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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