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Russian Phone Call Phrases for Everyday Use

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If you’re studying Russian as a foreign language, it’s important for you to practice your oral communication skills as regularly as possible. 

Speaking on the phone with native Russians is a great way to hone your speaking skills, become familiar with new words and expressions, and gain more confidence in yourself. But we understand that it can be a daunting task for language learners! 

To help you get a strong start, we’ve compiled a list of all the basic Russian phone call phrases you need to know. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be able to make and take phone calls in Russian with ease—whether you’re chatting with a friend or reserving a table at an upscale restaurant.

Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating the Reason for the Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending the Phone Call
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. Conclusion

1. Picking up the Phone

The first set of Russian phone call phrases you’ll need to know are those for greeting the caller. Here are a few standard greeting expressions you can use: 

  • Aлло. (Allo.) – “Hello.”
  • Я вас слушаю. (Ya vas slushayu.) – “I’m listening to you.”
  • Слушаю. (Slushayu.) – “I’m listening.”

A Woman Holding a Blue Handset

It’s said that 95% of Russian phone conversations start with Алло.

2. Saying Who You Are

Once you’ve greeted the caller, it’s time to introduce yourself. You can use any of the following Russian phone phrases for this:

  • Это ___. (Eto ___.) – “This is ___.”
  • Это говорит ___. (Eto govorit ___.) – “This is ___.”
  • Вас беспокоит ___. (Vas bespokoit ___.) – “This is ___.”

3. Stating the Reason for the Call

After introducing yourself, you’ll need to explain why you’re calling. There are several ways to do this, depending on the situation. These Russian phone call phrases and their English equivalents will be helpful:

  • Вы мне звонили. (Vy mne zvonili.) – “I’m returning your call.”
  • Я звоню, чтобы спросить / уточнить / подтвердить… (Ya zvonyu, chtoby sprosit’ / utochnit’ / podtverdit’…) – “I’m calling to ask / clarify / confirm…”
  • Мне нужно поговорить с кем-то насчёт… (Mne nuzhno pogovorit’ s kem-to naschyot…) – “I need to talk to somebody about…”

A Person Taking Notes

If you’re not confident in your knowledge of the Russian language, it’s a good idea to come up with what you’re going to say during the phone call in advance.

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

If there’s a specific person you’d like to speak to, you can use one of these basic Russian phone phrases to let the receiver know this: 

  • Я хочу поговорить с ___. (Ya hochu pogovorit’ s ___.) – “I want to talk to ___.”
  • Это ___? (Eto ___?) – “Is this ___?”
  • Могу я поговорить с ___? (Mogu ya pogovorit’ s ___?) – “May I talk to ___?”
  • Пожалуйста, позовите ___. (Pozhaluysta, pozovite ___.) – “Call ___, please.”

5. Asking Someone to Wait

If you receive a call and need some time to check something, you could ask the other person to wait by using one of these basic Russian phone phrases: 

  • Подождите минутку, я проверю. (Podozhdite minutku, ya proveryu.) – “Just a moment, let me check.”
  • Минуточку. (Minutochku.) – “Just a minute.” [very informal]
  • Вы подождёте немного? (Vy podozhdyote nemnogo?) – “Will you wait a bit?”
  • Не вешайте трубку. (Ne veshayte trubku.) – “Hold the line, please.”

A Woman Talking on the Phone and Checking the Time

If you’re really busy with something and will not be available in the next few minutes, don’t make the other person wait. It’s better to have him or her call you back.

6. Leaving a Message

If you’re unable to reach the person you wanted to speak with, you should be able to leave them a message. Here are a few ways you can leave a message over the phone in Russian:

  • Передайте ___, что… (Peredayte ___, chto…) – “Let ___ know that…”
  • Можете, пожалуйста, попросить [имя] перезвонить на номер [номер телефона]? (Mozhete, pozhaluysta, poprosit’ [imya] perezvonit’ na nomer [nomer telefona]?) – “Can you please tell [name] to call me back at [phone number]?”
  • Передайте ___, что я звонила/звонила. (Peredayte ___, chto ya zvonila/zvonila.) – “Please tell ___ that I’ve called.”

7. Asking for Clarification

As we mentioned earlier, it can be quite difficult for a non-native speaker to talk over the phone in Russian. If you fail to understand what the other person is saying, you can ask for clarification by using one of these simple Russian phone phrases: 

  • Можете, пожалуйста, повторить? (Mozhete, pozhaluysta, povtorit’?) – “Could you repeat, please?”
  • Вас плохо слышно. (Vas ploho slyshno.) – “I can’t hear you well.”
  • Я не расслышал / расслышала. (Ya ne rasslyshal / rasslyshala.) – “I didn’t hear.”
  • Пожалуйста, говорите погромче. (Pozhaluysta, govorite pogromche.) – “Speak louder, please.”

An Impatient Woman on the Phone

Talking to a Russian consultant using the Russian phone conversation phrases we’ve covered? Remember that he or she is probably overwhelmed with work, so be patient!

8. Ending the Phone Call

There are a few different ways you could end your phone call, depending on the situation. Below are several phrases you could use to sound polite and friendly while ending the conversation. 

  • Я могу вам чем-то ещё помочь? (Ya mogu vam chem-to eshchyo pomoch’?) – “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
  • Вы мне очень помогли, спасибо! (Vy mne ochen’ pomogli, spasibo!) – “You helped me a lot, thank you!”
  • Спасибо за помощь. (Spasibo za pomoshch’.) – “Thank you for your help.”
  • Увидимся в… (Uvidimsya v…) – “See you at…”
  • До встречи. (Do vstrechi.) – “See you.”
  • Хорошего дня / вечера. (Horoshego dnya / vechera.) – “Have a good day / evening.”
  • До свидания. (Do svidaniya.) – “Goodbye.”
  • Пока. (Poka.) – “Bye.”

9. Sample Phone Conversations

Now that you know quite a few Russian phone call phrases, it’s time to take it a step further. We’ve prepared two sample dialogues for you. The first one is an informal chat between two friends and the second one is a formal conversation between one of the friends and a cafe manager. You’ll see some of the phrases we’ve covered already in these dialogues, so be attentive while reading!

Conversation #1

Дима:
Алло.
Allo.
“Hello.”

Рома: 
Алло, Дима, это Рома.
Allo, Dima, eto Roma.
“Hello, Dima, this is Roma.”

Дима: 
Привет, Рома, рад тебя слышать! Как у тебя дела?
Privet, Roma, rad tebya slyshat’! Kak u tebya dela?
“Hello, Roma, glad to hear from you! How are you?”

Рома: 
Дела отлично, твои как?
Dela otlichno, tvoi kak?
“I’m fine, what about you?”

Дима:
пойдёт. Что нового?
Poydyot. Chto novogo?
“I’m okay. What’s new?”

Рома: 
Ничего особенного… Слушай, я тут хочу пообедать в субботу в новом кафе на Арбате. Называется «Кофебум». Может, слышал?
Nichego osobennogo… Slushay, ya tut hochu poobedat’ v subbotu v novom kafe na Arbate. Nazyvaetsya «Kofebum». Mozhet, slyshal?
“Nothing special… You know, I want to have lunch at a new cafe on Arbat on Saturday. It’s called Сoffeeboom. Have you heard about it?”

Дима: 
Да, я собирался туда сходить, но всё никак.
Da, ya sobiralsya tuda shodit’, no vsyo nikak.
“Yes, I was going to go there, but still haven’t.”

Рома: 
Здорово! Буду я, Женя и Макс. Ты пойдёшь с нами?
Zdorovo! Budu ya, Zhenya i Maks. Ty poydyosh’ s nami?
“Nice! There will be Zhenya, Max, and I. Will you join us?”

Дима: 
А во сколько вы собираетесь?
A vo skol’ko vy sobiraetes’?
“Well, what time are you going to meet?”

Рома: 
В три.
V tri.
“At three.”

Дима: 
Отлично, я как раз к этому времени освобожусь.
Otlichno, ya kak raz k etomu vremeni osvobozhus’.
“Nice, I’ll be free right by this time.”

Рома: 
Вот и договорились! Тогда до скорого.
Vot i dogovorilis’! Togda do skorogo.
“I guess we’ve got a deal. See you soon!”

Дима: 
До скорого!
Do skorogo!
“See you!”

Friends Having a Meal Together

Lunch with friends is certainly a good plan for Saturday!

Conversation #2

Екатерина: 
Кафе «Кофебум», на связи менеджер Екатерина, чем я могу вам помочь?
Kafe «Kofebum», na svyazi menedzher Ekaterina, chem ya mogu vam pomoch’?
“This is manager Ekaterina from Coffeeboom Cafe, what can I help you with?”

Рома: 
Здравствуйте, Екатерина, я хотел бы забронировать у вас столик на субботу.
Zdravstvuyte, Ekaterina, ya hotel by zabronirovat’ u vas stolik na subbotu.
“Hello, Ekaterina, I’d like to book a table for Saturday.”

Екатерина: 
Минутку… Какое время вас интересует?
Minutku… Kakoe vremya vas interesuet?
“Just a minute… What time are you interested in?”

Рома: 
Три часа дня.
Tri chasa dnya.
“Three in the afternoon.”

Екатерина:
Сколько будет гостей?
Skol’ko budet gostey?
“How many guests will be there?”

Рома: 
Четыре человека.
Chetyre cheloveka.
“Four people.”

Екатерина: 
На чьё имя бронировать?
Na ch’yo imya bronirovat’?
“For whom should I book?”

Рома: 
Роман.
Roman.
“For Roma.”

Екатерина: 
Хорошо, забронировала вам столик на имя Роман, на субботу, на три часа дня.
Horosho, zabronirovala vam stolik na imya Roman, na subbotu, na tri chasa dnya.
“Okay, I’ve made a reservation for Roma, on Saturday, at three in the afternoon.”

Рома: 
Всё верно, спасибо!
Vsyo verno, spasibo!
“That’s right, thank you!”

Екатерина: 
Будем вас ждать! До свидания.
Budem vas zhdat’! Do svidaniya.
“We’ll be waiting for you. Goodbye.”

Рома: 
До свидания.
Do svidaniya.
“Goodbye.”

10. Conclusion

In this guide, you’ve learned more than 30 Russian phone call phrases! You can use them to engage in simple dialogues, in both formal and informal situations. 

But don’t stop yet! 

There are many other Russian phone phrases for use in specific situations, not to mention a wealth of additional expressions and vocabulary to discover. 

If you’re serious about your studies and want to learn about the Russian language and culture in a fun, engaging manner, check out RussianPod101.com! We provide numerous study materials, including vocabulary lists and audio/video lessons for learners at every level. 

Struggling to get very far on your own? Then you might enjoy the benefits of our MyTeacher service. You can study with an experienced private tutor who speaks the language natively. They can help you better understand certain concepts and even help you with your pronunciation! 

Before you go: Have you ever made a phone call in Russian? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian

Basic Russian Words for Beginners: An Essential Minimum

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There are about 150,000 words in modern Russian. But worry not—even I, a native speaker, probably know only half of those words. (Difficult to count, you know?) 

Anyway, as a beginner in Russian, you’d need no more than 300-500 words to start expressing simple ideas. For this reason, our list of basic Russian words for beginners could be a good place for you to start.

On this list, you’ll find the essential vocabulary needed to talk about people, places, everyday objects and their attributes, and simple actions. You’ll learn how to count to ten and use your first prepositions to talk about location.

Make sure to check the intro chapter (How to Make the Most of this Beginner Vocabulary List) first, and then we’ll get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. How to Make the Most of this Beginner Vocabulary List
  2. Pronouns
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Numbers
  7. Adverbs
  8. Prepositions and Conjunctions
  9. Question Words
  10. What’s Next?

1. How to Make the Most of this Beginner Vocabulary List

Beginner words are like bricks for building basic sentences. But you can’t assemble a strong wall without some mortar—and in a language, this “mortar” is grammar. 

The relationships between words are much more complex in Russian than in English. It’s not always easy or practical to replace one word with another, and you need to have an idea of how words interact with each other in a sentence. 

You’ve probably heard that it’s better to learn vocabulary in chunks. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid learning separate words and cram full sentences instead, though some find this approach effective. But whenever looking up a word, it’s worth checking the dictionary entry notes and some example phrases to see how the word fits into a sentence. The word itself and its entourage often form collocations

Collocations define the word’s closest “friends.” For instance, if it’s a verb, it might have a preposition it’s usually used with: to be interested in, to rely on. If it’s an adjective, it could have its favorite intensifier: ridiculously expensive (and not completely), very tired (and not utterly).

And, again, let’s not forget about the grammar. Russian nouns, for example, have grammatical gender. The gender of a noun determines the ending of the adjective attached to it. Most prepositions assign a specific case to a noun, changing its ending as well. Yes, it’s all about the endings.

RussianPod101 keeps both of these aspects in mind. Most of our vocabulary lists include examples so you can see how each word functions in a sentence.

I’m not expecting a beginner to be familiar with Russian grammar yet. To make your life easier, I’ve mentioned some basic grammar features for every part of speech. Ideally, you should keep them in mind when trying to insert a word into a phrase. Otherwise, you might end up with a bunch of words that you have no idea what to do with. Those grammar notes are there just to give you an idea of what you could learn next. No need to push yourself; take it slowly.

Here’s your Beginner Words Toolkit that will help you get started:

➤ Our article Russian Grammar in a Nutshell for the basic characteristics of the main parts of speech

➤ A dictionary with simple collocations and/or example sentences. Why not try Yandex Translate or Linguee, for instance? 

➤ A flashcard tool to keep your vocabulary in order and to revise it on a regular basis

And, obviously, the list itself! ⬇

A Girl Studying Flashcards with Fruit Names on Them

Make flashcards for the new words you’re learning. You can quiz yourself by looking at one side of the card then flipping it to see the answer. Make sure you master both directions and don’t forget to shuffle the cards every day.

2. Pronouns

Pronouns are the first words you should add to your Russian beginner vocabulary base. It would be difficult to have a fluid conversation without them, as they reduce redundancy and help maintain flow. 

We’ll cover three types of Russian pronouns here: personal, demonstrative, and indefinite. 

Personal Pronouns

These change their form depending on the person, number, case, and (sometimes) gender. 

➤ We’ve carefully crafted a guide on Russian pronouns for those who want to know everything about them. (And a little bit more.)

PersonEnglishRussian
1st person singularIя (ya)
2nd person singularyou
[informal]
ты (ty
3rd person singularhesheitон (on)
она (ona)
оно (ono)
1st person pluralweмы (my)
2nd person pluralyou
 [formal and plural]
вы (vy)
3rd person pluraltheyони (oni)

Demonstrative Pronouns

These change their form depending on the number, case, and gender. 

EnglishRussian
masculinefeminineneuterplural
this / theseэтот (etot)эта (eta)это (eto)эти (eti)
that / thoseтот (tot)та (ta)то (to)те (te)

  • этот дом (etot dom) – “this house”
  • эти люди (eti lyudi) – “these people”
  • та машина (ta mashina) – “that car”

Indefinite Pronouns

These pronouns only inflect for case.

EnglishRussian
somebodyкто-то (kto-to)
somethingчто-то (chto-to)

A Woman with Her Family Ordering Something from a Bakery

Эти, пожалуйста. (Eti, pozhaluysta.) – “These ones, please.”

3. Nouns 

Russian nouns change their form depending on the gender, case, and number. Pay attention to the gender when looking a word up in a dictionary.

➤ We’ve done extensive research on noun behavior and summarized it in our Russian declension guide!

People

personчеловек (chelovek)
peopleлюди (lyudi)
manмужчина (muzhchina)
womanженщина (zhenshchina)
kidребёнок (rebyonok)
childrenдети (deti)
motherмама (mama)
fatherпапа (papa)
sisterсестра (sestra)
brotherбрат (brat)
daughterдочь (doch’)
sonсын (syn)
husbandмуж (muzh)
wifeжена (zhena)
familyсемья (sem’ya)
boyfriendпарень (paren’)
girlfriendдевушка (devushka)
friend [m]друг (drug)
friend [f]подруга (podruga)

➤ If you’d like to start talking about occupations as well, check out our list of the most common jobs.

Time 

You’ll notice that, unlike in English, we don’t capitalize the days of the week or—a spoiler for the future—the names of months. Also, the week in Russia starts on Monday.

minuteминута (minuta)
hourчас (chas)
dayдень (den’)
weekнеделя (nedelya)
monthмесяц (mesyats)
yearгод / лет (god / let)
  • один год (odin god) – “one year”
  • два года (dva goda) – “two years”
  • двадцать пять лет (dvadtsat’ pyat’ let) – “twenty-five years”
Год(а) is used with numbers ending in 1, 2, 3, 4
Лет is used with numbers ending in 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0
morning
in the morning
утро (utro)
утром (utrom)
afternoon
in the afternoon
день (den’)
днём (dnyom)
evening
in the evening
вечер (vecher)
вечером (vecherom)
night
at night
ночь (noch’)
ночью (noch’yu)
Mondayпонедельник (ponedel’nik)
Tuesdayвторник (vtornik)
Wednesdayсреда (sreda)
Thursdayчетверг (chetverg)
Fridayпятница (pyatnitsa)
Saturdayсуббота (subbota)
Sundayвоскресенье (voskresen’ye)

Talking about Days in Russian

Food & Restaurant

fruitфрукты (frukty)
vegetablesовощи (ovoshchi)
waterвода (voda)
coffeeкофе (kofe)
teaчай (chay)
juiceсок (sok)
breadхлеб (hleb)
riceрис (ris)
pastaмакароны (makarony)
saladсалат (salat)
meatмясо (myaso)
fishрыба (ryba)
dessertдесерт (desert)
tableстол (stol)
chairстул (stul)
spoonложка (lozhka)
forkвилка (vilka)
knifeнож (nozh)
glassстакан (stakan)
menuменю (menyu)

➤ Learn in three minutes how to make an order in a Russian restaurant.

A Table Filled with Several Dishes of Different Foods

Name in Russian as many objects as you can find here!

Places

worldмир (mir)
countryстрана (strana)
city townгород (gorod)
streetулица (ulitsa)
houseдом (dom)
shopмагазин (magazin)
restaurantресторан (restoran)
hotelотель (otel’)
downtownцентр города (tsentr goroda)
police stationполиция (politsiya)
hospitalбольница (bol’nitsa)
airportаэропорт (aeroport)
schoolшкола (shkola)
universityуниверситет (universitet)
companyкомпания (kompaniya)
toiletsтуалет (tualet)
seaморе (more)
mountainгора (gora)
forestлес (les)
placeместо (mesto)

➤ Learning how to ask for directions in Russian will help you not get lost while exploring the city! 

Basic Items

phoneтелефон (telefon)
PC laptopкомпьютер (komp’yuter)
the internetинтернет (internet)
penручка (ruchka)
pencilкарандаш (karandash)
bookкнига (kniga)

Means of Transport

carмашина (mashina)
busавтобус (avtobus)
trainпоезд (poyezd)
planeсамолёт (samolyot)
taxiтакси (taksi)
bicycleвелосипед (velosiped)
subwayметро (metro)

Body Parts

headголова (golova)
eyeглаз (glaz)
noseнос (nos)
mouthрот (rot)
toothзуб (zub)
earухо (uho)
hairволосы (volosy)
arm handрука (ruka)
leg footнога (noga)
finger toeпалец (palets)
stomachживот (zhivot)

➤ If you happen to need a list of body parts in order to talk to a Russian doctor, we’ve got you covered: Most Useful Phrases for Talking to Your Doctor.

Conversation

questionвопрос (vopros)
answerответ (otvet)
wordслово (slovo)
phraseфраза (fraza)
ideaидея (ideya)

A Student Raising Her Hand in Class

У меня вопрос! (U menya vopros!) – “I have a question!”

4. Verbs

There are two types of regular verbs in Russian, plus the irregular ones. They change their form depending on the tense, mood, and aspect; sometimes, they can conjugate for number and gender as well. 

➤ If all these linguistic terms sound too confusing, we’ve broken down Russian verb conjugation into digestible pieces in one of our articles.

When looking up a verb in a dictionary, pay attention to whether there’s any preposition that comes with the verb as well as how the noun changes next to it. Knowing the aspect—perfective or imperfective—can also be useful at times, but let’s save that for later. 

Reverso Conjugator can help you with the verb forms if needed.

With that out of the way, here are the most useful Russian beginner verbs: 

to go (on foot)идти (idti)
to ride to driveехать (yehat’)
to comeприходить (prihodit’)
to arrive
(on a vehicle)
приезжать (priyezzhat’)
to go awayуходить (uhodit’)
to departуезжать (uyezzhat’)
to loveлюбить (lyubit’)
to likeнравиться (nravit’sya)
to wantхотеть (hotet’)
to be able toмочь (moch’)
to do to makeделать (delat’)
to readчитать (chitat’)
to writeписать (pisat’)
to speak to talkговорить (govorit’)
to listenслушать (slushat’)
to hearслышать (slyshat’)
to askспрашивать (sprashivat’)
to replyотвечать (otvechat’)
to knowзнать (znat’)
to rememberпомнить (pomnit’)
to forgetзабывать (zabyvat’)
to seeвидеть (videt’)
to watchсмотреть (smotret’)
to thinkдумать (dumat’)
to understandпонимать (ponimat’)
to takeбрать (brat’)
to giveдавать (davat’)
to searchискать (iskat’)
to findнаходить (nahodit’)
to showпоказывать (pokazyvat’)
to waitждать (zhdat’)
to beginначинать (nachinat’)
to continueпродолжать (prodolzhat’)
to finishзаканчивать (zakanchivat’)
to seemказаться (kazat’sya)
to decideрешать (reshat’)
to allowразрешать (razreshat’)
to forbidзапрещать (zapreshchat’)
to tryпробовать (probovat’)
to sleepспать (spat’)
to eatесть (yest’)
to drinkпить (pit’)
to workработать (rabotat’)
to restотдыхать (otdyhat’)

5. Adjectives

Russian adjectives “agree” with nouns and change their form depending on the gender, number, and case. In dictionaries, all Russian adjectives are masculine. To combine them with feminine nouns, for example, you’d need to slightly change the ending.

➤ We’ve covered these aspects in detail in our article about the top 100 Russian adjectives.

goodхороший (horoshiy)
badплохой (plohoy)
bigбольшой (bol’shoy)
smallмаленький (malen’kiy)
cheapдешёвый (deshovyi)
expensiveдорогой (dorogoy)
longдлинный (dlinnyi)
shortкороткий (korotkiy)
beautiful
handsome
красивый (krasivyi)
ugly
scary
страшный (strashnyi)
simple
light
лёгкий (lyogkiy)
difficultсложный (slozhnyi)
fastбыстрый (bystryi)
slowмедленный (medlennyi)
importantважный (vazhnyi)
favoriteлюбимый (lyubimyi)
newновый (novyi)
oldстарый (staryi)
youngмолодой (molodoy)
fat
thick
толстый (tolstyi)
thin [person][object]худой (hudoyтонкий (tonkiy)
strongсильный (sil’nyi)
weakслабый (slabyi)
kindдобрый (dobryi)
angry evilзлой (zloy)
hotгорячий (goryachiy)
coldхолодный (holodnyi)
sweetсладкий (sladkiy)
saltyсолёный (solyonyi)
spicyострый (ostryi)
deliciousвкусный (vkusnyi)
blackчёрный (chyornyi)
whiteбелый (belyi)
blueсиний (siniy)
redкрасный (krasnyi)
greenзелёный (zelyonyi)
firstпервый (pervyi)
lastпоследний (posledniy)
sameтакой же (takoy zhe)
differentдругой (drugoy)
the bestлучший (luchshiy)
the worstхудший (hudshiy)

A Blue Car

Come up with at least four Russian adjectives to describe this car!

6. Numbers

Numbers also agree with nouns and change their form depending on the case.

1один (odin)
2два (dva)
3три (tri)
4четыре (chetyre)
5пять (pyat’)
6шесть (shest’)
7семь (sem’)
8восемь (vosem’)
9девять (devyat’)
10десять (desyat’)

➤ If that seems too easy, try learning how to count to 100!

7. Adverbs

Adverbs are the least troublesome of the bunch. They’re satisfied with their initial form, so most of them don’t decline. The only exception is when they “compete” and form the degrees of comparison. 

yesterdayвчера (vchera)
todayсегодня (segodnya)
tomorrowзавтра (zavtra)
lateпоздно (pozdno)
earlyрано (rano)
soonскоро (skoro)
primarilyсначала (snachala)
thenпотом (potom)
neverникогда (nikogda)
rarelyредко (redko)
sometimesиногда (inogda)
oftenчасто (chasto)
alwaysвсегда (vsegda)
hereздесь (zdes’)
тут (tut)
thereтам (tam)
everywhereвезде (vezde)
insideвнутри (vnutri)
outsideснаружи (snaruzhi)
maybeможет быть (mozhet byt’)
alsoтоже (tozhe)
many 
much
много (mnogo)
few 
little
мало (malo)

8. Prepositions and Conjunctions

Prepositions change the case of the noun they combine with. 

➤ Check out our article on Russian prepositions to witness it firsthand!

inв (v)
onна (na)
underпод (pod)
aboveнад (nad)
withс (s)
withoutбез (bez)
aboutо (o)
fromот (ot)
untilдо (do)
nearоколо (okolo)
throughчерез (cherez)
afterпосле (posle)
andи (i)
orили (ili)
butно (no)
becauseпотому что (potomu chto)
that’s whyпоэтому (poetomu)

9. Question Words

The final set of Russian beginner words we’ll look at today are question words. They can be used either at the beginning of a question or independently.

  • Что ты сказал? (Chto ty skazal?) – “What did you say?”
  • Что? (Chto?) – “What?”

Who?Кто? (Kto?)
What?Что? (Chto?)
Where?Где? (Gde?)
When?Когда? (Kogda?)
At what time?Во сколько? (Vo skol’ko?)
Why?Почему? (Pochemu?)
What for?Зачем? (Zachem?)
How?Как? (Kak?)
Where to?Куда? (Kuda?)
Which one?Какой? (Kakoy?)
Whose?Чей? (Chey?)
How much?
How many?
Сколько? (Skol’ko?)

A Woman Chatting on the Phone and Smiling

Где встретимся? (Gde vstretimsya?) – “Where shall we meet?”

10. What’s Next?

How many words do you think we’ve covered in this article? Almost 300! 

How many of these were new to you? And, more importantly, how do you remember all of them now?

Again, there’s little point in learning separate words without studying how to combine them. It would be like looking at a pile of bricks without knowing how to use them to build a house. So, don’t forget about the grammar, try to learn words in chunks, study the dictionary entry notes, and check some example sentences. Later on, you’ll be able to see the patterns yourself and predict the behavior of a word.

Also, using flashcards and spaced repetition has been proven effective in remembering words. New neural connections in your brain build through repetition, so don’t shy away from getting back to your vocabulary list every now and then. Producing new words—for example, writing your own sentences with them—and recognizing them in texts or speech helps with retention as well. This means that graded reading and listening will make them stick even faster! 

That’s where our teachers could help you. You can get a private tutor with RussianPod101’s Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher. Your tutor will help you choose a pathway to begin your Russian journey. Feel free to ask them anything about Russian grammar, vocabulary, or culture—they’re there to help you! You can also opt to receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and even voice recording tasks to improve your skills. Too many benefits to fit in one paragraph. Just give it a try!

➤ Eager to learn more? RussianPod101 has lots to offer! 

  • Check our collection of Core Russian Words with audio and example sentences.
    You can learn up to 2000 of the most common Russian words!

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 to unravel its mysteries together.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian

Mind the Gap: 15 Russian Filler Words

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Filler words. They come to the rescue when you run out of words. Sometimes, literally. They’re there when you hesitate with your answer, stutter trying to cover a lie, or…um just need a second to think. 

Today, we’ll be talking about Russian filler words and how to use them. But first, let’s set the stage… Let’s say I asked you to name out loud five movies with Matt Damon. Yes, right now. For real. 

Done? 

What was the sound you made when you were (painfully) trying to remember the fifth one? That’s a filler. 

I’m sure you could come up with at least a couple more filler words yourself if I told you they pop up whenever you stammer. And I bet “like” or “um” would be the first ones to cross your mind! And you’d be right. That’s the type of word we’ll be talking about today.

Contrary to common belief, filler words are not useless. They express hesitation, impatience, and surprise. They give you some time to gather your thoughts. And today, you’ll learn the top 15 Russian filler words and get a step closer to fluency. 

Filler words are extremely common, and knowing them is key to understanding native Russian speakers. Not to mention that it’s very common for even intermediate and advanced learners of Russian to just thoughtlessly insert a filler from their native language here and there. Voilà. Love it!

In this article, you’ll learnabout the functions of fillers, take an in-depth look into our list of Russian filler words, and find out some ways you can substitute—or even completely omit—fillers when speaking. Well, get ready to take notes!

A Woman Standing in Front of a Chalkboard and Thinking

Um… Yes! The Martian as well!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. What are filler words?
  2. The 15 Most Common Russian Fillers
  3. Are Filler Words Our Friends?
  4. What’s Next?

1. What are filler words?

Filler words (or fillers) are words and sounds that we use to fill pauses while speaking. They send a signal to our partner that we haven’t finished our thought yet and just need more time to find the right words. 

Some filler words serve as a link between two ideas. But they’re more decorative than they are meaningful. In this regard, they’re similar to transition words. (Basically, the first word in this sentence is a transition word, just to give you an example.)

In some cases, fillers provide clues about the speaker’s emotions and attitude: uncertainty, hesitation, impatience, you name it. And no, it’s not only about negative emotions. Fillers can also help you gently approach delicate topics, for example, or let your partner know that you’re about to say something.

Types of Russian Filler Words

We can divide Russian fillers into two groups: linking words and “parasite words.”

Linking words are the transition words we mentioned earlier. They serve as a “bridge” that facilitates the transition from one idea to another. Even though, technically, you won’t lose much by removing them from a sentence, they’re still common in speech as well as writing. If you wrote essays in school, I bet you’re quite familiar with the concept of connecting two ideas.

Parasite words are junk words and sounds that serve no purpose other than filling the gaps in your speech. They’re harmless if not overused, but an excess of parasite words in your speech makes it interrupted and hard to follow. For this reason, most public speaking coaches recommend keeping them in check. I mean, no need to be a psycholinguist to notice the attitude we have toward parasite words. Just look at the name.

A Woman Trying to Understand What a Man Is Saying

“He’s really hard to follow…”
What “parasite words” do you know in your language?

2. The 15 Most Common Russian Fillers

Below, you’ll find both linking words and parasite words. Try your linguistic hunch at deciding which word belongs to which group. A tiny hint: If the word can be removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence at all, it’s a junk word. 

Also, pay attention to the punctuation. Russian fillers are often separated from the rest of the sentence with commas. 

#1

Ну (nu)“Well”
[often used before giving an answer to a question or to summarize]
Russian– Почему опоздал?
– Ну, я проспал.
Ну, я пошёл.
Romanization(Pochemu opozdal?)
(Nu, ya prospal.)
(Nu, ya poshyol.)
English“Why are you late?”
“Well, I overslept.”
“Well, I’m off.” [leaving]

#2

Слушай (slushay) “Listen”[used to attract attention before a question or an offer; informal]
Слушай, ты сейчас дома? Я к тебе заеду.
(Slushay, ty seychas doma? Ya k tebe zayedu.)
“Listen, are you home now? I’ll drop by.”

Слушайте (slushayte) is the formal version of it. It can also be used when addressing several people.

Слушайте, а давайте сходим в кино?
(Slushayte, a davayte skhodim v kino?)
“Listen, why don’t we go to the movies?” [formal or plural]

Слышь (slysh’) is a vulgar version of the first two. If you want to put on the face of a bad guy, go ahead with this one; otherwise, you’d sound blatantly rude. It is, however, a common slang term among not-the-most-polite guys who you might encounter in certain suburbs of large Russian cities. Anyway, if anybody’s addressing you this way, I’d refrain from interacting with them. Let me tell you, the communication is not going to be friendly.

#3

В общем (v obshchem) – “Bottom line” / “In short”[used to summarize; emotionally neutral]
Мы расстались. В общем, упустил я свой шанс.
(My rasstalis’. V obshchem, upustil ya svoy shans.)
“We broke up. Bottom line, I missed my chance.”
Надоело с ним ругаться. В общем, хватит с меня.
(Nadoyelo s nim rugat’sya. V obshchem, khvatit s menya.)
“I’m tired of arguing with him all the time. In short, I’ve had enough.”

#4

Короче (koroche) – “So” / “Long story short”
or Короче говоря (koroche govorya)
[used to summarize; can sometimes imply impatience]
Короче, был у меня друг…
(Koroche, byl u menya drug…)
“So, I had this friend once…”

Мне позвонили из той компании. Короче, меня не взяли на работу. 
(Mne pozvonili iz toy kompanii. Koroche, menya ne vzyali na rabotu.)
“I got a call from that company. Long story short, I didn’t get the job.”

#5

Так вот (tak vot) – “So”
[used to refer to a previous piece of information]
Помнишь его сына? Так вот, он поступил в Оксфорд. 
(Pomnish’ ego syna? Tak vot, on postupil v Oksford.)
“Do you remember his son? So he got into Oxford.”
Помнишь дом, который я тебе показывал? Так вот, мы его купили.
(Pomnish’ dom, kotoryy ya tebe pokazyval? Tak vot, my yego kupili.)
“Do you remember the house I showed you the other day? So we bought it after all.”

#6

Так сказать (tak skazat’) – “So to speak”
[used when one cannot come up with a better word]
Она выиграла в лотерею. Повезло, так сказать.
(Ona vyigrala v lotereyu. Povezlo, tak skazat’.)
“She won the lottery. Lucky, so to speak.”
Я решил искать другую работу. Хочу сменить обстановку, так сказать.
(Ya reshil iskat’ druguyu rabotu. Khochu smenit’ obstanovku, tak skazat’.)
“I’ve decided to look for another job. I need a change of scenery, so to speak.”

#7

В принципе (v printsipe) – “Basically” / “Technically” / “As far as it goes”
[used to skip over some details or look at the bigger picture]
Мне, в принципе, больше нечего сказать. 
(Mne, v printsipe, bol’she nechego skazat’.)
“Technically, I have nothing more to say.”
В принципе, мне здесь нравится.
(V printsipe, mne zdes’ nravitsya.)
“As far as it goes, I like it here.”

#8

И всё такое (i vsyo takoye) – “And that sort of thing” / “And so on”
[used to imply more things of the same kind]
Он жалуется, что ему некогда и всё такое.
(On zhaluyetsya, chto yemu nekogda i vsyo takoye.)
“He’s complaining that he doesn’t have time and that sort of thing.”
Хочу на Мальдивы: пляж, море, солнце и всё такое.
(Khochu na Mal’divy: plyazh, more, solntse i vsyo takoye.)
“I want to go to the Maldives because of the beach, the sea, the sun, and so on.”

A Guy Playing a Game on His Computer

«Он жалуется, что ему некогда и всё такое…»
What’s been keeping him busy?
Try to answer in Russian!

#9

Как-то так. (Kak-to tak.) – “That’s about it.”
or Вот как-то так. (Vot kak-to tak.)
[used as an independent sentence; concludes an explanation; means “That’s the end of my thought.”]
Как ты нашёл эту работу?
– Как обычно. Увидел объявление, отправил резюме, прошёл собеседование. Как-то так.
– (Kak ty nashyol etu rabotu?)
– (Kak obychno. Uvidel ob’yavleniye, otpravil rezyume, proshyol sobesedovaniye. Kak-to tak.)
– “How did you find this job?”
– “As usual. I saw the posting, sent my CV, and passed the interview. That’s about it.”

#10

Просто (prosto) – “Just”
[used when looking for an excuse; the speaker might feel guilty]
Я просто подумал, что так будет лучше.
(Ya prosto podumal, chto tak budet luchshe.)
“I just thought it would be better this way.”
Я просто проходил мимо.
(Ya prosto prokhodil mimo.)
“I was just passing by.”

#11

Это… (eto) “Um” / “You know” / “Well”
or Это самое… (eto samoye)
[used when the speaker is really struggling to find the right words or delaying their reply as long as they can]
Я это… передумал.
(Ya eto… peredumal.)
“You know, I…um…changed my mind.”
Я его это самое… Выкинул.
(Ya yego eto samoye… Vykinul.)
“I…well…I threw it away.”

#12

Типа (tipa) – “Like” / “Sort of”
[used when the speaker is being slightly sarcastic about their own words; sometimes just a junk word]
Мы с ним типа «друзья».
(My s nim tipa druz’ya.)
“We are, like, ‘friends’.”
Типа того. (Tipa togo.) – “Something like that.” / “Sort of.”
– Так вы с ним друзья?
– Типа того.
– (Tak vy s nim druz’ya?)
– (Tipa togo.)
– “So you’re friends?”
– “Sort of.”

#13

Как бы (kak by) – “Kinda” / “Sort of”
[similar to “типа” and pretty often used as simply a junk word]
Не мешайте! Мы тут как бы работаем.
(Ne meshayte! My tut kak by rabotayem.)
“Don’t disturb us! We’re kinda working here.”
Я как бы его помощник.
(Ya kak by ego pomoshchnik.)
“I’m kinda his assistant.”

#14

Блин (blin) – “D*mn” [lit. “pancake”]
[mild expletive]
[might get out of hand as it can be inserted anywhere in the sentence; breaks the flow completely]
Я, блин, никак не могу до него дозвониться.
(Ya, blin, nikak ne mogu do nego dozvonit’sya.)
“D*mn, I still can’t get through to him.”
Я, блин, везде, блин, поискал уже, блин.
(Ya, blin, vezde, blin, poiskal uzhe, blin.)
“D*mn, I’ve already d*mn looked in every single d*mn place!”

#15

Э-э-э… (e-e-e) – “Er”
[sound of perplexity or active thinking]
– Ты дом закрыл?
– Э-э-э… Вроде да.
– Столица Аргентины?
– Э-э-э… Сантьяго? Нет, Буэнос-Айрес!
– (Ty dom zakryl?)
– (E-e-e… vrode da.)
– (Stolitsa Argentiny?)
– (E-e-e… Sant’yago? Net, Buenos-Ayres!)
– “Did you lock the house?”
– “Er… Yes, I guess.”
– “What’s the capital of Argentina?”
– “Erm… Santiago? No, Buenos Aires!”

A Businessman Looking at His Wristwatch and Talking on the Phone with a Concerned Look on His Face

Which of the previous examples describes this situation well?

3. Are Filler Words Our Friends?

Short answer—yes and no. Sorry for the ambiguity. 

If you check again the functions of filler words, you’ll see that sometimes they can help you out. Using Russian fillers in your conversations with native speakers can signal to your partner that you’re about to say something or need some time to let your brain catch up with your tongue. 

Some fillers are like good red wine: a bit bitter, but probably harmless if used in moderation. (Excessive use, on the other hand, will have some consequences.) And yeah, it might also help your speech flow. We all become eloquent under the spell of wine.

The parasite words though… You should probably wave them goodbye. They bring nothing to the table and litter your speech if overused. And in many formal situations, such as interviews and public speeches, they can make you sound more hesitant and less confident. 

Should you study Russian filler words anyway? 

That’s a yes. Even if you’re not going to use them yourself, you’ll hear them a lot. 

RussianPod101 has some tips for you on how to Improve Your Listening Skills. Make sure to read through them if you feel like listening isn’t your strongest suit (yet).

But if you do decide to cut some filler words from your speech…

Here are some ideas to help you “purify” your speech. These tips actually helped me limit the use of “ну” back in the day. It was my personal favorite. These tips might be useful for your native language as well!

  • First of all, you need to learn how to spot your junk words. For this, you can read a short text (a news article, for instance) and then summarize it out loud while recording yourself. When listening to your recording, mark all the fillers you hear. Focus on the one that pops up the most. You’ll work at reducing its use in your speech from now on. 
  • Record yourself one more time now, paying attention to limit that one word you’ve chosen. Listen again. Is it already getting better? Repeat as many times as you need.

Don’t try to get rid of all the small imperfections in your speech at once. It’d make you too self-conscious, and you might start stuttering. That’s not our goal. Pick one word and stick to it.


  • Also, you can ask a friend or relative to poke you every time you use the “forbidden” word. 
  • Don’t be scared of pauses. “Awkward” is not the only adjective for “silence” in a conversation. Make it meaningful, resting, calming. You choose.
  • Try to use shorter sentences. Even simple ideas, when stacked, will need some linking eventually. Your convo partner will also benefit from having the info split into digestible chunks.
  • Calm down. You might overuse junk words when you’re anxious, hesitant, or preoccupied. Slow down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Think about speaking slower. It’ll give your brain more time to process the information before you put it into words.
  • Use more meaningful synonyms. When you do need some time to think, instead of “это…” or “э-э-э…” (which don’t make you sound very smart), you can use:

Дай(те) подумать… (Day-te podumat’…) – “Let me think…” [informal / formal]
Минутку. (Minutku.) – “Just a moment.”
Я думаю… (Ya dumayu…) – “I think…”
Мне кажется… (Mne kazhetsya…) – “It seems to me…”

And, again, no need to aim at 100% purity. Even if you decide to say goodbye to some junk words, don’t turn them into your foes. They’ll keep popping up here and there anyway, it’s only natural. Remember: perfectionism and eloquence rarely go hand in hand.

➤ Feel free to also check out RussianPod101’s advice on How to Improve Your Speaking Skills.

Someone Holding a Pair of Scissors and Getting Ready to Cut a Red Ribbon

Cut your junk words one at a time.

4. What’s Next?

To sum it all up, we use fillers when we hesitate, look for the right words, or want to connect two ideas. Native speakers mostly use filler words spontaneously and unconsciously. If you want to insert them in your speech as well, be prepared to make some deliberate efforts at first. Just don’t get carried away and drop an occasional filler from your native language. Keep it Russian till the end!

Also, remember to not overuse the fillers. Yes, most of them do serve as linking words, but an overabundance of them will make your message difficult to follow. If you feel like you need some help getting rid of the fillers in your speech, here’s some advice:

1) Start cutting them one by one by being more conscious of what you say.
2) Try altering the speed of your speech.

And don’t become desperate in your pursuit of perfection! 

So, how many Russian filler words out of our top 15 can you recall from memory? Don’t peek into your notes just yet! To practice, start using two or three fillers in your Russian sentences or at least try to notice them in the speech of Russian speakers.

By the way, if you happen to have more questions about Russian filler words, our teachers will help you dispel any doubts. With MyTeacher, a Premium PLUS service from RussianPod101, you get personal 1-on-1 coaching with a tutor. Feel free to ask anything about Russian grammar, vocabulary, or culture—our teachers are there to help you! You can also opt to receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and even voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. Too many benefits to fit in one paragraph. Just give it a try!

Eager to learn more? RussianPod101 has lots to offer! 

  • Our vocabulary lists will equip you with more meaningful words to use between (or in place of) fillers. 
  • You should also check out our list of 20 essential Russian idioms that will make you sound like a native speaker. Some of them are really funny!
  • Our article of essential Russian Business Phrases will help you hesitate less during important meetings!

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 - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian

Russian Love Phrases: “I Love You,” in Russian & More

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Love is one of the best feelings ever, and it’s one that frequently cuts across international borders and cultural backgrounds. 

If a Russian has caught your eye or completely stolen your heart, learning even a few basic phrases in his or her language might just win them over. 

In this article, we’ll talk about everything from flirting to marriage and introduce you to the many ways you can say “I love you,” in Russian. You’ll learn the most common pick-up lines, how to express your abiding love in Russian, how to propose to that special someone, and more. 

Save these popular Russian love phrases for the person of your heart, and get ready for a whirlwind of romance! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-Up Lines and More
  2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More
  3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  4. Endearment Terms
  5. Must-Know Love Quotes
  6. Conclusion

1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-Up Lines and More

Before you learn how to say “I love you,” in Russian, you need to know how to start communicating with the person you like. The phrases below will help you make the right first impression. Keep in mind that girls almost never make the first move in Russia, so these expressions are appropriate for use by men only.

  • Девушка, можно с Вами познакомиться?
    Devushka, mozhno s Vami poznakomit’sya?
    “Can I get to know you better, girl?”

In English, it’s not common to start a conversation with this type of phrase, but it works well in Russian (despite being kind of a cliche). 

  • Вы очень красивая.
    Vy ochen’ krasivaya.
    “You’re very beautiful.”

This is one of the most popular compliments to offer a woman. You can use it in any informal situation, even as a conversation starter.

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

Keep in mind that this phrase is much less serious than “I love you,” in Russian. It’s used more like a compliment. Before saying it, make sure you know the girl quite well as it may sound weird coming from a stranger.

  • Я хочу пригласить тебя на свидание.
    Ya hochu priglasit’ tebya na svidaniye.
    “I’d like to ask you out.”

After you’ve gotten to know each other a bit more, it’s time to take bigger steps. For example, you might want to ask the girl out on a date using this phrase.

  • Давай поужинаем вместе?
    Davay pouzhinayem vmeste?
    “Let’s have dinner together.”

Here’s another good phrase to show your interest and make a date.

  • Потанцуешь со мной?
    Potantsuyesh’ so mnoy?
    “Would you like to dance with me?”

This question is suitable if you want to ask a girl to dance when at a club or a restaurant.

  • Я могу тебе позвонить?
    Ya mogu tebe pozvonit’?
    “May I call you?”

If you want to continue your acquaintance with the girl, then don’t hesitate to ask this question.

A Man Flirting with a Woman and Getting Her Number

Russian flirting rules are almost the same as anywhere else, so don’t be shy!

2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More

Sooner or later, you’ll fall in love deeply and will want to start talking about your feelings. There are many ways of saying “I love you,” in Russian, and we’ve picked out the very best for you. All of these phrases are appropriate for use by both men and women, so we’ve prepared both male and female versions where needed.

  • Я люблю тебя.
    Ya lyublyu tebya.
    “I love you.”

This is a classic, go-to phrase for expressing your love in Russian.

  • Я влюбился / влюбилась в тебя с первого взгляда.
    Ya vlyubilsya / vlyubilas’ v tebya s pervogo vzglyada.
    “I fell in love with you at first sight.”

You can use this romantic Russian phrase to really woo your partner. Remember: A man says “влюбился,” and a woman says “влюбилась.”

  • Я постоянно думаю о тебе.
    Ya postoyanno dumayu o tebe.
    “I’m thinking about you all the time.”

This is a sweet yet more casual way of declaring your love in Russian. You may use this expression even at the very beginning of your relationship.

  • Я схожу по тебе с ума.
    Ya skhozhu po tebe s uma.
    “I’m crazy about you.”

This one isn’t as common among Russians, and it sounds less trivial than the other love declarations we’ve covered so far. 

  • Я не могу без тебя жить.
    Ya ne mogu bez tebya zhit’.
    “I can’t live without you.”

We recommend only using this phrase when you’re in a serious relationship.

  • Ты – лучше всех на свете!
    Ty – luchshe vsekh na svete!
    “You are the best!” (literally, “You’re better than anyone else in the world!”)

This romantic Russian phrase shows that you really appreciate your partner as a person.

  • Я тебя обожаю.
    Ya tebya obozhayu.
    “I adore you.”

This is a very informal way of saying “I love you,” in Russian. You may say it at any stage of your relationship.

  • Ты мне очень нужна / нужен.
    Ty mne ochen’ nuzhna / nuzhen.
    “I need you very much.”

Saying this phrase is not as thrilling as saying “I love you,” in Russian, though they connote the same meaning. If you’re saying it to a girl, you should say “нужна,” and if your partner is a man, say “нужен.”

  • Я всегда рядом.
    Ya vsegda ryadom.
    “I’m always near.”

Saying this phrase shows that you care about your sweetheart, and that he or she can rely on you.

A Man Surprising a Woman with a Bouquet of Flowers

Never forget that actions are more important than words!

3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

Is your relationship getting serious? Are you thinking about taking steps toward a solid commitment with the man or woman of your dreams? Then there are a few more love phrases in Russian you should learn! The following expressions are universal, unless otherwise noted.

  • Я хочу познакомить тебя со своими друзьями.
    Ya khochu poznakomit’ tebya so svoimi druz’yami.
    “I want to introduce you to my friends.”

This is one of the first indicators for your sweetheart that your intention is really serious.

  • Я хочу познакомить тебя с моими родителями.
    Ya hochu poznakomit’ tebya s moimi roditelyami.
    “I want to introduce you to my parents.”

This phrase is much more serious than the previous one. It’s appropriate to say this to your partner after at least a few months of being in a relationship.

  • Давай жить вместе.
    Davay zhit’ vmeste.
    “Let’s live together.”

This is another phrase you should put off using until a bit later in your relationship, not at the very beginning. 

  • Ты выйдешь за меня?
    Ty vyydesh’ za menya?
    “Will you marry me?”

This expression is for use by men only! If you want to spend the rest of your life with your girlfriend, you can make a beautiful proposal with this phrase. Most women dream of hearing this phrase! 

  • Давай заведём ребёнка.
    Davay zavedyom rebyonka.
    “Let’s have a baby.”

This offer usually comes some time after the marriage proposal, and it’s really cute!

A Man Is Proposing to a Woman

Going to make a proposal? Don’t forget to turn your imagination on!

4. Endearment Terms

Couples from all over the world tend to address each other using cute nicknames, and Russians are no exception. Below, you’ll find some adorable pet names you can use with your lover. 

  • Дорогой / Дорогая
    Dorogoy / Dorogaya
    “My dear,” “Honey”

This term is popular among married couples. The first form is used to address a man, and the second to address a woman.

  • Родной / Pодная
    Rodnoy / Rodnaya
    “Honey”

This is an endearment term only used between people who are really close. Like in the previous example, the first form is for men, while the second is for women.

  • Моя любовь&
    Moya lyubov’
    “My love”

When they have been together for quite a long time, Russian couples like to address one another with the term “my love.”

  • Моя радость
    Moya radost’
    “My joy”

This term perfectly objectifies the happiness that another person brings into your life. 

  • Мой ангел
    Moy angel
    “My angel”

This sounds not only sweet, but also somewhat more significant than the previous phrases. 

  • Душа моя
    Dusha moya
    “My soul”

This is a term of deep affection. When you call somebody “my soul,” it means that this person is of great importance to you.

  • Солнышко
    Solnyshko
    “My sun,” “Sunny”

This is one of the most common words used to express affection in the Russian language.

  • Зайка
    Zayka
    “Bunny”

In most cases, this word is used toward girls. 

  • Котёнок
    Kotyonok
    “Kitten”

This word is also more appropriate when used toward girls, but some guys don’t mind being called a “kitten” either!

A Cat Hiding under a Bed

Before calling somebody “котёнок”… make sure your real cat is not very jealous!

5. Must-Know Love Quotes

Want some extra romance in your life? Watch the movie From Russia with Love, listen to some mood music, or…simply read these love quotes in Russian

  • Моё любимое место – рядом с тобой.
    Moyo lyubimoye mesto – ryadom s toboy.
    “Together with you is my favorite place to be.”
  • Если бы мне пришлось прожить эту жизнь снова, я бы нашел тебя раньше.
    Esli by mne prishlos’ prozhit’ etu zhizn’ snova, ya by nashyol tebya ran’she.
    “If I were to live my life again, I’d find you sooner.”
  • Если я знаю, что такое любовь, то только благодаря тебе.
    Esli ya znayu, chto takoye lyubov’, to tol’ko blagodarya tebe.
    “If I know what love is, it is because of you.”
  • Лучше любить и потерять, чем не любить вовсе.
    Luchshe lyubit’ i poteryat’, chem ne lyubit’ vovse.
    “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
  • Если любовь не безумна, то это не любовь.
    Yesli lyubov’ ne bezumna, to eto ne lyubov’.
    “When love is not madness, it is not love.”

6. Conclusion

In this article, you’ve learned how to say “I love you,” in Russian, as well as the most common and useful Russian love phrases. But as beautiful as these phrases are, there’s still a lot more to learn about Russian if you want to master the language of your lover’s heart. 

On RussianPod101.com, you’ll find tons of materials to help you communicate with your loved one. With a free lifetime account, you’ll gain access to tons of video and audio lessons, our themed vocabulary lists, and a variety of tools for effective learning and studying. 

Also, don’t forget to check out our Premium PLUS service MyTeacher. This service provides you with a tutor with whom you can work 1-on-1 to really achieve mastery over the language. He or she can teach you more romance phrases, for instance, and help you learn their pronunciation. 

Before you go: What pick-up line in Russian are you most likely to try? And which of the Russian endearment terms do you like the most? Please, let us know in the comments section below!

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Negation in Russian: Don’t Be a “Yes-man”

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about the new experiences and discoveries that the magic “yes”-word can draw us toward. But sometimes we have to say no. Be it an invitation to a boring party, your kid begging for a 57th toy at the store, or a fast-food clerk offering you extra double mustard for your burger. 

“No.”

With me, you’ll learn about the subtleties of negation in Russian. Together we’ll unearth the simple ways of negating words and statements, discuss the infamous double negation, and go over the most common negative words and expressions. I’ve also saved negation in questions and imperative sentences for last. You’ll be well-prepared, on all fronts!

A German Black Forest Cake

Can you say no to this?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. 3 Simple Ways to Say “No”
  2. Double Negation: Negative Pronouns and Adverbs
  3. Negation in Questions & Using the Negative Imperative
  4. More Typical Negative Phrases for the Road
  5. What’s Next?

1. 3 Simple Ways to Say “No”

Yes, you have some variety here. But don’t hold your breath: they’re not interchangeable, and each has its own function in the sentence.

1. НЕ (versatile simple negation)

We use не for simple negation. In other words, to make the opposite of a word. Just placing it in front of the word you want to negate will do the trick.

Verbs

  • Не думаю. – “I don’t think so.”
    (Ne dumayu)
  • Я его не вижу. – “I don’t see him.”
    (Ya yego ne vizhu)

Nouns

  • Это не кот, а собака. – “It’s not a cat, it’s a dog.”
    (Eto ne kot, a sobaka)
  • Это самолёт, а не птица. – “It’s a plane, not a bird.”
    (Eto samolyot, a ne ptitsa)

Pronouns

  • Это не я. – “It wasn’t me.”
    (Eto ne ya)
  • Это не его дом. – “That isn’t his house.”
    (Eto ne yego dom)

Numbers

  • Я тут не первый раз. – “It’s not my first time here.”
    (Ya tut ne pervyy raz)
  • Их не двое, а трое. – “There are three of them, not two.”
    (Ikh ne dvoye, a troye)

Adjectives

  • неинтересный фильм – “not an interesting movie”
    (neinteresnyy fil’m)
  • несмешная шутка – “not a funny joke”
    (nesmeshnaya shutka)

Adverbs

  • Это не всегда хорошо. – “That’s not always good.”
    (Eto ne vsegda khorosho)
  • Пушкин известен не только в России. – “Pushkin is famous not only in Russia.”
    (Pushkin izvesten ne tol’ko v Rossii)

You might’ve noticed that sometimes we separate the particle не from the other word, and sometimes we merge them. At this moment, just remember that we write не separately with most verbs, nouns, pronouns, and numbers. Adverbs and adjectives are much more capricious in this regard. It’s difficult to even sum it up in one paragraph, so let’s get back to it once you’ve leveled up to the advanced stage. That’s ‘simple’ negation, right?

2. НИ (strong negation)

This particle for strong Russian negation is mostly used for emphasis.

Rejecting both options

  • Мне не нравится ни то, ни другое. – “I don’t like either of them.”
    (Mne ne nravitsya ni to, ni drugoye)
  • Не хочу ни торт, ни печенье. – “I want neither cake, nor cookies.”
    (Ne khochu ni tort, ni pechen’ye)

“Not a single…”

  • Он ни разу не позвонил. – “He didn’t call even once.”
    (On ni razu ne pozvonil)
  • Она ни слова не сказала. – “She didn’t say (a single) word.”
    (Ona ni slova ne skazala)

“No matter…”

  • Как бы мы ни старались, ничего не получалось. – “No matter how hard we tried, nothing worked.”
    (Kak by my ni staralis’, nichego ne poluchalos’)
  • Я буду с тобой, что бы ни случилось. – “I’ll be with you no matter what.”
    (Ya budu s toboy, chto by ni sluchilos’)

НИ usually triggers a double negation. You can try to guess what this means by looking at the examples above, and then check the next chapter to see if you were right.

3. НЕТ (negation of the whole sentence)

Used as a negative reply.

  • – Ты дома? (Ty doma?) – “Are you home?”
    – Нет. (Net) – “No.”
  • – Кушать хочешь? (Kushat’ khochesh’?) – “Are you hungry?”
    – Нет. (Net) – “No.”

Нет is pretty neutral overall, but if you want to sound more polite in a formal setting, you can use: 

Нет, извините. (Net, izvinite) – “No, sorry.” 

Or:

Нет, спасибо. (Net, spasibo) – “No, thank you.”

A Black and White Cat with Green Eyes

That’s a dog. Am I right?
You can try to convince me otherwise in Russian.

2. Double Negation: Negative Pronouns and Adverbs

When the strong negation particle ни (or negative words starting with ни) is used together with the simple negation particle (не), this creates double negation in Russian. Negations stack up instead of canceling each other out. In a sense, it’s like a cumulative effect.

Let’s say you’re in a dark room and can only move by touch. In English, you’d say “I see nothing.” In Russian, it would be:

  • Я ничего не вижу. (Ya nichego ne vizhu) [lit. “I don’t see nothing.”] 

That’s how it works.

Double simple не, however, might have the opposite effect: they can be mutually destructive.

  • Я не мог не засмеяться. – “I couldn’t help but laugh.” [lit. “I couldn’t not laugh.”]
    (Ya ne mog ne zasmeyat’sya)
  • Не могу об этом не думать. – “I can’t stop thinking about it.” [lit. “I can’t not think about it.”]
    (Ne mogu ob etom ne dumat’)

Now, what are these negative words starting with ни? Grammatically speaking, some of them belong to pronouns and some—to adverbs. The biggest difference is that pronouns usually decline (change their form depending on the grammatical case) while adverbs don’t. But for your convenience, I’ve put them all in one place, and left a note as well.

Wiktionary can help you with the declensions. Just copy/paste or type the Russian word in the search box, then find “Declensions.” Try it out with the word “никто,” for instance.

Also, some negative pronouns and adverbs have a ‘sibling word’ with one letter that is different. The stréss shifts, changing the pronunciation of the word together with its meaning. Some of these words ‘take the wrong path’ and lose their negative attribute to become a completely new word.

Никтó (nikto) – “nobody” [declines]

Никто не пришёл. 
(Nikto ne prishyol)
“Nobody came.”
Нéкто (nekto) – “somebody unfamiliar / little-known”

Некто постучал в дверь. 
(Nekto postuchal v dver’)
“Somebody knocked.”
Никогó (nikogo) – “nobody” [“никто” in Genitive]

Дома никого нет. 
(Doma nikogo net) 
“There is nobody home.”
Нéкого (nekogo) – “there is nobody to…” [declines]

Ей некого позвать на день рождения. 
(Yey nekogo pozvat’ na den’ rozhdeniya)
“She has nobody to invite to her birthday.”

❗️no double negation with “некого”
Ничтó (nichto) – “nothing” [declines]

Ничто его не беспокоит. 
(Nichto yego ne bespokoit)
“Nothing worries him.”
Нéчто (nechto) – “something”

У меня уже есть нечто подобное.
(U menya uzhe yest’ nechto podobnoye)
“I already have something similar.”
Ничегó (nichego) – “nothing” [“ничто” in Genitive]

Ничего не осталось. 
(Nichego ne ostalos’)
“There’s nothing left.”
Нéчего (nechego) – “to have nothing to…” [declines]

Мне нечего надеть. 
(Mne nechego nadet’)
“I have nothing to wear.”

❗️no double negation with “нечего”
Нигдé (nigde) – “nowhere”

Его нигде нет. 
(Yego nigde net)
“He’s nowhere to be found.”
Нéгде (negde) – “there is no place to…”

Ему негде жить. 
(Yemu negde zhit’) 
“He has no place to live.”
Никудá (nikuda) – “(to) nowhere”

Никуда не пойдёшь, ты наказан. 
(Nikuda ne poydyosh’, ty nakazan) 
“You aren’t going anywhere, you’re grounded.”
Нéкуда (nekuda) – “there is nowhere to…”

В этом городе некуда пойти вечером. 
(V etom gorode nekuda poyti vecherom) 
“In this town, there is no place to go out at night.”
Никогда (nikogda) – “never”

Я никогда не был в России. 
(Ya nikogda ne byl v Rossii) 
“I’ve never been to Russia.”
Нéкогда (nekogda) – “no time to…”

Мне некогда этим заниматься. 
(Mne nekogda etim zanimat’sya) 
“I have no time for this.”
Никак (nikak) – “by no means,” “impossible”

Никак не могу найти свои ключи. 
(Nikak ne mogu nayti svoi klyuchi)
“It’s impossible to find my keys.”
Нискóлько (niskol’ko) – “not a bit”

Мне нисколько не страшно. 
(Mne niskol’ko ne strashno) 
“I’m not scared a bit.”
Нéсколько (neskol’ko) – “some,” “a couple” [declines]

Тут есть несколько интересных мест. 
(Tut yest’ neskol’ko interesnykh mest)
“There are a couple of interesting places here.”
Никакой (nikakoy) – “none,” “not one” [declines like an adjective, combines with a noun]

У меня нет никаких идей. 
(U menya net nikakikh idey)
“I don’t have any ideas.”
Ничей (nichey) – “nobody’s” [declines, has a gender and number, used with a noun or separately]

Ему не нужны ничьи советы. 
(Yemu ne nuzhny nich’i sovety) 
“He doesn’t need anybody’s advice.”

A: Это чей карандаш? (Eto chey karandash?) – “Whose pencil is it?”
B: Ничей. (Nichey) – “Nobody’s.”
Нéзачем (nezachem) – “there is no need to…”

Незачем об этом беспокоиться. 
(Nezachem ob etom bespokoit’sya) 
“There is no need to worry about that.”
Ниотку́да (niotkuda) – “out of nowhere”

Он появился как будто из ниоткуда. 
(On poyavilsya kak budto iz niotkuda) 
“It’s like he appeared out of nowhere.”
Нéоткуда (neotkuda) – “from nowhere”

Помощи ждать неоткуда. 
(Pomoshchi zhdat’ neotkuda) 
“There won’t be any help coming (from anywhere).”

A Guy Looking into a Mostly Empty Fridge at Night

How would you complain in Russian about the absence of food in the fridge?
One of the phrases mentioned above might come in handy.

3. Negation in Questions & Using the Negative Imperative

Russian word order is a blessing. It’s relatively flexible, yet it doesn’t change according to the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence; it can be subtle, but is overall easy to get along with. So why this ode to the word order all of a sudden? 

Right, the questions. When you ask a negative question, nothing changes in terms of word order. Just place the negation where it belongs: simple negation in front of the word you wish to negate, other negative words depending on the context.

  • Почему ты не ешь? – “Why aren’t you eating?”
    (Pochemu ty ne yesh’?)
  • Тебе не с кем пойти? – “Don’t you have anybody to go with?”
    (Tebe ne s kem poyti?)

An interesting thing about negative Russian questions is that sometimes negation can actually mean affirmation. Gently drawing your attention to the examples before you get confused:

  • Не хочешь чего-нибудь выпить? = Хочешь чего-нибудь выпить? 
    ([Ne] khochesh’ chego-nibud’ vypit’?)
    “Would you like to drink something?”
  • Ты не работал вчера? = Ты работал вчера?
    (Ty [ne] rabotal vchera?)
    “Did you work yesterday?”
  • Не хочешь куда-нибудь сходить? = Хочешь куда-нибудь сходить?
    ([Ne] khochesh’ kuda-nibud’ skhodit’?)
    “Would you like to go out?”

That might be a hard pill to swallow. But seriously, when in doubt, stick to the ‘affirmative’ questions. 

➤ By the way, we have an article about Russian questions if the topic has piqued your interest.

The same formula works for the imperative sentences. When you don’t want somebody to do something, simply put не in front of the ‘prohibited’ action.

  • Не смотри! (Ne smotri!) – “Don’t look!” [informal]
  • Не ходи туда! (Ne khodi tuda!) – “Don’t go there!” [informal]
  • Не смейтесь! (Ne smeytes’!) – “Don’t laugh!” [formal]

➤ If you struggle to understand how the Russian imperative works, you can figure it out with one of our lessons in the Upper Beginner series.

A Guy Flirting with a Female Colleague

Ask your Russian colleague out. Give it a shot; you have a hint in this chapter.

4. More Typical Negative Phrases for the Road

(That are not always negative)

To wrap up our article on negation in the Russian language, let’s go over a few negative phrases that will come in handy on a daily basis. 

  • Ничего! (Nichego) – “It’s okay.”

– Прости, я не смогу прийти.
(Prosti, ya ne smogu priyti)
“Sorry, I won’t be able to come.”

– Ничего!
(Nichego)
“It’s okay.”

  • Очень даже ничего. (Ochen’ dazhe nichego) – “Not half bad.”

А эта машина очень даже ничего. – “Well, this car isn’t half bad.”
(A eta mashina ochen’ dazhe nichego)

  • У меня нет… (U menya net) – “I don’t have…”

У меня нет телевизора.
(U menya net televizora)
“I don’t have a TV.”

У меня нет девушки.
(U menya net devushki)
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”

  • больше не… (bol’she ne) – “not… anymore”

Я больше не могу есть.
(Ya bol’she ne mogu yest’)
“I can’t eat anymore.”

Она больше не может ждать.
(Ona bol’she ne mozhet zhdat’)
“She can’t wait anymore.”

  • ещё не… (yeshchyo ne) – “not yet”

Я ещё не готов.
(Ya yeshchyo ne gotov)
“I’m not ready yet.”

Они ещё не пообедали.
(Oni yeshchyo ne poobedali)
“They haven’t had lunch yet.”

  • почти не… (pochti ne) – “hardly,” “barely”

Я почти не спал прошлой ночью.
(Ya pochti ne spal proshloy noch’yu)
“I barely slept last night.”

Я почти не говорю по-русски.
(Ya pochti ne govoryu po-russki)
“I barely speak any Russian.”

  • совсем не… (sovsem ne) – “not at all”

Я совсем об этом не подумал. 
(Ya sovsem ob etom ne podumal)
“I haven’t thought about it at all.”

Я совсем не устал. 
(Ya sovsem ne ustal)
“I’m not tired at all.”

  • чуть не… (chut’ ne) – “nearly”

Я чуть не упал.
(Ya chut’ ne upal)
“I nearly fell.”

Я чуть не проспал. 
(Ya chut’ ne prospal)
“I nearly overslept.”

  • не-а (ne-a) – “nope”

– У тебя есть ручка?
(U tebya yest’ ruchka?)
“Do you have a pen?”

– Не-а.
(Ne-a)
“Nope.”

A Guy Slipping on the Wet Floor with a Wet Floor Sign Beside Him

Я чуть не упал!

5. What’s Next?

Have you learned a lot about Russian negation today? I hope for this one, the answer will be affirmative! 

Let’s do a quick recap. 

  • For a simple negation, you put НЕ in front of the word.
  • For a strong negation, you use НЕ plus НИ.
  • For a negative reply, you say НЕТ.

There are also a bunch of Russian negative pronouns and adverbs that can be used in a sentence. How many can you recall right away, without peeking into the notes? Some have a ‘sibling’ word that might seem similar, but they’re pronounced differently, so pay attention to the stress! The very meaning of the word depends on it, after all. No pressure.

Negation doesn’t cause much trouble in questions and imperative sentences. Just a small two-letter particle is placed in front of the word. 

By the way, if you still have more questions about Russian negation, our teachers will help you dispel any doubts. With RussianPod101’s Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, you get personal 1-on-1 coaching with a tutor. Feel free to ask anything about Russian grammar, vocabulary, or culture—our teachers are there to help you! You can also opt to receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. There are too many benefits to fit in one paragraph, just give it a try!

Eager to learn more? RussianPod101 has more to offer! 

  • A video on word order, negative sentences, and questions. Three-in-one.

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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Why learn Russian? 10 reasons to start in 2021.

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Why learn Russian when there are so many other languages—such as English, Spanish, and Chinese—that are obviously in high demand? This question has no definite answer, but one thing is obvious: Those who decide to study Russian are signing themselves up for certain advantages unavailable to speakers of other languages. 

In this article, we’ll explain why you should learn Russian in 2021. We’ll also prove to you that this language is not as difficult as it seems, and tell you about the areas where it’s spoken. 

Already interested? Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Quick Info About the Language
  2. Benefits of Learning Russian
  3. Evidence that Russian is not Difficult to Learn
  4. Conclusion

1. Quick Info About the Language 

If you’re like most aspiring Russian learners, you’re curious what kind of language it is. 

Russian belongs to the East Slavic group of languages. It was derived from Old East Slavic and eventually standardized in the eighteenth century. After the Russian Revolution, this language became much simpler than it was before. 

The most obvious reason to learn Russian is its massive popularity. It’s the eighth most widely spoken language in the world and the official language of Russia—the largest country, with a population of 146 million people. There are more than 160 ethnic groups that currently live in Russia, and the majority of the population can speak, read, and write in Russian.

In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Abkhazia, Russian is declared to be the official language of the government agencies. While it has no such status in some other post-Soviet countries, people living in these regions use it for daily communication as well. This is true for Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Moldova, and Azerbaijan. Moreover, due to the past influence of Russia in Eastern Europe, the Russian language is quite popular there too.

Russian Maslenitsa Festival

Why learn Russian? Well, it’s much better to study one language which is spoken in various countries than to study each country’s official language separately!

2. Benefits of Learning Russian 

Why should you learn Russian when there are so many other languages? Below, we’ll explain to you five benefits of studying Russian as a second, third, or maybe even fourth language. Let’s begin! 

1. You’ll be able to travel more easily.

We’ll start our discourse on why to learn the Russian language with one interesting fact: Only around 5% of the Russian population can speak English. Crazy, right? 

If you’d like to make some Russian friends while vacationing abroad, keep in mind that they probably won’t be able to hold a conversation in English with you. So, you may miss getting to know lots of interesting people if you come unprepared.

But the situation changes radically if you know how to speak Russian. In this case, you could go to any Russian-speaking country without the fear of getting lost, being misunderstood, or simply feeling lonely due to the language barrier. Knowing Russian will broaden your travel opportunities and help you get lots of new experiences! 

2. You can be in the minority and impress others. 

Another reason to learn the Russian language is that it will help you stand out from the crowd. 

Most people study a foreign language in school and don’t go beyond that. Considering that the most popular school languages are French, Spanish, and German, there’s only a small percentage of English-speaking people who know Russian. And those who can speak it are really impressive! 

First of all, Russian is known as a difficult language to learn (we’ll break down this myth later), so the fact that you’ve managed to master it deserves respect. Secondly, Russian is one of the most beautiful languages ever, and you sound extremely cool when you speak it. By the way, many Russian people find it amazing when a foreigner speaks their language with a typical English or American accent

3. You’ll better understand the diverse Russian culture.

Every language is closely related to the culture surrounding it. In fact, language and culture influence each other! The only way to truly understand another culture is to learn the language of its people. As such, another great reason to study Russian is that it will allow you to discover the rich culture and history of Russia. 

In particular, those who study this language will get to enjoy the world of wonderful Russian literature and poetry. You may not know that some of the greatest writers and poets ever were Russians. We’re talking about Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Gorky, Pushkin, Mayakovskyy…the list could go on. 

Having a strong knowledge of Russian will give you the opportunity to read the works of these authors in their original language and clearly see what they wanted to say. After becoming acquainted with these writers and poets, you’ll understand Russian people much better, believe us!

A Man Reading War and Peace by Tolstoy

Did you know that George Clooney’s favorite book is the novel War and Peace written by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy?

4. You can get a good education and pursue a career.

You’ve probably never considered studying in Russia, especially if you can study in your own country. While this is true, Russia is the perfect place to get educated in the sphere of natural resources and get employed afterwards. This country is one of the largest producers of steel, gas, and oil, and there are many well-paid jobs in these industries.

Another reason to study in Russia is because it’s full of wonderful opportunities for scientists. According to one of the most recent studies, Russian scientific publications about chemistry, geology, and biology are the second most popular (after English). If you know both English and Russian, you can make great progress in science. Think about it!

People of Different Nationalities Sitting Around a World Map Table

Why study in Russia? Not only to become a good specialist, but also to meet new friends from all over the world!

5. You can easily learn other languages after Russian.

Earlier, we posed the question: Why learn the Russian language if there are so many others? 

Well, that’s the point! 

Even if for no other reason, you should learn Russian so that similar languages will be easier for you to learn later on. Even at the beginner level, you’ll be able to understand some other Slavic languages. It definitely won’t be a problem to learn Belarusian, Ukranian, or Bulgarian, since they share around 60% of their vocabulary and most of their grammar patterns with Russian. 

After Russian, you’ll also be able to quickly learn Slovak, Polish, and Czech. These languages use a modified Latin alphabet, but there are still many similarities between them and Russian. 

3. Evidence that Russian is not Difficult to Learn 

We can already hear you asking: Why should I learn Russian, if it’s gonna be a challenge? 

We know that you think so, but you’re not 100% correct. Russian is easier than it seems, and we can prove it. Here are five reasons why Russian is not as difficult as you’d expect. 

1. The Russian alphabet isn’t that far out there. 

Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet and contains only 33 letters, while English uses the Latin alphabet and contains 26 letters. The two alphabet systems are quite different from each other, but are still more similar than languages like Japanese or Chinese which contain numerous characters to memorize!

The Russian Alphabet

The Russian alphabet is not as scary as it seems to be.

2. Russian pronunciation is clear-cut.

Many bilinguals and polyglots claim that Russian pronunciation is much simpler than that of English, namely in that it’s much more regular and clear-cut. All you need to do to speak Russian fluently is learn the basic pronunciation rules and, of course, get enough practice. 

3. Articles don’t exist in Russian.

Unlike English, French, Italian, and Spanish, the Russian language does not contain articles. In this language, nouns are used without any auxiliary particles. That’s one less thing to memorize, so it’s really easy to start speaking and writing in Russian. 

4. Russian word order is flexible.

Russian word order isn’t strict like that of English. Officially, Russian is an SVO (Subject – Verb – Object) language. You can change the word positions as you like, lending each word more or less importance in your sentence. Word order in Russian is mainly used to add emphasis to a specific word within a sentence. 

5. There are only three tenses in Russian. 

Do you know how many tenses there are in English? 12! Russian, on the other hand, has only three tenses: the past, the present, and the future. Such simplicity eliminates lots of errors and struggles, especially for new learners. Moreover, unlike many other languages, Russian has only two aspects: the imperative and the perfective.

A Girl is Giving a Present to Her Babushka

Did you know that some English words are derived from Russian? Babushka is one of them.

4. Conclusion 

We hope that you now know why studying Russian is important and are planning to learn this beautiful language as soon as possible. The best way to begin is by going through the Absolute Beginner lessons on RussianPod101.com. In addition to our standard lessons, there are lots of useful audio and video materials for beginners on our website. It contains everything you need to know about Russian grammar, vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, and more. 

If you’d like to learn Russian fast and efficiently, then our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, is for you. This service includes one-on-one studying with a certified native speaker. MyTeacher is a great option for those who are going to study, work, or live in Russia. 

Before you go: Do you still think that Russian is a difficult language? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Happy learning!

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The Only Guide to Russian Tenses You’ll Ever Need

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Let me guess. You’re at a stage where you already know how to introduce yourself and talk about your family, and now you’re ready to get down to real business. Hesitating between the verb conjugation and noun cases, your choice fell on Russian tenses. Fair enough. You need a way to tell the world about your past adventures, current feelings, and ambitious plans. Stick with me, and I’ll show you how it’s done.

We’ll go step by step, starting with the Russian verb basics like the infinitive, person, number, and verbal aspects before seamlessly switching to the tenses: present, past, and future. Russian tenses are not a piece of cake, but we’re going to have one bite at a time anyway. Shall we?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Basic Concepts
  2. Present
  3. Past
  4. Future
  5. What’s Next?

1. Basic Concepts

No need to sugarcoat it: Russian verb conjugation might seem intimidating. However, you can breathe a sigh of relief: there are only three tenses in Russian—present, past, and future. Before we dive into the tenses, though, let’s cover some basic info on verbs to help you better understand the logic behind the tense formation.

A- The Infinitive Form and the Verb Groups

When you look up a verb in a dictionary, you find its infinitive form. In the world of conjugation, the infinitive will be your guide and best buddy. This is because verb tenses are formed by modifying the infinitive (usually changing its ending), and sometimes the infinitive is helpful in identifying the conjugation group of the verb.

    “Conjugation group, you said?”

Yes, there are two conjugation groups in Russian, each with its own set of endings. We didn’t waste much time thinking of how to name them, so they’re simply “Group 1” and “Group 2.” In most cases, you can predict which group a verb belongs to by looking at the ending of its infinitive.

Russian verbs: First and second conjugation groups
Group 1

Endings -еть, -ать, -ять, -уть, -ти
(-yet’, -at’, -yat’, -ut’, -ti)

Examples:
Богатеть (bogatet’) – “to get richer”
Играть (igrat’) – “to play”
Гулять (gulyat’) – “to stroll”
Гнуть (gnut’) – “to bend”
Ползти (polzti) – “to crawl”
Group 2

Most verbs ending in -ить (-it’)

Examples: 
Говорить (govorit’) – “to speak”Учить (uchit’) – “to learn” / “to teach”

11 exceptions, which are verbs that seemingly belong to Group 1:
  • Дышать (dyshat’) – “to breathe”
  • Держать (derzhat’) – “to hold”
  • Гнать (gnat’) – “to drive fast”
  • Ненавидеть (nenavidet’) – “to hate”
  • Слышать (slyshat’) – “to hear”
  • Вертеть (vertet’) – “to spin something”
  • Смотреть (smotret’) – “to look”
  • Видеть (videt’) – “to see”
  • Обидеть (obidet’) – “to offend”
  • Терпеть (terpet’) – “to tolerate”
  • Зависеть (zaviset’) – “to depend”

Pro tips

1. To start, just keep in mind that most verbs ending in -ить belong to Group 2, and the rest belong to Group 1. To level up, try to remember the 11 exceptions as well!

2. Many infinitives end with -ть, but sometimes -ться can pop up. It’s a typical ending for reflexive verbs like одеваться (odevat’sya), meaning “to dress.” Just ignore the -ся part for now.

B- Person and Number

The ending a verb takes depends on the person and number as well. Here’s a list of possible ‘person + number’ combinations represented by personal pronouns. Keep in mind that any pronoun can be replaced by a noun (for instance, “my parents” instead of “they”).

Pronoun typeRussianEnglish
1st person singularя (ya)I
2nd person singularты (ty)you (casual)
3rd person singularон, она, оно (on, ona, ono)he, she, it
1st person pluralмы (my)we
2nd person pluralвы (vy)you (plural) / you (formal)
3rd person pluralони (oni)they

Examples: 

  • я читаю (ya chitayu) – “I read”
  • мы читаем (my chitayem) – “we read”
  • студенты читают (studenty chitayut) – “the students read”

➤ Check out our list of the Most Useful Pronouns if you would also like to hear how these pronouns are pronounced.

A Couple Sitting on the Sofa Reading Together

oни читают (oni chitayut) – “they read”

C- Aspect

Apparently, the Russian tense system seemed a bit too simple, so we decided to implement the concept of aspect. 

There are two verb aspects in Russian: imperfective and perfective

The imperfective aspect represents an ongoing or repeating action.

The perfective aspect usually indicates a completed action.

Can you think of something similar in English? (Take a second to think.) Right, a similar concept is used in English with the contrast of continuous/simple and perfect tenses.

Compare:

  • я ел (ya yel) – “I was eating”
  • я поел (ya poyel) – “I’ve eaten”
  • я буду читать (ya budu chitat’) – “I will be reading”
  • я прочитаю (ya prochitayu) – “I’ll finish reading”

Try to guess which forms are perfective and which ones are imperfective. How did you arrive at your answer?

❗️ Aspects are only relevant when we talk about the past and the future. We don’t use aspects in the present.

You must’ve been attentive enough to notice that each perfective verb had a prefix added. This is, indeed, the usual way of making a perfective form. Suffixes are used as well, but they’re not as common.

D- The Part that Changes

Again, you can try to guess a verb’s type by the ending of its infinitive form. This would work in most cases. Then, you’d usually just remove the -ть / -ти part of the infinitive to make the infinitive stem and add a corresponding ending to it. Easy-peasy.

However, some verb forms require the present tense stem. You can find it by cutting off the ending of the verb’s third person plural form (“they”). 

Yes, you didn’t misread it: To find the stem, you need a verb that is already conjugated. That’s the surefire way to get your conjugations right. This stem is used to create a variety of verb forms: present, future, imperative, and some others. Sometimes, the infinitive stem and the present tense stem end up being the same, but don’t let your guard down!

Context Conjugator will support you during the early stages of verb conjugation. But learning to see the conjugation patterns on your own will make your life easier in the long run.

The formula

The present tense stem [for the present and the simple future]
Regular verbs

In third-person plural, remove the last two letters and add the new ending:

“To play”: играть [infinitive] > играют [third plural] > игра [stem]
“To learn”: учить [infinitive] > учат [third plural] > уч [stem]

Reflexive verbs

In third-person plural, remove the reflexive part -ся and two more letters. Add the new ending, place -ся or -сь (for “I” and “you” formal) back:

“To dress”: одеваться [infinitive] > одеваются [third plural] > одева [stem] + ся / -сь
я одеваюсь – “I dress”
ты одеваешься – “you dress”
The infinitive stem [for the past]
Regular verbs

Remove the last two letters from the infinitive (usually -ть or -ти):

“To play”: играть [infinitive] > игра [stem]
“To learn”: учить [infinitive] > учи [stem]
Reflexive verbs

Remove the reflexive part -ся and two more letters from the infinitive (usually -ть or -ти), then put -ся (for “I” and “he”) or -сь back:

“To dress”: одеваться [infinitive] > одева[stem] + -ся / -сь
“To study”: учиться [infinitive] > учи [stem] + -ся / -сь

он учился – “he studied”
они одевались – “they dressed”

A Man Contemplating a Decision with a Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other

Играть или учиться? (Igrat’ ili uchit’sya?)
“To play or to study?”

2. Present

A- When?

We use the present tense for:

  1. General facts

    Ночью на небе появляются звёзды. — “At night, the stars appear in the sky.”
    (Noch’yu na nebe poyavlyayutsya zvyozdy.)
  1. Habitual actions

    Каждое утро я пью кофе. — “Every morning I drink coffee.”
    (Kazhdoye utro ya p’yu kofe.)
  1. The present state of affairs

    Я живу с родителями. — “I live with my parents.”
    (Ya zhivu s roditelyami.)
  1. An action that’s happening right now

    Мы смотрим фильм. — “We’re watching a movie.”
    (My smotrim fil’m.)
  1. An action that’s been taking place for a period of time

    Мы гуляем уже три часа. — “We’ve been walking for three hours already.”
    (My gulyayem uzhe tri chasa.)
  1. Timetables and future arrangements

    Поезд отправляется в 7 утра. — “The train departs at 7 a.m.”
    (Poyezd otpravlyayetsya v 7 utra.)

    Завтра мы идём в музей. — “We’re going to the museum tomorrow.”
    (Zavtra my idyom v muzey.)

As you can see, the Russian present tense is like the English present simple, continuous, and perfect continuous wrapped up into one tense. Yes, 3-in-1! 

B- How?

Finally, we’ve made it to the present tense endings that we use for each conjugation group. Remember that, ideally, you should work with the present tense stem (see “Basic Concepts”). Sometimes the two types of stems coincide, but if you’re only relying on the infinitive stem, the conjugation results might be unpredictable.

Group 1Group 2
играть (igrat’) – “to play”

я играю* (ya igrayu) – “I play”
ты играешь (ty igrayesh’) – “you play” [informal]
он играет (on igrayet) – “he plays”
мы играем (my igrayem) – “we play”
вы играете (vy igrayete) – “you play” [formal, pl.]
они играют* (oni igrayut) – “they play”
учить (uchit’) – “to learn,” “to teach”

я учу* (ya uchu) – “I learn”
ты учишь (ty uchish’) – “you learn” [informal]
она учит (ona uchit) – “she learns”
мы учим (my uchim) – “we learn”
вы учите (vy uchite) – “you learn” [formal, pl.]
они учат* (oni uchat) – “they learn”
* Use the endings -ю, -ют after vowels
or the soft sign (я думаю, они читают).

Use -у, -ут after consonants (я расту).
* Use the endings or -ат after the letters Ж, Ш, Ч, Щ, and all hard consonants.

Use and -ят after soft consonants and vowels.

Look at the endings once again and try to see the similarities between the two groups. If you manage to figure out the patterns on your own, the rules will stick better. It’s also an extremely satisfying experience to solve a problem by yourself, so give it a try.

Anyway, you were right if you said that the only difference is that from the first group changes into for the second group, and -у/-ю is replaced with -а/-я.

A Man Drinking Coffee Early in the Morning

Fill in the blank:
Каждое утро я _______ . (Kazhdoye utro ya ________.)
“Every morning I ___.”

3. Past

A- When?

We use the past tense in Russian to describe:

  1. An action that happened regularly in the past

    Она каждый день занималась спортом. — “She used to do sports every day.”
    (Ona kazhdyy den’ zanimalas’ sportom.)
  1. An action that began and ended in the past (the result is not important)

    Вчера я гулял в парке. — “Yesterday I walked in a park.”
    (Vchera ya gulyal v parke.)
  1. An action that was occurring for a period of time in the past

    Я ждал тебя весь день. — “I’ve been waiting for you all day.”
    (Ya zhdal tebya ves’ den’.)
  1. An action that began and ended in the past (the result is important, and the completeness of the action is emphasized)

    Я сходил в магазин. — “I’ve been to the shop.” [you can see that my hands are full of bags]
    (Ya skhodil v magazin.)

    Когда мы пришли, он уже ушёл. — “When we arrived, he had already left.”
    (Kogda my prishli, on uzhe ushel.)

As you can see, the Russian past tense is quite different from the English one. It’s a mixture of the English present perfect, past perfect, past continuous, past simple, and some other tenses. No need to draw parallels between the two languages here. It’s better to try grasping the main idea behind it: the action happened and was left in the past, even if this past was there just a second ago.

Also, if you remember what we covered about aspects, you can see that the first three instances refer to the imperfective past and the last one to the perfective.

➤ Confused about the aspects? Don’t hesitate to backtrack to the “Basic Concepts” section.

B- How?

To form Russian verbs in the past tense, we use the infinitive stem that we were talking about in the “Basic Concepts” section.

You need to drop the infinitive ending -ть and add the following endings instead:

    → masculine: (-l)
    → feminine: -ла (-la)
    → neuter: -ло (-lo)
    → plural: -ли (-li)

❗️ The past is the only tense where gender plays a role.

Groups 1 and 2 [same endings]
играть (igrat’) – “to play”

я играл(a) (ya igral-a) – “I played” [m/f]
ты играл(а) (ty igral-a) – “you played” [inf.] [m/f]
он играл (on igral) – “he played”
она играла (ona igrala) – “she played”
оно играло (ono igralo) – “it played”
мы играли (my igrali) – “we played”
вы играли (vy igrali) – “you played” [form., pl.]
они играли (oni igrali) – “they played”
учить (uchit’) – “to learn,” “to teach”

я учил(а) (ya uchil-a) – “I learned” [m/f]
ты учил(а) (ty uchil-a) – “you learned” [inf.] [m/f]
он учил (on uchil) – “he learned”
она учила (ona uchila) – “she learned”
оно учило (ono uchilo) – “it learned”
мы учили (my uchili) – “we learned”
вы учили (vy uchili) – “you learned” [form., pl.]
они учили (oni uchili) – “they learned”

C- Additional notes

1. If the infinitive ending is -чь, the ending changes to or . If there’s one or more е in the word, the last one will become ё. However, it only concerns the masculine form.

печь (pech’) – “to bake” → пёк (pyok) – “was baking” [m] (пекла [f], пекло [n], пекли [pl])

2. If the infinitive ending is -ти, all you need to do is drop the ending. To create the feminine, neuter, and plural forms, just add -ла, -ло, or -ли respectively. 

ползти (polzti) – “to crawl” → полз (polz) – “crawled” [m] (ползла [f], ползло [n], ползли [pl])

3. Many words with the -ти ending change their stems while forming the past, so try to memorize them.

идти (idti) – “to go” → шёл (shyol) – “went” [m] (шла [f], шло [n], шли [pl])

4.  A perfective form usually turns up with a prefix, but the endings normally stay the same. What changes, however, is the meaning.

Compare: imperfective > perfective

  • есть (yest’) – “to eat”
  • я ел (ya yel) – “I was eating” [masculine]
    я поел (ya poyel) – “I’ve eaten”

    я ела (ya yela) – “I was eating” [feminine]
    я поела (ya poyela) – “I’ve eaten”

  • он ел (on yel) – “he was eating”
    он поел (on poyel) – “he’s eaten”
  • она ела (ona yela) – “she was eating”
    она поела (ona poyela) – “she’s eaten”

  • оно ело (ono yelo) – “it was eating”
    оно поело (ono poyelo) – “it has eaten”

5. The verb “to be” deserves special attention. We mostly use it in the past and the future with adjectives and adverbs. It also serves as a means of making compound future forms. We’ll look deeper into them in the next chapter (“Future”).

The verb Быть (Byt’) – To be
я был(а) (ya byl-a) – “I was”
ты был(а) (ty byl-a) – “you were” [inf.] [m/f]
он был (on byl) – “he was”
она была (ona byla) – “she was”
оно было (ono bylo) – “it was”
мы были (my byli) – “we were”
вы были (vy byli) – “you were” [form., pl.]
они были (oni byli) – “they were”
Examples:
  • Там было холодно. — “It was cold out there.”
    (Tam bylo kholodno.)
  • Я был дома. — “I was home.”
    (Ya byl doma.)
  • Это было для нас хорошим уроком. — “It was a good lesson for us.”
    (Eto bylo dlya nas khoroshim urokom.)

A Woman in Winter Clothes Shivering in the Snow

How do you say “It was cold out there” in Russian?

4. Future

A- When?

We use the future tense in Russian for:

  1. An action that will be ongoing or repeated at some point in the future [imperfective aspect]

    Завтра утром я буду на работе. — “Tomorrow morning, I’ll be at work.”
    (Zavtra utrom ya budu na rabote.)

    Мы будем каждый день ходить в ресторан. — “We will go to a restaurant every day.”
    (My budem kazhdyy den’ khodit’ v restoran.)
  1. An action that will be finished at some point in the future [perfective aspect]

    К 7 вечера мы уже закончим. — “We’ll be done by 7 p.m.”
    (K semi verchera my uzhe zakonchim.)

B- How?

There are two ways to form the future tense in Russian.

Way 1: Compound future [for the imperfective aspect]

An appropriate form of the verb быть (byt’), meaning “to be,” + the infinitive 

Groups 1 and 2 (identical formation)
1. играть (igrat’) – “to play”

я буду играть (ya budu igrat’) – “I will play”
ты будешь играть (ty budesh’ igrat’) – “you will play” [inf.]
он будет играть (on budet igrat’) – “he will play”
мы будем играть (my budem igrat’) – “we will play”
вы будете играть (vy budete igrat’) – “you will play” [form., pl.]
они будут играть (oni budut igrat’) – “they will play”
2. учить (uchit’) – “to learn,” “to teach”

я буду учить (ya budu uchit’) – “I will learn”
ты будешь учить (ty budesh’ uchit’) – “you will learn” [inf.]
он будет учить (on budet uchit’) – “he will learn”
мы будем учить (my budem uchit’) – “we will learn”
вы будете учить (vy budete uchit’) – “you will learn” [form., pl.]
они будут учить (oni budut uchit’) – “they will learn”

❗️ The same works for adjectives and adverbs as well:

  • Там будет холодно. — “It will be cold out there.”
    (Tam budet kholodno.)
  • Я буду дома. — “I will be home.”
    (Ya budu doma.)
  • Это будет для нас хорошим уроком. — “It’ll be a good lesson for us.”
    (Eto budet dlya nas khoroshim urokom.)

Way 2: Simple future [for the perfective aspect]

The perfective form of the verb + the present tense endings

Group 1
играть (igrat’) – “to play”

я поиграю* (ya poigrayu) – “I will play a bit”
ты поиграешь (ty poigrayesh’) – “you will play a bit” [inf.]
он поиграет (on poigrayet) – “he will play a bit”
мы поиграем (my poigrayem) – “we will play a bit”
вы поиграете (vy poigrayete) – “you will play a bit” [form., pl.]
они поиграют* (oni poigrayut) – “they will play a bit”
* Use the endings -ю, -ют after vowels
or the soft sign (я думаю, они читают).

Use -у, -ут after consonants (я расту).
Group 2
учить (uchit’) – “to learn,” “to teach”

я выучу* (ya vyuchu) – “I will learn”
ты выучишь (ty vyuchish’) – “you will learn” [inf.]
она выучит (ona vyuchit) – “she will learn”
мы выучим (my vyuchim) – “we will learn”
вы выучите (vy vyuchite) – “you will learn” [form., pl.]
они выучат* (oni vyuchat) – “they will learn”
* Use the endings and -ат after the letters Ж, Ш, Ч, Щ, and all hard consonants.

Use and -ят after soft consonants and vowels.

There’s no clear answer as to which prefix to use with the perfective form. The meaning might differ drastically depending on the prefix.

Compare:

  • он идёт (on idyot) – “he is walking”
  • он придёт (on pridyot) – “he will come”
  • он уйдёт (on uydyot) – “he will leave”
  • он отойдёт (on otoydyot) – “he will stand back”

My advice is to just learn the verb together with the prefix and the meaning it brings. Treat it as a new word. You’ll soon start seeing the logic behind many prefixes because they’re not completely random. Similarly to the particles of English phrasal verbs, they tend to have a specific meaning. For instance, the prefix по- often indicates that an action was short: 

поиграть (poigrat’) – “to play a bit”
почитать (pochitat’) – “to read a bit”
поспать (pospat’) – “to sleep a bit”

A Couple Getting Done Playing a Video Game Together

Поиграем? (Poigrayem?)
Shall we play?

5. What’s Next?

How do you feel about Russian tenses now? Are you ready to talk about present, past, and future events in Russian? In this article, we’ve covered the most typical cases of verb conjugation, mostly focusing on regular verbs. But if you feel like looking deeper into the topic, feel free to see our list of helpful resources below.

While reading, you must have noticed many similarities between the Russian and English systems of tenses. Try to remember those by mere analogy, and for the rest, I encourage you to look for the patterns in each tense. There is some logic behind them.

Obviously, mastering the Russian tenses and remembering all the endings would require lots of practice. This is where our RussianPod101 teachers can come to your aid! With our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, you get personal one-on-one coaching with a tutor. Feel free to ask any questions you have about Russian tenses or verb conjugation—our tutors are there to help you! You can also request some grammar and vocabulary exercises to drill the conjugation patterns into your mind. In addition to this, you’ll receive some speaking and writing assignments to boost your Russian skills on all fronts! Give it a try!

Eager to learn more? 

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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How Long Does it Take to Learn Russian?

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Russian is not an easy language to learn. It often takes much longer to master than one might imagine when first starting out. 

If you’re like most of us, your time is quite limited and you might be wondering this all-too-common question among aspiring learners: How long does it take to learn Russian? 

Even though this question has no definite answer, we’ll try to discuss it as thoroughly as possible in the article below. We’ll talk about the different factors that can affect the speed of your learning progress, how long it takes on average to achieve each level of Russian, and how to learn Russian fast and effectively

Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. How Long Will it Take to Learn Russian? 3 Defining Factors.
  2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Elementary Level?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?
  5. Conclusion

How Long Will it Take to Learn Russian? 3 Defining Factors.

First of all, let’s look at three of the biggest factors that impact how long it takes to learn Russian. Ask yourself how each of these points applies to you or your situation; this will give you a better idea of what to expect for the road ahead. 

Language Experience

Since you’re reading this article, you must know a good bit of English. If English is the only language you speak, then you might not like what we’re going to say next. Unfortunately, learning Russian can be a real challenge for native English speakers

This is because the two languages are not at all similar. As a Slavic language, Russian has very specific pronunciation, grammar, and syntax rules that you’ll need time to get used to. The good news is that you’re not alone. Just think of all the other people reading this article who are thinking about learning Russian (or who have already taken the plunge). 

    → Any time you have a question to ask or a frustration to vent, you can head over to the RussianPod101 forum to chat with other learners and native speakers.

Now, how long would it take to learn Russian if you know a second (or even a third) non-Slavic language in addition to English? In this case, you’ll face many of the same problems but will also have one big advantage. Because you know more than one language, your brain is already accustomed to the process of studying foreign lexicology, grammar, etc., so it will take you less time to pick up Russian.

What if you belong to the minority of people reading this who know Belarussian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, or any other Slavic language? Let us tell you that you’re lucky. Your path to learning Russian will be really easy, because you’ll understand many of the concepts straight away.

A Boy with a Book

If you already know one Slavic language, it won’t be difficult for you to guess the meanings of some Russian words.

Motivation

How can you expect to learn the Russian language effectively without being motivated? It’s simply impossible, so you’d better come up with some kind of motivation before you start. Just think of why you need to accomplish this.

You’ll be most motivated to continue your Russian studies if you know you’ll get certain benefits from it later. Maybe Russian-language skills will help you get accepted to the university of your dreams, get promoted at work, or win the heart of someone you love? Such motivation will push you forward really quickly!

Passion for linguistics is another great source of motivation. Some people are so hungry for new languages that they study them one after another. 

There are also foreigners who simply love Russia and want to learn more about it, including the language that the Russians speak. Their main motivation is interest.

Self-Discipline and Schedule

It’s no surprise that mastering any language requires not only motivation, but also discipline. If you only studied Russian when you felt like it, for fun, it would take much longer to learn than if you studied with a specific goal in mind and on a regular basis. 

If you’re wondering how to learn Russian quickly without sacrificing quality, remember one simple thing: The more you speak Russian, write in Russian, and listen to Russian speech, the better your results will be. To study systematically, most people attend language courses. People with a high degree of willpower study on their own. In either case, the learners in question study according to a set schedule.

That said, there’s one other way to learn Russian well: immerse yourself in a Russian-speaking environment. In this case, you wouldn’t need to be very disciplined or bound to a schedule. If you ever have the opportunity to spend at least several months in Russia, don’t miss it!

A Timer in the Shape of a Tomato

If you have troubles with self-discipline, you can try the Pomodoro Technique.

How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Elementary Level?

Taking the first steps into the world of the Russian language is incredible! You’re enthusiastic and full of energy at this stage. However, the very beginning is also when you’re most likely to lose interest just as quickly as you gained it, so be careful.

How long should it take to learn Russian if you want to achieve the elementary level, or A1? If you’re an absolute beginner, 6 weeks of intensive study will be enough. By intensive, we mean about 120 hours of studying. This figure may sound scary, but in fact it’s only 20 hours per week for 1.5 months (or 2 hours per day for about 2 months).

At this stage, your main goal is to memorize the Russian alphabet, a few useful words, and the most important everyday phrases. Start by learning the necessary vocabulary, and then a bit later you should practice making full sentences. Don’t forget that memorizing words in context is much easier than doing so without context.

After 120 hours of practice, your vocabulary will be wide enough to help you get by in a limited number of everyday situations. You’ll be able to:

  • make an order in a Russian cafe or restaurant;
  • buy something in a Russian shop;
  • ask a native speaker for directions.

In other words, an elementary knowledge will help you survive while traveling in Russia, but no more. If you want to communicate with Russians confidently, you need to achieve at least the intermediate level.

A Man Making an Order at a Restaurant

Going to visit Russia? Basic knowledge of the Russian language will be extremely helpful!

How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?

If you’ve succeeded in achieving the elementary Russian level, then you’re probably really excited to level up again! But you should be aware that reaching this level will require much more time and effort than the previous one. 

Most students achieve the intermediate level (B1) in approximately 1.5 years. During this time, they spend around 500 hours actively learning. This equates to no more than 1 hour daily. 

Of course, you can go on learning Russian for 2 hours per day as you’ve been doing. Doing so, you’ll break new ground in 9 months. But keep in mind that your motivation will probably be a bit lower than it was at the very beginning. 

At this stage, you must pay attention to:

  • understanding grammar rules and implementing them; 
  • learning more complicated vocabulary, patterns, and structures;
  • mastering pronunciation.

The main sign that you’ve reached the intermediate level will be your ability to:

  • understand the most important parts of podcasts, YouTube videos, TV shows, and movies (with the use of English subtitles);
  • read adapted texts or books (with the frequent use of a dictionary);
  • participate in everyday conversations with native speakers (though you still won’t have enough knowledge to hold spontaneous, complex conversations). 

At the intermediate level, you’ll sometimes be unsure about how to compose sentences, pronounce words, and the like. This is absolutely okay! All these doubts will go away once you reach the advanced level.

A Group of People Taking a Selfie

Wanna make Russian friends? If you know Russian at the intermediate level, it will be easy!

How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?

Most students are satisfied with the intermediate level, and there’s only a small number of foreigners who decide to achieve the advanced one. If you want to be one of them, prepare to double your time and effort.

The advanced level is also called C1. The process of achieving it usually takes 900 hours. This is about 3 years of everyday practice. At this level, you’ll be able to:

  • understand texts related to various themes and read Russian literature;
  • write letters, issues, and essays on problematic topics;
  • understand audio information as a whole;
  • maintain conversations with the help of different linguistic tools.

Keep in mind that this is not the end of your studies. After a few more years of regular practice, you can approach C2 and become a real expert in the Russian language—in other words, you’ll be able to speak like a native. But the only possible way to reach this level of fluency is to live in Russia for some time. This will allow you to become familiar with various Russian accents and learn slang words most widely used by locals.

A Woman Holding an Open Book Above Her Head

Even though reading Russian books seems too difficult for you right now, it’s not impossible—believe us!

Conclusion

Now you know that mastering a language is a complex process that takes constant learning and practicing. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. You’ll find tons of free materials on RussianPod101.com that will satisfy your language learning cravings. 

Don’t forget that we also offer our Premium PLUS students one-on-one coaching with a private tutor through MyTeacher. This will certainly speed up your progress and ensure you gain a more thorough knowledge of the language and culture.

Before you go: What’s your Russian-language proficiency level? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Russian Proverbs: A Glimpse of Russian Wisdom

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“Better late than never.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

You’re constantly surrounded by proverbs, and you probably don’t pay much attention to them until you start learning a new language. This is where the fun begins: The meanings of foreign proverbs can be difficult to guess, you can’t usually translate them literally, and some of them don’t even have an equivalent. Yes, you’ll find a few Russian proverbs like this. But what if you look at them from another angle?

Have you ever wondered where proverbs come from? Many of them haven’t changed in centuries! They’ve been carrying wisdom from one generation to another, up until modern times. We use proverbs to console a beloved one, to give advice, or to cheer somebody up. Proverbs can be controversial, and some of them tackle the same issue from different (sometimes opposite!) angles. All in all, they reflect who we are and the values we stand for, and these values are different from one country to another.

Today, you have the chance to get a glimpse of Russian wisdom through Russian proverbs. These wise words will provide you with insight into the Russian attitude toward money and friendship, work and discipline, consolation and disapproval. You might not become enlightened right away, but I hope these proverbs get you curious to learn more about Russian people and culture.

A Woman Giving the Thumbs-up Sign

Хорошее начало — половина дела.
“Good beginning is half the battle.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Worldly Wisdom
  2. Studies and Work
  3. Taking Risks
  4. Discipline
  5. Money
  6. Friends & Family
  7. Sarcasm
  8. What’s Next?

1. Worldly Wisdom

♦︎ Before you jump at the opportunity to broaden your cultural horizons, my advice is to get familiar with the proverb, read the literal translation, then think about the meaning it might convey. Simply connecting the English proverb with its Russian equivalent won’t leave any trace in your memory. Give it a good guess first. Remember: “Easy come, easy go.”

RussianНет худа без добра.
(Net khuda bez dobra)
LiterallyThere’s no bad without the good.
Keep your chin up! Whatever trouble comes your way, don’t let it spoil your mood. Even the most difficult situation might have an advantage.

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

RussianПервый блин всегда комом. 
(Pervyy blin vsegda komom)
LiterallyThe first pancake is always lumpy.
Don’t get frustrated if you fail when trying something for the first time. It’s uncommon for one to succeed right away.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

RussianУтро вечера мудренее.
(Utro vechera mudreneye)
LiterallyThe morning is wiser than the evening.
When you’re struggling to come up with a solution, you should give your mind some rest. It might reward you with bright ideas afterward!

“Sleep on it!”

RussianСлово не воробей: вылетит — не поймаешь.
(Slovo ne vorobey: vyletit — ne poymayesh’)
LiterallyA word is not a sparrow: once it flies out, you won’t catch it.
You should be careful with what you say. Words can hurt.

“What’s said can’t be unsaid.”

RussianПоспешишь — людей насмешишь.
(Pospeshish’ — lyudey nasmeshish’)
LiterallyIf you rush things, you’ll just make others laugh.
It’s fine to take your time, one step at a time. Don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of saving time.

“Haste makes waste.”

RussianВ каждой шутке есть доля правды.
(V kazhdoy shutke est’ dolya pravdy)
LiterallyThere is a grain of truth in every joke.
It’s believed that we joke about what actually matters to us. Obviously, that’s not always the case, but sometimes people read too much into it.

“Many true words are spoken in jest.”

2. Studies and Work

Students and working professionals alike can gain something of value from these Russian proverbs about work and learning! 

RussianПовторение — мать учения.
(Povtoreniye — mat’ ucheniya)
LiterallyRepetition is the mother of learning.
When it comes to learning, one would have to be quite talented (or using mnemonics) to remember something on the first try. Don’t shy away from reviewing key vocabulary lists and grammar rules once in a while to brush up on them.

“Practice makes perfect.”

RussianКто не работает, тот не ест.
(Kto ne rabotayet, tot ne yest)
LiterallyHe who does not work, neither should he eat.
Diligence and hard work are encouraged—strongly enough to threaten you with starvation.

“One has to sing for his supper.”

RussianБез труда не вытащишь и рыбку из пруда.
(Bez truda ne vytashchish’ i rybku iz pruda)
LiterallyWithout effort, you can’t even pull a fish out of the pond.
Again, the message here is that you need to put in some effort to get a positive result.

“No pain, no gain.”

RussianРабота не волк, в лес не убежит. 
(Rabota ne volk, v les ne ubezhit)
LiterallyWork isn’t a wolf, it won’t run into the forest.
However, sometimes you can relax and not rush into action right away. Use this saying as an excuse. 

“Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

Now wait a minute… Isn’t that the opposite of what all those “go-achieve-it-all” books advise?

Habits for Highly Effective Language Learners


Russian Pancakes with Red Caviar

Russian pancakes with red caviar
Even if the first one was lumpy, practice makes perfect.

3. Taking Risks

Risk-taking is really two sides of the same coin. Here are some Russian proverbs and sayings on the topic that cover both sides of the story! 

If you feel adventurous

RussianКто не рискует, тот не пьет шампанского.
(Kto ne riskuyet, tot ne p’yot shampanskogo)
LiterallyThose who don’t take risks don’t drink champagne.
Some believe that this expression originated from car racing, where the rally winners were showered with champagne. Others claim the proverb dates back to the early champagne-making days when bottles would accidentally explode, so going down to pick one up in the cellar was a risky adventure. Anyway, whatever side you take, remember:

“Who dares wins.”

RussianНе попробуешь — не узнаешь.
(Ne poprobuyesh’ — ne uznayesh’)
LiterallyIf you don’t try, you’ll never find out.
This one is self-explanatory. You need to give it a chance to see if it’s going to work out.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

RussianПоживём – увидим. 
(Pozhivyom – uvidim)
LiterallyWe will live and then we will see.
No need to pretend to be Nostradamus and try to predict the future. Sometimes it’s better to patiently wait and see what happens next.

“Time will tell.”

Russian– Ни пуха ни пера. 
– К чёрту!


Ni pukha ni pera. 
K chertu!
Literally “Neither fluff, nor feather.”–
“(Go) to the devil!”
Use the first phrase to wish somebody luck. And to receive it, don’t forget to send the person to the devil. (That’s not really nice, if you think about it.)

The expression arose among hunters. “Fluff” and “feather” implied game and game birds respectively. Hence the superstition: If you wish somebody luck directly, the evil spirits would show up to deprive you of your hard-earned spoils. So, after bad-mouthing each other, the hunters could head to the forest with peace of mind. Nowadays, it’s used whenever you want to wish somebody luck, similar to “Break a leg.”

♦︎ It’s often truncated to just “Ни пуха.” But you should still respond with “К чёрту!”

If you are on the cautious side

RussianЛучше синица в руках, чем журавль в небе.
(Luchshe sinitsa v rukakh, chem zhuravl’ v nebe)
LiterallyA tomtit in your hands is better than a crane in the sky.
It’s preferable to have something small but certain than to risk losing everything by trying to get something better.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

RussianТише едешь — дальше будешь.
(Tishe yedesh’ — dal’she budesh’)
LiterallyDrive slower, and you will get further.
Slow down. Take a breath. Those who don’t rush will succeed. 

The proverb works well both figuratively and literally. Drive safely!

“Little by little, one travels far.”

RussianСемь раз отмерь, один отрежь.
(Sem’ raz otmer’, odin otrezh’)
LiterallyMeasure seven times before cutting once.
In Russian, we encourage you to think not twice, but seven times, before you take action. 

“Look before you leap.”

RussianЗа двумя зайцами погонишься — ни одного не поймаешь.
(Za dvumya zaytsami pogonish’sya — ni odnogo ne poymayesh’)
LiterallyIf you chase after two hares, you’ll end up not catching even one.
It’s better to focus on one thing instead of spreading yourself too thin.

“Grasp all, lose all.”

A Student Studying and Highlighting Something in a Textbook

Your friend is having an exam tomorrow. How would you wish him luck in Russian?

4. Discipline

Most of these are used by parents trying to adjust their kids’ behavior to “expected” standards. 

RussianЛюбопытной Варваре на базаре нос оторвали.
(Lyubopytnoy Varvare na bazare nos otorvali)
LiterallyNosy Barbara got her nose torn off at the market.
Don’t ask awkward questions. Don’t touch this. Don’t do that.

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

RussianМечтать не вредно.
(Mechtat’ ne vredno)
LiterallyDreaming won’t hurt.
Feel free to dream big, but—just so you know—you won’t get anything.

Parents typically use this phrase when their child acts up begging for a toy in the shop. It can also be used to sober up a friend and discourage them from fantasizing too much.

“Yeah, dream on!”

RussianХорошего понемножку.
(Khoroshego ponemnozhku)
LiterallyJust a bit is enough.
Know your limits and don’t expect much. 

“Enough is enough.”

RussianВ большой семье клювом не щёлкают.
(V bol’shoy sem’ye kyuvom ne shchelkayut)

also

Кто не успел, тот опоздал.
(Kto ne uspel, tot opozdal)
LiterallyYou don’t snap your beak in a big family.

also

Who’s late is late.
So basically, the “first come, first served” rule in action.

“You snooze, you lose.”

Phrases Your Parents Always Say


5. Money

Could you use a little advice in the financial department? Then study these Russian proverbs about money and gain some useful Russian insight on the matter. 

RussianСкупой платит дважды.
(Skupoy platit dvazhdy)
LiterallyThe stingy one pays twice.
Those who only chase low prices might end up buying something else instead. You usually get what you pay for. 

“Buy nice or buy twice.”

RussianКопейка рубль бережёт.
(Kopeyka rubl’ berezhet)
LiterallyA kopeck saves a ruble.
In order to save much, you shouldn’t neglect little.

“Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves.”

RussianКрасиво жить не запретишь.
(Krasivo zhit’ ne zapretish’)
LiterallyYou can’t forbid living well.
This one can be used ironically, in reference to people who live beyond their means—or with envy (and a glimmer of hope) when gossiping about the rich.

“Living well isn’t against the law.”

RussianСобака на сене лежит; сама не ест и другим не даёт.
(Sobaka na sene lezhit; sama ne yest i drugim ne dayot)
LiterallyA dog is lying on the hay: won’t eat it itself and won’t let others eat either.
This proverb expresses disapproval of people who only hold onto something so that the others can’t use it. Greedy and selfish rolled into one.

“Dog in the manger.”

Money-Related Expressions for Everyday Life


An Older Man on Vacation Holding a Fan of Money and a Cigar

Красиво жить не запретишь.

6. Friends & Family

Wherever you are in the world, relationships are an essential aspect of everyday life. That in mind, here are a few Russian proverbs about friendship and family.

RussianДруг познаётся в беде.
(Drug poznayotsya v bede)
LiterallyYou get to really know your friend when trouble comes.
A person who helps you during a difficult time is the person you can trust. 

“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

RussianНе имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.
(Ne imey sto rubley, a imey sto druzey)
LiterallyDon’t have a hundred rubles, rather have a hundred friends.
Friendship is more valuable than money. (Nobody said one excludes the other, though.)

“A friend at court is better than a penny in a purse.”

RussianВ гостях хорошо, а дома лучше.
(V gostyakh khorosho, a doma luchshe)
LiterallyIt’s good to be visiting, but it’s better at home.
If you feel relief coming back home and share the idea of “My house is my castle,” you know very well where this proverb comes from.

“There is no place like home.”

RussianС милым рай и в шалаше.
(S milym ray i v shalashe)
LiterallyIf you’re with your loved one, it’s a paradise even in a hut.
You can endure any trouble if you’re with your beloved one—even living in poor conditions.

“Love in the cottage.”

RussianМуж и жена — одна сатана.
(Muzh i zhena — odna satana)
LiterallyThe husband and the wife are the same demon.
This proverb refers to a couple with the same interests, aspirations, and ways of thinking and acting. I’d say you were lucky to find a person like that, but the proverb has a rather pejorative connotation.

“They are, indeed, of the same breed.”

Top 10 Quotes About Family

Top 10 Quotes About Friendship


7. Sarcasm

We’ve all said sarcastic things from time to time, no? Let’s conclude our list of Russian proverbs with some sarcastic sayings and phrases. 

RussianКогда рак на горе свистнет.
(Kogda rak na gore svistnet)
LiterallyWhen the crawfish whistles on the mountain.
When you hear this, rest assured: whatever you’ve been talking about is not going to happen. No crawfish have been detected whistling yet.

“When pigs fly.”

RussianЛюбовь зла, полюбишь и козла.
(Lyubov’ zla, polyubish’ i kozla)
LiterallyLove’s evil, you might even fall for a goat.
Interestingly, in Russian, we use the same word for both “male goat” and “jerk” (козёл). Anyway, falling for either of them is a dubious pleasure.

“Love is blind.”

RussianСила есть — ума не надо.
(Sila yest’ — uma ne nado)
LiterallyThe strong don’t need to be smart.
This phrase can be used to express your disapproval of people who prefer to solve problems with force, or those who thoughtlessly show their strength off.

“All brawn and no brains.”

RussianДо свадьбы заживёт.
(Do svad’by zazhivyot)
LiterallyIt will heal before your wedding.
You’ll often hear this said when you hurt yourself. It works best with kids; you might need to come up with something else if the person you’re trying to comfort is already married, though…

“You’ll be alright.”

RussianПлохому танцору яйца мешают.
(Plokhomu tantsoru yaytsa meshayut)
LiterallyPoor dancer is impeded by his own balls.
It’s always easier to blame circumstances or other people than to accept your failure. Well, when there’s nobody else to accuse, blame your body parts… (That’s dud advice, by the way.)

“A poor workman blames his tools.”

A Little Girl Who Skinned Her Knee

Kids being kids. How would you console her in Russian?

8. What’s Next?

Today you’ve discovered more than thirty Russian proverbs! There’s a saying for every possible situation in life, and what we’ve seen today was just the tip of the iceberg. Did you learn anything new about the way Russians treat friendship, family, and work? Which proverb caught your attention most of all? Let us know in the comments below!

Was it easy to guess the meaning of the proverbs without reading the translation right away? Many proverbs aren’t self-explanatory, and you might need some help interpreting them, especially when it comes to connotations. 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 about a confusing proverb you’ve seen recently or any other language-related question. Tutors will be there for you if you decide to work on your Russian, as well: you’ll receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. Just give it a try!

Eager to learn more? This material will help you learn more about Russian culture:

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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Moscow Travel Guide: The Top 10 Places to Visit in Moscow

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Moscow is a magnificent city, serving as both the Russian capital and the nation’s historical and cultural center. So, if you want to learn more about the biggest country in the world—and experience its grandeur yourself—then visiting Moscow is the logical next step forward. 

But is Moscow a nice place to visit? 

Believe us: This lively city has dozens of entertainment options for all tastes. If you’re ready, let’s start planning your trip right now in our Moscow travel guide!

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Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go: The Most Important Things to Know
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Survival Russian Phrases for Foreigners
  5. Conclusion

Before You Go: The Most Important Things to Know

Planning a visit to Moscow involves more than getting your itinerary in order: it’s also essential to know the area and what to expect. Here’s some useful and interesting information about Moscow for you! 

People

Moscow is the most-populated city in all of Europe, with about twelve million people currently living there. It may surprise you, but only two percent of them are indigenous residents. The rest came to this city of big opportunities from other parts of Russia and even other post-Soviet countries. So, if you’re going to travel to Moscow, be prepared to enter a busy atmosphere.

Weather

Another thing you should prepare for is the weather. Moscow is known for its long, severe winters and short, mild summers. While it’s wonderful here at any time of the year, you should keep in mind that you won’t be able to walk around as much during the winter. 

By the way, the best time to visit Moscow is during summer and the beginning of autumn. Before traveling, remember to check the weather forecast, because boiling summer days are not unheard of here.

Currency

In Russia, we pay in rubles; dollars and euros are only accepted in duty-free shops. Although Moscow is a modern city where you can easily pay by card, there are still some places that only accept cash. So, it would be wise to make sure that you always have some cash on you.

Accomodation

The average cost of a hotel room for two people in Moscow is around 2800 rubles (40 dollars) per day. Since Moscow is a really enormous and diverse city, you can find both luxury hotels like Radisson and really cheap variants like hostels.

Transport

The public transportation network in Moscow is well-developed. The best way to get around the city is to use the metro. The Moscow Metro system is well-known for its stunning interior, full of art and mosaics. Even if you prefer taxis, you should take the metro at least one time for the aesthetic experience.

A Moscow Metro Station

Where else in the world can you find something similar to this?

Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

If your time in Moscow is limited, it’s not a big problem. You can visit the most famous sights during your first trip and then come back for more in the future. Let’s discover the must-see places for your one- to three-day visit.

Red Square

Red Square, or Красная Площадь (Krasnaya Ploshchad’), is the symbol of Moscow and of Russia in general. It’s considered to be the center of Moscow, and there are always hundreds of people (mostly tourists) walking around here. 

While in Red Square, you can check out the most significant sights of Moscow. They are:

1.   St Basil’s Cathedral. This unique cathedral attracts attention with its bright colors, crazy patterns, and strange shapes. It’s open every day, but if you come on Sunday, you can also attend a church service.

2.   The Kremlin. The Kremlin is a long-fortified complex where the Russian government is based. There’s also a museum inside.

3.   GUM. This is a huge mall with dozens of boutiques from world-famous brands. If you go inside, make sure to buy the famous GUM ice-cream at one of the ice-cream stalls.

4.   The State History Museum. This museum holds the largest collection of Russian history. There are about five million exhibits and many Russian-style interiors inside of it.

5.   Lenin’s Mausoleum. Lenin was the Russian revolutionist who formed the Russian Soviet Republic. His body is still kept in a transparent sarcophagus inside the mausoleum, and everybody can see it.

It’s worth noting that the amount of time you’ll spend in Red Square fully depends on how deep you want to dig. Five or six hours is enough for most tourists, but some people come here for several days at a time to visit all of the museums.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil’s Cathedral is the first thing that comes to any foreigner’s mind when thinking of Russia.

The Bolshoi Theatre

Visiting the Bolshoi Theatre, or Большой театр (Bol’shoy teatr) as Russians call it, is an essential part of any trip to Moscow. For many years, it’s been a place for holding masquerades and balls. Nowadays, many wonderful ballet and opera performances take place in the Bolshoi Theatre.

If you travel to Moscow, you’d better buy tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre ahead of time, because this place is really popular among Moscow residents and tourists alike. But even if you’re not able to get tickets, you can still walk around this magnificent building and enjoy its Neoclassical architecture.

Arbat

Arbat, or Арбат (Arbat), is the second-most-famous walking street in Moscow after Red Square. Arbat is divided into two parts: the old one and the new one. The old one is a fully pedestrian area, while the new one also contains a carriageway.

Among all the good places to visit in Moscow, Arbat is the best one for getting to know Russian architecture. It’s also nice to eat some traditional food in one of the local restaurants here, listen to street musicians, and buy souvenirs. Several museums are located on Arbat, and the Viktor Tsoi Memorial Wall is also situated here.

Viktor Tsoi Wall in Moscow, Russia

Viktor Tsoi was a legendary Russian musician, and his sudden death at the age of 28 came as a shock for millions of fans.

Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

If you have four to seven days to stay in Russia, then you’re lucky! There are plenty more places you can visit in Moscow with the extra time. 

Moscow-City

In Russian, this is called Москва-Сити (Moskva-Siti) or just (Siti). It’s a modern architectural complex that consists of glass and concrete skyscrapers. The architecture of the buildings combines high tech and Neoconstructivism.

Moscow-City is a budget-friendly place where you can walk between skyscrapers and take wonderful pictures from an observation deck. If your budget isn’t too limited, you can go shopping in a mall or dine in a restaurant in one of the towers.

Moscow-City

Moscow is the city of contrasts, and this photo is proof.

The Moskva River

The Moskva River, or Москва-река (Moskva-reka), flows through the entire city. Many famous buildings are located near this river, so there’s a high probability that you’ll notice it while walking around the city.

If your trip is planned for summer and you would like to visit Moscow by night, we highly recommend that you roam the Moskva River on a tourist boat. The perfect way to do this is to book a late cruise and enjoy the night views of the city.

The State Tretyakov Gallery

In Russian, it’s called Третьяковская Галерея (Tret’yakovskaya Galereya). As the foremost depository of fine Russian art, this is one of the best places to visit in Moscow if you like art and want to further explore Russian culture.

The State Tretyakov Gallery is composed of two buildings: the main one presents masterpieces from the early eleventh century up to the twentieth century, and the second building mainly contains works of Russian avant-garde artists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In total, the gallery contains around 130,000 exhibits. It may take an entire day to see all of them.

Gorky Park

Among Russians, Gorky Park is known as Парк Горького (Park Gor’kogo). This historic park is located in the heart of the city and covers 275 acres. Several festivals and concerts take place in Gorky Park throughout the year.

Gorky Park is one of the greatest places to visit in Moscow in any season. During a summer trip, you’ll be able to rent a bicycle or roller skates here; in winter, you can do ice skating.

Gorky Park in Moscow, Russia

The government takes care of Gorky Park, so every year it becomes more and more beautiful.

Sparrow Hills

Sparrow Hills is one of Moscow’s highest points, where you can enjoy an outstanding panoramic view of the city. It’s located near Gorky Park, so you can visit them one after the other.

In addition to the viewing place, there’s also a beautiful park here in Sparrow Hills. In this park, you can get a closer look at one of the famous Stalinist skyscrapers, which is now the Moscow State University. Tours inside the building are also available.

Tsaritsyno

Tsaritsyno is a palace museum with a large park reserve located in the southern part of the city. Many years ago, Tsaritsyno served as the residence of Empress Catherine, but now the palace and other decorated buildings are open for tourists.

Tsaritsyno’s enormous territory is filled with blooming gardens, greenhouses, ponds, bridges, and even mounds, so you can spend the whole day just walking around and exploring it. If you’re traveling with your partner, then you should definitely arrange a romantic date here!

VDNH

VDNH is an enormous city area with various exhibition pavilions, alleys, and fountains. The abbreviation VDNH stands for the “Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy.” In Russian, it’s called: Выставка достижений народного хозяйства (Vystavka dostizheniy narodnogo khozyaystva), or simply ВДНХ (VDNH).

Besides walking around and discovering pavilions, you may also visit the oceanarium, check out one of the innovative exhibitions, or treat yourself to some food from the farmers’ markets. In summer, there are many cyclists and roller-skaters here—and you can also be one of them!

Survival Russian Phrases for Foreigners

Unfortunately, not all Russian people can speak and understand English, so before traveling to Moscow, you should learn some basic Russian phrases. These ten expressions will suffice:

  • Здравствуйте. (Zdravstvuyte.) – “Hello.”
  • Спасибо. (Spasibo.) – “Thank you.”
  • До свидания. (Do svidaniya.) – “Goodbye.”
  • Извините. (Izvinite.) – “Sorry.”
  • Здорово. (Zdorovo.) – “Very good.”
  • Я вас не понимаю. (Ya vas ne ponimayu.) – “I don’t understand you.”
  • Где здесь туалет? (Gde zdes’ tualet?) – “Where is the restroom?”
  • Сколько это стоит? (Skol’ko eto stoit?) – “How much is it?”
  • Мне вот это. (Mne vot eto.) – “I want this.”
  • Помогите! (Pomogite!) – “Help me!”

Conclusion

So, is Moscow worth visiting? We hope that this article gave you a positive answer to this question, and introduced you to plenty of great reasons to visit Moscow in the near future! 

Have you gotten your tickets to Moscow already, or would you still like to improve your Russian before your trip? You can sign up for our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to have one-on-one tutoring with a native  Russian speaker. This will help you pick up the language much faster and gain additional insight into Russian culture. 

Before you go, are there any other Russian cities you would like to visit? We look forward to hearing from you!

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