Category Archives: Learn Russian

Lesson 12:Nouns and Cases in Russian. Nominative and Genitive

Today we will start a new topic, probably the most complicated topic in Russian grammar. The complexity is related to the lack of this grammatical phenomenon in English. Yet, we will try to master Russian Cases. Yes, right, today we will be talking about cases.

What is a case? When you speak English the nouns, adjectives, pronouns you use are always the same. They do not change a bit. In Russian it is absolutely different. Russian nouns, pronouns and adjectives will get different endings based on the case they are used in. Basically the case is a set of endings to indicate words’ functions and their relationship to the rest of the words in the sentence. The same phenomenon is distinctive for German and for Latin. Though German has only four cases. Russian has six cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, prepositional). Which is not that bad if you compare Russian to Finnish with its 15 cases!

Today we will only speak about the first two cases – Nominative and Genitive.

Nominative case

Nominative case is by far the simplest one. This is how a word (a noun) appears in the dictionary. The main function of a noun in the Nominative case is to indicate the subject of the sentence. It always answers the questions “Who or what is doing something?”

Example:

Дети ходят в школу.

Children go to school.

In this sentence the word дети (children) is the subject of the sentence, hence it is used in the nominative case.

So, to use the noun in a nominative case you only have to take it from a dictionary without changing the form.

If you want to say something like:

This is a table.

Here is a house.

This is a child.

You will also use the nominative case.

Это стол.

Это дом.

Это ребёнок.

You will never use nouns in nominative case with prepositions.

Genitive case

Genitive case is used when you want to indicate possession. When you want to say this is Anna’s book it means you will need to use the genitive case. Nouns in the genitive case answer the question “Whose?”

Monika’s pen = Ручка Моники

The bank of the river = берег реки

There are some prepositions that are common for nouns in the genitive case: около (near), у (by, by the side of), мимо (past), из (out of), вместо (instead of), без (without). When you see a noun with one of these prepositions you can be sure the noun is used in the genitive case.

Now, to the most complicated part. Nouns in the genitive case will have different endings compared to nouns in the nominative case. In the table below you will see the pattern.

 

Gender Nominative 

кто? (who?) что? (what?)

Genitive 

кого? (of whom?) чего? (of what?)

Endings 

Nom. – Gen.

Masculine студент (student) 

герой (hero)

учитель (teacher)

студента 

героя

учителя

–  to  

-й to

-ь to

Neuter окно (window) 

море (sea)

здание (building)

окна 

моря

здания

-о to –а 

to –я

-ие to –ия

Feminine 

 

школа (school) 

деревня (village)

лошадь (horse)

академия (academy)

школы 

деревни

лошади

академии

-а to 

-я to

-ь to

-ия to -ии

Plural студенты (students) 

герои (heroes)

учителя (teachers)

школа (schools)

лошади (horses)

cтудентов  


героев

учителей

школ_

лошадей

-ы to –ов 

to –ев

to –ей

-а to

to –ей

Of course, this is not an extensive table of the endings; however, it summarizes the most common cases of nouns in the genitive case.

Now, let’s practice and see if everything is clear for you.

Open the brackets, use the noun in the genitive case

  1. Я вижу машину (отец)
  2. Я не вижу никакого (письмо).
  3. У моей (сестра) новая кровать.
  4. У всех (иностранцы) много денег.
  5. Я купил пять (билет) в театр.
  6. Около (здание) есть сад.
  7. У меня много (друзья).
  8. Это книга (учитель)?
  9. Я смотрю на красивую собаку (сосед).

10.  Я не знаю этого (человек).

The answers as always can be found in comments section. Feel free to ask any questions.

Lesson 11: Asking Questions in Russian

At some point you will have to ask questions in Russian, be it asking about directions, or about time, if the person had lunch today, if the girl would want to go on a date with you, etc. Questions are a necessary part of communication, and of course, you want to master the art of asking questions in Russian.

First of all let me assure you that it is not the most complex section of Russian grammar. Quite the opposite. All you have to do is to remember a few question words such as ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘when’, etc. We will discuss them a bit later.

Remember that there is a question type in each language that would require you to answer with a yes or with a no.

For example,

Did you have breakfast?

Yes, I did.

 

Will you go to movie with me?

No, I won’t.

Russian is not an exception here. There are questions that you will answer only with a yes, or with a no.

To form such questions all you have to do is to place a question mark and change intonation. No change of words order is required. Since we have only learned one Tense for now (Present Tense) we will ask questions today in Present Tense.

For example,

Он пишет письмо. He writes a letter.

In English we would ask Does he write a letter?

In Russian, however, you just change it to

Он пишет письмо?

So, as you see Russian yes/no questions are quite easy. Let’s move to a more complicated case of questioning. All you have to do is to add a question word in the beginning of your sentence:

Let’s see how it works in the example.

Imagine someone says ‑ I don’t want to go to school. A proper question would be – Why don’t you want to go to school? As you see not only did we add a question word but we changed a word order n the question sentence.

Now, what do we have in Russian?

Я не хочу идти в кино is the statement and Почему (question word) ты не хочешь идти в кино? is the question. As you can see the structure is similar to that of an English sentence, yet we did not have to change the word order.

In English we have the following picture:

Statement: Subject + Predicate + Complement

Question: Question Word + Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Predicate + Complement

In Russian it is slightly different:

Statement: Subject + Predicate + Complement

Question: Question Word + Subject + Predicate + Complement

See how simple it is? You do not have to use any  auxiliary words, nor change the words order.

Now, let’s learn a few Russian question words:

 

English Russian
Who Кто
What Что
Why Почему
When Когда
Where Где
How Как
How much/many Сколько

Of course, there are more question words but we will discuss them later after we have learned about Russian cases.

Still I suggest that you learn a few ready-made question structures that might help you to strike a conversation.

 

How much money? Сколько денег?
What did you say? Что Вы сказали?
What is this? Что это?
What time is it? Который час?
What do you need? Что Вам нужно?
What do you want? Что Вы хотите?
Where from? Откуда?
Who is this? Кто это?
What’s happened? Что случилось?
What are you doing? Что вы делаете?

Now there is time for some exercises to practice asking questions in Russian.

1. Fill in the Correct Question Word in Blanks

  1. … они видели этот фильм?
    Where did they see that movie?
  2. … они это сделали?
    How did they do that?
  3. …мы обратились к такому врачу?
    Why did we go to such a doctor?
  4. …вы живете?
    Where do you live?
  5. …ты хочешь заниматься?
    When do you want to study?

2. Make five yes/no questions, answer them.

3. Search for the questions words you do not know yet, write them down, and learn them.

As usual the correct answers to the exercises you will find in a comments section.

Lesson 10. Family

We have 9 lessons done and know a lot of things about Russian and its grammar. We can make simple sentences and create short texts. We can introduce ourselves, say ‘hello’ and ask about the person’s well-being.

We know a lot of grammar rules and I hope know how to implement them. Today we will learn new vocabulary related to the topic ‘Family’.

Take a look at the picture of Ann’s family (семья) tree below and read the words trying to guess their meanings.

Now check if you guessed correctly.

Бабушка Grandmother
Дедушка Grandfather
Отец Father
Мать Mother
Тётя Aunt
Дядя Uncle
Брат Brother
Сёстры Sisters
Двоюродная сестра Cousin sister
Двоюродный брат Cousin brother
Папа Dad
Мама Mom
Мои родители My parents
Мои бабушка и дедушка My grandparents
Родители моего отца My father’s parents
Дедушка Grandfather
Внуки Grandchildren
Мои сёстры My sisters
Мои брат и сёстры My brother and sisters
Это я – Аня That’s me, Ann

Now, let’s read the following text and find the new words we just learned. Remember the construction “У меня есть…” from the previous lesson.

Text 1

Здравствуйте! Я студент. Мне 17 лет. Меня зовут Виктор. У меня есть друзья. Их зовут Соня, Наташа и Кирилл. Соня студентка. Ей 18 лет. Наташа тоже студентка. Ей 21 год. А Кирилл доктор. Ему 24 года.

Вот моя семья. Это мама, папа и брат. Моя мама – экономист. Её зовут Виктория. Ей 46 лет. Мой папа – директор. Его зовут Николай. Ему 51 год. А это мой брат. Его зовут Борис. Ему 10 лет. Он школьник.

У меня есть бабушка и дедушка. Они пенсионеры.

In bold there are words that we learnt today. Try building their plural forms.

Now, let’s check how well you understood the text. Answer the following questions:

  1. Кто Виктор по профессии?
  2. Сколько ему лет?
  3. У него есть друзья? Как их зовут?
  4. Сколько им лет?
  5. Кто Соня и Наташа по профессии? А Кирилл?
  6. У Виктора есть семья?
  7. Кто его родители по профессии?
  8. Как их зовут?
  9. У него есть брат?
  10. Как его зовут?
  11. Сколько ему лет?
  12. Он ходит в школу?

For those of you who want to check if they answered everything right, at the end of this lesson we will give the text’s translation and answers to these questions.

Here are some more words that will help you tell more about your own family.

замужем married (about a woman)
женат married (about a man)
жена wife
муж husband
нравиться, любить like
любить love (very strong emotion towards something)

Before we proceed to the next text let’s pay attention to another construction.

Нравиться + infinitive

Нравиться + noun

The basic meaning of the word “нравиться” is “to like something”

If you want say that you like to do something you have to use the word “нравиться” and the infinitive of the second verb.

Example: I like to run. Мне нравится бегать.

If you simply want to say that you like something you should use the word “нравиться” and the noun.

Example: I like sport. Мне нравится спорт.

You can see that in this construction the English pronoun “I” is translated by the Russian Мне and not Я“.

In this context I like will always be equal to Мне нравится.

If you speak about the third person (she or he) then in the Russian language you use the personal pronoun in the Dative case. Since we have not dived into the cases yet here is some help for you.

He likes – Ему нравится

She likes – Ей нравится

Now let’s proceed to the second text. Read the text below and translate it into English. Answer the questions after the text.

Text 2

Меня зовут Софья. Мне 22 года. Я врач. мне очень нравится моя работа, потому что она очень интересная и трудная.

Я замужем. мой муж Андрей – юрист. Его работа очень трудная. Мой муж – хороший человек. Мой муж очень любит спорт. Ему нравится футбол и баскетбол.

У меня есть дочка. Её зовут Валентина. Ей 3 года. она очень хороший ребёнок. Валентина любит конфеты и игрушки.

Ещё у меня есть кот Вальтер. Вальтер очень любит кушать рыбу.

Вечером нам нравится гулять, смотреть телевизор.

Я очень люблю мою семью.

  1. Кто Софья по профессии?
  2. Сколько ей лет?
  3. Софья любит свою работу? Почему?
  4. У неё есть семья? Кто это?
  5. Кто её муж по профессии?
  6. Как его зовут?
  7. Какой человек Андрей?
  8. Что ему нравится?
  9. Что любит Валентина?
  10. Сколько ей лет?
  11. Кто она?
  12. Что любит Вальтер?

Some words that will help you to answer the questions:

Его – his

Её  – her

As with the first text you will find the translation of this text and the answers to the questions at the end of the lesson.

Exercises:

  1. Retell the texts of the lesson. Tell about Victor and Sophia.
  2. Tell us about your own family, use the active vocabulary of the lesson.
  3. What do you like to do? Write down 10 sentences in Russian about your likes.

Answers:

Text 1

Hello! I am a student. I am 17 years old. My name is Victor. I have friends. Their names are Sonia, Natasha and Kirill. Sonia is a student. She is 18 years old. Natasha is a student, too. She is 21 years old. And Kirill is a doctor. He is 24 years old.

This is my family. This is my mom, my dad, and my brother. My mom is an economist. Her name is Victoria. She is 46 years old. My dad is a manager. His name is Nicolay. He is 51 years old. And this is my brother. His name is Boris. He is 10 years old. He is a school student. I have a grandmother and a grandfather. They are retired.

 

1. What is Victor’s occupation? 1. Виктор студент.

Victor is a student

2. How old is he? 2. Ему 17 лет.

He is 17 years old.

3. Does he have friends? What are their names? 3. У него есть друзья. Их зовут Соня, Наташа и Кирилл.

He has friends.Their names are Sonia, Natasha and Kirill.

4. How old are they? 4. Соне 18 лет. Наташе 21 год, а Кириллу 24 года.

Sonia is 18 years old. Natasha is 21 years old. Kirill is 24 years old.

5. What is Sonia’s and Natasha’s occupation? And Kirill’s? 5. Соня и Наташа студентки. Кирилл – доктор.

Sonia and Natasha are students. Kirill is a doctor.

6. Does Victor have a family? 6. Да, у Виктора есть семья.

Yes, Victor has a family.

7. What is his parents’ occupation? 7. Его мать экономист, а отец – директор.

His mother is an economist and his father is a manager.

8. What are their names? 8. Его мать зовут Виктория, а его отца – Николай.

His mother’s name is Victoria, and his father’s name is Nicolay.

9. Does he have a brother? 9. Да, у него есть брат.
Yes, he has a brother.
10. What is his name? 10. Его зовут Борис.
His name is Boris.
11. How old is he? 11. Ему 10 лет.
He is 10 years old.
12. Does he go to school? 12. Да, он школьник.
Yes, he is a school student.

Text 2

My name is Sophia. I am 22 years old. I am a doctor. I like my job because it is interesting and challenging.

I am married. My husband Andrey is a lawyer. His job is very complex. My husband is a good person. My husband likes sport very much. He likes football and basketball.

I have a daughter. Her name is Valentina. She is 3 years old. She is a good child. Valentina likes candies and toys.

I also have a cat Walter. Walter likes to eat fish.

In the evening we like to go for a walk, to watch tv.

I love my family very much.

 

1. What is Sophia’s occupation? 1. Софья – врач.

Sophia is a doctor.

2. How old is she? 2. Ей 22 года.

She is 22 years old.

3. Does she like her job? Why? 3. Да, ей нравится её работа, потому что она интересная и сложная.

Yes, she likes her job because it is interesting and challenging

4. Does the have a family? Who are they? 4. У неё есть семья: муж и дочь.

She has a family – a husband and a daughter.

5. What is her husband’s occupation? 5. Её муж юрист.

Her husband is a lawyer.

6. What is his name? 6. Его зовут Андрей.

His name is Andrey.

7. What kind of a person is he? 7. Он хороший человек.

He is a good person.

8. What does he like? 8. Ему нравится спорт.

He likes sport.

9. What does Valentina like? 9. Валентине нравятся конфеты и игрушки.

Valentina likes candies and toys.

10. How old is she? 10. Ей 3 года.

She is 3 years old.

11. Who is she? 11. Она дочь Софии и Андрея.

She is Sophia’s and Andrey’s daughter.

12. What does Walter like? 12. Вальтеру нравится есть рыбу.
Walter likes to eat fish.

Lesson 9: The Plural of Nouns. Construction “I have…” in Russian

Last time we talked about time of the day, weeks, months and more. At the end of the lesson you had to translate a few sentences and phrases into English. Now you can check if you did it correctly.

  1. Ann goes to music school on Monday. Энн пойдёт в музыкальную школу в понедельник
  2. Tomorrow evening. Завтра вечером
  3. On Monday in the morning. В понедельник утром
  4. Tomorrow early evening. Завтра рано вечером
  5. It snows in winter. Зимой идёт снег.
  6. Mike’s birthday is in August. День рождения Майка в августе.

Today we will get back to the nouns and explore the world of plurals. Russian nouns (like in all other the languages I know) change for number. A noun can be either singular or plural. By default in dictionaries you will find a singular form.

Now, if we think about English we will see that we do not have any problems with the plural form at all, right?

dog-dogs

house-houses

doll – dolls

Other than few exception such as

foot – feet

child – children

goose – geese

you do not really face any complications with that. In Russian it is unfortunately not as simple.

But in the table below you will be able to find the patterns based on the gender of the noun (remember: masculine, feminine and neuter).

Download the table in PDF

Of course, this rule is not safe from exceptions. There are some masculine nouns that can have –а or я ending.

дом – houseдома – houses

лес – forestлеса – forests

глаз – eyeглаза – eyes

сорт – sortсорта – sorts

поезд – trainпоезда – trains

город – cityгорода – cities

остров – island – острова – islands

учитель – teacherучителя – teachers

The endings -a andя are always stressed.

Also, some masculine and neuter nouns might have the ending ья in the plural form.

брат – brotherбратья – brothers

стул – chairстулья – chairs

лист – leafлистья – leaves

друг – friendдрузья – friends

сын – sonсыновья – sons

дерево – treeдеревья – trees

One more thing I would like you to get to know today is the construction “У меня есть…” (I have). We will need it in our next lesson.

English Russian
I have a sister. У меня есть сестра.
I have a book. У меня есть книга.
I have a dictionary. У меня есть словарь.

 

Exercises:

1. Please build the plural form for the following nouns. Check the correct form in the dictionary if you have to.

Дорога, стол, книга, собака, дверь, крокодил, окно, ведро, театр, цирк, школа, комната, телевизор, дерево, плащ, тетрадь, старуха.

2. Tell us what do you have. Use the construction “У меня есть…” to create 10 sentences. Use both singular and plural forms of nouns.

Example: У меня есть собака. У меня есть собаки. (I have a dog. I have dogs.)

Lesson 8: Days, Months and Seasons in Russian

As you remember in our previous lesson we discussed Present Tense in Russian. One of your exercises was to translate a few sentences into Russian. As promised, here are the answers:

He is shaving. –  Он бреется.

My mom is cooking breakfast. – Моя мама готовит завтрак.

Ann is brushing her teeth. – Анна чистит зубы.

They work in school. – Они работают в школе.

Pete is washing the dishes. – Пит моет посуду.

Today we will start a new topic that will help us to move one step closer to other tenses (Past and Future) in the grammar system of tenses in the Russian language.

Today we will learn the times of the day/month/year.

Knowing the times of the day will help you schedule your meetings and activities accordingly. Here are a few words that can help you. Some of the you might already know while the rest will be new to you.

Утро Morning
День Day
Вечер Evening
Ночь Night

If you want to say that something is to occur in the morning you say утром, in the day – днём, in the evening – вечером, and in the night – ночью.

Days of Week

Понедельник Monday
Вторник Tuesday
Среда Wednesday
Четверг Thursday
Пятница Friday
Суббота Saturday
Воскресенье Sunday
Неделя Week

To indicate the day of the week you need to use a preposition. At the same time the endings of most of the nouns will be changed.

Pay attention:

В понедельник on Monday
Во вторник on Tuesday
В среду on Wednesday
В четверг on Thursday
В пятницу on Friday
В субботу on Saturday
В воскресенье on Sunday

To ask what day is it today you ask “Какой сегодня день?” where сегодня means today.

The answer is simple. You just say: Сегодня – понедельник.

Now that you know quite a few words that describe time of the day or the week you can build phrases.

This morning – сегодня утром

This evening – сегодня вечером

Some of other words that could be helpful are the following:

Сейчас (now), позже (later), рано (early), вчера (yesterday), позавчера (еру day before yesterday), завтра (tomorrow), послезавтра (еру day after tomorrow).

Months

Russian months sound somewhat similar to their English equivalents.

Январь January
Февраль February
Март March
Апрель April
Май May
Июнь June
Июль July
Август August
Сентябрь September
Октябрь October
Ноябрь November
Декабрь December

If you want to say that something happened/will happen in a certain month you again just add a preposition. Each noun gets the ending е.

Example:

В январе – in January, в марте – in March, в ноябре – in November.

Now, the only thing left to learn for us is seasons and their names.

Зима Winter
Весна Spring
Лето Summer
Осень Autumn/Fall

To indicate that something happens/will happen/has happened in one of the seasons you have to change the endings of the nouns accordingly.

Зимой In winter
Весной In spring
Летом In summer
Осенью In autumn/fall

Exercises:

1. Learn the vocabulary of the lesson.

2. Translate the following sentences and phrases into Russian.

Ann goes to music school on Monday.

Tomorrow evening.

On Monday in the morning.

Tomorrow early evening.

It snows in winter.

Mike’s birthday is in August.

You will find the correct translation in the next lesson.

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.