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Top 10 Russian Movies on Netflix to Improve Your Russian!

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The best way to learn any language is to immerse yourself in the culture of the target language. Such as reading in Russian, watching movies and TV shows in Russian, listening to Russian podcasts, chatting with Russian friends, and learning new words with Russian teachers. Russian series on Netflix will be a great step in creating this true Russian atmosphere for boosting the learning process.

Yes, you really can learn Russian on Netflix! And when it comes to Russian TV, Netflix is a gold mine.

So, what’s the best way to learn from Netflix Russia? Here are some tips on how to watch Russian Netflix for language-learning purposes:

First, don’t translate every single word. You’ll get tired and lose interest pretty fast. Instead, either translate the first episode or translate the first few minutes of every episode. Write down the translations in a notebook and look in there every time you hear a familiar word. Once you hear it ten or twenty times, you’ll naturally start to recognize the meaning!

To help you with that, RussianPod101.com has prepared a list of words and expressions that you’ll hear a lot in Russian movies on Netflix. You can write them down in your “show-notebook” as well. ;)

Without further ado, our list of some of the best Netflix Russian content for language-learners!

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Table of Contents

  1. Фарца (Fartsa)—Fartsa, 2015
  2. Хождение по мукам (Khozhdeniye po mukam)— The Road to Calvary, 2017
  3. Спарта (Sparta)—Sparta, 2018
  4. Троцкий (Trotsky)—Trotsky, 2017
  5. Нюхач (Nyukhach)—The Sniffer, 2017
  6. Смешарики (Smeshariki)—Kikoriki, 2010
  7. Машины Сказки (Mashiny skazki)—Masha’s Tales, 2017
  8. Саранча (Sarancha)—Locust, 2014
  9. Метод (Method)—Method, 2015
  10. Мажор (Mazhor)—Silver Spoon, 2015
  11. Conclusion


1. Фарца (Fartsa)—Fartsa, 2015

Genre: Crime TV Show
This show is: Emotional; suspenseful

This is one of the best Russian shows on Netflix, and it tells a story about four Russian friends who grow up in the early ‘60s in Moscow. Kostya Germanov gambles away a huge sum of money that he needs to find and give to bandits. Three of his friends decide to help him, so he can get that money in time. As they become фарцовщик (fartsovshchik — see below), they start to make a lot of money and their life changes…

Interesting fact:

When it comes to Russian history, Netflix shows like this can be a great learning tool.

The movie title comes from a Russian slang term фарцовка (fartsovka) which is simply “fartsovka” in English. The Soviet Union was a closed country, so foreign goods were scarce and it was illegal to trade them. But scarcity makes things even more desirable, which is how фарцовка (fartsovka) appeared. A number of clever people started to acquire foreign goods from foreigners and sell them to Soviet people. They were called фарцовщик (fartsovschik).

The most popular goods were clothes, accessories, phonograph records and other sound storages, cosmetics, and books. Ownership of foreign goods gave prestige, which was the basic principle of the arisen subculture - стиляги (stilyagi). Cтиляги were the main buyers of foreign goods. There’s a great Russian musical about this subculture called Cтиляги (Stilyagi).

For language learners. This Russian Netflix show contains a handful of Soviet Union vocabulary and historic terms, so it will give you a great chance to dig into exciting Russian history. Though the show is about history, language is pretty easy and modern, so you’ll be able to find a lot of useful expressions.

The vocabulary.

  • Гражданин (grazhdanin) — “Citizen” or “Mister” (in the Soviet Union)
    • This was the common form of address to another person in the Soviet Union. гражданин (grazhdanin) was used outside to address an unknown person, while гражданин (grazhdanin) plus the person’s surname were used to officially address someone. The first phrase of the first episode is гражданин Рокотов (grazhdanin Rokotov), meaning “Mister Rokotov.” Find it and remember this word. You’ll hear it a lot in the series. By the way, “Miss” or “Mrs.” will be гражданка (grazhdanka).
  • Поехали! (Poyekhali!) — “Let’s go!”
    • This is a famous phrase that belongs to Yurii Gagarin, the first human to go to outer space. He said it right before the launch. This phrase became a symbol of a new era in the history of Russia.
  • Спектакль окончен. Занавес. (Spektakl’ okonchen. Zanaves.) — “The show is over. The end.”
    • Literally, занавес (zanaves) refers to a curtain on the scene in the theater. The curtain goes up at the beginning of the show and goes down at the end of the show. In this phrase, it’s used as a synonym of “the end.”
  • Костыль (kostyl’) — “crutch”
    • What is this word doing on the list? The thing is that some Russian names get turned into specific nicknames. For example, the name Константин (Konstantin), or the shorter version Костя (Kostya), is often turned into Костыль (kostyl’). You’ll hear this nickname throughout the show because he’s one of the main heroes. In the first episode, when the main hero gets off the train and meets his friends, he asks: А где Костыль? (A gde Kostyl’?) meaning “And where is Kostyl?” His friends joke: Сломался (Slomalsya) meaning “Broken.”
  • Жить взахлёб (Zhit’ vzakhlyob) — “To live excitedly/effusively”
    • This is a poetic expression that the main hero often quotes and tries to build his life off of. It essentially means “to seize the moment” or “to enjoy every moment of life.” If you’re a person who lives like that, then you can say about yourself: Я живу взахлёб (Ya zhivu vzakhlyob), which means “I live excitedly/effusively,” or Я люблю жить взахлёб (Ya lyublyu zhit’ vzakhlyob), which means “I love to live excitedly/effusively.”
  • Твою ж мать! (Tvoyu zh mat’!) — “Darn it!”
    • Literally, it means “Your mother!” and is the ending of a Russian obscene phrase. But as it’s used quite often in Russia, Твою ж мать! (Tvoyu zh mat’!) has lost its negative meaning and can now be translated as “Darn it!”
  • Бегом! (Begom!) — “Run!”
    • This word is used when people are late and need to hurry up.
  • Давай! Давай! (Davay! Davay!) — “Go! Go! Go!”
    • Literally, it means “Give! Give!” but it has another meaning depending on the context. By the way, there’s one more meaning of Давай! (Davay!) — “Let’s do it!”
  • Счастливо! (Shchactlivo!) — “Goodbye!”
    • This word comes from the noun счастье (shchast’ye), which means “happiness.” So literally it means “be happy,” and is used to say “goodbye.”
  • Пошёл вон отсюда! (Poshyol von otsyuda!) — “Go away!”
    • Russian people can use this expression when they’re really angry. Of course, people can also use it as a joke. Always mind the context and facial expression of the person saying it.


2. Хождение по мукам (Khozhdeniye po mukam)— The Road to Calvary, 2017

Best Ways to Learn

Genre: Political TV Show based on the book
This show is: Emotional; suspenseful

This Russian Netflix TV series covers the life of two sisters during political changes in 1914 through 1919. The old imperial Russia is dying, and the revolution is rising. The show is based on a book trilogy by the Russian classical author Alexey Tolstoy. The language is really literal and the dialogue is truly deep. If you enjoy solving language puzzles and trying to find the meaning underneath every phrase, this Russian Netflix series will become an exciting nut to crack. It’s best for advanced language learners or for those who want to immerse themselves in the great Russian Revolution.

The vocabulary.

  • Да здравствует революция! (Da zdravstvuyet revolyutsiya!) — “Viva revolution”
    • During revolution times, this was a popular phrase to cry out loud in the crowd.
  • Хороших снов тебе (Khoroshikh snov tebe) — “Sweet dreams to you.”
    • This is a really sweet phrase to say to a friend, or someone who is more than a friend. You can say it without тебе (tebe), or “to you” at the end, but this little word makes the phrase sound smarter and more intellectual. Use it. ;-)
  • Я хочу выпить за вашу смелость (Ya khochu vypit’ za vashu smelost’) — “I want to have a drink for your bravery.”
    • As you probably know, Russians rarely drink alcohol without making a toast. This is one of the ways to make a toast: Я хочу выпить за… (Ya khochu vypit’ za…), meaning “I want to have a drink for…” You can put pretty much anything after that: …ваше здоровье (…vashe zdorov’ye) meaning “…your health,” …мир во всем мире (…mir vo vsyom mire) meaning “…peace in the whole world,” …красоту женщин (…krasotu zhenshchin) meaning “…women’s beauty,” etc. Use your imagination. :-)
  • Чем могу быть полезен? (Chem mogu byt’ polezen?) — “How can I be useful?”
    • This is an old-fashioned phrase used when you’ve been called by someone you don’t know. You will often hear it during this show.
  • Барышня (baryshnya) — “young lady”
    • This is another old-fashioned way for older people to address a young lady. As there are many heroines in the show, you’ll hear this address pretty often.
  • Слово хозяина – закон (Slovo khozyaina – zakon) — “The word of a host is a law.”
    • This is a very interesting phrase, in that you can actually change the noun хозяин (khozyain) meaning “host” for начальника (nachal’nika) or “boss,” мужа (muzha) or “husband,” and Кати (Kati) or “Katya” (a girl’s name, though you can put any name here).
  • Вы что себе позволяете? (Vy chto sebe pozvolyayete?) — “What do you think you are doing?” (What are you daring?)
    • This is an old-fashioned phrase to ask someone who’s acting inappropriately.
  • Это безобразие! (Eto bezobraziye!) — “It’s a disgrace!”
    • Famous phrase to use in the Soviet Union to comment on anything that’s out of order or scandalous. Now it’s used very occasionally and mostly by people born in the Soviet Union.
  • Это издевательство! (Eto izdevatel’stvo!) — “That’s an insult/mockery!”
    • A nice way to comment on something when you feel that someone is intentionally doing something bad.
  • Милости прошу (Milosti proshu) — “Welcome”
    • An old-fashioned way to welcome someone. Though it’s old-fashioned, nowadays this expression is very popular. It’s used as a mocking or cool way to greet guests into a home.


3. Спарта (Sparta)—Sparta, 2018

Improve Pronunciation

Genre: Mystery; Thriller
This show is: Dark

In this Netflix Russian language series, a crime investigator starts to uncover the mysterious death of a young high school teacher. He finds out about a video game that all the kids in that school love to play. The more he knows about the game, the more he realizes that what happens in the game happens in real life as well… All dark fantasies become real.

This Russian Netflix series contains great vocabulary that modern teenagers use, making this one of the best Russian Netflix series for improving your informal communication skills.

The vocabulary.

  • Самоубийство (samoubiystvo) — “suicide”
    • As the story takes place around the suicide of a school teacher, you’ll hear this word quite often. It’s interesting to know that “murder” is убийство (ubiystvo), so cамоубийство (samoubiystvo) can literally be translated as “self-murder.”
  • Не перебивай (Ne perebivay) — “Don’t interrupt.”
    • You can tell this phrase to your friend who’s trying to say something while you’re still speaking.
  • Да пошёл ты (Da poshyol ty!) — “F*ck you.” [Literally “You go away.”]
    • This is a short version of the phrase with obscene words, which is why even without obscene lexic, it still sounds harsh.
  • Да ладно, не парься! (Da ladno, ne par’sya!) — “It’s fine, don’t worry.”
    • This phrase was popular when todays’ adults were teenagers. It’s still pretty commonly used between friends.
  • Мне б твои проблемы (Mne b tvoi problemy) — “I’d love to have your problems.”
    • This means that your problems are very small compared to mine, so I’d gladly switch them. This is a great and very common phrase, so don’t hesitate to use it in a friendly conversation.
  • Чё смотрим? (Chyo smotrim?) — “Stop staring.” [Literally “Why are you looking?”]
    • This is a rude question to ask, and it may result in a conflict.
  • Британские учёные доказали, что… (Britanskiye uchyonyye dokazali, chto…) — “British scientists have proved…”
    • You’ll hear this phrase several times during this series. It refers to the highly valued authority of British scientists. Kids in the series use it as a joke to “prove” random facts.
  • А чё так? (A chyo tak?) — “Why?”
    • This alternative of the question Почему? (Pochemu?) or “Why?” is used a lot in spoken language between friends. Try to use it in your next conversation.
  • Тянуть кота за хвост (Tyanut’ kota za khvost) — “To pull a cat by his tail.”
    • It means that something takes a longer time than it should.
  • Это в прошлом (Eto v proshlom) — “It is in the past.”
    • You can use this phrase to emphasize that even though you did something in the past, you’re not doing it now.

The story is about modern high school students, so they use a lot of slang words and abbreviations. We’ve prepared an awesome article on this topic for you.


4. Троцкий (Trotsky)—Trotsky, 2017

Genre: Political drama
This show is: Cerebral

This is a great Russian period drama Netflix currently has. Lev Trotskiy was a powerful political figure. It was he who influenced the minds of Russian people, headed the Russian Revolution, and destroyed the Russian Empire. This Russian Netflix series contains a lot of revolution-related words that would be exciting vocabulary to learn for advanced learners.

The vocabulary.

  • Приятного вечера (Priyatnogo vechera) — “Have a nice evening.”
    • This is a very polite phrase that you can use toward someone you respect.
  • Пошёл вон! (Poshyol von!) — “Get out of here!”
    • This phrase is used by people who have a different kind of authority, such as teachers or parents toward kids.
  • Всего хорошего (Vsego khoroshego) — “I wish you well.”
    • A very polite thing to say as an alternative to До свидания (Do svidaniya) meaning “Goodbye.”
  • Есть! (Yest’!) — “Yes, sir!” and Так точно! (Tak tochno!) — “Yes, sir!”
    • These replies to commands are used in Russian military forces.
  • Вы свободны (Vy svobodny) — “You can go.” [Literally “You are free.”]
    • Very official phrase used by people with authority.
  • Позвольте представиться (Pozvol’te predsatvit’sya) — “Let me introduce myself.”
    • Follow it with your name. It’s a nice and intelligent way to introduce yourself. It was mainly used in XIX-XX centuries by the aristocracy, so you’ll bring some noble manners into your speech by using it.
  • Я знаю, кто вы (Ya znayu, ko vy) — “I know who you are.”
    • This phrase is often used in series as a reply to someone’s introduction.
  • Я никогда ни о чём не жалею (Ya nikogda ni o chyom ne zhaleyu) — “I never regret anything.”
    • One of the phrases that the main hero likes to use.
  • Строить новый мир (Stroit’ novyy mir) — “To build a new world.”
    • You’ll hear this phrase many times in the series. Revolutionists built their propaganda around this idea.
  • Управлять людьми можно единственно страхом (Upravlyat’ lyud’mi mozhno edinstvenno strakhom) — “You can rule people only by fear.”
    • A famous phrase of Trotsky.


5. Нюхач (Nyukhach)—The Sniffer, 2017

Genre: Mystery; Thriller
This show is: Dark

A genius detective with a nasty character has a keen sense of smell. Just by smell, he can tell everything and even more about any person: what he ate, with whom did he sleep, if he has an alibi.

The vocabulary in this series is pretty simple, so it’s great for beginners. But do be warned it may have the most interesting vocabulary of the other Russian shows on Netflix… ;) You’ll see.

The vocabulary.

  • Чёрт! (Chyort!) — “Darn it!”
    • Literally, it means “Devil!” Often used as an interjection.
  • Я вызову полицию (Ya vyzovu politsiyu) — “I’ll call the police.”
    • In the context of this series, the phrase is used as a threat.
  • Совершенно верно (Sovershenno verno) — “Absolutely right.”
    • This phrase is often used by the main hero of the series.
  • Посмотрим (Posmotrim) — “We’ll see.”
    • It has the same meaning as the English phrase.
  • Ладно (Ladno) — “Okay.”
    • This is a nice and very Russian alternative to Окей (Okey) meaning “okay” and Хорошо (Khorosho) meaning “good.”
  • Отпечатков нет (Otpechatkov net) — “There are no fingerprints.”
    • All crimes that the main hero will come across are complicated, so this phrase will come up pretty often.
  • Убитый (Ubityy) — “Murdered person”
    • Well, this word will come up even more often.
  • Убийца (Ubiytsa) — “Murderer”
    • This one as well.
  • Труп (Trup) — “Corpse”
    • You’re going to get pretty interesting Russian words in your memory after watching this series, right? :)
  • Да? (Da?) — “Yes?”
    • In the series, the main hero uses this reply as an alternative to Алло (Allo) or “hello,” which is used to reply to phone calls. You can also start your phone call reply this way, as it’s very common in Russia.


6. Смешарики (Smeshariki)—Kikoriki, 2010

Genre: Kids’ cartoon
This show is: Funny

Cute animals live, get into adventures, and build friendships in this funny animation series.

The vocabulary is simple but very diverse, like most Netflix Russian programs for kids. This is one of the best Russian Netflix shows for beginner language learners, as they’ll find a great deal of useful words here.

The vocabulary.

  • Ёжик (Yozhik) — “Yozhik”
    • That’s the name of the hedgehog hero. It was made from the word Ёж (Yozh) meaning “hedgehog” by adding the suffix -ик (-ik) that usually shows that the thing referred to is small.
  • Бараш (Barash) — “Barash”
    • That’s the name of the ram hero. The name comes from the word Баран (Baran) that actually means “ram” or “sheep.”
  • Нюша (Nyusha) — “Nyusha”
    • That’s the name of the pig hero. It’s interesting to know that нюша (nyusha) is a cute way to refer to a “pig.”
  • Что это у тебя? (Chto eto u tebya?) — “What’s that you have?”
  • Не мешайте (Ne meshayte) — “Don’t distract (me).”
    • A very often-used phrase to stop someone from interfering.
  • Это как-то само собой получилось (Eto kak-to samo soboy poluchilos’) — “It happened by itself.”
    • A nice way to remove guilt from yourself. :)
  • Я чуть не умерла от страха! (Ya chut’ ne umerla ot strakha!) — “I’ve almost died from fright!”
    • You can say this phrase after you’ve been suddenly very frightened by someone or something.
  • Ёлки-иголки! (Yolki-igolki!) — “Fir tree needles!”
    • Actually, the translation of this phrase isn’t that important. It’s an interjection which is used by some people, and can be translated as “Wow!”
  • Спасайся, кто может! (Spasaysya, kto mozhet!) — “Save yourself, everyone who can!”
    • The short version of this phrase is Спасайся! (Spasaysya!) meaning “Save yourself!” It’s used in the same situations as the English phrase.
  • Какая прелесть! (Kakaya prelest’!) — “So cute!”
    • You can say this phrase if a kid is gifting you with something cute that he made himself, or if you get an amazing and pretty gift. The phrase can also be cut to Прелесть! (Prelest’!)
  • Чего нет, того нет (Chego net, togo net) — “What I don’t have, I don’t have,” or “What there isn’t, there isn’t.”
    • This phrase gives an interesting emphasis on regret about something that you don’t have. For example, if someone asks you if you have a video camera, you can sadly shake your head and say Чего нет, того нет (Chego net, togo net).


7. Машины Сказки (Mashiny skazki)—Masha’s Tales, 2017

Genre: Kids’ cartoon
This show is: Funny

Another one of the best Russian Netflix TV shows for beginners, where the most famous Russian tales are interpreted and told by a cute little Russian girl.

The vocabulary that you learn from this series will help you to read Russian tales. Good for both beginners and advanced language learners.

The vocabulary.

  • Голубчики мои (Golubchiki moi) — “My darlings”
    • Usually, this address is used by grannies to their grandkids. It has a patronizing connotation.
  • Жили были… (Zhili byli…) — “Once upon a time there lived…”
    • The most common beginning of Russian tales.
  • Заяц (Zayats) — “Hare”
    • In Russian tales, he’s often named as Зайчик-попрыгайчик (Zaychik-poprygaychik), meaning “Hare the Jumper.”
  • Медведь (Medved’) — “Bear”
    • One of the most often-met characters in Russian tales.
  • Волк (Volk) — “Wolf”
    • Another one of the most often-met characters in Russian tales.
  • Лиса (Lisa) — “Fox”
    • Another one of the most often-met characters in Russian tales.
  • Мышка-норушка (Myshka-norushka) — “Mouse the Burrow”
    • A lot of Russian tales refer to a mouse hero by that name.
  • Лягушка-квакушка (Lyagushka-kvakushka) — “Frog the Croaker”
    • A lot of Russian tales refer to a frog hero by that name.
  • Баба-яга (Baba-yaga) — “Baba Yaga”
  • Проще простого (Proshche prostogo) — “Easier than easy.”
    • You can say this phrase when someone asks you to do a job for them, and you want to show that the job will be really easy for you—even if it’s really not. :)


8. Саранча (Sarancha)—Locust, 2014

Movie Genres

Genre: Thriller; Drama
This show is: Steamy; romantic

This is an exciting thriller and Russian Netflix drama with intense love between a rich girl and a poor guy. The language is quite simple, and there are a lot of useful modern expressions for language learners—both beginners and advanced.

The vocabulary.

  • Саранча (Sarancha) — “Locust”
    • This is a metaphorical name of the series. But we won’t spoil why it’s named that way. :)
  • Я ничего не слышу! (Ya nichego ne slyshu!) — “I don’t hear anything!”
    • Use this phrase when you really don’t hear a word that another person is saying.
  • Ладно, давай, пока (Ladno, davay, poka) — “Okay, well, bye.”
    • You might wonder why the main heroine can’t just say Пока (Poka), or “Bye.” Well, won’t it be too simple and short? :) By the way, a lot of Russians use this expression, so make sure to remember it and use it at the end of a first conversation.
  • Приятных снов (Priyatnykh snov) — “Sweet dreams.”
    • A nice way to wish goodnight.
  • Хватит на сегодня (Khvatit na segodnya) — “Enough for today.”
    • This phrase can be used in many situations. For example, to send your employees home. :)
  • За тебя! (Za tebya!) — “For you!”
    • A really short and meaningful toast when nothing else comes into your mind.
  • Иди ты! (Idi ty!) — “F*ck you.” [Literally: “Go away.”]
    • Can be used when you have nothing witty to say in reply to an insult or a joke.
  • Пока. Целую (Poka, Tseluyu) — “Bye. Kissing you.”
    • It’s a nice way to say goodbye to someone. Though it may seem to be okay only for relationship goodbyes, in Russia it’s very popular between girlfriends and family members.
  • Заткнись! (Zatknis’!) — “Shut up!”
    • Use this rude phrase when somebody is really annoying.
  • Не заводись (Ne zavodis’) — “Don’t start.”
    • This is a popular phrase to calm down a wife or a girlfriend when she’s starting to shower you with negative emotions.


9. Метод (Method)—Method, 2015

Genre: Crime drama
This show is: Emotional; suspenseful

Do you like genius maniacs with perverted minds, and even more genius detectives? Then this Russian crime drama Netflix series would be a great addition for your Russian language study process. The language is pretty simple and modern, so the series will be good for beginners.

The vocabulary.

  • Метод (Metod!) — “Method”
    • The word means pretty much the same as in English.
  • Чем занимаешься? (Chem zanimayesh’sya?) — “What are you up to? What are you doing right now?”
    • This is a famous and really common question to start a casual conversation on the phone or via Messenger.
  • Глянь! (Glyan’!) — “Have a look!”
    • You probably know the alternative word for it: Смотри! (Smotri!) meaning “Look!” Глянь! (Glyan’!) sounds more common.
  • Я не понимаю (Ya ne ponimayu) — “I don’t understand.”
    • Pretty useful phrase even when you do understand. :)
  • Маньяк (Man’yak!) — “A maniac”
    • Well, you’ll get to know a lot of maniac heroes while watching this series. :) At least, now you know what they’re called in Russian. By the way, you can say: Ну ты маньяк! (Nu ty man’yak!) or “You’re a maniac!” when somebody is overdoing something (e.g. they learned a crazy amount of foreign words). How about you? How many Russian words have you already learned? 10? 100? What??? 1000??! Ну ты маньяк! (Nu ty man’yak!)
  • Помогите! (Pomogite!) — “Help me!”
    • This is a phrase you need to cry out loud in case you face a guy we talked about earlier, Маньяк (Man’yak!) or “A maniac.” And since we’re talking about maniacs…
  • Ты меня не поймаешь (Ty menya ne poymayesh) — “You won’t catch me.”
    • That’s the nickname of the first maniac in the series.
  • Тело (Telo) — “A body.”
    • In the context of the series, this word often means a dead body.
  • Ничего страшного (Nichevo strashnovo) — “It’s fine.” [Literally “Nothing bad.”]
    • You’ll hear this phrase a lot, both in the series and in real life in Russia. People say this phrase when somebody is apologizing to them.
  • Внешность обманчива (Vneshnost’ obmanchiva) — “Looks can be deceiving.”
    • This is a popular expression in Russia. Use it to characterize a person whose appearance doesn’t match his character.


10. Мажор (Mazhor)—Silver Spoon, 2015

Genre: Thriller; Drama
This show is: Exciting; suspenseful

A rich boy that had everything since birth seems not to understand what’s right and what’s wrong anymore. After one of his drunken adventures, his father gets so pissed that he cuts all his bank cards and makes him take a job as a simple investigation officer. A rich boy has to face a simple life with its ups and downs in order to become respected among his colleagues and find himself. His witty humor and positive life attitude seem to change the life of his colleagues for the better, as well.

There’s a lot of modern jargon in this Netflix Russian series, so if you’d like to learn some juicy Russian expressions to impress your Russian friends, this series is a great choice.

The vocabulary.

  • Вали отсюда! (Vali otsyuda!) — “Be off with you!”
    • The word валить (valit’), meaning “to go,” comes from a criminal slang word, so every usage of it has this spicy feeling of something illegal. A milder version of it that you’ll hear in one of the episodes is: Иди отсюда! (Idi otsyuda!) meaning “Go away.” Also, in this series, you’ll hear the phrase Валим! (Valim!), meaning “Time to go!” which is used when people have been doing something restricted and now it’s time to go.
  • Вопросы остались? (Voprosy ostalis’?) — “Any questions left?”
    • This question can be used by someone who has just given instructions.
  • Погоны не жмут? (Pogony ne zhmut?) — “Shoulder boards are not tight?”
    • Shoulder straps in Russia usually indicate a military rank. This phrase is used when a person with shoulder boards is overusing his power (and thus risking the loss of his shoulder straps).
  • Пистолет (Pistolet) — “Gun; pistol”
    • This word will be used often in the series. Make sure to memorize it.
  • Мажор (Mazhor) — “Silver spoon”
    • This is how Russians describe a person with a lot of money. In spoken language, they call someone this if they spend a lot of money on something that’s very expensive or exclusive. In that situation, you can say, with admiration on your face, Ну ты мажор! (Nu ty mazhor!) meaning “What a silver spoon you are!”
  • Ты чего? (Ty chego?) — “Why are you behaving like that?”
    • It’s a quick way to ask what’s going on with someone who’s behaving oddly or not like they usually do.
  • Здравствуйте. А вы к кому? (Zdrastvuyte. A vy k komu?) — “Hello. Whom did you come for?”
    • This phrase is often used by secretaries or employees of companies when they see an unknown visitor.
  • Проставиться (Prostavit’sya) — “To buy drinks to celebrate.”
    • This is an interesting Russian word that doesn’t have an exact translation in English. There’s a tradition that a person who’s celebrating something should buy a round of drinks for his friends or coworkers (depending on the event). That’s what Russians call Проставиться (Prostavit’sya), or “To buy drinks to celebrate.” That way, a Russian person kind of shares his good luck or happiness with others. If you want to know more such words, go ahead and check out our article with the top ten untranslatable Russian words.
  • Не таких кололи (Ne takikh kololi) — “We’ve cracked tougher ones.”
    • This phrase is used by policemen when they’re trying to get the truth from somebody who doesn’t want to tell it. You can use the word колоться (kolot’sya), meaning “to crack,” in a popular phrase used in spoken language: Колись давай (Kolis’ davay), or “Come on, tell me.” It’s used when a person is hiding some secret and you want to know it.
  • Издеваешься? (Izdevayesh’sya?) — “Are you mocking me?”
    • This phrase can be used when someone is proposing or talking about something irritating. Another way to say it, with the same meaning: Ты издеваешься, что ли? (Ty izdevayeshsya, chto li?).


11. Conclusion

Now you have a list with the most relevant Netflix Russian series for language learners. Choose one you like and start your new exciting step in your language-learning journey!

Have you already watched any of these Russian series on Netflix? What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments!

If you’ve watched one or several series and realized that you want to learn Russian more profoundly with professional tutors, check out our MyTeacher program for Russian learners. Our teachers are all native speakers with an impressive teaching background. They’ll make sure that you start talking in Russian very soon. ;-) And Russian series on Netflix will be a great help in the learning process.

RussianPod101.com also has several other practical learning tools for the aspiring Russian learner! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study our free vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow students on our community forums!

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Russian Etiquette: 7 Do’s and Don’ts in Russia

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Did you know that it’s considered good etiquette in Russia to bring something к чаю (k chayu) or “for the tea?” That means something sweet: cake, chocolate, candies, or a sweet pastry. There are many interesting and exciting Russian customs which may not seem obvious, but definitely are to native Russians. Knowing even basic Russian etiquette for tourists can go a long way during your visit to the country!

Let’s start this exciting journey. Learn Russian etiquette with RussianPod101.com’s Russian tourist etiquette guide!

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Table of Contents

  1. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #1: Basic Russian Etiquette
  2. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #2: Russian Dining Etiquette
  3. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #3: Russian Drinking Etiquette
  4. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #4: What to Expect from a Date with a Russian Girl or Russian Guy
  5. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #5: So, You’re Going to Visit a Russian House
  6. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #6: How Russians Behave in a Public Transport
  7. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #7: Russian Business Etiquette Tips
  8. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #8: Russian Gift Giving Etiquette
  9. Conclusion: How RussianPod101 Can Help You Learn Russian Better


1. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #1: Basic Russian Etiquette

1- Russian Greeting Etiquette

Someone Putting Their Hand Out to Shake

1. Cheek kiss.

There’s a well-known Russian greeting tradition: the triple cheek-kiss. It’s usually common between close relatives. Sometimes, it’s shortened to two kisses.

One cheek kiss is often used by girls to greet friends, or even close female coworkers.

2. Russian handshake etiquette.

This is a usual greeting between men—regardless of how close they are—who are meeting for the first time, or for the 100th time.

Important advice! If you’re wearing gloves, make sure to take them off before a handshake. If you don’t take them off when another person has prepared to give you a handshake with his bare hands, he might think that you’re disrespecting him.

Another piece of important advice! Don’t give a handshake across a doorway. Walk inside the apartment or wait for someone to come outside, but don’t stick your hand across a threshold immediately after you see a person. This is considered very bad luck in Russia, and a lot of people will refuse to shake your hand in this situation.

For girls, a handshake works in business settings where this American tradition has become popular. But still, most girls prefer just to smile and nod instead of shaking hands.

When you leave a place where you’ve spent some time—a party, a house, or an office—make sure to shake hands as a goodbye with everyone you previously greeted with a handshake. If you leave without saying goodbye, people call this Уходить по-английски (Ukhodit’ po-angliysky) meaning “To leave as Englishmen do.” In England, people can leave without saying goodbye; but in Russia, it would be considered rude to do so. Always be mindful of this Russian meeting etiquette rule.

3. Smile and nod.

This is a basic solution for all other situations. If you feel awkward with other greetings, just stick with this one and you’ll be fine.

4. Hug.

This greeting is often used when greeting close friends, family members, or family members of close friends.

To learn greeting words and phrases, check out our article on how to say “Hello” in Russian.

2- Asking for Forgiveness

There are no specific Russian traditions or gestures for a formal apology. Just use formal Russian apology expressions and you’ll be fine.

If the situation isn’t formal or serious, look into the other person’s eyes. Note that, in Russian culture, looking down during the apology will make it look more sincere.

Learn how to say “I’m sorry” in Russian in our relevant article.

3- Gratitude

Thanks

Спасибо (spasibo) means “thank you” in Russian. You can use it in any situation, both formal and informal.

In informal situations, you can add a hug if you’re feeling extremely grateful. Men are most likely to add a handshake (yes, pretty much the same one they use in greeting).

For additional information on this topic, listen to our audio lesson on how to say “You are welcome” in Russian. By listening to this audio lesson, you can also practice using etiquette interjections.

4- Forms of Address for Different People

When you talk with an elder person or a person you don’t know, don’t use an informal way of speaking. It will be considered extremely rude. Well, of course, not if you’re addressing your own granny who happens to be Russian.

You can use an informal way of speaking only with kids or school children.


2. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #2: Russian Dining Etiquette

Hygiene

1- Paying for Food

First on our list of Russian etiquette at restaurants: paying.

If you’re visiting Russian friends for a short period of time, they’ll most likely pay for your food to show hospitality.

But normally, if you go to a restaurant with your Russian friends, you’ll notice that when it comes to payment, everyone takes a look at the bill and pays for their own food.

Splitting the bill is an option if Russians buy some food to be shared, like pizza or Japanese rolls.

2- When Should You Start Eating?

Don’t start eating your food before everyone gets to the table. According to Russian meal etiquette, this is considered rude.

Before eating, people usually wish Приятного аппетита (Priyatnogo appetita) which means “Enjoy your meal,” in Russian. This phrase is used both in formal and informal situations.

3- Going to the Toilet

It’s perfectly fine Russian table etiquette to leave the table to go to the toilet in Russia. Just say Извините, сейчас вернусь (Izvinite, seychas vernus’) which means “I’m sorry, I’ll be back soon,” and go. However, if you go more than once, it may be considered rude (or cause people to question your digestion). :-)

To learn even more about table manners in Russia, listen to our audio lesson about basic table etiquette.


3. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #3: Russian Drinking Etiquette

Friends Drinking at Lunch

1- Making a Toast

In Russia, no one should drink at the table without making a toast. It’s a famous Russian tradition that shows that they’re aware of the people around them and want to share the moment.

Usually, after making a toast, people clink glasses. Then, everyone drinks.

2- Pouring

There’s a tradition that a man should pour alcohol for the women sitting next to him. This is especially relevant during big occasions such as weddings or funerals, so that women won’t spoil their pretty dresses with a clumsy glass refill.

3- Don’t Put Empty Bottles on the Table

Russia is full of traditions and superstitions, especially about alcohol. One of the famous ones is that keeping empty bottles on the table is considered bad luck, and is thought to make you poor. That’s why, as soon as the bottle gets empty, it should be passed to the waiter, removed to the trash bin, or at least put under the table to be thrown away later.


4. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #4: What to Expect from a Date with a Russian Girl or Russian Guy

Couple at Dinner

In this section, we’ll go over the basic Russian social etiquette that’s expected when dating a Russian. Let’s get started.

1- Dating a Russian Woman Etiquette

1. Bringing Flowers

Bringing flowers on a date with a girl—even on a first date—has become popular in Russian etiquette and customs for dates. It shows that the guy has romantic feelings toward the girl. If you follow this dating tradition, you’ll score a couple of points already, at the beginning of the date.

But make sure that:

  • You don’t bring an even number of flowers. This is REALLY important. Russians bring an even number of flowers only to funerals or when they visit a tomb.
  • Gifting carnations is also associated with funerals—Soviet ones. If you happen to be in Russia on a Victory Day (9th of May) you’ll see a lot of carnations that commemorate war heroes.
  • Don’t gift yellow roses. According to Russian superstition, yellow roses will bring a couple apart.

2. Russian Girls on the Date

Russian girls are famous for being really girly. They put on makeup and dress up even when going out to the supermarket or to throw away the garbage. One of the things that makes them more “girly” are high heels.

Sometimes it’s inconvenient to wear high heels all the time. So they just bring them along to wear when they arrive at the place (the cinema, theatre, or party, for instance).

3. Being a Gentleman

If you go out on a date with a Russian girl, behave like a gentleman. Open the doors for her, let her sit on public transport if there’s only one free seat left, and pay for her food in a restaurant.

Russian girls believe that they spend a lot of money and time to stay pretty—makeup, nails, eyelashes, eyebrows, clothes, etc., so it’s only natural that the guys pay for them on the date.

2- Dating a Russian Man Etiquette

If you want to date a Russian guy, then you should be aware of things that Russian men expect from their dates:

1. Act Like a Lady

While Russian guys, since childhood, are expected to act like gentlemen around girls, Russian girls are expected to accept that. Don’t fight for your life if a guy wants to pay for you on a date. You can take out your purse to show that you’re ready to pay, and if a guy offers to pay for you, just accept that; put your purse back in your pouch and warmly thank him.

2. Be Ready for High Expectations

While women and men in Russia have equal rights, relationships are still built with a specific division of responsibilities.

In a dating phase, women are expected to show good knowledge of doing simple house chores. Girls should clean a messy place of her beloved one and cook some food. In exchange, men will be paying for her when going out.

Of course, this isn’t set in stone, and you can always negotiate your responsibilities. But just know that your boyfriend’s mother is probably very traditional, and she’ll accept you only if you show that you’re good at performing household duties.


5. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #5: So, You’re Going to Visit a Russian House

Bad Phrases

Now, for some Russian guest etiquette so that you can be a great visitor in a friend’s home.

1- Take Your Shoes Off

Once you enter a Russian house, take your shoes off unless you’re told not to. Many Russian houses are decorated with big rugs that are difficult to clean. You may be offered to wear slippers instead.

2- Don’t Show up Empty-handed

It’s considered rude not to bring something along when you come as a guest to a Russian house. A perfect gift is something sweet like a cake, candies, chocolate, pastry, etc., that can be eaten during a tea-time. There’s even a special expression—Что-нибудь к чаю (Chto-nibud’ k chayu) meaning “something for tea”—that you’ll probably hear as an answer if you ask Что купить? (Chto kupit’?) or “What should I buy?”

3- Don’t Whistle Indoors

Russians are very superstitious. Whistling indoors means that you’ll become poor. So, as in many European countries, whistling indoors is considered unacceptable.

4- Offer to Help Clean Dishes After the Meal

This is a really nice thing to do to get extra points for being a good guest in Russia, as it is in many other countries. A Russian hostess would probably refuse your help, but she will for sure remember how considerate you were and will gladly invite you the next time.

It’s especially beneficial if you’re visiting your future parents-in-law. ;-)

5- Russian Food Etiquette

Russian people are extremely hospitable. They’ll feed and feed you until you feel like you’ll blow up from inside from food. It’s considered rude to refuse food when the hostess offers you something.

But there’s a small secret about how to avoid being overfed. When you feel that you’re almost full, leave a small portion of food on your plate to show the hostess that you’re full. It shouldn’t be too much, or the hostess will think that you didn’t like the food, but it shouldn’t be extremely small, or you’ll be offered some more food. About 1/8 of a plateful is fine.

And don’t forget that drinking tea with a cake or sweets is a must after the main course. Leave some free room in your stomach for that.


6. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #6: How Russians Behave in a Public Transport

1- Offering a Seat

There’s an etiquette rule that Russians teach their kids from childhood. You should offer your seat to elder people, pregnant women, women with a child up to seven years old, and disabled people.

There’s a nuance in offering a seat to older people. Do it only when you see that they’re bringing really heavy bags or when it’s hard for them to walk (e.g. they’re really old or bring along a crutch). If you offer a seat to a perfectly normal woman, she might think that she looks too old and even get angry. :-)

If you’re a guy, offer your seat to a girl. This is considered to be a gentlemanly behavior.

2- Pushing in a Crowd and Public Lines

If you get to the Moscow underground, you’ll see that there are no lines to enter a train. People will push to get inside and catch a better spot for a ride.

If you feel uncomfortable around crowds, wait until people get onto the train before getting on the train yourself.

Also, try to avoid rush hour. Usually, people go to work at 8-9 a.m. and go back at 6-7 p.m.

3- Staring at Women

In Russia, it’s rude to stare at people you don’t know. In some countries it’s considered normal to stare at women who walk by themselves, but in Russia, a girl who’s being stared at will feel offended and disrespected.

Of course, quick looks are okay, so don’t walk around trying not to meet some girl’s eyes by accident. :-)


7. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #7: Russian Business Etiquette Tips

People Shaking Hands in a Meeting Room

1- Business and Alcohol

Business

Russian business etiquette is closely connected with alcohol traditions. Russians tend to have greater trust in those with whom they’ve gotten drunk. In a drunken condition, people loosen up and say what they really think. And Russians use this.

Another tradition is to celebrate a sealed business deal with alcohol. Very often, Russians go to баня (banya) or a “banya; Russian sauna” for that. This may look weird to foreigners, but it’s one of the famous Russian etiquette business traditions that you should just accept.

2- Don’t Keep Your Hands in Your Pockets

This is another etiquette point that Russians teach their kids: not keeping hands in pockets during official events. Doing so shows disrespect to the person you’re speaking with.

This is due to psychological logic that comes from old times. When people show their empty hands, it’s considered a gesture of peace; when you keep your hands in your pockets, it indicates that you might be ready to use a weapon.

3- Don’t Spread Your Legs Wide Apart

This is an important Russian office etiquette rule. This posture is popular among men as it allows them to occupy more space and thus show their dominance. But in Russia, it’s also considered a sign of a man with bad etiquette. Showing dominance that way is considered vulgar.

Instead, keep your legs together, or at a natural distance.

If you’re interested in finding a job in Russia, here’s our useful article for you on that very topic.


8. Do’s and Don’ts in Russia #8: Russian Gift Giving Etiquette

1- Gift Superstitions

There are famous superstitions that have naturally converted into Russian gift etiquette:

1. Don’t gift an empty wallet. In Russia, giving an empty wallet as a present is like wishing financial hardships to that person. Just put some cash inside to make it a great gift.

2. Don’t give a knife as a gift. Giving a knife as a present is believed to cause the breakup of a relationship. Just give them money to buy a knife with to avoid that.

3. Pay for a pet. When Russians receive a cat or a dog, they need to pay some money even though the pet is a present. Russians believe that if they do, the animal will grow up happy and healthy.

2- First Refusing the Gift and Then Accepting it

Russians tend to refuse any gift that you try to give them. They can say Что ты, это слишком дорого (Chto ty, eto slishkom dorogo) meaning “No-no, it’s too expensive,” or Нет, спасибо, тебе не стоило (Net, spasibo, tebe ne stoilo) meaning “No, thank you, you didn’t need to.”

Just insist on giving them the gift. You’ll get a gush of gratitude.

3- Gifts to Women

If you want to give a gift to a woman on her birthday or another important date, bring along a flower or a flower bouquet. It’s an etiquette tradition that’s followed both in the business world and in personal life.

Some women may not even like flowers that much, but they still gladly accept them as it’s a tradition.


9. Conclusion: How RussianPod101 Can Help You Learn Russian Better

So, now you know the most common Russian traditions and etiquette. Of course, if you don’t follow them, people will understand. But you’ll be much more welcomed and appreciated if you’re aware of Russian etiquette and follow it as much as you can.

Did you learn anything new in our Russian etiquette guide? Are there similar etiquette rules in your own country? Or is etiquette very different? Let us know in the comments!

Once you’ve learned Russian etiquette, it would be a great help to learn basic Russian vocabulary to be polite around Russians. Our teachers will gladly help you with that. Check out our MyTeacher program for Russian-learners. Our teachers are all native speakers with an impressive teaching background. They’ll make sure that you start talking in Russian very soon. ;-)

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Five Tips To Avoid Common Mistakes

The Focus of This Lesson is Tips to Help Russian Students Overcome Common Errors

Tip 1: Learn Your Cases

    • There are no cases in English. That means that nouns and adjectives always stay the same no matter what their function and position in the sentence is. It’s different in Russian. The endings of nouns and adjectives change depending on their function.
      • Of course, it’s possible for a native speaker to understand someone who speaks like this but…
        • It can be irritating because you are slaughtering their language
        • It can be totally confusing!

          Tip 2: Watch Your Word Stress!

            • Like in English, word stress is extremely important. In Russian, you don’t say all the syllables of the word with the same strength, but accentuate one syllable.
              • If you don’t stress the right syllable, it can lead to confusion, and native speakers will have difficulty understanding you.
                • Unfortunately, unlike in Italian or French, there are no rules to help you stress a word correctly. It’s just something you have to learn for each word.

                  Tip 3: Don’t Repeat the Verb in the Question

                    • In Russian, you use a different verb ending for “I” and “you” in the present. It is very common for English speakers to forget about it, as in English the verb doesn’t change. Also, they hear the ending -ешь in the question and tend to reply using ешь.

                      Tip 4: Watch Your Gender

                        • In Russian, the ending of the verb in the past tense changes depending on the gender and the plurality.
                        • If the subject is я or ты, use the ending -л if the pronoun refers to a man, and -ла if it refers to a woman.

                          Tip 5: Don’t Try to Translate “It”

                            • In Russian, the pronoun “it” doesn’t exist. We replace “it” with “he” or “she,” depending on their gender. That means, for example, that when you speak, you have to remember that книга (”a book”) is feminine, and that you should refer to it as она (”she”).


                              Introduction to Russian and Top 5 Reasons to Study

                              This Lesson Focuses on the history of the Russian languages and the top 5 reasons to study!

                              • Russia is the largest country in the world with a population of over 140 million people. It spans eleven time zones and contains the largest forest reserves in the
                                world as well as a quarter of the earth’s fresh water within its lakes.
                              • The Russianlanguage has recieved numerous influences throughout history, including influences from Polish, German, and even Slavic.
                              • A lot of academic and intellectual vocabulary was used from languages such as Dutch, French, German, and even Latin. So by learning Russian, you get a sense
                                of history, and the better you know it, the more familiarities you’ll pick up from other languages too.

                              Other than the amazing history of the Russian language and its huge geographical size we have composed a list of the top 5 reasons you should study Russian!

                              • Romance: Lots of people learn Russian because they either have or want a Russian partner.
                              • Business: Since the former Soviet Union opened its borders to foreigners, many businessmen travel to Russia and particularly the Ukraine.
                              • Travel and tourism: Russia has always attracted tourists by its historical past and culture. Russian theatre, and in particular, ballet, are famous all over the world.
                              • “Exotic”: Even though it’s considered challenging because it has a different alphabet, the Russian writing system makes it perhaps easier to learn than some other languages such as Arabic and Japanese.
                              • Extremely popular: According to estimations, between 144 and 160 million people speak Russian as their first language. It’s the eighth most spoken language in the world, before Japanese, German, French, and Italian. Still, people speak Russian natively in all former Soviet republics, some of which are part of the EU now such as Latvia. In Eastern Ukraine, for example, people speak Russian rather than Ukrainian.

                              Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From RussianPod101.com!

                              Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at RussianPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn Russian together!

                              And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study Russian with RussianPod101.com!

                              Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

                              From the RussianPod101.com Team!