introduction are the first step in every new act of communication. It goes without saying that if you address someone correctly in a strict accordance with norms and standards of their language, you will make a good first impression. And that is something we all strive for, isn’t it? After all, all we want is to make contacts, be it professional or otherwise.

What you should know about Russian greetings is that they follow a little bit stricter code than in English. You have to distinguish between formal and informal greetings.

  1. Formal vs. Informal

    Depending on who you are talking to there are 2 different words in Russian that you might need rto use to address a person. There is an informal you (“ty“, Ты) and a formal you (“Vy“, Вы). In a written speech the formal you (“Vy“) will always be written with a capital letter.

    Please not to confuse with “vy” (вы) written with a small letter which stands for you in plural, as in addressing 2 or more people.

    So, when you talk to your close friend or family members you use “ty“, in case you talk to your boss, acquaintances, senior persons or anyone you would like to show some special respect, you use “Vy“.

    It is possible to address a person of your age “ty” even if he/she is not a close friend of yours. But you can do so only if that person asks you to. Many young people do not like being too formal or feel that being addressed “Vy” makes them look older than they are.

    In Russian families you can often see that even adult young people will address their aunts and uncles “Vy“. At the same time you might notice that many kids address their aunts and uncles less formal. It can be explained by the difference in the upbringing. The Soviet tradition was rather more formal than the currently developing one.

  2. Hello and Goodbye

    Each language has its own ways of greetings. They might depend on the time of the day, on how well you actually know the person, on the situation, social status of people, etc. Russian is not an exception here.

    The most common way to greet a person who you are informal with is to use the word ‘Privet’ (Привет, pronounced as Pree-vet). It means ‘hello’. Another word for greeting in an informal act of communication is ‘Zdravstvuj’ (Здравствуй, zdrah-stvooy; literally: Be well).

    If you have to greet a person with whom you are on formal terms you should use the word ‘Zdravstvujtye’ (Здравствуйте, pronounced as zdrah-stvooytee). The same word can be used if you have to greet a group of people.

    Till recently ‘Zdravstvujtye’ was the most common way of greeting. It was used when addressed family members, close friends, kids. Now it is okay to use ‘Privet’ in most of situations.

  3. Other Greetings

    Depending on the time of the day you can also use the following greetings:

    Dobroye utro! (Доброе утро, pronounced as Dohb-ruh-ee oo-truh) ‑ Good morning!

    Dobryj dyen’! (Добрый день, pronounced as dohb-rihy dyen’) Good afternoon! You can use it pretty much all the time when you are not sure what greeting to use. It only does not work for early mornings or late night)

    Dobryj vyechyer! (Добрый вечер, pronounced as dohb–rihy vye-cheer) Good evening!

  4. How are you?

    Interestingly, ‘how are you?’ phrase is mostly used for informal communication. It is not common usually to ask that question in a formal communication act. However, if you absolutely have to ask this stick to Kak Vy pozhivayetye? (Как Вы поживаете, kahk vih puh-zhih-vah-ee-tee, literally: how is life treating you?).

    However, the expression you will hear most often is Kak dyela? (Как дела?, pronounced as kahk dee-lah).

    As you might have already figured out, asking ‘how are you?’ in Russian is not some standard formula which people respond with “fine, thank you!”. If you ask someone Kak dyela, be prepared to listen. Russians ask this question when they genuinely want to know how things are going with the person they talk to.

Responses to How are you (Kak dyela?)

Standard responses to that question would be:

  • Khorosho (Хорошо, pronounced as khuh-rah-shoh) – Good
  • Normal’no (Нормально, pronounced as nahr-mahl’-nuh) ‑ normal or okay
  • Nichyego (Ничего, nee-chee-voh) ‑ so-so
  • Nyeplokho (Неплохо, nee-ploh-khuh) ‑ not bad
  • Pryekrasno (Прекрасно, pree-krahsnuh) – wonderful
  • Otlichno (Отлично, ot-leech-nuh) ‑ fine

Do not forget to ask the person how she/he is doing. After you responded to that question and said how splendid, terrific or otlichno you are, ask them:

A u vas? (A у Вас? pronounced as ah oo vahs) ‑ And you? (formal) or

A u tyebya? (А у тебя? pronounced as ah oo tee-bya) ‑ And you? (informal)

  1. 5. Goodbye

The usual way to say goodbye in almost any situation is to use the word ‘Do svidaniya! (до свидания, pronounced as duh-svee-dah-nee-ye).

Informal way of saying goodbye is to use the word ‘Poka’ (Пока, pronounced as pah-kah) – something close to English ‘bye’ or ‘see you later’).

If you say goodbye in the late evening before bed time it is okay to use ‘Spokojnoj Nochi’ (Спокойной ночи, pronounced as spah-kohy-nuhy noh-chee) ‑ Good night. You can use this one for both formal and informal situations.

Dialog

1.           Please read the following dialog and translate it into English.

2.           Is the conversation formal or informal? How do you know?

Olya and Masha accidentally met in the bus.

Оля: Маша, привет!

Маша: Ой, Маш, привет! Как дела?

Оля: Ничего. А у тебя?

Маша: Неплохо. Ой, это моя остановка. До свидания, Оля.

Оля: Пока!

Vocabulary:

остановка – bus stop

моя ‑ my

 

3. Make a dialog of your own, using formal greetings.

 

In our next lessons we will learn to introduce ourselves and some basic Russian grammar. Till then practice reading and learn vocabulary from our first and second lessons.

Lesson 1: Russian Alphabet and Pronunciation

Many people find learning Russian especially challenging because of all those letters that do not look anything like people are used to seeing. The Russian alphabet is based on Cyrillic alphabet which initially had 43 letters. You are lucky ‑ now Russian has only 33 letters in its alphabet. Which can be still pretty much for anyone considering that there are only 26 letters in English. Yet, there is no reason for panic. It is not as scary as you might have pictured.

 

Let’s start with introduction of Russian letters. There are 10 vowels, 21 consonants and 2 signs in Russian. In the table we have presented the letters as they are written and pronounced.

 

The Letter in Cyrillic Transliteration Pronunciation Examples Translation
А, а A If stressed – ah as in father Мама Mother
Б, б B B as in big Банан Banana
В, в V V as in victory Вор Thief
Г, г G G as in god Гусь Goose
Д, д D D as in dog Дом House
Е, е Ye Ye as in yes Ель Fir
Ё, ё Yo Yo as in yoke Ёж Hedhehog
Ж, ж Zh Zh as in treasure Жук Beetle, bug
З, з Z Z as in zebra Зебра Zebra
И, и I Ee as in feet Игла Needle
Й, и J Y as in may Май May
К, к K C as in cat Кот Cat
Л, л L L as in love Лес Forest
М, м M M as in mother Мир World
Н, н N N as in no Нет No
О, о O O as in walk Он He
П, п P P as in plan План Plan
Р, р R R – flap r, close to a Spanish ‘r’ in padre Река River
С, с S S as in sit Стол Table
Т, т T T as in take Тигр Tiger
У, у U Oo as in took Утка Duck
Ф, ф F F as in fat Факт Fact
Х, х Kh As in the name of German composer Bach Хобби Hobby
Ц, ц Ts Ts as in cats Цирк Circus
Ч, ч Ch Ch as in check Чашка Cup
Ш, ш Sh Sh as in English Шар Sphere
Щ, щ Sh’ Soft sh as in sheep Щенок Puppy
ъ Hard sign Съел Ate
ы Y ih (not present in English) Дым Smoke
ь Soft sign Пить To drink
Э, э E E as in end Эмоция Emotion
Ю, ю Yu Yu as in use Юла Pegtop
Я, я Ya Ya as in yam Яблоко Apple

 

Of course, there are special cases of pronunciation but in general the letters are pronounced as they are written (according to their transliteration).

The vowels are highlighted in green.  They are pronounced the way it is shown in the table when they are stressed, when they are positioned in the beginning of the word or after another vowel.

 

Vowels in unstressed positions

 

 

  • О will be read as А

О stressed А stressed О→ [А]
Он (he) 

Сок (juice)

Мама (Mother) 

Папа (Father)

Карта (Map)

Она (she) 

Собака (dog)

Молоко (milk)

Корова (cow)

Хорошо (good)

  • Е will be read as И

Е Ε→ [И]
Лес (forest) 

Реки (rivers)

Леса (forests) 

Река (a river)

 

Consonants in different positions

  • Consonants can be pronounced soft and hard depending on the vowel that follows the consonant

 

Consonants become soft if the following letters come after them ‑ Е, Ё, И, Ю, Я and Ь:

paired (15 pairs of consonants) Not paired
hard б в г д з к л м н п р с т ф х ж ш ц – always hard
soft + 

Е, Ё, И, Ю, Я, Ь

б’ в’ г’ д’ з’ к’ л’ м’ н’ п’ р’ с’ т’ ф’ х’ ч’ щ’ й’ – always soft

Some examples:

hard Translation soft Translation
бар 

вор

гора

дом

замок

кот

лук

мама

нога

папа

рука

это

сад

флаг

хор

Bar 

Thief

Mountain

House

Castle

Cat

Onion

Mother

Leg

Father

Hand

This

Garden

Flag

Choir

берег 

виза

герой

дядя

зима

кит

люк

мята

небо

пепел

брюки

новость

село

кофе

химия

Shore 

Visa

Hero

Uncle

Winter

Whale

Hatch

Mint

Sky

Ash

Pants

News

Village

Coffee

Chemistry

 

 

  • There are voiced and voiceless consonants. Voiced consonants can be pronounced as an according voiceless one depending on their position in the word

As a rule, voiced consonants in the end of the word or before a voiceless consonant are pronounced as their voiceless opposite.

 

PAIRS 

б — [п]

в — [ф]

г — [к]

д — [т]

з — [с]

ж — [ш]

EXAMPLES  

зуб – зубы

автобус – аванс

друг – другой

город – города

мороз – морозы

нож – ножи

 

This short guide to pronunciation of Russian letters in different positions should be enough for now. It can be overwhelming at first but it gets better the more you practice.

Let’s start with practice right now.

 

Read the following Russian words and try to guess their meaning based on their similarity with English words:

 

 

Аэропорт

Алгебра

Астрономия

Доктор

Футбол

Гимнастика

Космос

Кредит

Музыка

Нос

Стадион

Водка

Жираф

Журнал

 

 

 

The following table of syllables will help you to practice reading in Russian

 

А Е Ё И О У Ы Э Ю Я
Б БА БЕ БЁ БИ БО БУ БЫ БЮ БЯ
В ВА ВЕ ВЁ ВИ ВО ВУ ВЫ ВЮ ВЯ
Г ГА ГЕ ГИ ГО ГУ ГЮ
Д ДА ДЕ ДЁ ДИ ДО ДУ ДЫ ДЮ ДЯ
Ж ЖА ЖЕ ЖЁ ЖИ ЖО ЖУ !
З ЗА ЗЕ ЗЁ ЗИ ЗО ЗУ ЗЫ ЗЮ ЗЯ
Й АЙ ЕЙ ЁЙ ИЙ ОЙ УЙ ЫЙ ЭЙ ЯЙ
К КА КЕ КИ КО КУ
Л ЛА ЛЕ ЛЁ ЛИ ЛО ЛУ ЛЫ ЛЮ ЛЯ
М МА МЕ МЁ МИ МО МУ МЫ МЭ МЮ МЯ
Н НА НЕ НЁ НИ НО НУ НЫ НЮ НЯ
П ПА ПЕ ПЁ ПИ ПО ПУ ПЫ ПЭ ПЮ ПЯ
Р РА РЕ РЁ РИ РО РУ РЫ РЮ РЯ
С СА СЕ СЁ СИ СО СУ СЫ СЭ СЮ СЯ
Т ТА ТЕ ТЁ ТИ ТО ТУ ТЫ ТЮ ТЯ
Ф ФА ФЕ ФЁ ФИ ФО ФУ ФЫ ФЮ ФЯ
Х ХА ХЕ ХИ ХО ХУ
Ц ЦА ЦЕ ЦИ ЦО ЦУ ЦЫ
Ч ЧА ЧЕ ЧЁ ЧИ ЧО ЧУ !
Ш ША ШЕ ШЁ ШИ ШО ШУ !
Щ ЩА ЩЕ ЩЁ ЩИ ЩО ЩУ !

 

Legend:

 

БА – syllables with hard consonants

БЕ – syllables with soft consonants

Ц – consonants without a soft/hard pair

ШИ – pay special attention to spelling (we will need it at later stage)

 

It is interesting

  • Most of words that start with an “A” or have an “Ф” do not have a Russian origin
  • The letter “Ы” will never be positioned in the beginning of the word
  • There are only few words that start with an “Й”. Most of them are borrowed words.
  • Russian language has 33 letters but it is in no way a record. The most number of letters is there in Khmer language – 72!
  • 2 most complicated for pronunciation for foreigners Russian words are здравствуйте (hello) and достопримечательность (sightseeing attraction). Try to read them using the information in our lesson.

 

Vocabulary

Please write down all the Russian words that are used in this lesson, practice their reading and learn their meanings. We will use them in our future lessons.