Escape to Breathtaking St. Petersburg, Russia

Many describe St. Petersburg as the quintessential Venice of the north.  This magnificent city, with its wild nightlife and architectural monuments is a gold mine for any traveler, sightseer, historian or adventurer, to experience.

The City which is bathed in extraordinary history; celebrates and shares its affluent artistic and enriching traditions, which have moved and influenced some of the finest visual art, literature and music the world has known.    From its captivating Palaces and world-famous Cathedrals, to its summer phenomenon, known as The White Nights, a trip to this wonderful city is sure to amaze and delight all who encounter it.

St. Petersburg, located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, stretches across 42 islands.  Due to the city’s many islands, rivers and bridges, St. Petersburg is often times referred to as a ‘museum of bridges.’ The city’s “wow” factor makes for an unforgettable and ultra-dynamic travel experience.

Let’s take a storybook tour through this incredible and picturesque city.

History

Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27, 1703.  From 1713 to 1728, and then again from 1732 to 1918, St. Petersburg was the Imperial capital of Russia.  St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with almost 5 million residents.

Islands

Originally St. Petersburg was made up of 100 islands.  As a result of engineering work to develop the marine’s public image, their number has been reduced to 42.  Many compare the city to Venice as it is almost entirely built across a series of islands spanning the delta of Neva River.  The city is separated by narrow canals or rivers and connected by the city’s 580 bridges to form unbroken strips of land.

The Cabin of Peter the Great

The first residential building to be built in the newly founded city of St. Petersburg was a wooden house or cabin, built for Tsar Peter himself.  Only 60 square meters, Peter lived in this house between 1703 and 1708.  The living room, bedroom and study, are still filled with Peter’s original belongings.  Protected from the elements, the first house built in the city of St Petersburg is still open to the public.

The White Nights

Imagine taking a romantic stroll along the banks of the city’s rivers and canals no matter what time of day it is.  From late May to early July the night skies display a unique phenomenon known as the White Nights.  St. Petersburg is the world’s most northern city, and it stands at such high latitude that the sun does not descend below the horizon enough for the sky to grow dark.  During the summer months, night and day are one, and locals and visitors are able to experience a lively, friendly and romantic atmosphere sure to set your sights on a return trip.  No other major European city can equal this experience or the atmosphere on the streets of St. Petersburg!

The Peter and Paul Fortress

When Peter the Great re-claimed the lands along the Neva River in 1703, he decided to build a fort to protect the area from possible attack by the Swedish armed forces.   The fortress was founded on Zayachii Ostrov Island in the Neva delta on May 27, 1703 which also became the birthday of the city of St. Petersburg.   Within the fortress stands a high security jail which housed some of Peter’s opponents including his rebellious son, Alexei.  Parts of the former jail are now open to the public.

In the center of the fortress stands the middle of the striking Peter and Paul Cathedral, the resting place of all Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III.  The church was one of the first to be built of stone during the 1700’s.

The fortress is also home to the City History Museum and, the Mint, one of only two places in Russia where coins and medals are minted.

Magical Palaces

While visiting St. Petersburg, a must-see are displays for wealth and sophistication driven by the Emperors of Russia beginning with Peter the Great.  Prosperity and power are in the form of great estates, known as the Imperial palaces.  These extraordinary estates boast sumptuous palaces, extensive landscape gardens, and a treasury of art and history.  There are numerous palaces to see.  Some must-sees include:

The Summer Palace, located across the river from the Peter and Paul Fortress, is a small estate built between 1710 and 1714.  The palace had no heating and was intended only for summer time use, hence its name “Summer Palace.”  The Summer Palace, a small two-storey yellow building, has 7 rooms on each floor. The Summer Palace is surrounded by what is known as The Summer Garden; a wonderful garden with trees and bushes that are immaculately trimmed in the most elaborate ways.  Imagine strolling down the Summer Garden’s allies taking in the decorated marble statues and fountains.

The Winter Palace – undeniably the finest.  The green and white structure which was built around the 1700s, houses the world’s largest art museum with at least three million pieces of art.

Peterhof is a vast, luxurious and beautifully maintained estate.  It combines several ornate palaces, a number of beautifully landscaped parks and a dazzling array of magnificent statues and fountains.

Menshikov Palace, built by Peter’s good friend and companion, Alexander Menshikov (1673-1729), this large palace built on Vasilievsky Island, is the most lavish estate built in the city thus far.   It currently houses a collection of Russian cultural artifacts from the early 18th century.

Pushkin, a small town near Saint Petersburg, used to be known as Tsarskoye Selo. The town boasts a number of amazing parks and palaces that are definitely must-see visits. One of the most famous and impressive palaces in Pushkin is the Catherine Palace, home to the Empress Catherine the Great.

The Mariinsky Palace, situated just across the square from St. Isaac’s Cathedral, is known today as the seat of the local Legislative Assembly (i.e. the City Council.)  Built between 1839 and 1844, the palace is filled with glorious interiors and furniture and even features an enormous greenhouse, where it was said that pineapples grew relatively well.

The Mikhailovsky Castle (St. Michael’s Castle) is both a beautiful and unusual architectural phenomenon for St. Petersburg.  Catherine the Great’s son, Paul was so paranoid of assassination, shortly his mother passed in 1796; he built a fortified palace surrounded by deep ditches.  In 1801, Paul was assassinated in his bed.

Cathedrals

The Cathedrals in St. Petersburg are some of the oldest in the world, beautifully preserved and are the tour de force.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral is an elaborate genius with its dome dominating the skyline of St. Petersburg.  Climb over 300 steps to the observation walkway at the base of the cathedral’s dome and enjoy the breathtaking views over the city.  When you enter the cathedral you pass through one of the porticos; columns made of singular pieces of red granite and weigh 80 tons each. Inside the church many of the icons were created using mosaic techniques.  The cathedral, which can accommodate 14,000 worshipers, now serves as a museum and services are held only on significant ecclesiastical holidays.

Kazan Cathedral (The Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan) was constructed between 1801 and 1811, and boasts an impressive stone colonnade, encircling a small garden and central fountain.  Regular services are held.

Smolny Cathedral’s stunning blue and white building is indeed an architectural masterpiece. Today Smolny Cathedral is used primarily as a concert hall and the surrounding convent houses various offices and government institutions.

Opera and Ballet

Enjoy world-renowned opera and ballet courtesy of the celebrated Mariinsky Theater.  This 1625-seat auditorium has been under the leadership of many great conductors such as:   Yuri Temirkanov, Leonid Yakobson and Valery Gergiev.

Restaurants and Night Life

You will be able to find wonderful 5-Star restaurants and pubs throughout St. Petersburg.  Staraia Tamozhnia (Old Custom’s House), Kavkaz Café and Restaurant, James Cook Pub, Camelot, 1913, Troitskii Most, and Amadeus, are all amazing restaurants which offer delectable, well-priced, European cuisine and pleasant ambiance.

St. Petersburg’s night life is known for boozing, boogieing and binging (if you’re into that sort of thing!)  The city’s live music and dance scene is high energy within a friendly environment.  For students, expats and all who want to get their groove on, try:  Idiot, Metro Club, Griboedov, Tunnel Club, Pier, Luna, Cynic Bar, and Fish Fabrique,

If you’re looking for something a bit more laid back try:  James Cook and Shamrock.

Jazz lovers, Café Clue Che may be the place for you.

Culture, adventure, history, architecture, entertainment and excitement – is all that defines St. Petersburg, Russia.  This incredible city is vibrant, fresh, historic and audacious, ready for you to explore!  Наслаждайтесь! (Enjoy!)

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Lesson 16. Past Tense in the Russian Language

Today we are going to learn about the past tense forms and use in the Russian language. Before we proceed though I would like to go back into our lessons and see what all you remember about the present tense.

First of all, I would like to remind you that Russian verbs are conjugated based on the person it refers to. I am sure you remember the personal pronouns very well but just in case here they are again.

я – I

ты – you

он – he

она – she

оно –  it

мы – we

вы – you

Вы – you

они – they

Basically in the present tense we singled out two conjugation patterns and conjugated the verbs based on them. Each pattern has its own endings for each of the persons.

Remember that?

я читаю я говорю
ты читаешь ты говоришь

It seemed a little complicated back then and I am sure you are a little wary of the Past Tense now. But I want to surprise you. Russian Past Tense is way simpler to be built and to be used.

For starters, the Russian language has only one past tense. All the English Past tenses such as the Past Indefinite, the Past Continuous, the Present Perfect, and the Past Perfect are replaced with the only Russian Past Tense.

Past tense forms are derived from the Infinitive stem. Basically what you do is you take the verb in its Infinitive form and replace the letters ть with a suffix –л and a personal ending. The personal ending is based on the gender of the subject of the sentence.

Forming the Past Tense of Russian Verbs

Subject of the Sentence is Personal Ending Example
Masculine Singular Я читал (I read, was reading)
Feminine Singular Я читала (I read, was reading)
Neuter Singular Оно работало (It worked)
Plural Они читали (They read, were reading)

The majority of Russian verbs whose infinitive stem ends in a vowel, form the past tense in this way. As you noticed in the past tense verbs do not change for the person; they only change for number and gender.

Note that:

  • When the pronoun я is the subject of the sentence, the verb agrees with the gender of the person as you could see in the table above, so a boy/man would say: я читал; a girl/woman would say: я читала.
  • When the pronoun ты is the subject of the sentence, the verb agrees with the gender of the person addressed as ты (Ты читала (a girl/woman is addressed), Ты читал (a boy/man is addressed)).

REMEMBER special formation of past tense forms for the following verbs:

есть (to eat) ‑ ел, ела, ело, ели

сесть (to sit down) ‑ сел, села, село, сели

идти (to go) ‑ шёл, шла, шло, шли

быть (to be) – был, была, было, были

There are other exceptions, and the best way to learn them is learning in the process and looking them up in the dictionary.

Exercises:

Please translate the following sentences into Russian:

  1. “Mary, what were you doing last night?”

“I was reading.”

  1. “John, what were you doing last night?”

“I was watching TV.”

  1. “Jane, have you and Peter been to Russia.”

“Yes, we were in Moscow last year.”

  1. “Ann, did you play the piano when you were a child?”

“No, I played the violin.”

Read the text below and answer the following questions:

1. Что делали Ольга и Максим днём?

2. Где Ольга и Максим провели вечер?

3. Что делала Ольга?

4. Что делал Максим?

5. Где была их дочь?

6. Что делала Аня?

Text:

Вчера Ольга и Максим работали днём, а вечер они провели дома.  Максим смотрел телевизор, Ольга читала книгу. Их дочь Аня тоже была дома. Она играла с куклами.

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Lesson 15. Adjectives in Russian Language

If you followed our lessons you know that in the last three of them we were trying to get to know more about Russian nouns and cases. This week we will go even further in our quest into the wilds of Russian grammar and will learn about Russian adjectives.

As you know adjectives are used to make our speech more beautiful, to decorate it in some way. And if you truly want to master a language, you have to master adjectives.

Now, if you are confused what an adjective is, here is a definition for you:

An adjective is a word that describes, or modifies, a noun or a pronoun, Basically, words like nice, sweet, or beautiful, are adjectives.

And in today’s post you will learn how you can use adjectives, what endings they take, and what are the differences between adjectives in Russian and English.

First of all, Russian adjectives always are used with a noun or a pronoun. And the most important thing you have to remember is that Russian adjectives always agree with the noun or pronoun it is used with. It means that the adjective will be changed based on the gender, number and case of the noun.

When you open a Russian-English dictionary you will find an adjective in its singular and masculine form.

Example:

Белый – white

Красивый ‑ beautiful

At the same time adjectives will never provide you with any other forms because you are supposed to know them. “How?” you will ask. Well, there are patterns (yes, again!) that you have to learn (again!).

However, you are lucky because patterns are not really that complicated. The only complication might be the number of endings you will have to memorize. If you remember there are six cases in Russian, and adjectives get new endings in all of the six cases. In total, there is quite a lot of endings. It will take time and some practice to get to know them but eventually everyone nails them.

Below you will find a table with adjective endings in the nominative case singular and plural.

Singular Plural
Masculine 

какой?

what (sort of)?

Neuter 

какое?

what (sort of)?

Feminine 

какая?

what (sort of)?

for all the genders 

какие?

what (sort of)?

Adjectives whose stem ends in a hard consonant have the endingsый, ой, ая, ое
depending on the noun’s gender
новый (дом) 

new (house)

большой (дом)

large (house)

новое (здание) 

new (building)

большое (здание)

large (building)

новая (комната) 

new (room)

большая (комната)

large (room)

новые большие (дома, здания, комнаты) 

new large (houses, buildings, rooms)

-ый/-ой -ое -ая -ые/-ие
Adjectives whose stem ends in a soft consonant have the endings ий, яя, ее
зимний (день)  

winter (day)

зимнее (утро) 

winter (morning)

зимняя (ночь) 

winter (night)

зимние (дни, утра, ночи)  

winter (days, mornings, nights)

-ий -ее -яя -ие
In the endings of masculine and plural adjectives и is written after the consonants г, к, х, ж, ш, щ, ч: 

строгий приказ (strict order) – строгие приказы (strict orders), русский язык (Russian language), тихий голос (low voice) – тихие голоса (low voices), свежий воздух (fresh air), хороший ответ (good answer) – хорошие ответы (good answers), горячий чай (hot tea).

хороший (ответ)  

good (answer)

хорошее (письмо) 

good (letter)

хорошая (ночь) 

good (night)

хорошие (ответы, письма, ночи)  

good (answers, letters, nights)

-ий -ее -ая -ие

It can be overwhelming at first sight but I can assure you you will be able to handle it after some time. Just take one step at a time.

Exercises:

Please translate the following  phrases into English:

1. интересная книга

2. маленькая девочка

3. красивый дом

4. белый лист

5. синее небо

6. большая собака

7. чёрный квадрат

Please translate the following  phrases into Russian using information from the table above:

1. a beautiful girl

2. a smart child

3. a large house

4. a new pencil

5. a red dress

6. a sweet candy

7. interesting books

Match the English phrases in the left column with Russian phrases in the right column

1. blue sky 1. новая работа
2.red shoes 2. синее небо
3. a new job 6. превосходный фильм
4. a large store 4. красные туфли
5. a small child 5. большой магазин
6. a great film 6. чёрные коробки
7. black boxes 7. маленький ребенок

We will post correct answers to these questions at the beginning of our next lesson.

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Lesson 14: Nouns and Cases in Russian. Instrumental and Prepositional Cases

In the last two weeks we have been working on a complex grammar topic of Russian Cases. Again, I would like to remind you what a case is.

A Case is a set of endings to indicate words’ functions and their relationship to the rest of the words in the sentence. There are six cases in Russian, and so far we have got to know four of them – Nominative, Genitive, Dative and Accusative.

Today we will learn two more cases – Instrumental and Prepositional.

Instrumental Case

The Instrumental case of a noun denotes the instrument or means by which the action is performed. This case answers the question чем? (with what?)

Example:

Я пишу ручкой. – I write with a pen.

As you see the instrumental case is used to indicate the instrument that helps to carry out an action.

There are certain prepositions after which a noun is always used in the instrumental case. These are the following prepositions: с (with), между (between), над (above, over), под (below, under), перед (in front).

Examples:

С мамой – with mother

Между домами – between houses

Над кроватью – above the bed

Под столом – under the table

Перед домом – in front of the house

As all the previous cases Dative Case changes the endings of the corresponding noun. Once again, you will have to learn the pattern. Please see the table below.

Gender Nominative

что? (what?)

Instrumental

чем? (with what?)

Endings


Masculine мел (chalk)

чай (tea)

рубль (rouble)

мелом

чаем

рублём

–  to -ом

-й to ем

-ь to ём

Neuter мыло (soap)

полотенце (towel)

чтение (reading)

мылом

полотенцем

чтением

о to –ом

е to –ем

ие to –ем

Feminine

 

ручка (pen)

земля (land)

армия (army)

дверь (door)

ручкой

землёй

армией

дверью

-а to -ой

-я to -ёй

-ия to -ей

-ь to -ью

Prepositional Case

The prepositional case of a noun is used with prepositions (as the name can tell you) such as в (at, in) or на (at, on) and it denotes the place of action and answers the question где? (where?).

There are also other prepositions  (о, об (about)) that are used with the prepositional case of nouns. О is used if the following word begins with a consonant. Об is used if the following word begins with a vowel.

Example:

О работе – about work

Об отпуске – about vacation

Below you will find a pattern of endings of the noun in prepositional case.

Gender Nominative

что? (what?)

Prepositional

где? (where?)

Endings
Masculine класс

музей

словарь

санаторий

в классе (in a classroom)

в музее (in a museum)

в словаре (in a dictionary)

в санатории (at a sanatorium)

–  to -е

-й to -е

-ь to -е

-ий to -ии

Neuter окно

поле

здание

в окне (in a window)

в поле (in a field)

в здании (in a building)

-о to -е

-е to -е

-ие to -ии

Feminine школа

деревня

площадь

академия

в школе (at school)

в деревне (in a village)

на площади (in /on/ a square)

в академии (at an academy)

-а to -е

-я to -е

-ь to -и

-ия to -ии

A small number of masculine nouns take the ending у in the prepositional case:

Gender Nominative

что? (what?)

Prepositional

где? (where?)

Endings
Masculine шкаф

угол

лес

сад

снег

мост

берег

нос

в шкафу (in a cupboard)

в углу (in a corner)

в лесу (in a forest)

в саду (in a garden)

в снегу (in snow)

на мосту (on the bridge)

на берегу (on the bank)

на носу (on the nose)

–  to -у

Now we have learned about all cases in the Russian language. As you can see the nouns change their endings based on the case. All you have to do is to learn the pattern.

However, there are few nouns that do not change their endings in any case (mostly these are words of foreign origin):

кино (cinema), метро (underground railway), пальто (overcoat), кафе (cafe), кенгуру (kangaroo), жюри (jury), шоссе (main road), кофе (coffee).

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Lesson 13. Nouns and Cases in Russian. Dative and Accusative

Last week we started a new topic in our adventure of mastering Russian. If you remember we were talking about cases. Once again, a short reminder ‑ a case is a set of endings to indicate words’ functions and their relationship to the rest of the words in the sentence. There are six cases in Russian, and so far we have got to know two of them – Nominative and Genitive. Today we will learn two more – Dative and Accusative.

Dative Case

Dative case is used when you want to indicate an indirect object toward which (or toward whom if that’s a human) the action is directed. Now I suppose it might be a tiny bit too complicated to comprehend. Nouns in Dative case answer questions Кому? (to whom?) or Чему? (to what?). Let’s take a look at some examples.

Examples:

I give my sister a book.

Я даю моей сестре книгу.

Words in bold are in Dative case.

With prepositions  к (toward, to) and по (along) a noun is always used in Dative Case.

Examples:

Я иду по дороге.

I am walking along the road.

There are also certain verbs that would require you to use nouns only in Dative Case. For example, such verbs as to help (помогать) or to call (звонить).

Example:

Я помогаю моей маме.

I help my mother.

Я звоню моему отцу.

I am calling my dad.

As with Genitive nouns in Dative Case have some endings patterns that you will have to learn.

Please see the table below.

Gender Nominative

кто? (who?) что? (what?)

Dative

кому? (to whom?) чему? (to what?)

Endings

Nom. – Dat.

Masculine студент (student)

герой (hero)

учитель (teacher)

санаторий (sanatorium)

студенту

герою

учителю

санаторию

–  to

-й to

-ь to

-ий to -ию

Neuter окно (window)

море (sea)

здание (building)

окну

морю

зданию

-о to

-е to

-ие to -ию

Feminine

 

школа (school)

деревня (village)

лошадь (horse)

академия (academy)

школе

деревне

лошади

академии

-а to

-я to

-ь to

-ия to -ии

Plural студенты (students)

здания (buildings)

студентам

зданиям

-ы to –ам

-е to -ам

Accusative Case

The Accusative Case indicates a direct object, which is the object of the action of the verb. The Accusative Case of a noun with a transitive verb denotes the object to which the action passes over and answers the questions кого? (whom?), что? (what?).

A classic example is Я люблю русский язык (I love Russian). Let’s take a look at the endings.

Gender Nominative

кто? (who?) что? (what?)

Accusative

кого? (whom?) что? (what?)

Endings

Nom. – Acc.

For inanimate masculine nouns the form of the accusative case coincides with the nominative:
Masculine

inanimate

стол

музей

словарь

санаторий

стол (table)

музей (museum)

словарь (dictionary)

санаторий (sanatorium)

–  to

-й to

-ь to

-ий to -ий

Masculine

animate

студент

герой

учитель

студента (student)

героя (hero)

учителя (teacher)

–  to

-й to

-ь to

For all neuter nouns the form of the accusative case coincides with the nominative:
Neuter окно

солнце

здание

окно (window)

солнце (sun)

здание (building)

-о to

-е to

-ие to -ие

For all feminine nouns ending in -ь, the form of the accusative case coincides with the nominative:
Feminine

animate and inanimate

лошадь

площадь

лошадь (horse)

площадь (square)

-ь to
Feminine

animate and inanimate

студентка

школа

деревня

академия

студентку (student)

школу (school)

деревню (village)

академию (academy)

-а to

-я to

-ия to -ию

You should always keep in mind that all feminine and masculine nouns ending with  -а, -я in the nominative case  will take endings -у, -ю in the accusative case

Examples:

женщина – женщину (woman), тётя – тётю (aunt)

мужчина – мужчину (man), дядя – дядю (uncle)

All these endings might seem overwhelming but after some practice you will manage to remember them all and even use correctly in sentences. The table below can help you a bit. There you will find a list of verbs which can be used with Dative and/or Accusative cases.

Verbs Accusative

что? (what?)

Dative

кому? (to whom?)

чему? (to what?)

 
давать (to give)

отдавать (to give back)

дарить (to present)

передавать (to pass)

читать (to read)

показывать (to show)

строить (to build)

готовить (to prepare)

переводить (to translate)

писать (to write)

покупать (to buy)

объяснять (to explain)

предлагать (to offer)

сообщать (to inform)

рассказывать (to tell)

книгу (book)

словарь (dictionary)

машину (car)

здание (building)

письмо (letter)

музей (museum)

дом (house)

обед (lunch)

песню (song)

поэму (poem)

соль (salt)

задачу (problem)

помощь (help)

новость (news)

сказку (fairy tale)

Студенту (student)

Учителю (teacher)

Герою (hero)

санаторию (sanatorium)

маме (mother)

отцу (father)

дяде (uncle)

сыну (son)

иностранцу (foreigner)

девушке (girl)

бабушке (grandmother)

ребёнку (child)

другу (friend)

подруге (girlfriend)

дочери (daughter)

In the next table you will find the verbs that can be used only with nouns in Dative case.

Verbs Dative

кому? (to whom?) чему? (to what?)

верить (to believe)

помогать (to help)

мешать (to disturb)

принадлежать (to belong)

звонить (to call)

нравиться (to like)

радоваться (to be glad)

отцу (father)

герою (hero)

учителю (teacher)

санаторию (sanatorium)

маме (mother)

тёте (aunt)

жизни (life)

And finally, the verbs which are used only with nouns in accusative case.

Transitive verbs Accusative

кого? (whom?) что? (what?)

готовить (to prepare) что?

делать (to do) что?

изучать (to study) что?

читать (to read) что?

писать (to write) что?

сообщать (to inform) что?

рассказывать (to tell) что?

решать (to solve) что?

покупать (to buy) что?

строить (to build) что?

нести (to carry) что?

видеть (to see) кого? что?

любить (to love) кого? что?

слушать (to listen) кого? что?

слышать (to hear) кого? что?

спрашивать (to ask) кого? что?

помнить (to remember) кого? что?

вспоминать (to recollect) кого? что?

запоминать (to remember) кого? что?

забывать (to forget) кого? что?

узнавать (to recognize) кого? что?

встречать (to meet) кого? что?

обед (lunch)

стол (table)

музей (museum)

санаторий (sanatorium)

словарь (dictionary)

новость (news)

лошадь (horse)

окно (window)

письмо (letter)

солнце (sun)

здание (building)

студента (student)

героя (hero)

учителя (teacher)

студентку (student)

школу (school)

песню (song)

деревню (village)

академию (academy)

Your task will be to create 50 sentences using nouns in Dative and Accusative cases. The verbs from above tables will be of great help.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.)

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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.

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