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Russian for Beginners

Introduction

Welcome to the Russian course for Beginners. In five lessons we'll try to teach you the basics of the Russian language.

Russian is a major language in the world, it has many speakers. Most speakers are of course located in Russia. But also former Soviet countries have many Russian speakers.

Russian is a Slavic language. It belongs to the same language group as languages such as Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, etc...

Part One - The Basics

Lesson 1: ABC all over again

The Alphabet

When thinking of Russian, the first thing that immediately draws attention is it's alphabet. Russian is not written in our Latin alphabet but it uses the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet is, like our Latin alphabet, a descendant of the Greek alphabet. But Cyrillic has some more characters, the Russian Cyrillic alphabet contains 33 letters in total. All of those will be discussed in this lesson. Russian is not the only language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Languages such as Bulgarian, Ukrainian, BeloRussian, Serbian and even Mongolian also use the Cyrillic alphabet. Thus learning it might come in handy.

Let's begin by just writing down the entire Cyrillic alphabet. Note that your internet browser must be able to display UNICODE characters in a font that contains Cyrillic characters:

А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р Ь Т У Ф Х С Ч Ш Щ Ъ Ы Ь Э Ю Я

Let's now discuss pronunciation, character by character:

 Letter Name Sampa IPA Equivalence
 А а  а  [a]  [a] as a in "father"
 Б б  бэ  [b]  [b] as b in "big"
 В в  вэ  [v]  [v] as v in "virgin"
 Г г  гэ  [g]  [g] as g in "great"
 Д д  дэ  [d]  [d] as d in "doctor"
 Е е  е  [je]  [je] as ye in "yet"
 Ё ё  ё  [jo]  [jo] as yo in "yonder"
 Ж ж  жэ  [Z]  [ʒ] as s in "pleasure"
 З з  зэ  [z]  [z] as z in "zoo"
 И и  и  [i]  [i] as ee in "meet"
 Й й  и краткое  [j]  [j] as y in "guy"
 К к  ка  [k]  [k] as k in "kid"
 Л л  эль  [l]  [l] as l in "bottle"
 М м  эм  [m]  [m] as m in "mouse"
 Н н  эн  [n]  [n] as n in "new"
 О о  о  [o]  [o] as o in "bore" when stressed, as a as in English "sofa" when unstressed
 П п  пэ  [p]  [p] as p in "pit"
 Р р  эр  [r]  [r] like the first r in the French word "regarder" or the Italian word "roma". It's a more thrilled R, unlike the English R.
 С с  эс  [s]  [s] as s in "store"
 Т т  тэ  [t]  [t] as t in "tea"
 У у  у  [u]  [u] as oo in "foot"
 Ф ф  эф  [f]  [f] as f in "fantasy"
 Х х  ха  [x]  [x] ас ch in the Scottish word "loch" or as j in the Spanish name "juan".
 Ц ц  цэ  [ts']  [tsʲ] as ts in "gets"
 Ч ч  чe  [tS]  [tʃ] as ch in "chair"
 Ш ш  ша  [S]  [ʃ] as sh in "sheep"
 Щ щ  ща  [S'S']  [ʃʲʃʲ] as shch, where "sh" and "ch" represent the sounds as described above. In colloquial language though, this may sound like a very long "sh" sound...
 Ъ ъ  твёрдый знак  [-]  [-] This is the Russian hard sign which sounds as a slight pause between syllables
 Ы ы  ы  [5]  [ɨ] approximately like i in English "ill", it's a sound uncommon to most languages. It's like a moan in the throat and is therefore in the throat with slightly backward curled tongue.
 Ь ь  мягкий знак  [']  [ʲ] This is the Russian soft sign which adds a soft 'y' sound after a consonant.
 Э э  э  [e]  [e] as e in "get"
 Ю ю  ю  [ju]  [ju] as u in "universe"
 Я я  я  [ja]  [ja] as ya in "yard"

Unfortunately placing stress on a word in Russian is a bit hard, because it's often irregular. So you'll have to memorize where to put it. Stress is especially important when it comes to the letter "о" , because stress determines it's pronunciation. Therefore in this course we will put an apostrophe (') after the vowel that has to be stressed. Note that ё is always stressed.

Example: отменя'ть

This concludes the first chapter, you might have to read over it several times to get to know the characters. The following exercises will help you practice your knowledge of Cyrillic:

Exercises

Exercise A: Read these nonsense words out aloud:

кар, гар, зар тар, вар, мар, кир, гир, зир, тир, вир, мир, эрп, прул, дол, зам, рам, троп, лор, рем, пир, пер, пар, зур, дур , вуф, фам, фаз, вом, дел, хол, хар, ях, ям, як, ят, вят гая, гою , фаю, му, эк, эрю, шам, чам, цам , жам, жир, жена, цем, цём, ём, шет, щет, чет, чай, май, мыр , мык, быр

Exercise B: Now pronounce these real words:
1) океа'н
2) чай
3) мо'ре
4) сло'во
5) москва'
6) тру'дный
7) лёгкий
8) фундамента'льный
9) поби'ть
10) же'нщина

Exercise C: What does it say?:
1) рестора'н
2) фильм
3) мир
4) компью'тер
5) интерн'ет
6) студе'нт
7) автомоби'ль

Solutions

Solution of Exercise C:
1) restaurant
2) film/movie
3) mir (like the Russian space station)
4) computer
5) internet
6) student
7) car (automobile)


Lesson 2: Я Тарзан, ты Жeйн

Introductions

Unlike most Indo-European languages, the Russian language uses no verb "to be". Moreover, the Russian language doesn't have articles either, so the words "the, a" and "an" do not exist in Russian, which makes Russian kind of a Tarzan language at first sight. For example, we say "I am a student" whereas Russians would simply say I student.

Let's take a look at some introductions in Russian, which will make you familiar with the words for I, you, he, she etc...

 I am Ivan and I am a student.  Я Иван и я студе'нт.
 You are Ivan and you are a student.  Ты Иван и ты студе'нт.
 He is Ivan and he is a student.  Он Иван и он студе'нт.
 She is Ivanova and she is a student.  Она' Иванова и она' студе'нтка.
 We are Ivan and Pyotr and we are students.  Мы Иван и Пётр и мы студе'нты.
 You are Ivan and Pyotr and you are students.  Вы Иван и Пётр и вы студе'нты.
 They are Ivan and Pyotr and they are students.  Они' Иван и Пётр и они' студе'нты.

The above example showed you all so-called personal pronouns. You now know how to say "I" and "We", etc.. You have also learned the word for "and", which is of course "и". You have also learned the word for "student", which becomes "студе'нтка" in it's feminine form and "студе'нты" in it's plural form.

Russian is not an easy language, although you might find it easy that there are no words such as "the, a" and "to be". The Russian language has noun gender and cases. This may not say much to you yet, so we will look into this more.

Noun Gender

To explain the concept of noun-gender we'll first have to explain what a noun is, if you didn't already know. A noun is a word that represents an object a person or an abstract something, nouns can be preceded in English by the word "the".

In most other languages, but not in English, a noun has a certain gender. So you're telling me a noun can be a boy or a girl? Indeed...that's what we're saying. A noun has a certain gender, in Russian (and many other Germanic languages) there are three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. Every noun (note that this gender concept only applies to nouns) has one of these three genders. How to determine what gender is very difficult sometimes, but most grammar rules are dependent of the gender of the noun, so you'll have to learn the gender of each noun. From now on, we will mention the gender of a noun when we discuss one, we use the abbreviations "m" for masculine, "f" for feminine and "n" for neuter.

Pointing at Possession

We will now discuss two important parts of Russian grammar, noun-gender plays a very important role here, as with most other grammar rules as well. We have already learned to say things like "He is a student". Now we will take a look at how to point at things or people, by saying: "This is a student" or "That is a student". In Russian we can use the word "это" to say "this/that". This fortunately doesn't involve noun gender yet:

 Э'то студе'нт  This/that is a student
 Э'то студе'нтка  This/that is a (female) student

Things get a bit trickier though when you want to say "this student" instead of "this IS A student". Noun gender will get involved now and we will also see a separating in this and that: "это" will be used for "this" while "то" will be used for "that". And they all have to agree with the noun in gender and number. The following example will explain this:

 Э'тот студе'нт  This student (m)
 Тот студе'нт  That student (m)
 Э'та студе'нтка  This (female) student
 Та студе'нтка  That (female) student
 Э'та кни'га  This book (f)
 Та кни'га  That book (f)
 Э'то окно'  This window (n)
 То окно'  That window (n)

Possession

Now we will discuss possession. Like in any languages, it is also possible in Russian to say things like: "My car", "Your book", etc... Again, noun gender is an important aspect here because it will determine which translation of My/Your/Our/Their to use. Take a look at the following example:

 Э'то мой автомоби'ль  This/that is my car (m)
 Э'то твой автомоби'ль  This/that is your car (m)
 Э'то наш автомоби'ль  This/that is our car (m)
 Э'то ваш автомоби'ль  This/that is your car (m) (plural form and/or formal form)
 Э'то моя' кни'га  This/that is my book (f)
 Э'то твоя' кни'га  This/that is your book (f)
 Э'то на'ша кни'га  This/that is our book (f)
 Э'то ва'ша кни'га  This/that is your book (f) (plural form and/or formal form)
 Э'то моё окно'  This/that is my window (n)
 Э'то твоё окно'  This/that is your window (n)
 Э'то на'ше окно'  This/that is our window (n)
 Э'то ва'ше окно'  This/that is your window (n) (plural form and/or formal form)

So you see that the possessive adjectives (as they are officially called) agree with the noun according to gender. So if the noun is masculine you use "мой, твой, наш" or "ваш", if the noun is feminine you use "моя', твоя', наша" or "ваша" and if it's neuter you use "моё, твоё, наше" or "ваше". We haven't discussed the plural form yet, that will come in a later lesson.

There is only one more thing we need to discuss. We haven't yet discussed the translation for the possessive adjectives "his", "her" and "their". But you are fortunate, because these three words don't act like the ones we just mentioned. They don't have to agree with the noun in gender, so you just use one form for all genders. The following example will demonstrate this:

 Э'то е'го кни'га  This is his book (f)
 Э'то её кни'га  This is her book (f)
 Э'то их кни'га  This is their book (f)
 Э'то е'го автомоби'ль  This is his car (m)
 Э'то её окно'  This is her window (n)
 Э'то их стол  This is their table (m)

This concludes the second lesson.


Vocabulary

 окно' (n)  window
 автомоби'ль (m)  car
 кни'га (f)  book
 стол (m)  table
 студе'нт (m)  student
 студе'нтка (f)  (female) student

Exercises

Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) Я студе'нт
2) Э'то кни'га
3) Та кни'га
4) Мой стол
5) Наше окно
6) Он студе'нт
7) Мы студе'нты

Exercise B: Translate to Russian:
1) You are a student
2) This is the window
3) This window
4) My book
5) The window
6) She is a student
7) That is my table
8) That student
9) This is Ivan and that is Ivanova
10) Our book

Solutions

Solution of Exercise A:
1) I am a/the student
2) This/that is a/the book
3) That book
4) My table
5) Our window
6) He is a/the student
7) We are students

Solution of Exercise B:
1) Ты студе'нт
2) Э'то окно'
3) Э'то окно'
4) Моя' кни'га
5) Окно'
6) Она' студе'нтка
7) Э'то мой стол
8) Тот студе'нт
9) Э'то Иван и э'то Иванова
10) На'ша кни'га


Lesson 3: Plurality

Plurality

You have already seen nouns in their singular form, but it's of course also possible to put Russian nouns in a plural form. Noun gender plays an important role here, because the gender of the noun determines what suffix to add to make the noun plural. The modification of nouns by adding such 'suffixes' are called commonly called 'reflections', the Russian language contains a huge number of these inflections, because a noun will also have a different ending depending on the case it's in. But more about that later.

Let us first start by showing how to make a noun plural. We will give you the following table, which will also help you spot gender of nouns by looking at their ending. The endings of the noun have been separated from it's root word by a hyphen (-). Note that this is only for clarity's sake. The hyphen is not written normally and it just forms one word.

Masculine nouns (singular --> plural)
Стол- --> Стол-ы'
Геро-й --> Геро-и
Автомобил-ь --> Автомобил-и

Feminine nouns (singular --> plural)
Же'н-а --> Жё'н-ы
Неде'л-я --> Неде'л-и
Ста'нц-ия --> Ста'нц-ии
Двер-ь --> Две'р-и

Neuter nouns (singular --> plural)
Сло'в-о--> Слов-а'
Мо'р-е --> Мор-я'
Зда'н-ие --> Зда'н-ия
И'-мя --> И-мена'

And note that жё'ны' is a semi-irregular form.

If you have a word and you want to know how to make it plural, then you'll first have to know what gender the word is in. Usually it's ending will give away it's gender. You have seen that the masculine gender has three typical endings, a consonant, a "й" and a "ь". But as you see, the feminine gender also has a group ending in "ь", so with many words you will still have to memorize gender yourself, there are also many irregularities.

Now we know how to form plural we can expand our knowledge from the previous lesson. We learned "Э'то, то" and "мой/моя/моё, наш/наша/наше" etc. Now we will discuss the plural form of this. First of all, when you want to say "these are students" then you can just say "Это студе'нты", so there's no special thing their yet. But when you want to say "these students" then we will need a new word declension of "Это ", for all plural nouns (so fortunately in all genders) we use "Э'ти ", the plural of "то" would be "те". Take a look at the following:

 Э'то же'на  This/that is a wife (f)
 Э'тa же'на  This/that wife
 Э'то жё'ны  These/those are wives
 Э'ти жё'ны  These/those wives
 Э'ти столы'  These/those tables (m)
 Э'то окна'  These/those are windows (n)

You see that minor variations in the ending of a word can make a world of difference. It's important to pay much attention to all those endings, because Russian is full of them!

Now we will take a look at our possessive adjectives. They also have one plural form for all genders. Let's look at the following example:

 Моя' же'на'  My wife (f)
 Мои' жё'ны'  My wives
 Твоё' окно''  Your window (n)
 Твои' окна''  Your windows (n)
 Наш стол'  Our table (m)
 На'ши столы''  Our tables

Also pay attention to the way the stress of a noun can change when it becomes plural.

Being polite

We now first have to teach you how to be polite in Russian. In Russian and most other languages, but not in English, there exists a certain polite form of "you". In Russian they use "вы" instead of "ты" in formal speech. "ты" is only used among friends and for children. So "вы" means both "you-all" as well as "you" in a more polite form. Take a look at the following sample sentences:

 Ты студе'нт  You are a student (informal, spoken to a friend)
 Вы студе'нт  You are a student (formal, spoken from a teacher to a new student for example)
 Вы студенты'  You are students (plural both formal and informal)

When addressing strangers, you'll always want to use "вы".

To have

As you already saw, the Russians do not use a verb for "to be". Likewise, they don't use a verb for "to have". Whereas we say, for example, "I have a table", the Russians say "With me - (is a) - table". Or in Russian:
"У меня' стол".

The word "У" is a preposition, followed by the person (in genitive case). But more about that later. We will for now just give you a list of how to express "to have"

 I have  У меня'
 You have  У тебя'
 He has  У него'
 She has  У неё
 We have  У нас
 You have  У вас
 They have  У них

You will also often see the word есть in combination with the above-mentioned. This is especially the case in questions and answers but it can also occur elsewhere. есть would be translated as there is/are. Take a look at the following question-answer pair.

 Do we have a table?  У нас есть стол?
 We have one  есть.

In the next lesson, we will make you get acquainted with the concept of cases.


Vocabulary

 Сло'во  word
 Мо'ре  sea
 Же'на  wife
 Неде'ля  week
 Дверь  door

Exercises

Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) Э'то жё'ны
2) Э'ти неде'ли
3) Мои столы'
4) Это ва'ши кни'ги
5) У тебя' окно'
6) У вас море'
7) Это море'
8) У неё дверь

Exercise B: Translate to Russian:
1) I have wives
2) These are windows
3) These windows
4) My wife
5) The wifes
6) They have tables
7) This week
8) Your cars
9) Those cars

Solutions

Solution of Exercise A:
1) These/those are wives
2) These weeks
3) My tables
4) These/those are your books
5) You have a/the window
6) You have a/the sea
7) This sea / This is a/the sea
8) She has a/the door

Solution of Exercise B:
1) У меня жё'ны
2) Это окна'
3) Эти окна'
4) Моя' же'на
5) Жё'ны
6) У них столы'
7) Эта неде'ля
8) Ваши автомоби'ли
9) Те автомоби'ли


Lesson 4: Cases

Cases

Cases are a very difficult grammatical matter. It is possible that you have never heard of cases and that you have never dealt with them before. That's why we will try to explain them from start. If you have ever studied another language that has cases, such as Latin or German, then you will probably no how to handle them and what they are, which will give you a head-start on Russian.

Several languages make use of so-called cases. In English cases are not used and therefore most people won't know what cases are. But in many other languages, such as German and Russian there are cases. Unfortunately cases make a language a lot more difficult to learn, but they do make a grammar more elegant.

What exactly is a case? A case is a certain 'mode' a word appears in, nouns, pronouns, articles and adjectives usually get a special ending (reflections) depending on in what case they are in. Cases appear at a certain place in the sentence or after certain prepositions or verbs. In Russian there are six cases, in German there are four.

But you most likely need further explanation. What exactly is a case? Let's use an example to get to know cases. Look at the following sentences:

"My mother is in the kitchen"
"It's my mother's birthday"
"I give my mother a present"
"He sees my mother"

These four sample sentences show the first four cases using the words "my mother". (although there are no cases in English it's still possible to explain the concept using English). The first case would be Nominative case, the case we will deal with in this chapter, the other will be taught later on. But still, you don't know what a case is so let's go on with it. "My mother" in the first sentence appears as the SUBJECT of the sentence meaning that it also is the SUBJECT of the action. That subject can be obtained by asking the following sentence: "who/what is in the kitchen?", the answer would of course be: "My mother", which is the subject. Nominative case is all about subjects. It means that a certain word is modified so it can be used as a SUBJECT.

The other three sample sentences are different. Although they all have the words "my mother", it appears in a different position each time. In the 2nd sentence "my mother" is used possessively (this is called Genitive case, or 2nd case). So in languages such as German and Russian, "my mother" has to be adapted so it can be used as Genitive, this is usually done by applying different endings to the noun (reflections). Each case has it's own endings, and those endings are also gender dependent. Masculine nouns usually have a different ending in Genitive case (and any case) than feminine nouns.

The third sample sentence uses "my mother" as INDIRECT OBJECT. An indirect object is someone/something to whom something is given. It is a target. This is called Dative case, or 3rd case. The last sample sentence uses "my mother" as a DIRECT OBJECT, and that is called Accusative case (or 4th case). More about this case in a moment.

You know that cases occur when words appear on a certain place in the sentence, but besides that, cases can also occur after certain prepositions (and sometimes even after certain verbs). So certain prepositions can, for example, always cause an Accusative case. The words the preposition applies to will then have to agree with that case and they should get the appropriate ending.

You should now understand what a case is. It is a certain position in the sentence where a word appears and that word has to have a proper ending in order to be correctly used at that position in the sentence. Usually cases also replace prepositions. The sentence: "I give my mother a present" for example, by using "my mother" on that position and with a certain reflection in Russian, one knows that you give a present TO your mother, but it's not necessary to use the preposition. Also do note that by saying that "a word has to have a proper ending in order to be used at a certain position in a sentence", I refer to nouns and adjectives. Usually they are all case dependent (AND gender- and number dependent).

The case we have mostly used now is the nominative case. The nouns where the subject of the sentence, but now we will take a look at accusative case (which we have already used a bit, without you realizing it)

Accusative Case

Accusative case is all about the "direct object". The direct object is a group of words (although it can also be one word) that receive the action of the main verb (carried out by the subject). You can find the direct object by asking the question WHO/WHAT + Main verb + Subject. Note that you can't ask WHERE or WHEN. The answer to the question will then me the direct object: the object of the action.

Some examples: "I see the dog", "who do I see?", "the dog" that's the direct object because that's the object that's seen by the subject (I).

You can already guess where in a sentence words should be adapted to Accusative Case: when they are the direct object. That's right. When a noun, adjective, article or some pronouns appear as a direct object you should give the words the proper ending to make them suitable for Accusative case.

What happens in the accusative case?

You are fortunate because some masculine and neuter nouns usually don't change in the accusative case, so you can often just use the same word as in the nominative case there (which is the word as you've learned it, nomnitive case is always the default case). Feminine singular words, however, do change in the accusative case. So when a feminine word is a direct object, you will have to modify it's ending so it reflects the correct case. In order to demonstrate this we say that "I see" is "Я ви'жу" in Russian. More about verbs will be learned in the next lesson, so just assume this as a fact for now. Take a look at the following example:

I see a book
What do I see?
a book
So that's the direct object and has to be put in accusative case in Russian.
Я вижу кни'га
That was incorrect, because кни'га is nominative case.
The Russian rule to modify a feminine word ending in -а to accusative case, is:
кин'га --> кни'гу
So the correct translation is:
Я ви'жу кни'гу
You work in this way with almost every sentence to determine which word should become accusative. Note that there are many verbs which can take an accusative case, all those verbs (transitive verbs) have an effect on something, something is the object of the action.

Now we will give you all the rules to modify singular nouns to their accusative case:

Masculine nouns (nominative singular --> accusative singular)
Стол --> Стол (doesn't change)
Музе'-й --> Музе'-й (doesn't change)
Автомобил-ь --> Автомобил-ь (doesn't change)

Feminine nouns (nominative singular --> accusative singular)
Кни'г-а --> Кни'г-у
Неде'л-я --> Неде'л-ю
Ста'нц-ия --> Ста'нц-ию
Двер-ь --> Две'р-ь (doesn't change)

Neuter nouns (nominative singular --> accusative singular)
Сло'в-о--> Слов-о (doesn't change)
Мо'р-е --> Мор-е (doesn't change)
Зда'н-ие --> Зда'н-ие (doesn't change)
И'-мя --> И'-мя (doesn't change)

You can imagine it might be hard to memorize all these endings, also because there are more. Russian has six cases and three genders, which makes the amount of reflections huge. This is the most difficult task in learning Russian. But it is possible, so don't give up!

Note that "У меня" etc... does not take accusative case. You just use normal nominative case there. We have discussed a lot of theoretical stuff in this lesson, so we will end this lesson now.


Vocabulary

 Стул  chair
 Ла'мпа  lamp
 Музе'й  museum
 Музы'ка  music
 Па'рта  desk
 Се'мья  family
 Я ви'жу  I see

Exercises

Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) У меня' музе'й
2) Э'ти музе'и
3) Я ви'жу кни'гу
4) Это му'зыка
5) Я ви'жу па'рту
6) Я ви'жу семью'

Exercise B: Translate to Russian:
1) This/that is my family
2) I have (a) family
3) This/that is your desk
4) I see the/a desk
5) I see the/a museum
6) Our museum

Solutions

Solution of Exercise A:
1) I have the/a museum
2) These/those museums
3) I see a/the book
4) This/that is (the) music
5) I see a/the desk
6) I see a/the family

Solution of Exercise B:
1) Э'то моя' семья
2) У меня' семья
3) Э'то твоя' па'рта
4) Я ви'жу па'рту
5) Я ви'жу музе'й
6) Наш музе'й


Lesson 5: Verbs and more!

Verbs

Until now, we have not seen a single verb, mainly because "to be" and "to have" are not expressed using verbs in Russian. In this lesson we are going to change that because Russian, of course does have many verbs. Russian verbs are conjugated according to two groups. Most verbs end in -ать/-ять, -еть, or -ить. Verbs ending in -ать/ -ять usually are conjugated according to the first group, which we will show below. The stem of the verb can be obtained by dropping -ть. Note that the hyphen (-) is just shown for clarity's sake and is not written in real language:

 рабо'та-ть  to work
 Я рабо'та-ю  I work
 Ты рабо'та-ешь  You work
 Он/она' рабо'та-ет  He/she works
 Мы рабо'та-ем  We work
 Вы рабо'та-ете  You work
 Они' рабо'та'ют  They work

There are also some verbs in -еть which are conjugated according to the first group. They follow the same pattern.

Now we will take a look at the second group of verbs. Those who end in -ить follow this pattern:

 говори'-ть  to speak
 Я говор-ю'  I speak
 Ты говор-и'шь  You speak
 Он/она' говор-и'т  He/she speaks
 Мы говор-и'м  We speak
 Вы говор-и'те  You speak
 Они' говор-я'т  They speak

Again, there are also some verbs in -еть which are conjugated according to the second group. They follow the same pattern. There are even some verbs in -ять which follow this pattern, so it is important to learn which each verb whether it's conjugated according to group one, group two, or whether it's irregular.

Adjectives

We haven't spoken about adjectives yet. In case you don't know what an adjective is, I'll give you a short explanation. An adjective is a word that describes a property of a noun, so it tells something about the noun. For example, look at the following sentence-part: the old woman. Here the adjective is ""old" because it tells something about the noun "woman"

Unfortunately adjectives are also quite hard in Russian because they have a lot of different endings. They have to agree with the noun in case, gender and number. There are actually three groups of adjectives, all agreeing with the noun in a slightly different way. We have the unstressed adjectives (ending in -ый or -ий) , which have unstressed endings and stressed stems, and we have the stress adjectives, which have a stressed ending (-о'й) and an unstressed stem. And then there are some 40 soft-adjectives, which generally end in -ний. Also note that Russian adjectives are usually placed before the noun, like in English, though word order can be flexible too. Adjectives as shown in the dictionary and in courses are always in their nomnitive singular masculine form.

In this course we will not go into adjectives much further

Negation and questions

It is of course in Russian quite possible to say "no". The Russians say, as you probably already know: "нет" (whereas they say "да" as "yes").

When we want to make a sentence negative, then Russians simply add the word "не" before the verb (if there is a verb). Take a look at the following sample which will also demonstrate how to ask question:

 Э'то кни'га  This is a book
 Э'то не кни'га  This is not a book
 Э'то кни'га?  Is this a book?
 Я говорю' по-русски  I speak Russian
 Я не говорю' по-русски  I do not speak Russian
 Я говорю' по-русски?  Do I speak Russian?

You can see the simplicity of negation and of asking questions in Russian here! There are also more ways to ask question using the following interrogative pronouns:

 Что ты говори'шь?  What do you say/speak?
 Что мы зна'ем?  What do we know?
 Кто зна'ет?  Who knows?
 Кто говори'т?  Who speaks?
 Где вы рабо'таете?  Where do you work?
 Как он знает?  How does he know?
 Когда' она' работает?  When does she work?

Vocabulary

 говори'ть  to speak/to say
 рабо'тать  to work
 знать  to know
 что  what/that
 кто  who
 где  where
 как  how
 когда'  when
 тепе'рь  now
 здесь  here
 всегда'  always

Exercises

Exercise A: Translate to English:
1) Что ты знаешь?
2) Вы говори'те по-русски?
3) Тепе'рь я не рабо'таю
4) Это не твоя' кни'га?
5) Что она' говори'т?
6) Когда' мы рабо'таем?
7) Где мой стул?
8) Мой стул не здесь?

Exercise B: Translate to Russian:
1) I do not work
2) He is not a student
3) Now we know
4) Is that a book?
5) Where does she work?
6) When do you know?
7) Do you know?
8) He is not here

Solutions

Solution of Exercise A:
1) What do you know?
2) Do you speak Russian?
3) I don't work now
4) Isn't this your book?
5) What does she say?
6) When do we work?
7) Where is my chair?
8) My chair isn't here?

Solution of Exercise B:
1) Я не рабо'таю
2) Он не студе'нт
3) Тепе'рь мы знаем
4) Это кни'га?
5) Где она' рабо'тает?
6) Когда' ты/вы знаешь/знаете?
7) Ты/вы знаешь/знаете?
8) Он не здесь


End Of Part One

This is the end of the basic Russian course. Now you've learned some of the basics of this fascinating language. In the future, we might create a part two of this course, but for now this is all. You can learn more by visiting the UniLang Public Bookmarks or the Short Russian Grammar Reference, both accessible through the main page.

Thanks for your interest in this course! If you discovered any mistakes or you just want to say something then please let us know . We do need feedback!

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