Давайте учиться говорить сексуально...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A small break...

I am in classes until the end of March so posts will be few and far between. Hopefully this doesn't affect your learning though. If you are in need of more vocabulary words or lessons, please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.
xoxoxoxoxox Judy Lewd

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Hope you are all enjoying learning Russian as much as I do! Here are 5 more words for you.
  • счастье (often pronounced "шастье") - happiness
    дешёвый - cheap
  • дорогой - expensive
  • интересный - interesting
  • скучный - boring
You should be able to pronounce these words as accurately as I can so I am no longer including my "pronunciations". I encourage you to search the Internet for examples of real Russian speakers and to get set up with some Russian streaming radio! It's impossible to learn pronunciation without really hearing it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Wednesday already, and here are you vocabulary words.
  • девушка (dev-oo-shka) - girl, young woman (also girlfriend)
  • материалест (mat-er-ial-ist) - materialist
  • правда (prav-da) - truth
  • большой (bol-shoi) - big
  • малеький (mal-en-key) - small
Study hard!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Today's words are
  • кошка (kosh-ka) - cat
  • собака (so-bak-a) - dog
  • лошадь (low-shad) - horse
  • война (voi-na) - war
  • мир (mer) - peace
Have fun!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lesson: What is this?

When beginning to learn Russian you might not always know the name for everything. Doesn't it make sense that you should know how to ask what something is if you don't know the word? It is very simple to do, all you say is "Что это?" (sh-toe eto) or "What this?".

Now suppose you are pointing to a radio and you ask your friend "Что это?" Your friend would quickly reply "Это радио." or "This radio."

Now let's pretend you knew it was a radio all along and what you really wanted to know was the make or type of radio that it is. You would reply "какое радио?" or "What kind of radio is it?"

Ok let's stop there. Notice that the word "радио" ends in an o. This indicates that it is a "neuter" word, or more simply, it is not masculine or feminine. The word "какое" is also neuter. Confused? If you were holding a book instead of a radio and you wanted to know what kind of book it was, you would say "какая канига?" instead. This is because the word "канига" is feminine (ends in the letter "a"). If it were a printer instead you would say "какой принтер?"

To answer the question your friend is going to have to give you some adjectives. You already know so many that this will not be difficult. For example, the radio. You have already asked your friend what kind it is, so they would answer "Это хорошое русское радио!" or "It's a good Russian radio!" Notice that all the adjectives match the subject noun. Because "радио" is neuter, to words to describe it "хорошое" and "русское" are also neuter, and end with "ое".

To answer the question about the book your friend might say "Это плохая английская книга." or "It is a bad English book."

To answer the question about the printer they would say "Это неплохой японский принтер." or "It's a pretty good Japanese printer."


It's Monday and that means 5 more vocabulary words for you to learn.
  • радио (rad-eo) - radio
  • стереосустема (stero-system-a) - stereosystem
  • телевизор (tele-viz-or) - television
  • телефон (tele-phone)- telephone
  • фотоаппарат (foto-ap-ar-at) - camera

Friday, January 18, 2008

Review 2

You have learned quite a bit of Russian since the last review so we should probably take a step back and go over all this information.

You should now be comfortable with;

1. Describing what languages people (including yourself) can speak and understand and how well.

2. Introducing members of your family, your friends and your professors.

3. Ask questions about other people's relationships and ask about their relatives professions and interests.

4. Describing people with some nouns of nationality.

5. Making some compliments and insults towards other people's family and friends.

If any of this is too difficult I suggest you take some time to review what we have learned.

Make sure you are learning all your vocabulary words! Speaking Russian is like cooking, and those words are your ingredients. The more words you memorize, the more tasty your language skills will be!


It's Friday again so here are your last vocabulary words for the week.
  • видеокамера (video cam-er-a) - camcorder
  • видеомагнитофон (video-mag-nit-o-phone) - VCR
  • компьютер (com-pya-ter) - computer
  • магнитофон (mag-nit-o-phone) - tape recorder
  • принтер (printer) - printer
Have a great weekend and make sure you study your Russian!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Practice makes perfect

Сара and Лена's grandmother seems to have taken a liking to you. She has invited you over to her apartment to have some tea.

When you get there you greet her formally but call her grandmother.

When she invites you in, you roll your eyes as you notice the extremely large photo album sitting next to the tea pot. You are so tired of looking at photographs at this point, but what can you do?

Grandmother sits you down and starts showing you old pictures of herself, her sisters, and her friends (male and female) from when she was younger.

As she goes through the pictures try to be as polite possible and remember that she is older than you so you should always address her formally.

Try to guess who some of the people are by asking "Это вы... (mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother, friend, etc..)? Say something nice about each person and give grandmothers responses: "Спасибо", "Ну что ты!", "Да, это мой/моя....", "Нет, это мой/моя..."

When tea time is over, thank Grandmother and say goodbye.

Lesson: Making compliments

We have already been practicing this so it won't be hard but it is a good thing to cover regardless.

When someone shows you their relative (especially if you are still using formal address with them), you should probably do more than nod and/or wretch. You should probably say something nice about them.

So far you are familiar with a few words that work as nice compliments.

For instance, your boss shows you a picture of his wife and says "Это моя хена". You want to make a good impression so you answer "Ваша хена молодая". He's not sure how to take this compliment, so you quickly add "Она очень красивая!"

Let's say that you are introducing your widowed mother to your professor who has recently been divorced. You would start off by saying "Господин Смитт, это Ольга Антоновна." He can't seem to take his eyes off her (which is no surprise because your mom is super good looking) and replies "Это ваша сестра?". Your mother laughs and you reply "Нет, моя мать!"

Another word you can use as a compliment is "симпатичный". This word generally means "nice" but when it is used as a compliment it also functions to say they "look nice". When you are saying that a male is good looking, you would choose "симпатичный" over "красивый" which means "beautiful" and is used to describe woman.

Now that you can make some positive compliments, what if the person in question is ugly? The words we have just reviewed can all be put in the negative by placing "не" or "not" in front.

"Твой врат не симпатичный"
"Ваша бабушка не молодая"
"Твоя сестра не красивая"


Here are another 5 words for you:
  • письмо (peace-mo) - letter
  • велосипед (vill-os-i-ped) - bicycle
  • машина (machine-a) - car
  • мотоцикл (moto-ts-icle)- motorcycle
  • молодой (mole-o-doi) - young

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Practice makes perfect

Now you try it!

Introduce yourself and tell me what languages you speak and how well you speak them. Tell me about your family, what languages they speak, and what they do as a profession/hobby. What about their friends, and their friends families? Try to be creative and if you are at a loss for words, check out previous vocabulary or the Master Vocabulary List.

Some more words that you may want to use for this exercise are:
  • хена моего отца - stepmother
  • муж моей матери - stepfather
  • сестра по оецу/ сестра по матери - stepsister
  • брат по оецу/ брат по матери - stepbrother
  • бывшая жена - ex-wife
  • бывший муж - ex-husband

Good luck!


Добый день, меня зовут Катя Лебедева.

я русская студентка и шахматистка.

Я, конечно, говорю и понимаю по-русски свободно, но немного говорю по-английски, по-французски, и по-немецки.

Я не понимаю по-китайски и по-японски.

моя семья говорят свободно по-русски и неплохо по-французски.

Мой папа известный французский писатель и моя мама хорошая русская балерина.

Мой брат Игорь не хороший студент, а плохой алконовт.

Он подруга очень плохая амазонка.

Она известная русская потаскуха но не красивая!


Some new words for you!
  • газета (gaz-etta) - newspaper
  • журнал (zher-nal) - magazine
  • книга (kn-oo-ga) - book
  • роман - (ro-man) novel
  • словарь (slow-var) - dictionary (masc.)
Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Practice makes perfect

Сара and Лена invite you over to their family's house on the weekend. When you get there you are surprised at just how many relatives they have. As they show you the rooms of the house they introduce you to their family.

1. Make a list of Сара and Лена's and relatives. Supply introductions (remember to use the pronoun "наш/наша" to describe "our" and "ваш/ваша" for "your" plural) and remember to reply politely "очень приятно." Once you have been introduced to all of them you realize you can't remember who is who. Ask Сара "Игорь - твой дядя или твой дедушка?" (and so on) to find out.

2. You brought over your photo album to show Лена and Сара (use your real photo album or facebook account for this exercise). Go through and introduce your friends and family. Remember to convert their names to Russian.

3. As you are going through the pictures the girls ask for more details. For example while looking at some pictures of your friend Peter Сара asks "Петер - это актёр? Он очень симпатичный!" Provide their questions and use both yes and no answers.


Today I picked out some words that are a little more... "colorful".
  • Алконавт (alco-navt) - alcoholic
  • Амазонка (ama-zon-ka) - prostitute
  • Пиздато (piz-da-to) - wonderful (used to answer the question "как дела?" or "How's life?"
  • Потаскуха (po-tas-coo-kha) - slut
  • потография (photo-graph-ia) - photograph
I found this great Russian Slang Dictionary filled with all sorts of great vocabulary words! It's alphabetical so you can pick any letter along the side and start swearing in style.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lesson: Introducing people

We are going to take a closer look at introducing friends and family members. For this, you will need to know the following pronouns:
  • мой/моя - my
  • твой/твоя - your (familiar)
  • его - his
  • её - her
  • наш/наша - our (masc./fem.)
  • ваш/ваша - your (formal masc./fem. OR plural)
  • их - their
Thanks to your daily habit of studying your vocabulary, you already know how to say the words for a number of your relatives, but just how do you introduce them to your friends?

For example, your sister comes to visit and you want to introduce her to a number of strapping young Russian boys from your school. Well to start off, you would say "Это моя сестра Дхенны (we'll use my sisters name in this example)." Now that they know her name you can introduce the boys one by one! "Дженны, Это Марк, Шан, Влад..."

So let's say you are showing friends over sea's a picture of your family. You want to tell them who each person is. They would ask you "Кто это?" and as you point to each person you would say "Это мой папа, моя бабушка, мой брат, моя мама, и моя дочь. А вот это я (And here this me)!" Notice that the pronoun changes depending on who you are speaking about. Since your Dad is a male you would use "мой".

Now you are looking at someone else's family photo and you suspect the goofy looking guy with the glasses is their brother. You ask "Это твой брат?" As it turns out it is actually a picture of their aunt so they reply "Нет, это моя тётя!"

Let's pretend you are out with a friend and see your crush with his new girlfriend. She is so ugly you can't believe he is with her and not you. You turn to your friend and say "Ну что ты! Это его подруга?!"

Or say you are at a company dinner and your boss and his wife come up to say hello. You have never met her so you say "Здравствйте. Это ваша дочь?"

You bring your boyfriend home to meet you father for the first time and say to him "Папа, это мой друг Джон. Он очень симпатичный, да?


Monday again, are we ready to learn some more words?
  • дома (dom-ah) - at home
  • ешё (esh-yawh)- still
  • только (toll-ko) - only
  • конечно (co-nech-no) - of course!
  • Ну что ты! (new chto tea) - oh, come on!

Friday, January 11, 2008


You have been trying all morning but haven't had any luck finding someone to speak English with. At lunch Сара senses you are upset about something.

Сара: как дела?

You: Очень плохо Сара. Я немного говорю по-русски и мы не понимаешь по-английски!

Сара understands why you are upset but smiles and hands you a photograph. She points to the picture.

Сара: Это моя семья. Мой папа Борис Петрович, моя мама Наталья Ивановна, мой брат Ваня, и моя сестра Лена.

You nod and point to two elderly people that are also in the picture.

You: Кто это? Это ты бабушка и дедушка?

Сара: Да. Моя семья говорят и понимают по-английски! Моя сестра студентка.

You: как она говорит по-английски?

Сара: ...свободно!

You are so excited you jump up and hug her!

You: Спасиво Сара!

As you practically strangle her in your enthusiasm you spot Лена walking through the halls and point to her.

You: Это мы сестра?

Сара: Да, Это Лена!

She calls her sister over and introduces you.

Сара: Лена, это мой друг/моя подруга (your name). Он/она говорит по-английси свободно.

Лена: Здравствйте!

You: Здравствйте Лена. Вы хорошо говорите по-английски?

Лена: Да, очень хорошо!


Another 5 words for you...
  • преподаватель (prep-a-dov-a-teel) - teacher (college level)
  • папа (papa)- Father (Dad)
  • красивый (krass-ee-vee) - beautiful
  • чуть-чуть (сhoot-choot - said very quickly) - just a tiny bit. Less than "a little" (in response to how well you speak/understand something)
  • свободно (svo-boad-no)- fluently

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Take note

One really important phrase that I should point out here is "Я не понимаю". Now if you happen to be speaking to a Russian and they are going too fast, or perhaps slurring their words as a result of too much Vodka, you can simply say "Я не понимаю" and have them put it more simply/clearly to you.


5 more words, you are doing so great!
  • дядя (diah-diah) - uncle
  • тётя (tee-ah-tia) - aunt
  • хена (zheena) - wife
  • муж (moozh) - husband
  • мама (mama) - mother/mom

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Practice makes perfect

You are hanging out with Sarah at school by your locker. Lately all she seems to talk about is herself and you are getting anxious for other friends to chat with. The guy in the locker next to you seems cool, but before you can make a new buddy you need to make sure he can speak a little English...

You: "Здравствйте, как вас зовут?"

Саша: "Здравствйте, меня зовут Саша. А вас?"

You: "(give your name). Очень приятно."

Саша: "Очень приятно"

You: "Вы говорите по-английски?"

Саша: "Нет. Вы говорите по-русски?"

You: "Да. Я немного говорю по-русски."

Sasha doesn't look very impressed with your Russian skills, and considering he doesn't speak any English it looks like you will have to move on.

Sasha: "До свидания!"

You: "До свидания Саша."

Move on to other students who have their lockers by you. Ask them if they speak and understand in English. Ask them about other languages as well (remember how nosey you can be). Give their answers and have them ask you about your Russian Language skills. Make sure you are using both verbs говорить - to speak and понимать -to understand.


Another day and 5 more vocabulary words for you to learn:
  • брат (brat) - brother
  • внук (vnook) - grandson
  • сестра (ses-tra) - sister
  • внучка (vnoochka) - grand daugher
  • семья (semia) - family
Keep studying, you are doing great! Did you know that at this point you are familiar with over 100 vocabulary words? Keep up the great work.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

More languages to practice with.

Here are some more languages to use while learning the verbs "to speak" and "to understand":
  • по-французки (po-franz-ayz-ski) - in French
  • по-английски (po-ang-leese-ski) - in English
  • по-русски (po-roos-ski) - in Russian
  • по-немецки (po-new-mets-ski) - in German
  • по-яапонски (po-ya-pon-ski) - in Japanese
  • по-испански (po-iz-pan-ski) - in Spanish
  • по-китайски (po-kit-ie-ski) - in Chinese

Remember to use your pronouns!


Here are your 5 vocabulary words for the day.

  • бабушка (ba-boosh-ka) - grandmother
  • дедушка (dev-oosh-ka) - grandfather
  • мать (mat) - mother
  • отец (o-tets) - father
  • дети (dey-tee) - children

Monday, January 7, 2008

Here are a few things that I got for Christmas! 2 Kopecks, vintage Russian matchbook covers and a vintage Russian nudie postcard! Thanks again to my very accommodating boyfriend who shall remain nameless.


Well it's Monday again so here are your vocabulary words:

  • американец (amerikan-ets) - American (male)
  • американка (amerikan-ka) - American (female)
  • русский (ru-ski) - Russian (male)
  • русская (ru-skia) - Russian (female)
  • канадец (kanadian-ets) - Canadian (male)
  • канадка (kanadian-ka) - Canadian (female)
  • друг (droog) - male friend
  • подруга (podrooga) - female friend
  • симпатичный (sim-pa-teech-nee) - nice

Note the difference between saying something is of Russian (or Canadian, or American, etc.) origin and saying someone is a Russian (or Canadian, or American, etc.).

To say "He is a Canadian basketball player" you would say "Он канадскйй баскетболист". To say "He is Canadian" you would say "Он канадец".

When saying someone is a Russian however, the word does not change. You would still say "Он русский" or "Она русская".


Кто они по национальности? (What are their nationalities?)

Он американец/Она американка.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Lesson: Verbs

Probably the worst part about learning a new language is learning verbs. We are going to learn two today, and then later, I am going to go over how to make learning them about ten times easier. For now pay attention to the endings as they change depending on which pronoun you are using.

Here are the the pronouns we will be using in this lesson:
  • Я (ya) - I
  • ты (tea) - you (familiar)
  • он (own) - he
  • она (ona) - she
  • мы (me) - us
  • вы (vee)- you (formal or plural)
  • они (onie) - they
понимать (po-nu-mat) - to understand
  • я понимаю - I understand
  • ты понимаешь - you understand
  • он понимаешь - he understands
  • она понимаешь - she understands
  • мы понимаем - we understand
  • вы понимаете - you understand
  • они понимают - they understand
говорить (gov-or-root) - to speak (in)
  • Я говорю - I speak
  • ты говоришь - you speak
  • он говорит - he speaks
  • она говорит - she speaks
  • мы говорим - we speak
  • вы говорите - you speak
  • они говорят - they speak

Now suppose you want to actually use these verbs in a sentence. Well you already know how to say a few nationalities. To say that someone speaks "in" Russian for example, you would say "Она говорит по-русски" by adding "по-" to a nationality with the ending "ки".

This works equally for the verb "to understand". If you wanted to say that you understand "in" Russian, you would say "Я понимаю по-русски."

If you want to ask someone if they speak "in" English, the same formula applies, only you would add intonation. "Ты говоришь по-английски?"

Friday, January 4, 2008


Here are 5 more vocabulary words:

  • хоккеист/ка (hokkee-ist-ka) - ice-hockey player
  • шахматистка (sheck-ma-tist-ka) - chess player
  • или (ill-ee) - or
  • поэт (po-et) - male poet / поэтесса (poet-essa) - female poet
  • немного (nem-nogo) - a little

    Have fun!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

OK maybe not everyone in the world is as obsessed as I am but...

One tool I found especially helpful when first learning Russian was The Keyboard Tzar! It's a super fabulous typing tutor that you can download and use to learn the Cyrillic keyboard. Doesn't sound like something you would enjoy? What if I told you it was so easy! Trust me, play around for a couple of hours and you would be surprised at how fast you can learn to type in Russian (especially if you are already a good typist).

To help you learn, you can order really inexpensive stickers for your keyboard. I am talking like under a dollar on eBay!! They're clear so you just stick 'em over top of your English keys.

If you are going to go this far, you may also need to make sure your computer understands Russian, so it can display the text...among other things. This is called russifying your computer and is not as hard as it sounds.


Лара: "Здравствйте. Меня зовут Лара, а вас?"

Марк: "Добрый день Лара. Меня зовут Марк, очень приятно!"

Лара: "Очень приятно."

Марк: "Кто это?"

Лара: "Это президент."

Марк: "Это английский президент?"

Лара: "Нет, русский президент."

Марк: "Как его зовут?"

Лара: "Его зовут Владамир Путин."

Марк: "До свидания Лара."

Лара: "До свидания Марк!"

Personal Pronouns

  • Меня - Me
  • Тебя - You (singular, familiar)
  • Его - Him
  • Её - Her
  • Вас - You (formal, plural)
  • Нас - Us
  • Их -Them


Here are 5 more words! Already you know so many, check out the Master Vocabulary list if you don't believe me.

студент/ка (stoo-di-ant - ka) - student
танцор (tants-er) - male dancer
теннисист/ка (ten-u-sist-ka) - tennis player
турист/ка (tour-ist-ka) - tourist
футболист/ка (foot-bol-ist-ka) - soccer player

Again, keep in mind that for most professions you can use the masculine version of the word to describe both males and females. Using the feminine version is less respectful to females in the profession.

Keep studying your vocabulary!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Review 1

Now that you have learned a few things in Russian, and are starting to understand the way it works, it is a good idea to go back and review the things you have already learned. So far we have covered;

1. How to ask who someone is when you don't know their name, and when you know the person's name but want to know more about them/their profession.

2. How to ask and answer yes and no questions about topics like professions, nationality, and quality.

3. Ask someones name using formal and informal address.

4. How to respond to an introduction; "очень приятно".

5. All about Russian names and the difference between masculine and feminine names.

6. How to greet people formally and informally at different times of day.

7. How to say good-bye formally and informally, also wish someone good night.

8. Inquire informally (at your own risk) how someone is doing and reply when someone has asked you.

If you can't do any of these off the top of your head then you should go back and review what we have already learned. You should now be familiar with all of the vocabulary that we have learned as well. Use these words as much as you can in the future and test yourself every so often.


Here are 5 more words for you to memorize.

композитор (komp-o-zee-tor)- composer
космонавт (kos-mo-nav)- cosmonaut
пианист /пианистка (pee-an-eest/ka) - pianist
президент (preh-zu-dant) - president
спортсмен /спортсменка (sports-mien/ka) - athlete

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Lesson: How are you?

You and Сара have been hanging out quite a bit lately. It seems you both have a flare for discussing famous people and whether or not they are good, very good, some what good(not bad) , or bad. (You have been practicing haven't you?)

However, today when you see her you can tell somethings wrong. Maybe it's because you never seem to ask about her feelings you big jerk! You quickly realize you have been insensitive and not only greet her informally(because she is no longer a stranger), but also ask how she is...

"Здравствуй Сара, как дела?" (zdravstvoo Sara, kak dela?) (Hello Sara, how are you/things?)

Хорошо, спасибо!

She smiles, and says "Хорошо, спасибо! А у тебя?". (khorosho, spasibo! a u teba?) (Well, thank you! And with you?)

You answer "Неплохо". (ne-plohoi) (not bad).

Over the next few weeks you are extra careful to ask Sara how she feels. Her mood seems to change violently from day to day. Give her reply for a week or so using

"очень хорошо (very well)",
"хорошо (well)",
"неплохо (not badly)",
or "плохо (plohoi) (badly)".

Adverbs are the part of speech that answer the question "how?". Notice that these adverbs look very similar to some adjectives that you already learned. The only difference is that there are no masculine or feminine endings on the words. Instead there is and -o ending. Some adverbs can be formed simply by removing the ending and adding "o".

Another way for you to respond in this dialogue is by saying "тоже" (toe-zh) which means "also" but it is implied that you are saying "I am also (whatever mood the other person is in).

I have been told by numerous people that Russians do not throw this question (how are you?)around the way North Americans do. You wouldn't typically ask someone how they were unless you wanted to know all about their current situation.

Lesson: Addressing teachers, professors and doctors

You would most likely refer to your teacher using their first name and patronymic name Алехандр Иванич (Alexander - son of Ivan).
You could also use the words господин or госпожа and their last name but it is less common. Using доктор or профессор and the last name is another possibility.

Lesson: Asking more about someone's profession.

You are hanging out at Сара's house and looking through her stack of magazines while she is getting ready.

You can make out people's names in the magazines and newspapers but you are not sure why exactly they are famous. One name you have seen a few times is Юрий Гагарин (Yuri Gagarin), you ask "Кто такой Юрий Гогорин?" (kto takoi Yuri Gagarin?) (Who is Yuri Gagarin, as in, tell me more about him).

She answers: "Юрий Гагарин - это известный русский космонавт". (Yuri Gagarin - eto izvestnee rooski kosmonavt) (Yuri Gagarin, this famous Russian cosmonaut). Notice that all the adjectives in this sentence match the noun. Because the noun "cosmonaut" is masculine, the endings are ый, and ий.

Russian's call astronauts cosmonauts by the way.

The question "Кто такой?", or "Who is?", has a feminine form of "Кто такая?". If we were asking about Анна Павлова the famous Russian ballerina, we would ask "Кто такая Анна Павлова?".

You would only use "Кто такой/Кто такая" when the person's name is included in the question. For any other question where you are asking "who?", you would use "Кто?".

Exercise 1: You now know the words for quite a few professions. Make a list and quiz your friend Sara about them.

Exercise 2: After Sara is bored of the game you pull out a magazine from America and she asks you about the people in it. Try to add in people with Russian, English, American, and Canadian nationalities.

Lesson: Russian patronymic and last names.

The patronymic name is the child's fathers first name in masculine or feminine form. Say that 5 times fast!

For Example, if your name was Петров and your fathers name was Ибан, your full first name and patronymic name would be Петров Ибанович ("son of Ivan"). This is what you would call your self during your adulthood unless you were extremely familiar with someone. If your name was Натадья and your fathers name was Петров, your full first name and patronymic name would be Натадья Петровна ("daughter of Peter"). When giving your name as an adult, you would always use both your full first name (no longer the diminutive) and your patronymic.

The patronymic name, or "отчество", is formed from the father's first name and adding -ович or -евич for males and -овна or -евна for females.

Last names are masculine and feminine so they change slightly if you are a boy or a girl. If Петров Ибанич Павлов had a daughter and a son, their last names would be Павлов (son) and Павлова (daughter). Most last names you would simply add an "a" to the end for the females, however, some last names have an adjective ending (ой, ий, or ый) and therefore would have the feminine adjective ending of "ая".

Practice makes perfect

You are still at the party but Иван has disappeared. You can't find him anywhere and now you will have to introduce yourself to people at the party.

You're feeling slightly better after having to throw up for a half hour, but you can't remember what he told you their names were.

You take a deep breath and walk over to one of the girls and ask "Как вас зовут?" (kak vas zobyt?) (How you called?).

You are using the formal version of "you" which is "вас". If this were someone that was younger than you, you would use the informal which is "тебя" (teba) or "Как тебя зовут?".

She smiles and answers "Меня зовут Сара, а вас?" (meenia zovoot Sara, a vas?) (Me called Sara, and you?)

You reply "Меня зовут (and say your name), очень приятно" (meenia zovoot... , oichen pre-yat-no) (Me called ..., nice to meet you).

Now go and introduce yourself to others at the party. Go on, don't be shy!

Lesson: Asking someone's name.

Your friend Иван has had it.

Already you are so drunk you can't remember any one's name, let alone what their hobbies are.

You look over at the group of girls and point to one. You ask "Как её зовут?" (kak yeyo zovoot?)
The translation for this is more "How she called?" not "What is her name?"

Иван rolls his eyes but answers "Её зовут Таня" (She called Tania). (yeyo zovoot Tania)

You then point to one of the boys and ask "Как его зовут?" (How he called?). (kak evo zobyt?)

Иван answers you hoping this will be the last of the questions "Его зувот Игор" (He called Игор).

You take another shot of vodka and are finding that you are having troubles remebering anything at all. You decide maybe you should start from the begining so you ask "Как их зовут?" (kak ich zovoot?) (What they called?)

Exercise 1: Answer your own question using the "Их зовут ..." and listing off the names of people at the party.
Exercise 2: Practice asking Иван what individual peoples are names are by using "Как его зовут?" and "Как её зовут?". Answer the question for Иван.

Practice makes perfect

You go to a party with your friend Иван. He knows you don't know many people so he wants to introduce you to his friends. He is secretly hoping that someone else will start hanging out with you because you are constantly annoying him with your lack of vocabulary.

You walk into the party and everyone is standing around listening to music and talking. Иван see's that you are nervous so he points out each girl and tells you their names. Knowing how inquisitive you are he makes sure to add in their interests and nationalities (mostly he is trying to avoid your embarrassingly English sounding accent).

1. Make a list of 5 girls names and 5 boys names and decide their nationality and their interest. If you are feeling confident make sure to add a word about quality to the sentece. Pretend you are Иван and introduce them.

Example: "Сара - это плохая английская балерина"

By now you have had some vodka and are feeling a little out of sorts. You want to meet these people but you can't quite remember everything he told you about them.

2. Ask questions about the people you are about to meet. Give Ivan's answers and remember you are drunk! So make sure to get a few wrong once and awhile.

Example: "Сара - это хорошая балерина?"

...and then give Иван's answers

Example: "Нет, плохая" or "Нет, это плохая балерина".

And so on.

Lesson: Russian first names

Russian first names are masculine and feminine just like adjectives.

Russians have full first names and also what is known as a diminutive first name (which is a form of their full first name).

A Russian's name will change as they age.

On an official birth certificate would be a new baby's full first name.

Her mother would likely call her by an endearing form for her whole life (this is like a pet name).
When the child goes to school she is called by a diminutive name by her teacher and classmates.

To complicate things more, when her friends get to know her better they call her by a pejorative form (this is like a nick name but is just a different form of the diminutive).

In higher grades she will likely be called by her full name by teachers (or her last name only). Her friends still use the diminutive.

She will be called by her full name when she is an adult, and probably occasionally called by the endearing form, what her mother called her, by her husband.

The same goes for male children.

Some Russian first names and their diminutive forms:

Masculine names:

Андрей/ Андрюша
Борис/ Боря
Виктор/ Витя
Григорий/ Гера
Иван/ Ваня
Михаил/ Миша
Сергей/ Серёжа
Юрий/ Юра

These names do not have a special diminutive form; Игорь, Максим, Олег.

Feminine names:

Александра /Саша
Анна /Аня
Валентина / Валя
Екатерина /Катя
Елена /Лена
Ирина /Ира
Мария /Маша
Ольга /Оля
София /Сотя
Татьяна /Таня

These names do not have a special diminutive form; Вера, Мариня, Нина.

Lesson: Adjectives of Nationality and Quality

So let's say you want to sound a little more interesting when you are talking to your friend Иван.
You suspect he's been trying to avoid you lately, and besides, you're tired of just pointing at people and asking if they are a basketball player or not.

What you really want to know is if certain people are good basketball players, and if they are Russian or Canadian (you can't help it if you're nosey).

What you need to do is learn some adjectives!

Adjectives describing quality:

masculine /feminine - English translation

хороший /хорошая - good
неплохой /неплохая - not bad
плохой /плохая - bad
известный /известная - famous

очен - very (this can be used with any adjective)

Adjectives always agree with the word they are describing. You have to be really careful of which ending (masculine or feminine) you are using depending on who/what you are talking about/to. Since all Russian adjectives agree with the noun used, if you were using the masculine version of a noun to describe a female (for example: композитор), all of the adjectives ( for example: хороший) would be in masculine form.

Take a moment to look at the adjectives listed in this post. The masculine words have the endings ий, ый, or ой. The feminine words all end in ая. Russian words can look really long and complicated but memorizing and recognizing these types of endings makes it a lot easier to learn.

Adjectives describing nationality:

These words aren't capitalized in Russian the way they would be in English.

русский /русская - Russian
канадский /канадская - Canadian
американский /американская - American
английский /английская - English

Most dictionary's only list the masculine form of words. Eventually you need to be able to convert these words to the feminine and even neuter versions (which we will learn another time so stop sweating!!).

You and Иван are hanging out in at a local rec center. You know that guy standing over there is a basketball player (because you've now asked him about a dozen times right?) but you don't know if he is Russian. You turn to Иван and ask "Это русский баскетболист?" (remember to raise the inotation for the word русский because that is what you are specifically asking about).

Иван answers "Да, русский" or "Нет, канадский"

You nod but are still curious about the guys skills so you ask "Это хороший русский баскетболист?"

Иван, thankful that you are asking him something different for a change, answers "Да, очен хороший" or "Нет, не хороший, а плохой".

You see how much better conversation can be with just a few adjectives?! But don't go booking a flight to Moscow just yet comrade...


Here are your 5 new vocabulary words, try to write them out as many times as you can. If you are having troubles reading them at all you should go back and review the alphabet. I can't stress how much easier it is when you actually take the time to learn it.

астронав (astronavt) - astronaut
балерина (balerrrrrina) - ballerina (female only)
господин (gospodin) - Mr.
госпожа (gospozha) - Ms.
доктор (i think you can figure this one out yourself, can't you?) - Dr. or Doctor (in titles)


Monday, December 31, 2007

Practice makes perfect

Now that you know a little Russian, let's take what you have learned and apply it to a simple exercise.

Make a small list of people that are either writers, basketball players, musical artists, or actors.
Convert those names to Russian (remember, Russians spell names how they sound). Pretend that you don't know what the person's profession is and ask your imaginary friend Иван about them. Give Иван's answer.


You: Эдди Мерфи (Eddie Murphy) - это баскетболист? (remember to raise the intonation of your voice when saying "basketball player")

Иван: Нет, это актёр.

And then try this answer:

Иван: Нет, это не баскетболист, а актёр.

Lesson: Asking Yes and No questions.

The Russian word for "yes" is "да" (da).
The Russian word for "no" is "нет" (neyt).
The Russian word for "not" is "не" (ne) (as in "This is not...")

When you are asking a question in Russian (that doesn't use who, what, where, etc.) all you need to do is raise the intonation of your voice.

For example, you are pointing at a picture in the news paper that you think is a basketball player. You are not sure so you ask your friend Иван "Это баскетболист?" or "This basketball player?" . You are right of course, so Иван answers "Да" or "Да, баскетболист" or even "Да, это баскетболист".

Now, let's suppose you are wrong, and the picture is actually of a musical artist. Иван (after slapping you across the back of the head) would answer "Нет" or "Нет, это артист" or even "Нет, это не баскетболист, а (but, whereas) артист". A negivtive answer to a yes/no question ALWAYS starts with "Нет".

Continue to point to people and ask about their professions.

Now wasn't that a breeze? Да?

Lesson: Introductions: "Who is this?" and "This is a professor"

OK before we get into actual sentences (you should pat yourself on the back for making it this far by the way!), I need to tell you something...

In Russian they do not use the verb "to be" so you can just forget about it for now. They do have a verb for "to be" which is "быть" but it is not used in most cases.

Just so that you can grasp this idea a little better, let's say that you are telling me that your Dad is an Astronaut. You would say "My Dad Astronaut" and leave it at that. Or if you were going to the store it would be "I going to store".

So if you are asking me "Who is this?" you would actually just say "Who this?" or "Кто это?" (kto eto). Turning those words around and saying "Это кто" means "This who?" and is also acceptable.

Now that you have asked me who a person is I would answer simply "Это артистка" meaning "This artist" instead of "This is an artist". Or maybe I would say "Это баскетболистка", "Это профессор", "Это писатель" or "Это актёр".

In sentences where you are using a noun as the subject and the predicate, a dash is used to replace the verb to be. If you were trying to say "Anna is a ballerina", you would say "Anna - ballerina".

Lesson: Greetings and Farewells.

The word you will probably use the most when speaking Russian is "Здравствйте" (zdraz-voot-yeh) or "Hello".

Now don't run screaming, I know it is a very intimidating word, but just relax. You will use this word so much that in no time you won't even have to think about it.

Why don't you take 5 minutes and write this word out for a bit. Make sure you are pronouncing it while you write, and with your sub conscience remember what you are trying to say (hello).

There are two forms of this word, the formal and the informal. A good rule of thumb is, if you are unsure of which to use, always use the formal greeting.

When you are greeting someone that is older than you, in a higher position that you, multiple people, or someone that you don't know, you say "Здравствйте" (zdraz-voot-yeh).

When you are greeting someone that is younger than you, in a lower position, or someone you know very well (friends, family, school mates) you use the shorter version "Здравствй" (zdraz-voo).

The only difference is the two letters missing from the end, but it is really important to know this.

Another word for hello is "привет" (privet), which means "hi". You would only use this with friends.

Some other ways of greeting people:

Доброе утро (dobro utro) - Good Morning.
Добрый день (dobree den) - Good day/Hello (suitable for greeting anyone during the day or afternoon).
Добрый вечер (dobree veecher) - Good evening.
Спокойной ночи (spokoinoi noich) - Good Night.

The standard way to say good-bye is "До свидания" (Dos-vi-dan-iya) and this doesn't change no matter who you are speaking to.

If you want to say "bye" to a friend or someone you are familiar with, you could say "пока" (poka) which literally means "meanwhile" (those crazy Russians!)

Another way to say good-bye is to say "Всего хорошего" (special pronunciation: visevo kharoshevo) which means "All the best".

Note: In the above word "его" is pronounced "evo". This may be the case for all "его" words but I am not sure of that at the moment.

Moving on...