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Russian Grammar in a Nutshell

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Are you just getting started in Russian? Whether you’re wondering what to learn first or getting lost in Russian grammar, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll discover the fundamental Russian grammar topics, from the word types to verb conjugation, noun cases, basic sentence structure, and other Russian grammar rules. 

We recommend that you compare Russian grammar with the grammar of your native language. Take notes concerning what’s common and what’s different. You may be surprised at some of the things you learn, and you might even gain some insight about how your own language works. 

Put things into perspective. Explore and discover.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Exploring Vocabulary
  2. Uncovering the Grammar Behind Some Parts of Speech
  3. Sentence Structure
  4. What’s Next?

1. Exploring Vocabulary

We’ll start by classifying the main building material of the language—the vocabulary. By exploring the parts of speech, you can see how words might be connected with each other in a sentence and what function each of them fulfills.

Russian isn’t much different from other European languages in terms of word categories. And even if some parts of speech might not seem familiar to you, nothing will come as a great shock.

In Russian grammar, nouns name things and people:

  • цветок (tsvetok) — “flower”
  • мама (mama) — “mother”

Pronouns replace nouns from time to time:

  • я (ya) — “I”
  • они (oni) — “they”

Adjectives describe things and people:

  • хорошие новости (khoroshiye novosti) — “good news”
  • умный мальчик (umnyy mal’chik) — “smart boy”

Verbs add some action:

  • я танцую (ya tantsuyu) — “I dance
  • кот спит (kot spit) — “the cat is sleeping

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs:

  • медленно идти (medlenno idti) — “to walk slowly
  • очень интересно (ochen’ interesno) — “very interesting”

Participles combine the features of both verbs and adjectives:

  • бегущий мальчик (begushchiy mal’chik) — “a boy that is running”
  • улыбающаяся девушка (ulybayushchayasya devushka) — “a girl that is smiling”

Verbal adverbs give additional action to characterize the main activity:

  • Он сидел в углу, читая книгу. — “He was sitting in a corner (and) reading a book.”
    (On sidel v uglu, chitaya knigu)
  • Она легла спать, думая о нём. — “She went to bed thinking about him.”
    (Ona legla spat’, dumaya o nyom)

Numerals count things and people:

  • три раза (tri raza) — “three times”
  • со второй попытки (so vtoroy popytki) — “on the second try”

Prepositions link words and show how they relate to each other:

  • машина у дома (mashina u doma) — “a car at the house”
  • картина на стене (kartina na stene) — “a picture on the wall”

Conjunctions connect clauses in complex sentences or homogeneous words:

  • Я хотел встать пораньше, но проспал. — “I wanted to get up earlier but overslept.”
    (Ya khotel vstat’ poran’she, no prospal)
  • дети и родители (deti i roditeli) — “children and parents”

Particles modify the nuances of meaning and add some emotion:

  • Ну и бардак! (Nu i bardak!) — “What a mess!”
  • Вряд ли он там. (Vryad li on tam) — “I doubt that he’s there.”

Interjections add emotional exclamation:

  • Ура! (Ura!) — “Hooray!”
  • Ай! (Ay!) — “Ouch!”

❗️It’s important to mention that there are no articles in Russian (like “a” or “the”). This is a relief for many learners!

The City of Ekaterinburg

What do you see in the picture? Describe it with 3 nouns and 3 adjectives.Maybe you can even make a phrase with a preposition?

2. Uncovering the Grammar Behind Some Parts of Speech

In this Russian grammar overview, we’ll focus on the parts of speech with the largest grammatical layer underneath. This will ensure that we only discuss topics that you’re likely to encounter when you first start learning Russian.

Nouns

In Russian grammar, noun declension refers to how a noun changes form according to a set of aspects. These aspects are: number, gender, animacy, and case. We’ll briefly discuss each one below.

Number 

Like in English, Russian nouns can be singular or plural:

  • дом (dom) — “house”
  • дома (doma) — “houses”
  • машина (mashina) — “car”
  • машины (mashiny) — “cars”

Many uncountable nouns don’t have a plural form:

  • рис (ris) — “rice”
  • мука (muka) — “flour”

Gender

Most Russian nouns are also divided into three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.

  • кот (kot) — “cat” [m]
  • сестра (sestra) — “sister” [f]
  • молоко (moloko) — “milk” [n]

There are, however, a few nouns that practically have no gender because they are only used in the plural form. There are similar words in English, as well:

  • штаны (shtany) — “pants”
  • ножницы (nozhnitsy) — “scissors”
  • очки (ochki) — “glasses”

The good news about Russian gender is that it’s pretty easy to identify a noun’s gender by its ending:

  • most masculine nouns end with a consonant or : стул, музей
  • most feminine nouns end with -а/я or: собака, песня, ночь
  • most neuter nouns end with -о/е: окно, море

➤ Keep in mind that there are exceptions to some of these rules, which you’ll discover with time. That said, you’ll only need four minutes to figure out the basics of how Russian genders work. Check out our video about Genders on RussianPod101.com.

Animacy

Animate nouns usually denote people or animals:

  • учитель (uchitel’) — “teacher”
  • волк (volk) — “wolf”

Inanimate nouns include non-living objects and abstract things:

  • телефон (telefon) — “phone”
  • политика (politika) — “politics”

Cases 

There are six cases in Russian that we use to show how words are related to each other. The ending we use depends on the gender and number of a noun, and whether it’s animate or inanimate (for Accusative only).

Here’s an example of what the Russian case system looks like:

CaseSingularновая машина — “a new car”Pluralновые машины — “new cars”
Nominativeновая машина (novaya mashina)новые машины (novyye mashiny)
Genitiveновой машины (novoy mashiny)новых машин (novykh mashin)
Dativeновой машине (novoy mashine)новым машинам (novym mashinam)
Accusativeновую машину (novuyu mashinu)новые машины (novyye mashiny)
Instrumentalновой машиной (novoy mashinoy)новыми машинами (novymi mashinami)
Prepositionalо новой машине (o novoy mashine)о новых машинах (o novykh mashinakh)

➤ You can also check out our list of 50 Common Russian Nouns to start expanding your vocabulary. Vocabulary holds the bricks you need to build your sentences!

A Silver Car against a White Background

How would you say “a new car” in Russian?

Adjectives

The form of Russian adjectives must agree with the number, gender, and case of nouns. You can analyze the cases table once again to see how adjectives change their ending for each case. 

There are a couple of additional features that characterize Russian adjectives, such as their full and short forms and the different categories they can be split into. But what we’ll focus on here is the way we compare things using adjectives.

Degrees of comparison

Most descriptive adjectives have two degrees of comparison: comparative and superlative.

  • На улице тепло. — “It’s warm outside.”
    (Na ulitse teplo)
  • Становится теплее. — “It’s getting warmer.” [comparative]
    (Stanovitsya tepleye)
  • Это самое тёплое место. — “It’s the warmest spot.” [superlative]
    (Eto samoye tyoploye mesto) 

➤ See our list of the Most Common Adjectives to learn some more new words. They’ll combine well with the nouns you discovered in the previous chapter!

Verbs

No need to sugarcoat it: Russian conjugation can be tough. However, there are some patterns that verbs follow, and if you remember them, conjugation won’t seem so overwhelming anymore.

Moods

There are three moods in Russian: indicative, imperative, and conditional.

Using them, we can either mention a fact, give an order to another person, or talk about a hypothetical situation:

  • Я сижу дома. (Ya sizhu doma) — “I’m staying home.” [indicative]
  • Иди домой! (Idi domoy!) — “Go home!” [imperative]
  • Я бы поискал, если бы был дома. — “I would’ve looked for it if I’d been home.” [conditional]
    (Ya by poiskal, yesli by byl doma)

Voices

Russian verbs have two voices: active and passive.

  • Я построил дом. — “I built a house.” [active]
    (Ya postroil dom)
  • Этот музей был открыт в 1950 году. — “The museum was opened in 1950.” [passive]
    (Etot muzey byl otkryt v 1950 godu)

Aspects

Russian verbs also have two aspects: imperfective and perfective.

Aspects are used to differentiate between actions that are ongoing or habitual (imperfective) and those that have already been completed (perfective).

  • Я гулял в парке каждый день. — “I used to walk in the park every day.” [imperfective]
    (Ya gulyal v parke kazhdyy den’)
  • Я погулял с собакой. — “I’ve walked my dog.” [perfective]
    (Ya pogulyal s sobakoy)

➤ Number, person, and gender also affect the verb conjugation. Find more information about this, as well as a detailed table with verb endings and examples, in our article about Russian Verb Conjugation.

➤ Learn the 50 Most Common Verbs so you can talk about basic actions in Russian.

A Japanese Meditation Garden

Я бы каждый день гулял в этом парке.
“I would walk in this park every day.”

3. Sentence Structure

The next set of Russian language grammar rules we’ll discuss have to do with sentence structure. This refers to how sentences are formed in Russian.

Word order

The word order is pretty flexible in Russian. That is to say, the words can generally be rearranged freely without changing the meaning of the sentence. 

  • Вчера я смотрел фильм. — literally: “Yesterday I watched a movie.”
    (Vchera ya smotrel fil’m)
  • Я вчера смотрел фильм. — literally: “I yesterday watched a movie.”
  • Я смотрел фильм вчера. — literally: “I watched a movie yesterday.”

Sometimes we use the word order to emphasize a specific part of the sentence or to make it sound more poetic. It works exactly like English inversion. However, it’s easier for a beginner to stress a word with intonation, rather than by rearranging the word order. The word order you’re used to in English—SVO (Subject + Verb + Object)—would work just fine in most cases. 

➤ The flexible word order in Russian doesn’t mean the order can be random though. To learn about its nuances, please check out our article about Russian Word Order.

Questions

In Russian, we also use the question words (where, when, who, etc.) to form questions, but we don’t use inversion. We don’t have auxiliary verbs either. The only means of forming a question in Russian is your intonation. Here are a couple of basic rules:

  1. With the question words, we start high and use a falling intonation at the end of the sentence.

    Где здесь метро? — “Where is the subway entrance around here?”
  1. If there are no question words, we emphasize the word we want to draw attention to by raising the intonation.

    Ты хорошо отдохнул? — “Did you rest well?”

Obviously, Russian intonation is not as simple as that, but these two basic patterns are a good place to start. Anyway, this topic is best learned through active listening and practice, rather than through text.

➤ See our vocabulary list of the Top 15 Russian Questions You Should Know and listen to how they’re pronounced. How does the intonation change in each question?

A Man Holding a Map and Talking on the Phone

The man is looking for the subway. What should he ask his Russian friend?

Negation

A simple way to add negation in Russian is to place не (ne) in front of the word you’d like to negate. 

  • Я не дома. (Ya ne doma) — “I’m not home.”
  • Она не врач. (Ona ne vrach) — “She’s not a doctor.”
  • Я не курю. (Ya ne kuryu) — “I don’t smoke.”

Double negation is common in Russian as well. This means that we can combine не with negative pronouns (nowhere, nobody, nothing, etc.).

  • Я никогда не был в Японии. — “I’ve never been to Japan.”
    (Ya nikogda ne byl v Yaponii)
  • Он ничего не нашёл. — “He hasn’t found anything.”
    (On nichego ne nashyol)

Another peculiar word is нет (net). It can be used in a variety of contexts:

  • Здесь ничего нет. — “There is nothing here.”
    (Zdes’ nichego net)
  • «Ты ел?» (Ty yel?) — “Have you eaten?”
    «Нет». (Net) — “No.”
  • Ты его видел или нет? — “Have you seen him or not?”
    (Ty ego videl ili net?)

4. What’s Next?

Once you master all of these topics, you’ll have covered the biggest chunk of Russian grammar. Have you taken notes about what Russian grammar has in common with your native language? Have you spotted many differences? 

Learning the grammar of another language might be a long journey, but we can make it enjoyable. If you happen to have any questions about how to conjugate verbs, put words in order, or differentiate between an adjective and a participle, our teachers at RussianPod101.com will help you dispel any doubts. 

With our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, you get personal one-on-one coaching with a tutor. Feel free to ask any grammar-related questions. If you want to practice a specific topic, you’ll receive some grammar assignments, vocabulary exercises, and voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. Give it a try!

Eager to learn more? This material will help you move one more step forward with your Russian:

Happy learning with RussianPod101!

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The Top 20 Russian Quotes for Language Learners

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Although quotes don’t play a very important part in our everyday lives, there are some situations where knowing them can be really helpful. With quotes, we can express our thoughts in a more vivid and concise way. 

If you’ve been studying Russian for a long period of time, you’re definitely ready to step up your game and learn some Russian quotes. We’ve prepared a list of twenty famous Russian quotes that you can use to enrich your speech, impress native Russian speakers during a conversation, and make yourself look more intelligent in their eyes. Some of these quotes are of Russian origin, while others are quotes from other languages that have gained popularity in Russia. 

Pick your favorites and learn them by heart. We’re sure that these quotes will come in handy someday!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Love
  5. Quotes About Family
  6. Quotes About Friendship
  7. Quotes About Food
  8. Quotes About Health
  9. Quotes About Animals
  10. Quotes About Language Learning
  11. Conclusion

Quotes About Success

Whether you have big plans for the future or an upcoming project you’re concerned about, reading through these Russian quotes about success is sure to give you the inspiration you need to succeed!

1. Не важно, как медленно ты продвигаешься, главное, что ты не останавливаешься 

Romanization: Ne vazhno, kak medlenno ty prodvigayesh’sya, glavnoye, chto ty ne ostanavlivayesh’sya
Meaning: “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.”

This is a very old quote from Chinese philosopher Confucius. With these words, he meant that if you don’t give up, then you’ll reach your goal sooner or later. It may take a long time, but it will happen one day.

2. 100% непредпринятых попыток заканчиваются неудачей

Romanization: Sto protsentov nepredprinyatykh popytok zakanchivayutsya neudachey
Meaning: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

This inspirational thought was expressed by the Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky. It motivates us to have no fear in trying, since it’s impossible to succeed in something if we don’t even attempt to do so.

A Hockey Player Sitting on Ice

Wayne Gretzky is considered the greatest hockey player of all time. This man can tell us much about success!

Quotes About Life

Are you feeling stuck in life or unsatisfied with how things are going? Here are two insightful Russian quotes on life from a couple of massively popular figures.

3. Жизнь – это то, что случается с нами, пока мы строим планы на будущее

Romanization: Zhizn’ – eto to, chto sluchayetsya s nami, poka my stroim plany na budushcheye
Meaning: “Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.”

The author of this quote is John Lennon from The Beatles. His words perfectly ascertain the fact that people can become so concerned about their future that they totally forget about their present.

4. Если хочешь изменить мир, начни с себя!

Romanization: Esli khochesh’ izmenit’ mir, nachni s sebya!
Meaning: “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”

This is one of the most famous quotes from Mahatma Gandhi. By saying it, he meant that everyone should start with his or her own personal development. If everybody did this, many of the world’s problems would disappear and no longer affect us.

Quotes About Time

Managing one’s time is one of the most crucial aspects of living a satisfactory life. Read these Russian language quotes on time to view this concept from a Russian angle. You may be surprised how familiar they are to you!

5. Делу – время, потехе – час

Romanization: Delu – vremya, potekhe – chas
Meaning: “Time for business, an hour for fun.”

This Russian quote belongs to the Tsar Alexis of Russia. He wrote it in his falcon hunting manual in the seventeenth century. The main idea is that it’s important to both work and rest. After spending some time as one of the most famous Russian quotes, it finally became a proverb.

6. Счастливые часов не наблюдают

Romanization: Schastlivyye chasov ne nablyudayut
Meaning: “Time flies when you’re having fun.” This phrase is from Alexander Griboyedov’s book Woe from Wit. It expresses the fact that when you’re enjoying something, the time seems to pass unnoticeably.

A Man Reading a Book

Woe from Wit is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about Russian culture.

Quotes About Love

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll enjoy these Russian quotes about love!

7. Любовь – апофеоз жизни

Romanization: Lyubov’ – apofeoz zhizni
Meaning: “Love is the apotheosis of life.”

This Russian love quote came to us from Aleksandr Herzen, a writer and thinker known as the “father of Russian socialism.” Herzen thought that love is the main thing in life, filling it with sense and joy.

The word “apotheosis” has two meanings. On the one hand, it’s “the highest point in the development,” and on the other hand, it’s “the elevation to divine status.” Both of these meanings are applicable in the context of this Russian love quote.

8. Люди должны влюбляться с закрытыми глазами

Romanization: Lyudi dolzhny vlyublyat’sya s zakrytymi glazami
Meaning: “People should fall in love with their eyes closed.”

This beautiful quote by Andy Warhol, known as “the king of pop art,” persuades us to pay more attention to the human soul and heart rather than the outward appearance. Warhol’s statement has become a really well-known Russian love quote.

Quotes About Family

Family is perhaps the most important social construct, no matter where you are in the world. Here are a couple of Russian quotes on family that express the intricacies of familial relationships.

9. Семья – это один из шедевров природы

Romanization: Sem’ya – eto odin iz shedevrov prirody
Meaning: “Family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”

The author of this quote is the American philosopher and essayist George Santayana. Santayana regarded family as one of the things created by nature, just as things like trees and lakes were. For him, family was an outstanding phenomenon. This wonderful quote reminds us that we should cherish our families.

10. Все счастливые семьи похожи; каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему

Romanization: Vse schastlivyye sem’i pokhozhi; kazhdaya neschastlivaya sem’ya neschastliva po-svoyemu
Meaning: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

This is how Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina begins. Here, Tolstoy meant that there are several factors involved in making a happy family; if even just one is absent, the family will be unhappy.

Quotes About Friendship

Friendship is one of life’s greatest joys and necessities. Here are two poignant Russian quotes on friendship that express this truth.

11. Старый друг лучше новых двух

Romanization: Staryy drug luchshe novykh dvukh
Meaning: “An old friend is better than two new ones.”

This phrase was so popular that it eventually became a proverb. It teaches us not to forget our old friends, because they’re much more reliable and precious than our new acquaintances. This Russian quote is similar in meaning to the Chinese proverb: “Everything is good when new, but friends when old.”

12. Друг познаётся в беде

Romanization: Drug poznayotsya v bede
Meaning: “A friend is known in trouble.”

This quote is from the Greek storyteller Aesop. His words advise us not to rely on superficial friends, because they always leave us in our bad times. This phrase became a well-known proverb and is similar to the English proverb: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Friends Playing on the Beach

Aesop is right, but…don’t forget to enjoy good times with old friends!

Quotes About Food

Who doesn’t enjoy sitting down to a nice meal now and then? Well, even something as simple as food has parallels in life. Here are some Russian sayings that have to do with food!

13. Хлеб — всему голова

Romanization: Hleb — vsemu golova
Meaning: “Bread is the staff of life.”

Unfortunately, the author of this saying is unknown. Russian people consider this to be more of a proverb, rather than a quote. Since it’s one of the oldest Russian sayings, let’s take a look at it from a historical perspective. 

There were many battles and wars in the past, as people went in search of fertile lands where wheat and rye could be easily grown. Therefore, bread was a symbol of welfare and a good life all those years ago. Bread is still an essential part of our daily ration; there are many products we can live without, but bread is not one of them.

14. Аппетит приходит во время еды

Romanization: Appetit prikhodit vo vremya yedy
Meaning: “Appetite comes during the meal.”

This phrase first appeared in a novel by François Rabelais. We use it to say that the more we have, the more we’d like to have. By the way, this can also be applied to other areas of life.

Quotes About Health

One should always make good health a priority, because only when one is healthy can they achieve other important goals. Here are a couple of insightful Russian quotes concerning health. 

    → Sometimes, even our best efforts aren’t enough to keep us healthy. See our list of Common Health Problems so you can discuss your concerns with a professional while in Russia.

15. В здоровом теле – здоровый дух

Romanization: V zdorovom tele – zdorovyy dukh
Meaning: “There is a healthy mind in a healthy body.”

This quote first appeared in the ancient Roman era, but became widely spread in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through the efforts of European educators Locke and Russo. As we now know, the body and the mind are closely connected. For this reason, people who are physically healthy also tend to have healthy minds; those who are healthy of mind are less likely to suffer from any physical disease.

16. Здоровье дороже золота

Romanization: Zdorovy’e dorozhe zolota
Meaning: “Health is above wealth.”

This quote is by William Shakespeare, and its meaning is pretty obvious.

The Droeshout Portrait of William Shakespeare

Even though Shakespeare’s works were written in the sixteenth century, they are still relevant!

Quotes About Animals

In Russian culture, quotes and sayings about animals are fairly popular. Here are two quotes we think you’ll enjoy!

17. Доброму человеку бывает стыдно даже перед собакой

Romanization: Dobromu cheloveku byvayet stydno dazhe pered sobakoy
Meaning: “A good person sometimes feels ashamed of himself even in front of a dog.”

This idea was expressed by one of the greatest Russian writers, Anton Chekhov. In his opinion, kind-hearted people care about all living creatures, including animals, birds, and insects. A good person is ready to help anyone who needs it. If he doesn’t help, he feels bad—not because of others’ disapproval, but because of his own conscience.

18. О величии нации и её моральном прогрессе можно судить по тому, как она обращается с животными

Romanization: O velichii natsii i yeyo moral’nom progresse mozhno sudit’ po tomu, kak ona obrashchayetsya s zhivotnymi
Meaning: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

This popular statement is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. It expresses the same idea as the previous quote.

Mahatma Gandhi

To seek to reduce the suffering of those who are completely under one’s domination, and unable to fight back, is truly a mark of a civilized society.

Quotes About Language Learning

To close, let’s look at a couple of quotes in Russian about language learning. 

19. Пределы моего языка есть пределы моего мира

Romanization: Predely moyego yazyka yest’ predely moyego mira
Meaning: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

This quote is from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophical work The Tractatus. Wittgenstein meant that a language constrains the limits of human expression, and therefore limits human understanding.

20. Чем больше языков вы знаете, тем меньше шансов, что вы станете террористом

Romanization: Chem bol’she yazykov vy znayete, tem men’she shansov, chto vy stanete terroristom
Meaning: “The more languages you know, the less likely you are to become a terrorist.”

This heavy idea was offered by Indian litterateur Suniti Chatterji. He supposed that knowing a foreign language makes you more intelligent, open-minded and, as a consequence, more tolerant toward other people.

Conclusion

You’ve just read some of the most famous Russian quotes. Some of them are truly Russian, while others entered the Russian language from other cultures. Each of them conveys a meaningful idea and can be easily implemented into a conversation. 

We’re sure that you’d like to learn more Russian phrases, their meanings, and their correct pronunciations. We’re ready to provide you with all of these on RussianPod101.com. You can study by going through our free lessons or with the help of our MyTeacher option. The latter gives you your own personalized learning program based on your needs, as well as a personal tutor. 

Before you go, which of the quotes did you like the most? Leave your answer in the comments section below! You can also ask us if there’s an equivalent to any quote that we didn’t mention in this article. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Get Back to Business: Essential Russian Business Phrases

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In many cultures, the sphere of business is associated not only with money, but also with a specific language style. If you plan to do business with Russian speaking partners or move to Russia for work, knowing some Russian business phrases would be useful, as there are situations when everyday language is just not enough. Well, turning to business, I won’t teach you how to earn millions, but I can help you spare a lot of embarrassment by teaching you some fundamental Russian courtesy rules.

In this guide, you’ll learn some basic Russian business phrases for various occasions, from job interviews and your first days of work to giving presentations, writing business letters, and making phone calls. Also—the icing on the cake—you’ll find out why Russians don’t use “Mr.” and “Mrs.” in business environments, and what you should use instead. Let’s get down to business!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Learning Basic Courtesy
  2. Nailing a Job Interview
  3. Interacting with Coworkers
  4. Speaking in a Meeting
  5. Business Emails and Phone Calls
  6. What’s Next?

1. Learning Basic Courtesy

The first thing you need to know is how to talk and act to leave a great impression. This includes using appropriate business Russian greetings and knowing the difference between formal and informal “you.” Let’s take a look. 

Greetings

  • Здравствуйте. (Zdravstvuyte.) — “Hello.”
  • Доброе утро. (Dobroye utro.) — “Good morning.”
  • Добрый день. (Dobryy den’.) — “Good afternoon.”
  • Привет. (Privet.) — “Hi.” [casual]

To greet your boss, business partners, or colleagues that you don’t know well, use any of the first three options. That said, you can never go wrong with здравствуйте. It’s not locked to a specific time of day (unlike “Good morning”) and it can be used as a respectful greeting toward anyone. Leave привет for your work buddies and friends.

There’s a joke about the Russian language being really unwelcoming to beginners. The first word you learn—здравствуйте—salutes you with an unholy mixture of consonants, so you might need some time to practice this one. 

    ➢ You can check the pronunciation of this word in our dictionary.

❗️Pay attention to the silent в, which is not pronounced (здравствуйте).

Business Partners Shaking Hands

How would you greet your new partner in Russian?

It’s not common in Russia to ask how someone is doing unless you really care about their actual state of things. Here’s a list of phrases you might find useful for these occasions:

[Formal]

  • Как ваши дела? (Kak vashi dela?) — “How are you doing?”
  • Хорошо. А у вас? (Khorosho. A u vas?) — “Fine. And you?”

[Casual]

  • Как дела? (Kak dela?) — “How are you doing?”
  • Хорошо. А у тебя? (Khorosho. A u tebya?) — “Fine. And you?”
  • В последнее время не очень. (V posledneye vremya ne ochen’.) — “Not so good recently.”

Please keep in mind that nobody expects you to complain in a business environment. Asking “How are you?” is just a matter of courtesy.

In Russia, it’s notably uncommon to address people using “Mr.” or “Mrs.” If we want to show respect, we use the person’s first name + patronymic name. A patronymic is a special name derived from a person’s father’s name:

Здравствуйте, Василий Иванович. (Zdravstvuyte, Vasiliy Ivanovich.) — “Hello, Vasiliy Ivanovich.” 

Ivanovich is the patronymic name. It means that Vasiliy’s father’s name is Ivan.

Goodbye

  • До свидания. (Do svidaniya.) — “Goodbye.”
  • Всего доброго. (Vsego dobrogo.) — “Take care.”
  • Пока! (Poka!) — “Bye!” [casual]

Formal and Casual “You”

As you might have already noticed, there are distinct ways of addressing people depending on whether the situation is formal or informal. Thus, you should be careful with how you approach a person, as many people are sensitive to this.

There are two ways to address your work partner: вы (vy) [formal] or ты (ty) [casual]. If you’re not sure how to address someone, just remember this table:

ВыТы
  • strangers
  • older people
  • anybody you want to treat with special respect
  • family members
  • close friends
  • children
  • fellow colleagues that you know well

A safe bet is to follow your partner’s lead. If they’re addressing you politely, you might want to avoid talking to them informally.

    ➢ It’s not just the pronoun that changes when you switch between the styles. The formality affects the verb endings as well. To see how verbs change in each case, check out our article about Verb Conjugations.

2. Nailing a Job Interview

Job Interview

In the previous section, you learned how to greet a person in the workplace. 

Now, let’s consider some questions that your future employer or an HR representative might ask you during the interview.

  • Есть ли у вас опыт работы? — “Do you have any work experience?” 
    (Yest’ li u vas opyt raboty?)
  • Где вы раньше работали? — “Where did you work before?”
    (Gde vy ran’she rabotali?)

    • Я пять лет работал(а)* в компании ABC. — “I’ve worked for ABC for five years.”
      (Ya pyat’ let rabotal-a v kompanii ABC.)


      Я работал(а) в продажах. — “I worked in sales.”
      (Ya rabotal-a v prodazhakh.)


      Я работал(а) журналистом. — “I worked as a journalist.”
      (Ya rabotal-a zhurnalistom.)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

  • Какое у вас образование? (Kakoye u vas obrazovaniye?) — “What is your educational background?”

    • Я закончил(а) Карлов университет в Праге. “I graduated from Charles University in Prague.”
      (Ya zakonchil-a Karlov universitet v Prage.)

      Моя специальность — гостиничное дело. — “I have a degree in hospitality.”
      (Moya spetsial’nost’ — gostinichnoye delo.)

      Я учился [m] / училась [f] в Париже на дизайнера. — “I studied design in Paris.”
      (Ya uchilsya / uchilas’ v Parizhe na dizaynera.)
    ➢ You can find more school-related terms to talk about your degrees on our Education vocabulary list.
  • Какие языки вы знаете? (Kakiye yazyki vy znayete?) — “What languages do you speak?”

    • Я свободно говорю по-испански. — “I speak Spanish fluently.”
      (Ya svobodno govoryu po-ispanski.)

      Я немного говорю по-русски. — “I speak a bit of Russian.”
      (Ya nemnogo govoryu po-russki.)

      Я знаю китайский и японский. — “I speak Chinese and Japanese.”
      (Ya znayu kitayskiy i yaponskiy.)
    ➢ There’s a good chance you can find your native tongue on our list of 38 languages spoken worldwide.

An interview is a stressful event for most job-seekers. Especially if it’s not going to be in one’s native language! But believe me, many HR representatives and CEOs are more likely to care about your professional experience and how useful you can be to the company than how you conjugate verbs and use cases. If you don’t understand the interviewer’s question, don’t hesitate to ask them to repeat.

  • Не могли бы вы повторить, пожалуйста? — “Could you repeat, please?”
    (Ne mogli by vy povtorit’, pozhaluysta?)
  • Простите? — “Pardon me?”
    (Prostite?)

❗️ Keep in mind that Простите? should be said with a rising intonation to make it a question. Otherwise, it will sound like an apology.

If you feel too anxious while sitting in the hall waiting for your interview, just take ten deep breaths to trick your brain into a state of calmness.

A Businessman Looking Smug during an Interview

What do you think this person is saying about himself at the interview?
Come up with three sentences in Russian.

3. Interacting with Coworkers

When you receive that finally-I’m-hired call and an invitation to start working on Monday, it’s time to brush up on your introduction lines (if you didn’t before the interview). Your nosy colleagues will be curious about a foreigner on the team! 

Remember to mirror the politeness level your partner is using with you; chances are, your peers will address you informally right away.

Here are some phrases for effective Russian business communication with your new work team! 

Nice to meet you.

First, some questions that you might want to ask your colleague during small talk:

[Casual]

  • Извини, как тебя зовут? — “Sorry, what’s your name?”
    (Izvini, kak tebya zovut?)

  • В каком отделе работаешь? — “In what department do you work?”
    (V kakom otdele rabotayesh’?)
  • Давно ты тут работаешь? — “How long have you been working here?”
    (Davno ty tut rabotayesh’?)
  • Где ты раньше работал? — “Where did you work before?”
    (Gde ty ran’she rabotal?)

And a couple of ideas for how you could react:

[Casual]

  • Ясно. (Yasno.) — “I see.”
  • Понятно. (Ponyatno.) — “I got it.”
  • Прикольно! (Prikol’no!) — “Cool!” [familiar]

However, you should be careful with these reactions. They can be real conversation killers if used improperly. Consider them to be a solid full stop, so if you don’t want an awkward silence to interrupt your discussion, use the combination “reaction + follow-up question” to keep the conversation going.

I need help.

[Casual]

  • Можешь помочь мне с презентацией? — “Could you help me with the presentation?”
    (Mozhesh’ pomoch’ mne s prezentatsiyey?)

  • Можешь объяснить, как это работает? — “Could you explain how it works?”
    (Mozhesh’ ob’yasnit’, kak eto rabotayet?)
  • Я не понимаю, что надо делать. — “I don’t understand what I need to do.”
    (Ya ne ponimayu, chto nado delat’.)
  • Умеешь пользоваться этой штукой? — “Do you know how to use this thing?”
    (Umeyesh’ pol’zovat’sya etoy shtukoy?)

These phrases are suitable for a conversation with your fellow coworkers. If you need to ask a senior colleague for help, you need to increase your level of politeness. Find an example of a formal dialogue in our “Asking for Help” lesson from the “Business Russian for Beginners” course.

I’m sorry.

The last thing you want to do when you’ve already messed something up is to apologize poorly. You need to be extra-careful with formality here; you don’t want to call your boss “dude” in the heat of the moment.

  • Извини(те). — “Sorry.”
    (Izvini-te.)
  • Извини(те) за опоздание. — “I’m sorry I’m late.”
    (Izvini-te za opozdaniye.)
  • Прости(те), я не видел(а)*, что мне звонили. — “I’m sorry, I didn’t see that you had called.”
    (Prosti-te, ya ne videl-а, chto mne zvonili.)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

❗️We add -те to извини and прости if we want to sound polite

We’ve written a whole article about How to Say Sorry, with a wide variety of apologies for any occasion. Using these phrases, you’ll be forgiven, guaranteed. 

Thank you!

  • Спасибо. — “Thank you!”
    (Spasibo.)
  • Спасибо за помощь. — “Thanks for the help.”
    (Spasibo za pomoshch’.)
  • Молодец! — “Well done!”
    (Molodets!)
  • Так держать! — “Good job!”
    (Tak derzhat’!)
People Worried about the Internet Connection and Deadline

When the Internet suddenly shuts off ten minutes before the report delivery deadline.
Have the phrases for apologizing already popped up in your mind?

4. Speaking in a Meeting

Now let’s go over some useful phrases for Russian business meetings! 

Expressing opinions

  • Я согласен. (Ya soglasen.) — “I agree.” [m] / Я согласна. (Ya soglasna.) — “I agree.” [f]
  • Всё верно. (Vsyo verno.) — “That’s correct.”
  • Извините, я с этим не согласен / не согласна. — “Sorry, I can’t agree with you here.” [m/f]
    (Izvinite, ya s etim ya ne soglasen / ne soglasna.)
  • Пожалуй, тут я не соглашусь. “I’m afraid I must disagree here.”
    (Pozhaluy, tut ya ne soglashus’.)
  • Проблема в том, что… — “The problem is that…”
    (Problema v tom, chto…)
  • Давайте сделаем так… “Let’s do this…”
    (Davayte sdelayem tak…)
  • Я предлагаю повысить цены. — “I suggest that we increase the prices.”
    (Ya predlagayu povysit’ tseny.)
  • Все согласны? “Can we all agree on that?”
    (Vse soglasny?)

Giving presentations

If you give a presentation in front of new colleagues or partners, it’s worth saying a couple of words about yourself. Speaking about something familiar and trivial will help you relax if you feel anxious, and your new partners will have a better idea of who the speaker is.

  • Меня зовут Майк. — “My name is Mike.”
    (Menya zovut Mayk.)
  • Я представляю отдел продаж компании ABC. “I represent the sales department in ABC.”
    (Ya predstavlyayu otdel prodazh kompanii ABC.)

Check out our lesson “Introducing Yourself in a Business Meeting” to gain some cultural insight on the matter!

And here are some basic phrases for the presentation itself.

  • Сегодня поговорим о продажах. “Today we will talk about the sales.”
    (Segodnya pogovorim o prodazhakh.)
  • Сегодня мы обсудим новые сделки. “Today we will discuss the new deals.”
    (Segodnya my obsudim novyye sdelki.)
  • Обратите внимание на этот график. — “(Please) take a look at the chart.”
    (Obratite vnimaniye na etot grafik.)
  • Посмотрите на эту статистику. — “(Please) have a look at these statistics.”
    (Posmotrite na etu statistiku.)
  • Всем спасибо за внимание. — “Thank you all for your attention.”
    (Vsem spasibo za vnimaniye.)
  • Буду рад(а)* ответить на ваши вопросы. — “I will be glad to answer your questions.”
    (Budu rad-a otvetit’ na vashi voprosy.)
  • Иван ответит на вопросы после собрания. — “Ivan will answer the questions after the meeting.” 
    (Ivan otvetit na voprosy posle sobraniya) [if you feel insecure about answering the questions yourself]

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

People with Mixed Opinions during a Business Meeting

Все согласны?

5. Business Emails and Phone Calls

Even with the rising popularity of messengers, sending emails is still the most popular way of in-company communication in Russia. The phone is still a thing, as well.

Email etiquette

While casual emails to your colleagues are not going to be much different from a message on a social network, the etiquette of formal emails is much stricter, so this is what we’re going to focus on in this section.

  • Уважаемая Екатерина Сергеевна! — “Dear Ekaterina Sergeyevna”
    (Uvazhayemaya Ekaterina Sergeyevna!)
  • Уважаемый Александр! — “Dear Alexander”
    (Uvazhayemyy Aleksandr!)
  • Здравствуйте, Александр! — “Hello, Alexander”
    (Zdravstvuyte, Aleksandr!)
  • Добрый день! — “Hello!” (lit. “Good afternoon”)
    (Dobryy den’!)
The greetings are listed in order of formality, starting with the most formal one. If you know the full name of the person you’re emailing (the first name + the patronymic name), you should address them accordingly. 
  • Я хотел(а)* бы узнать, готова ли презентация. “I’d like to know if the presentation is ready.”
    (Ya khotel-a by uznat’, gotova li prezentatsiya.)
  • Хотел(а) бы напомнить о завтрашнем дедлайне. “I’d like to remind you about tomorrow’s deadline.”
    (Khotel-a by napomnit’, o zavtrashnem dedlayne.)
  • Хотел(а) поинтересоваться стоимостью курса. — “I was wondering about the price of the course.”
    (Khotel-a pointeresovat’sya stoimost’yu kursa.)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

  • Спасибо! “Thank you!”
    ((Spasibo!)
  • С уважением, “Faithfully yours,
    Майк Сантос Mike Santos”
    (S uvazheniyem, Mike Santos”
Business Phrases

Business calls

Within the company, you’re likely to call your colleagues via Skype or some other video conference software. However, if you’re going to call other companies, you might want to use the phone.

Let’s start with Алло? (Allo?), or “Hello?” Like in English, it’s a versatile word that can be used both when you pick up the phone and when you can’t hear the person well. But only on the phone—not face-to-face, please.

Here are some practical Russian phrases for business phone calls.

Calling

When you call the company, they usually introduce themselves when answering the phone. If you just hear a cold “Алло?”, the strategy would be the following (don’t forget to greet the person!):

  • Здравствуйте, это магазин «Шик»? “Hello, is this the ‘Shik’ shop?”
    (Zdravstvuyte, eto magazin «Shik»?)
  • Здравствуйте, это Сергей Иванович? — “Hello, is this Sergey Ivanovich?”
    (Zdravstvuyte, eto Sergey Ivanovich?)
  • Я хотел(а)* бы поговорить с Сергеем Ивановичем. — “Could I speak to Sergey Ivanovich, please?”
    (Ya khotel-а by pogovorit’ s Sergeyem Ivanovichem.)
  • Пожалуйста, соедините меня с отделом продаж? “Could you put me through to the sales department?”
    (Pozhaluysta, soyedinite menya s otdelom prodazh?)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

Receiving calls

  • Слушаю. — “Hello?” [lit. “I’m listening.”]
    (Slushayu.)
  • Добрый день. Компания ABC. — “Good afternoon. It’s ABC company.”
    (Dobryy den’. Kompaniya ABC.)
  • Вас плохо слышно. — “I can’t hear you well.”
    (Vas plokho slyshno.)
  • Минутку, пожалуйста. — “One minute, please.”
    (Minutku, pozhaluysta.)
  • Я вас с ним соединю. — “I will put him on.”
    (Ya vas s nim soyedinyu.)
  • Извините, сейчас он занят. — “I’m sorry, he’s busy at the moment.”
    (Izvinite, seychas on zanyat.)
  • Может, мне ему что-нибудь передать? — “Would you like to leave a message?”
    (Mozhet, mne emu chto-nibud’ peredat’?)
  • Можете перезвонить чуть позже, пожалуйста? — “Could you call again a bit later, please?”
    (Mozhete perezvonit’ chut’ pozzhe, pozhaluysta?)
  • До свидания. — “Goodbye.”
    (Do svidaniya.)
  • Извините, вы ошиблись номером. — “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number.”
    (Izvinite, vy oshiblis’ nomerom.)

You can listen to a sample phone conversation in one of our lessons from the “Business Russian for Beginners” course.

A Man Holding a Map and Talking on the Phone

Who is he calling? Why?
Come up with a simple phone conversation in Russian to practice the new phrases.

6. What’s Next?

I think you’re now ready to do business in Russia and chat with your Russian speaking colleagues! You know how to introduce yourself, interact with your coworkers, write business emails, and how to not make your boss angry if you messed something up! Obviously, these Russian business phrases are just the tip of the iceberg, but they’re a good place to start. 

When you feel comfortable using the phrases listed in this article, you can explore our “Business Russian for Beginners” course to improve your knowledge. If you happen to have any questions about doing business in Russia or the formal style used in the business environment, our teachers on RussianPod101.com will help you dispel any doubts. 

With our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, you get personal one-on-one coaching with a tutor. Feel free to ask any business- or language-related questions. If you want to practice your business phrases, you’ll receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. Give it a try!

Eager to learn more? The following material will help you gain even more knowledge about business phrases in Russian.

Is there anything we didn’t cover that you still want to know? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help! 

Happy learning with RussianPod101!

About the author: Dzhuliia Shipina is a Russian linguist and a language teacher. For the past few years, she’s been traveling around the world and sharing her passion for languages with other inquiring minds. She invites you to explore the beauty of Russian and unravel its mysteries together.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Russian

Learn Russian: YouTube Channels to Improve Your Skills

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Sometimes learning a foreign language may seem tiring or boring, but that’s not a reason to give up doing it. One of the best ways to make the process of studying more interesting is to add some entertaining materials (like videos) to your normal routine. This is why, when you set out to learn Russian, YouTube can be a great educational tool.

If you’re studying Russian, you may have heard about the RussianPod101 YouTube Channel, which is the number-one destination for improving your language skills online. If you’re going to learn Russian via YouTube, this channel is the best one to start with. 

That said, there are many other good Russian YouTube channels to help you learn the language. We’re excited to share them with you in this article, so let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Foreign Language Dialogues
  2. Russian Songs with English Subtitles
  3. Russian with Anastasia
  4. Antonia Romaker – English and Russian Online
  5. Киноконцерн «МосФильм» (Kinokoncern «MosFil’m») – Cinema Concern “Mosfilm”
  6. Bridget Barbara
  7. «Вечерний Ургант» (Vecherniy Urgant) – “Evening Urgant”
  8. Искусство харизмы (Iskusstvo kharizmy) – “Charisma on Command”
  9. Varlamov
  10. Learn Russian with RussianPod101.com
  11. Conclusion

1. Foreign Language Dialogues

Two Girls Talking

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcnakakIRt7Yp5Dsu1YGO7A/featured

Level: Beginner

This channel includes short and simple dialogues, voiced by native Russian speakers and designed to reflect the kinds of conversations you’d hear in real life. If you learn each line of dialogue by heart, you won’t have any difficulties engaging in small talk with Russians. We think that listening to such dialogues is a must when you first start learning Russian.

For each video, the dialogues are accompanied by Russian subtitles so you can read along. But keep in mind that the English translation is not provided, so you’ll have to search for it by yourself. After some time, you won’t even need the dictionary to understand each dialogue, at which point it’ll be time for you to start watching some more advanced YouTube videos for learning Russian.

Knowing how to hold a dialogue is art!

2. Russian Songs with English Subtitles

Category: Songs

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClMkzhRvKZpNCdYa3Efi6YA/feed 

Level: Beginner

Maybe you’ve never thought of it, but you can learn a lot of new words and expressions from Russian songs. Moreover, listening to Russian YouTube music can help you strengthen your sentence-building skills and grammar knowledge. Check out this channel if you want proof.

There aren’t many songs uploaded on this channel, but the ones which are currently on it are really iconic. You could spend a couple of days studying each song word-by-word. Another perk is that this is one of a few Russian YouTube channels with English subtitles, making it perfect for beginners or those who have poor listening skills.

3. Russian with Anastasia

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnastasiSemina/featured 

Level: Beginner-Intermediate

This is definitely one of the best YouTube channels for learning Russian from scratch. The videos are hosted by Russian speaker Anastasia, who teaches foreigners the language basics: alphabet, vocabulary, spelling, and the most important grammar rules. There’s even a playlist of her videos just for beginners.

People who learn Russian on YouTube love Anastasia for her creativity. She shoots not only typical educational videos, but also other entertaining and enlightening content. For example, in some videos, Anastasia reads Russian poems; in others, she interviews Russian people. Such videos are informative and highly recommended for intermediate level students.

4. Antonia Romaker – English and Russian Online 

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/AntoniaRomaker/featured 

Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Antonia’s channel is dedicated to studying languages. Each video on this channel belongs to one of two groups: videos for those who have just started studying Russian and videos for those who have started studying English. If you belong to one of these groups, you can find lots of precious information about grammar and vocabulary on this channel. Antonia loves making videos about Russian idioms, and this distinguishes her from other vloggers teaching Russian on YouTube.

Sometimes, Antonia also talks about Russian cities, food, and culture. Thanks to these kinds of videos, the process of studying becomes much more interesting.

Saint Petersburg

It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times… Come and see Saint Petersburg with your own eyes after watching Antonia’s videos!

5. Киноконцерн «МосФильм» (Kinokoncern «MosFil’m») – Cinema Concern “Mosfilm”

Category: Films

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEK3tT7DcfWGWJpNEDBdWog 

Level: Intermediate

Watching Russian films on YouTube can both teach you the language and introduce you to the cultural background of Russia. All the movies on this channel are divided into categories; you’ll find dramas, comedies, and many other film genres here, so you’ll definitely find something that suits your tastes! 

We highly recommend that you start learning to speak Russian via YouTube by watching iconic Russian films such as: 

  • «Любовь и голуби» (Lyubov’ i golubi) – “Love and Pigeons” 
  • «Иван Васильевич меняет профессию» (Ivan Vasil’yevich menyayet professiyu) – “Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession”

In these films, you can hear a lot of clear Russian speech without any slang or new-fangled words.

The main advantage of this channel is that some of the films on it have both English and Russian subtitles. At the very beginning, you may want to watch Russian movies with English subtitles. A bit later, though, you’ll be able to switch to the Russian ones without a problem—believe us!

6. Bridget Barbara

Category: Vlog

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqILnGzWyjqnPFqS2e1yVWQ/featured 

Level: Intermediate

What sets Barbara apart from other Russian YouTube vloggers? She’s an American girl who studies Russian and shares her progress on YouTube. 

Her videos are mostly life blogs on various themes, such as traveling, languages, and food. The main thing is that they’re all made in Russian; despite Barbara’s American accent, she sounds nice and fluent.

Barbara’s channel was created not only to help you learn to speak Russian through YouTube, but also to inspire you. If you think that you’ll never be good in Russian, just watch the videos in which she pronounces complicated tongue twisters, and you’ll probably become motivated again!

7. «Вечерний Ургант» (Vecherniy Urgant) – “Evening Urgant”

Category: TV Shows

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzlzGhKI5Y1LIeDJI53cWjQ 

Level: Upper-intermediate

If you want to learn some colloquial Russian and improve your listening skills, this channel will be perfect for you. «Вечерний Ургант» (Vecherniy Urgant), or “Evening Urgant,” is one of the most popular late-night talk shows in Russia. The actual running time of each episode is 30-50 minutes, but here on YouTube, you’re allowed to watch only short snippets of the funniest moments.

You can learn lots of Russian jokes and slang expressions while watching this program, and may become acquainted with many famous Russians. There are also some live singing videos uploaded on this channel; if you’re an upper-intermediate student, you probably won’t have any troubles understanding most of the lyrics.

8. Искусство харизмы (Iskusstvo kharizmy) – “Charisma on Command”

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXppDx0xzfKqOafJunzcEw 

Level: Upper-intermediate

This is the Russian version of the famous English channel called “Charisma on Command.” Here, you can find high-quality Russian translations of the best videos from the official channel, made by professional translators. 

Unfortunately, watching videos on one of the best YouTube channels for learning Russian is not easy. You have to be at least an upper-intermediate student to understand what the show’s host is talking about. At the same time, if you don’t understand something, you may find the English version of the video and bridge the gaps.

9. Varlamov

Category: Vlog about urbanism

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ilyavarlamov 

Level: Upper-intermediate

Ilya Varlamov is a Russian video blogger who travels the world and comments on the architecture of the cities he visits. He also discusses the latest news, makes reviews on various gadgets, and gives his subscribers helpful life advice. If you’re interested in one of these topics, welcome to Ilya’s channel.

Varlamov’s videos are done fully in Russian. As a foreigner, you need to have a high level of language knowledge and concentration to understand what he’s saying—but it’s worth it. Learning Russian through YouTube with Varlamov can also broaden your mind on other topics, so don’t miss it!

10. Learn Russian with RussianPod101.com 

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/russianpod101 

Level: All levels

The RussianPod101 YouTube channel is the number-one place for people who want to learn Russian through YouTube on their own. On our channel, you’ll find educational videos prepared by experienced teachers. We post new videos nearly every day, so you can constantly refresh and deepen your knowledge.

The best thing about our channel is that it’s helpful for students of all levels. If you’re beginning your path, watch some simple videos about the alphabet; if you’re at the intermediate level, check out our grammar materials; if you’re pretty advanced, we have plenty of content for you, too.

We’re sure that everyone can learn to speak Russian through YouTube with our channel.

11. Conclusion

RussianPod101.com Image

We’ve shown you the best YouTube channels for learning Russian in an easy and engaging way. We advise you to pay more attention to video materials like these, because this form of education provides you with lots of new lexicology, teaches you to perceive Russian speech by ear, and—of course—it’s a more pleasurable way to learn.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our website, RussianPod101.com. We have a lesson library with dozens of Russian videos for learners at every level. We’re 100% sure that you’ll find something really precious there, as well as on our YouTube channel. Feel free to check them out right now!

Before you go, let us know which of these YouTube channels you’re most interested in watching. Did we miss any good ones you know about? We look forward to hearing from you!

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How to Say Goodbye in Russian

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When you’ve just started studying a foreign language, you may not be able to keep up conversations in it, but you should at least know the basic rules of politeness. Greeting and saying goodbye are the most essential aspects of day-to-day communication, and they can make or break your future encounters with native speakers.

Today, RussianPod101.com will teach you how to say goodbye in Russian for a variety of life situations. After learning the following ten phrases, you’ll be much more confident when meeting and speaking with Russians.

Let’s get started! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE!(Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. До свидания (Do svidaniya)
  2. Пока (Poka)
  3. Прощай (Proshchay)
  4. До встречи (Do vstrechi)
  5. До скорого (Do skorogo)
  6. Увидимся (Uvidimsya)
  7. Спокойной ночи (Spokoynoy nochi)
  8. Мне пора (Mne pora)
  9. Счастливо (Schastlivo)
  10. Давай (Davay)
  11. Conclusion

1. До свидания (Do svidaniya)

Most Common Goodbyes

До свидания (Do svidaniya) is the most popular way to say goodbye in Russian. The literal translation of this expression is “Until we meet again.” Its English equivalent is “Goodbye.”

This versatile Russian phrase for goodbye is suitable for any formal situation. Keep in mind that it may sound a little too formal if you’re chatting with good friends or family.

Feel free to implement this expression while talking to someone who is older than you or anyone you’re not very close with. Look at the following example:

  • До свидания, Мария Ивановна, спасибо вам за всё!
    Do svidaniya, Mariya Ivanovna, spasibo vam za vsyo!
    “Goodbye, Maria Ivanovna, thank you for everything!”

Here, we put the pronoun Вам (Vam) instead of Тебе (Tebe). Anytime you say До свидания (Do svidaniya), you need to use the polite forms of any other words in that sentence.

A Grandson Offering His Grandfather a Cup of Coffee

You should definitely learn more about Russian forms of address in order to be polite while talking to older people (and to avoid awkward situations)!

2. Пока (Poka)

Пока (Poka) is the most popular informal expression for saying goodbye in Russian. Its literal translation is “For now,” but it’s just like saying “Bye” in English. 

You may use Пока (Poka) in any everyday situation, toward anyone you would address informally as Ты (Ty). This kind of goodbye in Russian is appropriate for ending conversations with friends and close relatives. For instance:

  • Пока, дружище!
    Poka, druzhishche!
    “Goodbye, buddy!”

You may also say Пока-пока (Poka-poka). The meaning won’t change at all, but your farewell will be longer, warmer, and friendlier.

3. Прощай (Proshchay)

This Russian word for goodbye isn’t very common, so you probably won’t hear it in everyday conversations. The literal translation of this word is “Forgive me.” By saying it, you mean “Farewell” or “Goodbye forever.”

Прощай (Proshchay) is used when the speaker knows that he or she won’t see the other person again. It’s suitable to use when somebody is moving away, lying on their deathbed, or breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

This is the perfect parting word to use when you want to say goodbye and ask for the other person’s forgiveness at the same time. This word carries the additional weight of admitting guilt, and it sounds really sad. Here’s an example:

  • Прощай, моя любовь.
    Proshchay, moya lyubov’.
    “Farewell, my love.”

You’ve probably noticed that the example above uses informal language. If the situation was formal, you would use the polite form Прощайте (Proshchayte).

A Girl Misses Someone

Sometimes saying goodbye is heartbreaking… And you need special words for it.

4. До встречи (Do vstrechi)

До встречи (Do vstrechi) is one of the safest expressions for saying goodbye in Russian. We say this because it’s appropriate for both formal and informal conversations with people of different ages.

The literal translation of this phrase is “Until the next meeting,” but it’s more like saying “See you soon” in English. Of course, you should only use this phrase to part ways with people you’ll definitely be seeing again. Check this example:

  • Мне нужно идти, до встречи!
    Mne nuzhno idti, do vstrechi!
    “I have to go, see you soon.”

5. До скорого (Do skorogo)

Another phrase you should know for saying goodbye to close friends and family is До скорого (Do skorogo). Its literal meaning is “Until soon,” but it’s really just another way to say “See you soon.”

This is a shortened version of До скорого свидания (Do skorogo svidaniya), which is translated into English as “Until we meet again soon.” For your information, the long version isn’t used in modern Russian.

Here’s an example of how to use this Russian informal goodbye phrase: 

  • Ну, мы пойдём, до скорого!
    Nu, my poydyom, do skorogo!
    “We’re going now, see you!”

The most appropriate situation for using this expression is when you know you’ll see the person again very soon. For example, if you’re working, studying, or even living together.

A Dad Is Saying Bye to His Family

Saying goodbye is not sad when you know that you’ll see the person again soon!

6. Увидимся (Uvidimsya)

This expression means almost the same thing as the previous one. Увидимся (Uvidimsya) is literally translated into English as “See each other.” It’s like saying “See you soon” in English.

This phrase is a good way to say goodbye in Russian in more casual situations. You may say Увидимся (Uvidimsya) to your friends if you know you’ll see them again in the near future, like in the following example:

  • Увидимся на неделе.
    Uvidimsya na nedele.
    “See each other again this week.”

You may also say the longer version: Ещё увидимся (Eshchyo uvidimsya). The meaning will stay the same.

7. Спокойной ночи (Spokoynoy nochi)

Спокойной ночи (Spokoynoy nochi) is a good phrase for ending a conversation late in the evening. The literal translation of it is “Have a calm night,” and it’s like saying “Goodnight” in English.

This phrase is very versatile, and you can use it in both formal and informal situations. This language construction is appropriate for when it’s late, and you know that the person whom you’re talking to is going to bed. Look at this simple example:

  • Спокойной ночи, выспись хорошенько!
    Spokoynoy nochi, vyspis’ khoroshen’ko!
    “Goodnight, get enough sleep!”

There are some Russian equivalents for this phrase, as well:

  • Доброй ночи.
    Dobroy nochi.

This one sounds good in both formal and informal situations.

  • Сладких снов.
    Sladkikh snov.

This one sounds very informal and even romantic, so you’d better save it for use with really close friends or your sweetheart.

Texting Someone a Good Night

If someone wishes you goodnight every day, you’re happier than many people.

8. Мне пора (Mne pora)

This is a great example of how to say goodbye in Russian when leaving a formal conversation. Мне пора (Mne pora) may be literally translated as “It’s time for me,” but it actually means “It’s time for me to go.”

Using this phrase implies that you not only need to cut the conversation short, but that you also need to leave your current location. It’s a good idea to elongate it with a more traditional way of saying goodbye in Russian, like in the example below:

  • Мне пора, до свидания!
    Mne pora, do svidaniya!
    “It’s time for me to go, goodbye!”

You may also say:

  • Боюсь, что мне пора.
    Boyus’, chto mne pora.
    “I’m afraid it’s time for me to go.”

9. Счастливо (Schastlivo)

Счастливо (Schastlivo) is a colloquial phrase for ending everyday conversations. The literal translation of it is “Happily,” and it’s like saying “All the best” in English.

We recommend that you use this phrase with people whom you know pretty well—otherwise, it would sound overly familiar. This is a good example of how it should be used:

  • Классно провели время. Счастливо!
    Klassno proveli vremya. Schastlivo!
    “We’ve had a cool time. All the best!”

Pay attention to the stress. In this case, it falls on the vowel И, not on А like in all of the other cases.

10. Давай (Davay)

The literal translation of this word is “give” or “let’s,” but people often use it to mean something like “Bye-bye” in Russian. 

Russians often use this word to say goodbye after a phone call or Skype chat with friends. Here’s an example:

  • Давай, ещё созвонимся.
    Davay, eshchyo sozvonimsya.
    “We’ll talk later, byе.”

You should only use this goodbye phrase with your friends, acquaintances of your age, and close relatives.

People Waving Goodbye

Most Russian Skype sessions end with the word Давай. Russians really love this way of saying goodbye!

11. Conclusion

All of the words and phrases we covered in this article are used regularly in Russia. If you’re only a beginner, it’ll be sufficient for you to learn one formal, one informal, and one universal phrase from this article. If you’re an intermediate or advanced student, you’d better learn all ten of them (or even more!).

Please remember that if you need more help saying goodbye in Russian—or any other aspect of the Russian language—we have a Premium PLUS service called MyTeacher. One-on-one tutoring with your personal teacher will help you succeed at any point of your language-learning journey.

Do you know any other ways to say bye in Russian that we didn’t mention in this article? If yes, please leave a comment below.

Happy learning with RussianPod101.com!

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Is Russian Hard to Learn?

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If you’re thinking about learning Russian but are hesitant to get started, you may be asking yourself: “Is Russian hard to learn?” 

You’ve read in the language forums that it is, and maybe you’ve even heard this firsthand from someone you know who’s learned the language. But here’s a spoiler: it’s not that bad. And even though I’m a native Russian myself, and learned how to speak Russian at the same time as I learned how to walk (oh, a double struggle!), I can sympathize with the experience of my students and apply my own language-learning observations to help them combat common issues.

So if you still haven’t decided whether you want to include Russian in your daily schedule or not, I might be able to help you decide. In this article, we’ll talk about why you would want to learn Russian in the first place, how easy it is to learn, and what you should start with to get onboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Russian Table of Contents
  1. Why Should You Learn Russian?
  2. Is it Hard to Learn Russian?
  3. I Want to Learn Russian. Where Should I Start?
  4. What’s Next?

1. Why Should You Learn Russian?

Let’s start with the most obvious reasons. Just in case you weren’t aware, Russian is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Worldwide, it’s almost as popular as French and Arabic, and even more widespread than German. 

There are around 260 million people speaking Russian around the globe. According to recent statistics, Russian is still widely spoken in Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Estonia, and some other neighboring countries. And that makes learning the language a good investment for travel enthusiasts. You can experience freezing winters, enjoy boiling hot steam baths, try shchi and pelmeni, and see for yourself that there are no bears walking in the streets (if anybody still believes in this stereotype).

Many of my students learn Russian for business or study. Whether you have a business trip to Russia or work with Russian partners, some Russian might help in your working relations and networking. A person working in tourism who has basic Russian language knowledge is a real gem: Russians often travel abroad without knowing any English. 

As for studies, higher education is affordable in Russia, and the vibrant student life will definitely leave a trace in your memory—that is, if you decide to assimilate with locals and not just hang out with your English-speaking friends.

Also, Russia has lots to offer in terms of culture. You might not see lots of Russian movies in theaters or hear Russian songs on every corner, but they exist in abundance. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to find Russian movies with subtitles, so this is a good incentive to learn the language. Not to mention the benefits that literature-lovers can experience: you’ll find peace in Tolstoy’s elaborate descriptions, enjoy the witty nature of Krylov’s fables, and relish in the emotional styling of Yesenin’s poems.

Learning Russian is also a good choice for those craving a challenge. English-speakers tend to learn languages similar to their own: Spanish, German, French, etc. But Russian is hard for English-speakers compared to most Germanic and Romance languages. It’s something different and totally unusual, but at the same time, not as drastically “alien” as Japanese, for example. 

But if the motivation comes from inside, no logical reasoning is necessary to convince you to learn the language. Whether you just like the sound of Russian, want to enjoy the Trans-Siberian journey, or understand what Dima Bilan is singing about, if it truly makes you excited, then just go for it!

Russian Pastry

Russian cuisine is definitely worth trying! Guess if it’s savory or sweet.

2. Is it Hard to Learn Russian?

I believe that by now, you’re secretly hoping to hear a strong “no.” I would lie if I said that Russian is the easiest language to learn; it has its own specificities, but it’s still easier than many people say it is. Let’s start with the easy parts.

A- The Good News

1. Cyrillics is not too different from the Latin alphabet. There are even some familiar letters (like е, а, м, с, р, etc.). Yes, some of them are pronounced differently from what you would expect, but they’re easy to write, and you can start reading Russian words in literally one day.

2. Many words are borrowed from English. Yes, they are written with the Russian alphabet, but when you learn to read it, you’ll recognize the words in a heartbeat. Try:

  • футбол (futbol)
  • телефон (telefon)
  • маркетинг (marketing)
  • компания (kompaniya)
  • лампа (lampa)

    ➢ You can check the meanings of these words in a dictionary to see if you were right.

3. Genders are easy to determine. Russian categorizes words into one of three genders: feminine, masculine, and neuter. Usually, you just have to check the ending of the noun to see what gender category it belongs to.

4. There are fewer tenses than in English. We only have three tenses in Russian: past, present, and future. That’s enough; three is a good number.

    ➢ Read more about the tenses and other properties of verbs in our article about Verb Conjugation.

5. Questions are simple. For Yes/No questions, we use intonation. For open questions, we just place the question word at the beginning, and that’s it. No special question structures or word order changes.

  • Сегодня мы смотрим кино. (Segodnya my smotrim kino) — “Today we’re watching a movie.”
  • Сегодня мы смотрим кино? — “Are we watching a movie today?”
  • Где ты был? (Gde ty byl?) — “Where have you been?”
  • Что ты купил? (Chto ty kupil?) — “What did you buy?”
  • Почему торт не купил? (Pochemu tort ne kupil?) — “Why didn’t you buy the cake?” 

6. It’s easy to say “no.” In most cases, to make a negative sentence in Russian, you simply add не (ne) before the word you want to make negative.

  • Я не курю. (Ya ne kuryu) — “I don’t smoke.”
  • Мы не дома. (My ne doma) — “We aren’t home.”
  • Она не такая. (Ona ne takaya) — “She isn’t like that.”

7. Russians appreciate the initiative. It’s rare to hear a foreigner speak Russian, so any attempt to do so will evoke praise and excitement. No need to wait for a pint of beer to untie your tongue; feel free to proudly demonstrate your Russian skills right away. No sarcasm intended.

8. Speakers of other Slavic languages have an (un)fair advantage. If your mother tongue is Polish, Czech, Serbian, or a similar language—congratulations! You have a free upgrade of three times the speed in learning Russian right from the start. These languages come from the same language family, so many words sound similar, and even the grammar can be familiar in some aspects. I believe this is why, in some remote parts of Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia, locals prefer foreigners to speak Russian rather than English.

Woman Holding Out Hand to Say Stop

Стой. Торт купил? (Stoy. Tort kupil?)
“Stop. Did you buy the cake?”

B- The (Not So) Bad News

Even taking into account the easier aspects mentioned earlier, the Russian language is hard to learn for many people, particularly English-speakers. Here are some things you can prepare for in advance:

1. Pronunciation. If learning the alphabet takes one evening, mastering the sounds themselves is a bit trickier. Many sounds are similar to those in English, but some are unusual, like [щ], [ы], [р] (and the last one is not an English “p”!).

    ➢ If you want to work on your pronunciation, check out our Ultimate Pronunciation Guide. You’ll learn about the Russian sounds and how to pronounce them without twisting your tongue.

2. Verb conjugations. In Russian, we only have three tenses, but the verb conjugation is also affected by grammatical mood, person, aspect, etc.

Here are some examples:

  • Я пою. (Ya poyu) — “I sing.” (present, 1st person singular)
  • Мы поём. (My poyom) — “We sing.” (present, 1st person plural)
  • Вы бы спели? (Vy by speli?) — “Would you sing?” (conditional, 2nd person plural)

3. Verbal aspects. In Russian, we use verbal aspects to indicate the difference between an action that is complete (perfective aspect) and an action that is habitual or ongoing (imperfective aspect). It’s similar to the English perfect and simple / continuous aspect.

  • Я ужинал. (Ya uzhinal) — “I was dining.” (ongoing > imperfective)
  • Я поужинал. (Ya pouzhinal) — “I’ve had dinner.” (complete > perfective)

Have you spotted the difference?

4. Declensions and cases. Russian has six cases—technically five, if you don’t count the dictionary form (the nominative case). Cases help you see the relationship between words (it’s not just to make you memorize extra endings!):

  • кот (kot) — “a cat” (Nominative singular)
  • У меня нет кота. (U menya net kota) — “I don’t have a cat.” (Genitive singular)
  • Но я люблю котов. (No ya lyublyu kotov) — “But I love cats.” (Accusative plural animate)

The good thing about cases is that each of them has a function and some markers (typical prepositions and verbs they go with). When you learn to distinguish cases by their function, your life becomes easier. Anyway, if you use the wrong case, it won’t be the end of the world. Patience is the key—and practice.

The prospect of learning endings for six cases and three genders might seem intimidating, but you can definitely manage it if you don’t try to swallow the whole cake at once. Instead, slowly savor it piece by piece. 

5. Verbs of motion. You can find countless ways of translating the verb “to go” into Russian. The choice depends on what means of transport you’re talking about:

  • идти (idti) — “to go on foot”
  • ехать (yekhat’) — “to go by car / by bus / by bike / etc.”
  • лететь (letet’) — “to go by plane”
  • плыть (plyt’) — “to go by boat”

Motion verbs with prefixes can seem even more confusing:

  • лететь (letet’) — “to go by plane”
  • прилететь (priletet’) — “to arrive by plane”
  • улететь (uletet’) — “to leave by plane”

“How do I deal with that and not get crazy?”

  • Learn the four basic translations for the verb “to go” listed above. This way, you’ll be able to distinguish between the means of transport.
  • Analyze the prefixes and try to find the logic behind them. For example, the prefix у- usually means “departure” and при- indicates “arrival.”
    ➢ Wikipedia has a nice table of prefixes with their meanings for your verbs of motion.
    ➢ If you don’t know how to say “train” or “bus” in Russian, check out our Vehicles vocabulary list.
Plane Flying Past Clouds

Ехать или лететь?

3. I Want to Learn Russian. Where Should I Start?

The alphabet. A no-brainer. At RussianPod101, we want to support you from the earliest stages, so we provide the English transliteration for almost every word and phrase you see. However, you’ll find no romanization in authentic Russian sources like books or articles. You’ll also need to learn writing (or at least typing) to be able to send messages in Russian, or even to look up words in your dictionary.

    ➢ Start exploring the Russian letters with our series of lessons titled The Russian Alphabet Made Easy. You can even try your hand at writing cursive!

Survival phrases. If you travel to a Russian-speaking place soon, learning some basic phrases would help you immensely. Based on my observations, many young people in the big cities would know enough English to help you find the Red Square or accept your order in a restaurant, but not enough to discuss climate change or politics. However, I wouldn’t have much hope for English while interacting with people of the older generations.

The following series of lessons will be a good start:

Your own sentences. When you master your introductory speech about yourself and your dog, it’s time to combine new chunks of words into meaningful phrases. Analyze how words cooperate with each other, and try to make similar sentences yourself. Start simple. Don’t dive into grammar right away: learning the rules without having the vocabulary to apply them is pointless. 

Send the sentences you make to your RussianPod101 tutor for proofreading (subscribed users only) and receive feedback from a native speaker. Your tutor would also help you find the right path for your further studies if you can’t figure out what to do next.

Russian Calligraphy Handwriting

Russian calligraphy handwriting (created by VectorSR and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

4. What’s Next?

As a language-learner myself, I have established three important rules that always help me stay on track:

  • Quality over quantity. Make sure you’re comfortable with the topic before moving on to something else. It’s also important to review the material from time to time.

  • Consistency. It’s better to practice ten minutes every day than two hours once a week. Consistency is necessary to create strong neural connections in your brain, and this means repetition. If you skip several days of learning, especially if you’re a beginner, chances are that the connections will already be lost when you’re back, and you’ll have to learn everything again.

  • Patience. Don’t compare yourself to other learners. Don’t judge yourself by the number of words that you’ve learned or the grade you’ve received on your recent language test. Take your time and remember the first two rules.

Like learning any other language, learning Russian isn’t that difficult if you have some discipline and patience. There are plenty of resources for you to get started, and many enthusiastic people ready to help. In our premium service, MyTeacher, you can get personal one-on-one coaching with a tutor. You’ll receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and also voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. And if you have any questions about Russian, feel free to ask your tutor; they’re there to help you!

Useful links for those who want to learn more:

Before you go, let us know if you have any questions or concerns about learning (or continuing to learn) Russian. We’d be glad to help! 

Happy learning with RussianPod101!

About the author: Dzhuliia Shipina is a Russian linguist and a language teacher. For the past few years, she’s been traveling around the world and sharing her passion for languages with other inquiring minds. She invites you to explore the beauty of Russian and unravel its mysteries together.

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The 10 Most Common Questions in Russian & How to Answer Them

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Being able to ask questions is a very important communication skill that makes conversation sound lively and interesting. If you’re going to chat with a native Russian speaker, or if you want to travel to Russia one day, you should definitely know some basic questions in this language. 

In this guide, we’ll help you learn ten of the most common questions in Russian. We’ll also give you some information about how to use these Russian questions and answers depending on the age of the person you’re speaking to, and teach you some Russian question words. 

Let’s begin!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Как тебя зовут?
  2. Откуда ты?
  3. Сколько тебе лет?
  4. Ты говоришь на ___?
  5. Сколько ты учишь ____?
  6. Ты был в ___?
  7. Как дела?
  8. Что делаешь?
  9. Что случилось?
  10. Сколько стоит?
  11. Conclusion

1. Как тебя зовут?

First Encounter

Как тебя зовут? (Kak tebya zovut?), meaning “What’s your name?” is usually the first question in Russian you’ll ask when getting to know someone. 

The first word here, как (kak), meaning “how,” is an adverb; it’s also one of the most commonly used Russian question words. The next word, тебя (tebya), is the pronoun “you” in the accusative case. The last word, зовут (zovut), is the present tense form of the verb звать (zvat’), meaning “to call.” So, Как тебя зовут? is literally translated as “How are you called?”

Remember that this question is appropriate only in informal conversations with people who are your age or younger. If the situation is formal, or if you’re talking to an older person, use the following form:

  • Как вас зовут? (Kak vas zovut?) – “What’s your name?”

Вас (vas) is the formal version of тебя (“you” in the accusative case).

Possible Answers

The reply to this question in Russian would be:

  • Меня зовут Джон. (Menya zovut Dzhon.) – “My name is John.”

Or

  • Моё имя – Джон. (Moyo imya – Dzhon.) – “My name is John.”

Simply replace “John” with your own name.

A Man Shaking Hand with a Client

The question Как вас зовут? is the simplest way to establish contact, no matter who you’re trying to get to know.

2. Откуда ты?

Откуда ты? (Otkuda ty?) is the easiest way to say “Where are you from?” in Russian. 

Like many other questions in Russian, this one begins with the adverb откуда (otkuda). The next word, ты (ty), is a pronoun in the nominative case. Like in the example above, this pronoun is applicable only to conversations with people who are your age or younger.

If you’re talking to somebody older, always say вы (vy). For example:

  • Откуда вы? (Otkuda vy?) – “Where are you from?”

Possible Answer

The best way to answer is with:

  • Я из Нью-Йорка. (Ya iz N’yu-Yorka.) – “I’m from New York.”

Keep in mind that you need to use your country, state, or city in the genitive case, like in the example given above.

Introducing Yourself

3. Сколько тебе лет?

Сколько тебе лет? (Skol’ko tebe let?), meaning “How old are you?” is a good question in Russian to keep a conversation going.

 Сколько (skol’ko) is a pronoun here. Тебе (tebe) is also a pronoun, in the dative case. Лет (let) is the plural form of the noun “year.”

If you’re speaking to an older person, you’ll need to say this instead:

  • Сколько вам лет? (Skol’ko vam let?) – “How old are you?”

Possible Answer

The answer is short and simple:

  • Мне 40 лет. (Mne 40 let.) – “I’m 40 years old.”
Woman Disgusted by Her Date

Keep in mind that asking a woman about her age is impolite, even if she looks young!

4. Ты говоришь на ___?

Of all the Russian questions and answers for beginners, this may be the most important: Ты говоришь на ___? (Ty govorish’ na ___?), meaning “Do you speak ___?” It will help you find out if the person you’re talking to speaks your language. 

The first word here is ты (ty), which is the Russian pronoun “you” in the nominative case. The second word is говоришь (govorish’), which is the present tense form of the verb говорить (govorit), meaning “to speak.” After these two words, you’ll need to use the preposition на (na), which means “on” in English. Then comes the name of the language you’re asking about.

Make sure you use the prepositional case, like in this example:

  • Ты говоришь на английском? (Ty govorish’ na angliyskom?) – “Do you speak English?”

The formal variant of this Russian question is:

  • Вы говорите на ___? (Vy govorite na ___?) – “Do you speak ___?”

Possible Answers

You can give an affirmative answer like this:

  • Да, я говорю на ___. (Da, ya govoryu na ___.) – “Yes, I speak ___.”

Or a negative answer:

  • Нет, я не говорю на ___. (Net, ya ne govoryu na ___.) – “No, I don’t speak ___.”
A Couple Frustrated due to Lack of Understanding

One of the most unfair things in life is to meet a wonderful person and not to be able to communicate with him or her because of the language barrier.

5. Сколько ты учишь ____?

The Russian question Сколько ты учишь ___? (Skol’ko ty uchish’ ___?), meaning “How long have you been studying ___?” turns out to be really helpful in conversations with other students. 

The first word, сколько (skol’ko), is a typical adverb used in questions. Ты (ty) is a pronoun, as mentioned previously. The last word is the present tense form of the verb учишь (uchish’), which means “to study.”

The polite form of this question is:

  • Сколько вы учите ___? (Skol’ko vy uchite ___?) – “How long have you been studying ___?”

This Russian question requires the name of the field of study you’re asking about in the accusative case:

  • Сколько ты учишь информатику? (Skol’ko ty uchish’ informatiku?) – “How long have you been studying programming?”

Possible Answer

  • Я учу информатику два года. (Ya uchu informatiku dva goda.) – “I’ve been studying programming for two years.”

 6. Ты был в ___?

There are two variants for asking “Have you been to ___?” in Russian. The first one is appropriate if you’re asking a man:

  • Ты был в ___? (Ty byl v ___?)

The second one is applicable when asking a woman:

  • Ты была в ___? (Ty byla v ___?)

Of course, if you’re going to ask someone older than you, you must say:

  • Вы были в ___? (Vy byli v ___?)

Following the pronoun ты (ty) is был (byl) or была (byla), which is the verb “to be” in the past tense. В is a preposition which requires the prepositional case for the name of the place used after it. For example:

  • Ты был в Париже? (Ty byl v Parizhe?) – “Have you been to Paris?”

Possible Answers

  • Да, я был в Париже. (Da, ya byl v Parizhe.) – “Yes, I’ve been to Paris.”

Or

  • Нет, я не был в Париже. (Net, ya ne byl v Parizhe.) – “No, I haven’t been to Paris.”
A Woman Taking a Photo of Something

Travel is a perfect topic for a conversation.

7. Как дела?

Как дела? (Kak dela?), meaning “How are you?” is one of the most important questions to ask a Russian. 

Как (kak) is an adverb, and дела (dela) is the plural form of the noun дело (delo), meaning “matter.”

Here are a couple of alternative ways to ask this question in Russian:

  • Как ты/вы? (Kak ty/vy?) – “How are you?”

Or

  • Как жизнь? (Kak zhizn?) – “How’s life?”

Possible Answers

The most typical answers are:

  • Всё хорошо. (Vsyo khorosho.) – “Everything is good.”
  •  Отлично. (Otlichno.) – “Excellent.”

8. Что делаешь?

Что делаешь? (Chto delayesh’?), meaning “What are you doing?” is one of those basic Russian questions that you can use both in your real life and while communicating online

Что (chto) is a pronoun that’s very often used for asking questions in Russian. Делаешь (delayesh’) is the present tense form of the verb делать (delat’), meaning “to do.” 

The formal variant of this question is:

  • Что делаете? (Chto delayete?) – “What are you doing?”

Possible Answers

The answer fully depends on what you’re busy with. For example:

  • Я работаю. (Ya rabotayu.) – “I’m working.”
  • Я на учёбе. (Ya na uchyobe.) – “I’m studying.”

9. Что случилось?

Что случилось? (Chto sluchilos’?), meaning “What happened?” is one of those good questions to ask a Russian to find out if something has gone wrong. 

Что (chto) is a common pronoun in Russian questions. Cлучилось (sluchilos’) is the past tense form of the verb случиться (sluchit’sya), which means “to happen.”

Possible Answers

There’s no definite response to this question. It may be something like:

  • Ничего особенного. (Nichego osobennogo.) – “Nothing special.”
  • Всё плохо. (Vsyo plokho.) – “Everything is bad.”
One Girl Comforting Another

The question Что случилось? shows that you care for what’s going on in another person’s life!

10. Сколько стоит?

Сколько стоит? (Skol’ko stoit?), meaning “How much is it?” is an absolutely essential question for you if you’re going to visit Russia. 

Сколько (skol’ko), as mentioned, is a pronoun and one of the most widely used Russian question words. Стоит (stoit) is the present tense form of the verb стоить (stoit’), meaning “to cost.”

You may add the name of the thing that you want to know the price of. Also remember that you should use it in the subjective case. For example:

  • Сколько стоит авиабилет? (Skol’ko stoit aviabilet?) – “How much is the air ticket?”

Possible Answer

The answer depends on the situation. For example:

  • Это стоит два доллара. (Eto stoit dva dollara.) – “It costs two dollars.”

11. Conclusion

We sincerely hope that you’ve learned the basics of asking questions in Russian. Of course, this topic is enormous, and one article isn’t enough to cover it fully. Moreover, there are so many situations in day-to-day life which require their own sets of questions. That’s why memorizing questions in Russian isn’t as effective as understanding how to make them. This is especially true if you’ve been learning the language for a while.

We really recommend that you learn how to ask questions in Russian by reading articles on our website, RussianPod101.com, or with the help of our premium service MyTeacher. The second option is perfect for those who want to start using questions and answers in Russian as soon as possible. Your native Russian-speaking teacher will guide you through all the ins and outs of this topic during private lessons, so it will be really effective. You can try out our service right now, and be 100% satisfied with its quality!

What other questions in Russian would you like to learn? Feel free to leave your answers in the comment section below!

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Our Preparation Guide for the TORFL Russian Language Exam

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At some point in your Russian-learning journey, you’ll probably want to test your mettle and see how far you’ve come. After all, few things are as motivating as tangible progress! 

To establish your proficiency in Russian, you have to pass the international TORFL test. If you don’t know much about this examination, read our article to learn the basics. If you’ve already decided to take the main Russian test for foreigners, you should stick around too, because we’ll help you prepare for the big day!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Russian Table of Contents
  1. General Info on the TORFL Russian Language Test
  2. Who Needs to Take the TORFL Russian Exam?
  3. What’s Inside the TORFL?
  4. How to Pass the TORFL Russian Language Test
  5. Where to Take the TORFL Practice Test
  6. What is the Minimum Score to Get the TORFL Certificate?
  7. What if I Fail the Test?
  8. Conclusion

1. General Info on the TORFL Russian Language Test

TORFL, created in 1998, stands for “Test of Russian as a Foreign Language.” The TORFL is the most authoritative test for foreigners studying Russian.

The main goal of this famous language examination is to determine a person’s level of language proficiency. We’ll talk about each of the possible levels in the following sections.

Elementary Level / A1

Achieving a good score on the Elementary Level of the TORFL shows that a student has a basic competence in Russian. It clearly demonstrates that this student is able to satisfy the elementary needs of communication in a restricted number of daily situations. In addition, successfully passing the TORFL A1 means that a foreigner can:

  • Use a minimal set of linguistic resources
  • Read very short and easy texts
  • Understand slow and simple speech with long pauses

Basic Level / A2

A person who has successfully passed the Basic Level test can satisfy his elementary communication needs without any problems. If you’ve performed well on this level, you may not be afraid of going to Russia and having small conversations with native speakers. Achieving a satisfactory score on this level is also enough to get citizenship in Russia.

Do note, however, that the A2 level is NOT the minimum for acceptance into Russian universities; you’ll need to attain a higher level for this. Preparatory faculties and schools are the exception here, and they often teach students Russian as part of their training. 

This TORFL level is also insufficient for establishing deep connections with Russian people who use only their mother tongue.

A Woman Reading a Book on a Bus

If you dream of studying in Russia, you have to start learning and mastering the language. There is no other way.

The First Certification Level / B1

If you’ve passed the TORFL B1 exam, it means that you have an intermediate level of Russian language competence. You may support conversations about your life, culture, education, and profession. At the same time, you’re still not ready to communicate in Russian freely, because you’ll sometimes need help or preparation for it.

Attaining the B1 certificate for this Russian language test gives you the opportunity to go to any Russian university you’d like. But remember that there are still many things related to the Russian language that you don’t know, and you’ll have to continue studying hard in the future.

The Second Level Certificate / B2

People who manage to perform well on the B2 exam and attain the Second Level Certificate can gratify their needs for communication with other people in a broad range of spheres. They can understand natives talking and writing about culture, politics, and other more-complex themes without using a dictionary.

The certificate of the Second Level of the main Russian foreign language test allows a person to receive a degree from a Russian university. This person may also perform professional activities related to:

  • Humanitarian sciences (not including philology)
  • Engineering
  • Natural sciences

The Third Level Certificate / C1

If a foreigner successfully attains the Third Level Certificate, then this foreigner has excellent skills in communication with native speakers. Moreover, he can definitely:

  • Read and understand long texts
  • Capture details and hidden meanings in complex texts and speeches, even if they have nothing to do with his own specialty
  • Fluently talk about abstract topics for a long time with ease

Such deep knowledge of Russian, proven by this language certificate, gives a person many opportunities. For example, having this level of Russian allows someone to work in difficult spheres and fields such as linguistics.

A Woman Raising Her Hand in Class

There are a few foreigners working as linguists in Russia. You can be one of them if you study Russian really hard!

The Fourth Level Certificate / C2

Excellent performance on the C2 exam represents a real proficiency in understanding and speaking Russian. If someone has gotten to this level, it means that his competence in the language is not far away from the level of a native speaker.

The Fourth Level Certificate also gives its owner an opportunity to receive a Master of Arts degree in philology. With this, a foreigner can choose any kind of work in the sphere of philology.

2. Who Needs to Take the TORFL Russian Exam?

Language Skills

Not everyone who learns Russian needs to take this test, though it can be really helpful for those who:

  • Are going to receive education in a Russian-speaking country
  • Need to be licensed or certified in a particular sphere (in most cases, connected to languages)
  • Need to show their language mastery for immigration purposes
  • Simply want to check their Russian language skills in a formal setting

3. What’s Inside the TORFL?

The TORFL foreign Russian language test is composed of five parts. The difficulty and duration of each part varies depending on the level. These five parts are:

Reading

In this part, a student must demonstrate his ability to read a text (or various texts), perfectly understanding it or them. The reading portion of the test is normally composed of three tasks. The duration of this section is 50 minutes for levels A1, A2, and B1; for levels B2, C1, and C2, it is 90 minutes.

Writing

Here, students must reproduce the context of a given text and write a unique composition. It may be a letter, a card, or anything else. During this stage, students are usually asked to complete three different tasks. The duration of this section is 50 minutes for levels A1 and A2; levels B1 and C1 suggest 60 minutes for the writing section; for B2, it’s 55 minutes; for C2 it’s 80 minutes.

Listening

The number of tasks varies depending on the level. Keep in mind that this portion of the test can use both audio and video items. The listening sections for levels A1 and C1 will require 30 minutes, while the same section for levels A2 and B1 will take 35 minutes. The duration for level B2 is 40 minutes; for level C2, it’s 50 minutes.

Oral Competence

This part of the Russian proficiency exam looks at how a student participates in conversations with other people. The oral competence part may consist of two or four different sections, depending on the level. The duration of this section is 25 minutes (levels A2, B1, B2, and C1), 30 minutes for level A1, and 45 minutes for level C2.

Structural Competence

Here, students must be ready to show their knowledge of the Russian linguistic system. To pass it, they need to know structural rules, grammar points, and other aspects of the language’s linguistic system. The student will also need to know a lot of Russian vocabulary to pass. The grammar and vocabulary section will last 50 minutes for levels A1 and A2, 60 minutes for levels B1 and C2, and 90 minutes for levels B2 and C1.

A Woman Thinking while Doing Homework

All of the parts are important and ranked equally.

4. How to Pass the TORFL Russian Language Test

If you’re a foreigner, you probably won’t pass the exam without good preparation. This is especially true if you’re trying to get the Certificate for the Third or even the Fourth level. Be ready to begin preparing for your Russian proficiency exam at least a month in advance.

There are several ways to prepare:

  • Regularly do TORFL tests online
  • Regularly do paper-based tests
  • Get support from a teacher or tutor
  • Find other people preparing for the test and study with them
  • Find native speakers and talk with them as much as possible
A Group of People Chatting at a Table

Native speakers are the best help in learning a language.

5. Where to Take the TORFL Practice Test

You may test your Russian language level through any organization that’s authorized for handling the TORFL examination. Such organizations are located not only in Russia and other CIS countries, but also in Europe and the USA; you won’t have any difficulties finding them and taking a practice test!

6. What is the Minimum Score to Get the TORFL Certificate?

If you want to pass this Russian test and get the certificate, you need to score no less than sixty-six percent for every section. Keep in mind that this exam is made with some security features to prevent cheating. But once you pass, your certificate will be valid forever.

A Woman Shaking Hands with Someone and Getting a Certificate

This certificate may be yours!

7. What if I Fail the Test?

If you don’t receive the minimum score in one or two of the sections, you may retake that part of the test again for the full price of the exam. And if you failed more than two of the sections, you can retake the entire test for the full price. 

If you fail only one of the sections, you’ll receive a certificate that’s valid for just two years. Of course, in the future, you’ll be able to retake your Russian language test for the full price and get the non-expiring certificate.

8. Conclusion

In this helpful guide, you’ve learned everything you need to know about the TORFL. If you want to test successfully and receive the certificate, be sure to use the free audio recordings and other useful resources on RussianPod101.com. They’ll help you master Russian while having fun.

If you want to increase your chances of passing the TORFL, use our premium service MyTeacher. You’ll get personal one-on-one coaching with a private tutor. Your teacher will help you prepare for your future Russian language examination in accordance with your current level of knowledge. Don’t waste your time; start preparing right now!

What level of Russian proficiency do you think you have right now? Do you feel prepared for the TORFL now? Please, let us know in the comments section below.

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Essential Russian Sentence Patterns to Know

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Making sentences in Russian isn’t easy for foreigners. To do it, you have to know not only vocabulary, but also the grammar of this complex language. If you want to start speaking as soon as possible, you’d better learn some Russian sentence patterns. By remembering them, you’ll be able to build your own sentences really quickly, without thinking too much about rules.

In this article, you’ll find ten really useful Russian sentences for beginners. These sentences will help you have basic conversations with native speakers and feel more confident in your knowledge of the language. Don’t be lazy; we recommend that you spend a few hours remembering them. We’re sure that in the future, you’ll appreciate yourself for doing so!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Linking Nouns: A is B
  2. Using Adjectives to Describe Something: A is/was [Adjective]
  3. Expressing “Want”: I Want (to)…
  4. Expressing “Need”: I Need (to)… / I Have (to)…
  5. Expressing “Like”: I Like (to)…
  6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something: Please…
  7. Asking for Permission: May I / Can I?
  8. Asking for Information About Something: What is/was…?
  9. Asking About Time: When is…?
  10. Asking About Location or Position: Where is…?
  11. Conclusion

1. Linking Nouns: A is B

This is one of the most common Russian sentence patterns, and you use it to give a basic explanation or make a statement. For example:

  • Джон – мой брат
    Dzhon – moy brat
    “John is my brother.”

In Russian, we put “–” between the subject and predicate if they’re both nouns. Keep it in mind!

  • Мой брат – таксист
    Moy brat – taksist
    “My brother is a taxi driver.”
  • Эти часы – подарок моей жены
    Eti chasy – podarok moyey zheny
    “This watch is a present from my wife.”

In Russian, the word часы (chasy) is only plural, while in English, it can be either singular or plural. But intermediate and advanced learners should know this already!

  • Россия – самая большая страна в мире
    Rossiya – samaya bol`shaya strana v mire
    “Russia is the biggest country in the world.”
  • Мопсы – хорошие собаки, мне они нравятся
    Mopsy – khoroshiye sobaki, mne oni nravyatsya
    “Pugs are nice dogs; I like them.”
Sentence Patterns

2. Using Adjectives to Describe Something: A is/was [Adjective]

This type of Russian sentence construction is widely used to describe something or somebody. For example:

  • Эта пицца вкусная
    Eta pitstsa vkusnaya
    “This pizza is delicious.”
  • Моя последняя работа была ужасной 
    Moya poslednyaya rabota byla uzhasnoy
    “My last job was terrible.”

This Russian sentence pattern refers to the past. You should remember it!

  • Фильм, который мы смотрели вчера, был страшным 
    Fil’m, kotoryy my smotreli vchera, byl strashnym
    “The film we watched yesterday was scary.”
  • Я думаю, мой брат умнее, чем моя сестра 
    Ya dumayu, moy brat umneye, chem moya sestra
    “I think my brother is smarter than my sister.”
  • Ты красивая 
    Ty krasivaya
    “You are beautiful.”

The last sentence above is correct if you say it to a girl. If you want to compliment a guy, say Ты красивый (Ty krasivyy). If you’re going to praise somebody who’s older than you, use Вы красивые (Vy krasivyye).

A Man Whispering Something in a Woman’s Ear

Don’t skimp on compliments!

3. Expressing “Want”: I Want (to)…

Basic Russian phrases like these are useful in everyday conversations, since they help to express desires and plans. The Russian sentence patterns given below will definitely enrich your speech:

  • Я хочу вот это 
    Ya khochu vot eto
    “I want this.”
  • Я хочу задать вопрос 
    Ya khochu zadat’ vopros
    “I want to ask a question.”
  • Я хочу быть для тебя хорошим мужчиной 
    Ya khochu byt dlya tebya khoroshim muzhchinoy
    “I want to be a good man for you.”

If you’re a girl, change this last Russian sentence pattern a bit by saying: Я хочу быть для тебя хорошей девушкой (Ya khochu byt dlya tebya khoroshey devushkoy).

  • Я хочу жить в Японии через несколько лет 
    Ya khochu zhit’ v Yaponii cherez neskolko let
    “I want to live in Japan in a few years.”
  • Я хочу, чтобы вы перестали так громко разговаривать 
    Ya khochu, chtoby vy perestali tak gromko razgovarivat’
    “I want you to stop talking so loud.”

4. Expressing “Need”: I Need (to)… / I Have (to)…

These basic Russian sentence patterns are really easy and helpful at the same time. Check out some examples:

  • Мне нужна ручка 
    Mne nuzhna ruchka
    “I need a pen.”

If the thing you need refers to the masculine gender, use нужен (nuzhen); if to the neutral, use нужно (nuzhno).

  • Мне нужно попрактиковаться
    Mne nuzhno popraktikovat’sya
    “I need to practice.”
  • Мне нужно попрактиковаться
    Seychas mne nuzhno idti
    “Now I have to go.”

In Russian, “need” and “have to” are normally expressed with the same word: нужно (nuzhno).

  • Мне нужно воспользоваться ванной/Мне нужна ванная 
    Mne nuzhno vospol’zovat’sya vannoy/Mne nuzhna vannaya
    “I need to use the bathroom.”
  • Мне нужно готовиться к экзамену
    Mne nuzhno gotovit’sya k ekzamenu
    “I have to prepare for my exam.”
Sentence Components

5. Expressing “Like”: I Like (to)…

You need to know how to structure a Russian sentence using the verb “to like” in order to sound positive in your speech. We’ve prepared some basic Russian sentence patterns to get you started: 

  • Ты мне нравишься 
    Ty mne nravish’sya
    “I like you.”

If you’re talking to an older person or somebody you don’t know very well, use Вы мне нравитесь (Vy mne nravites’) instead.

  • Мне нравится готовить 
    Mne nravitsya gotovit’
    “I like to cook.”
  • Мне нравится смотреть закаты на пляже 
    Mne nravitsya smotret’ zakaty na plyazhe
    “I like to watch sunsets at the beach.”
  • Мне нравится его чувство юмора 
    Mne nravitsya ego chuvstvo yumora
    “I like his sense of humor.”

If you’re talking about a girl or a woman, simply replace его (ego) with её (yeyo).

  • Мне нравится то, как моя мама ко мне относится 
    Mne nravitsya to, kak moya mama ko mne otnositsya
    “I like the way my mother treats me.”

6. Politely Asking Someone to Do Something: Please…

It’s important to know this easy Russian sentence structure if you want to make polite requests. Pay attention to these common Russian sentence patterns:

  • Пожалуйста, сядь(те) 
    Pozhaluysta, syad’(te)
    “Please, sit.”

The form сядь (syad’) is applicable if you’re talking to your friend or a close relative. If you’re speaking to a group of people, to a person who’s older than you, or someone who’s not in a close relationship with you, use the form сядьте (syad’te). Remember this rule while reading and using the Russian sentence patterns below.

  • Пожалуйста, послушай(те) меня 
    Pozhaluysta, poslushay(te) menya
    “Please, listen to me.”
  • Пожалуйста, встаньте в очередь
    Pozhaluysta, vstan’te v ochered’
    “Please, stand in line.”
  • Пожалуйста, прекрати(те) так нагло врать 
    Pozhaluysta, prekrati(te) tak naglo vrat’
    “Please, stop lying so brazenly.”
  • Пожалуйста, познакомь(те) нас друг с другом
    Pozhaluysta, poznakom’(te) nas drug s drugom
    “Please, introduce us to each other.”
A Man and Woman Shaking Hands at a Car Dealership

Being polite in Russian is as easy as in English.

7. Asking for Permission: May I / Can I?

If you visit Russia, it’s crucial that you know how to ask for permission. Moreover, these Russian phrases will help you sound polite. 

  • Я могу войти? 
    Ya mogu voyti?
    “May I come in?”
  • Можно мне воды? 
    Mozhno mne vody?
    “Can I get some water?”
  • Я могу опоздать на 15 минут?
    Ya mogu opozdat’ na 15 minut?
    “Can I be 15 minutes late?”
  • Могу я попросить твоего совета? 
    Mogu ya poprosit’ tvoyego soveta?
    “May I ask you for a piece of advice?”

To use the polite form, change твоего (tvoyego) to вашего (vashego).

  • Могу ли я позвать своего друга? 
    Mogu li ya pozvat svoyego druga?
    “Can I invite my friend?”

8. Asking for Information About Something: What is/was…?

With these Russian sentence patterns, you’ll be able to ask about many core things. For instance:

  • Что это? 
    Chto eto?
    “What is it?”
  • Как его зовут? 
    Kak ego zovut?
    “What is his name?”

If you’re interested in a girl’s name, use её (yeyo) instead of его (ego) in this Russian sentence.

  • Какое блюдо мы ели в последний раз? 
    Kakoye blyudo my yeli v posledniy raz?
    “What was the dish we had the last time?”
  • Какой сегодня день? 
    Kakoy segodnya den’?
    “What is the day today?”
  • Какой твой любимый цвет? 
    Kakoy tvoy lyubimyy tsvet?
    “What is your favorite color?”

In a formal situation or when talking to an older person, say ваш (vash), not твой (tvoy).

A Man and Woman Talking on a Date

Asking questions helps you sound interested in another person while talking to him or her.

9. Asking About Time: When is…?

To ask a question in Russian about the time, use the following sentence patterns:

  • Когда встреча? 
    Kogda vstrecha?
    “When is the meeting?”
  • Когда наш рейс? 
    Kogda nash reys?
    “When is our flight?”
  • Когда мы пойдём на море?
    Kogda my poydyom na more?
    “When will we go to the sea?”
  • Когда они наконец поженятся и заведут детей?
    Kogda oni nakonets pozhenyatsya i zavedut detey?
    “When will they marry and have children?”
  • Когда я уснул? 
    Kogda ya usnul?
    “When did I fall asleep?”

If you’re a woman, say уснула (usnula) instead of уснул (usnul).

10. Asking About Location or Position: Where is…?

Knowing the following Russian sentence structure and patterns, you’ll never get lost. They’ll also help you keep conversations going. Remember these examples:

  • Где лифт? 
    Gde lift?
    “Where is the elevator?”
  • Где ближайший ресторан?
    Gde blizhayshiy restoran?
    “Where is the nearest restaurant?”
  • Где родился Джек Лондон?
    Gde rodilsya Dzhek London?
    “Where was Jack London born?”
  • Где у вас тут туалет? 
    Gde u vas tut tualet?
    Gde u vas tut tualet?
  • Где лучше подстричься?
    Gde luchshe podstrich’sya?
    “Where should I cut my hair?”
The Red Square in Moscow

You should definitely know these questions if you go to Russia! 

11. Conclusion

In this article, you learned the top Russian language sentence structures every beginner should know. Each pattern in this article is correct and useful. 

Of course, there are many more speech constructions, and one article isn’t enough to name all of them. What we covered today should give you a good headstart and increase your speaking and writing level. If you want to learn more basic Russian sentence patterns to practice, visit RussianPod101.com. Here you’ll find a great deal of expressions for both beginners and advanced learners.

We also suggest that you use our premium service MyTeacher. If you choose to do so, a native Russian speaker will teach you, correct your mistakes, and test your knowledge. We’re sure that this method of studying will be the most efficient for you!

Feel free to let us know in the comments if you have any questions or need to know another sentence pattern!

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Looking to the Future: Day of National Unity in Russia


How much hardship can a single country endure? 

Take a brief look at Russian history, and you’ll find that a country can survive just about anything as long as its people remain united. From Polish invasion to the so-called Time of Troubles, Russia underwent quite a series of destructive events in the seventeenth century—and eventually made it to the other side intact as a nation.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of this history with you and talk about the importance of National Unity Day in Russia. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is National Unity Day?


Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin Commemoration Statue in Russia

The Russian National Day of Unity, celebrated each year on 4 ноября (4 nayabrya), or November 4, commemorates the Russian defeat of Polish invaders in 1612. Led by national heroes Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, Russians from every class and walk of life joined together into one formidable force and thus defeated the Polish and retained their independence. Additionally, the holiday celebrates the end of the so-called Time of Troubles

Following the Russian victory, Mikhail Romanov took the throne as the new Czar and declared that a holiday be implemented to remember the events. He called it: “Day of Moscow’s Liberation from Polish Invaders.” It became an official holiday in 1649, but celebrations ceased in 1918, when the Великая Октябрьская революция (Velikaya Aktyabr’skaya revalyutsyya), or “Great October Revolution,” took place.

At this time, the government eradicated the current holiday and replaced it with a new one honoring the Great October Socialist Revolution. But in 2005, about fifteen years after the USSR collapsed, the original holiday was reimplemented and given the name National Day of Unity. 

Today, the holiday is celebrated not only to remember the events of 1612, but to encourage further unity amongst Russians. 


2. National Unity Day Traditions


In Russia, the Day of National Unity isn’t met with a lot of celebrations, likely because of how new it is. 

The biggest celebration for the Day of National Unity in Russia is the festive ceremony at the Grand Kremlin Palace. Some of Russia’s highest-ranking members of society are invited to attend. These include the Patriarch of Moscow, His Holiness Kirill I, government representatives, and people in the fields of culture and science. 

The President of Russia also offers awards to people who have benefited the country in some way. In particular, those who have contributed to the country’s peace and unity in a big way or have aided the country in its relations with other nations are considered highly valued members of society. 

On the side of the general population, people may host a fair, festival, or Концерт (kantsert), meaning “concert.” There may also be a Военный парад (voyennyy parad), or “military parade,” in larger cities. In addition, flowers are laid at national monuments and services are given. 

National Unity Day is considered a time for Благотворительность (blagatvaritel’nast’), or “charity.” Many Russians give to the poor or perform other charitable acts on this day.


3. A Shared Holiday


A Kite in the Air with Russian Flag Colors

The Day of National Unity in Russia shares its date with another important holiday. Do you know which holiday this is?

It’s called the Feast of Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky prayed to this icon and took it with them on their march. Each year, the churches do a special service dedicated to the Kazan icon.

    →Learn the names of different religions in Russian on our Religion vocabulary list.

4. Essential Vocabulary for National Unity Day


A Public Celebration for the Day of National Unity

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article!

  • Ноябрь (noyabr’) — “November”
  • Цветок (tsvetok) — “flower”
  • Концерт (kantsert) — “concert”
  • День народного единства (Den’ narodnava yedinstva) — “Day of National Unity”
  • Великая Октябрьская революция (Velikaya Aktyabr’skaya revalyutsyya) — “Great October Revolution”
  • Мемориал (memarial) — “memorial”
  • 4 ноября (4 nayabrya) — “November 4”
  • Военный парад (voyennyy parad) — “military parade”
  • Кузьма Минин (Kuz’ma Minin) — “Kuzma Minin”
  • Освобождение (asvabazhdeniye) — “emancipation”
  • Дмитрий Пожарский (Dmitriy Pazharskiy) — “Dmitry Pozharsky”
  • День воинской славы (Den’ voinskay slavy) — “Days of Military Honor”
  • Благотворительность (blagatvaritel’nast’) — “charity”
  • Митинг (mitink) — “rally”
  • Демонстрация (demanstratsyya) — “demonstration”

Remember that you can find each of these words and phrases, along with their pronunciation, on our Day of National Unity vocabulary list. 

Final Thoughts

Does your country have a holiday that encourages national unity? If so, how do you celebrate? Let us know in the comments! 

If you would like to learn more about Russian culture and the language, check out the following blog posts on RussianPod101.com:

And there’s much more where that came from! If you’re serious about becoming fluent in Russian, create your free lifetime account today. You’ll be speaking Russian in minutes and fluent before you know it. 

We hope to see you around! ;)

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