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Advanced Russian Words to Help You Level Up

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Have you already mastered the basics of the Russian language? If so, this means you have put in the time and effort to gain an extensive vocabulary and that you can make simple statements with relative ease. Congratulations! 

But as they say, you can always do better. You should be proud of the Russian-language proficiency level that you have achieved up to this point, but remember that there is always room for improvement. To reach the advanced level, you’ll need to study more advanced Russian words and make continual progress by working to improve your skills on a daily basis. 

Thanks to the global spread of the internet, it has become more convenient than ever to learn Russian online. If you would like to improve your Russian skills even further and learn to use the language exactly like native speakers, then you’re in the right place. 

RussianPod101 has compiled this comprehensive list of advanced Russian vocabulary words you’ll need in order to level up. We have included words and example sentences that will definitely allow you to show off your knowledge: academic words, business terms, legal jargon, and alternative “high-end” words to use in place of their simpler counterparts.

A Man Is Sitting in Front of a Laptop

Online learning definitely reduces financial strain as it’s far more affordable compared to attending traditional universities or language classes.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Advanced Academic Words
  2. Advanced Business Words
  3. Advanced Medical Words
  4. Advanced Legal Words
  5. Alternative Words for Academic or Professional Writing
  6. Conclusion

1. Advanced Academic Words

The education systems of the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe differ significantly from the education system in Russia. In this section of our advanced Russian words list, you’ll find words and phrases in Russian that will be useful to know while studying in Russian schools and universities (and, of course, when speaking with students in Russia). The topic of education is very broad, but the purpose of this list is to provide you with the most relevant words for Russian communication in academic settings.

  • Экзамен (Ekzamen) – “Assessment” [noun]
  • Сомнительный (Somnitel’nyy) – “Ambiguous” / “Doubtful” [adjective]
  • Дискуссия (Diskussiya) – “Discussion” [noun]
  • Сессия (Sessiya) – “Examinations” [noun]
  • Диплом (Diplom) – “Diploma” [noun]

Example Sentences:

Сомнительно, что она сдаст экзамен. 
Somnitel’no, chto ona sdast ekzamen.
“It is doubtful that she will pass the exam.”

После показа фильмов проводилась тематическая дискуссия. 
Posle pokaza fil’mov provodilas’ tematicheskaya diskussiya.
“Each showing of the documentary was followed by a panel discussion.”

После удачной сдачи сессии он получил диплом. 
Posle udachnoy sdachi sessii on poluchil diplom.
“After successfully passing the examinations, he received a diploma.”

A Graduate Cap Lying on Top of a Pile of Books

Over four million students were enrolled in Russian institutions of higher education in 2019.

  • Лекция (Lektsiya) – “Lecture” [noun]
  • Урок (Urok) – “Lesson” [noun]

На лекциях и уроках получают знания. 
Na lektsiyakh i urokakh poluchayut znaniya.
“We gain knowledge at lectures and lessons.”

  • Химический (Khimicheskiy) – “Chemical” [adjective]
  • Принципы (Printsipy) – “Foundations” / “Basis” [noun]

Принципы химических реакций
Printsipy khimicheskikh reaktsiy
“Foundations of chemical reactions”

  • Методическое пособие (Metodicheskoye posobiye) – “Guideline” [the word пособие is a noun and методическое is an adjective]
  • Обнаружить (Obnaruzhit’) – “To detect” [verb]
  • Случайно (Sluchayno) – “Randomly” / “Accidentally” [adverb]
  • Приложение (Prilozheniye) – “Appendix” [noun]

Он случайно обнаружил приложение к методическому пособию. 
On sluchayno obnaruzhil prilozheniye k metodicheskomu posobiyu.
“He accidentally discovered an appendix to the guideline.”

  • Таблица (Tablitsa) – “Chart” / “Table” [noun]

Таблица является полезным инструментом. 
Tablitsa yavlyayetsya poleznym instrumentom.
“The chart is a useful tool.”

  • Кругозор (Krugozor) – “Prospect” / “Horizons” [noun]

У него широкий кругозор. 
U nego shirokiy krugozor.
“He has broad horizons.”

  • Абзац (Abzats) – “Paragraph” [noun]

Абзац форматируется как заголовок. 
Abzats formatiruyetsya kak zagolovok.
“A paragraph is formatted as a heading.”

  • Решающий (Reshayushchiy) – “Crucial” [adjective]
  • Ядерный (Yаdernyy) – “Nuclear” [adjective]

Первым пунктом повестки дня должна стать ратификация улучшений решающего инструмента обеспечения ядерной безопасности. 
Pervym punktom povestki dnya dolzhna stat’ ratifikatsiya uluchsheniy reshayushchego instrumenta obespecheniya yadernoy bezopasnosti.
“At the top of the agenda should be the ratification of improvements to a crucial nuclear security instrument.”

  • Расписание (Raspisaniye) – “Schedule” / “Timetable” [noun]
  • Минимальный (Minimal’nyy) – “Minimum” [adjective]

Студенты получили ориентировочное расписание с минимальным количеством занятий. 
Studenty poluchili oriyentirovochnoye raspisaniye s minimal’nym kolichestvom zanyatiy.
“Students received an indicative timetable with a minimum number of classes.”

  • Ориентировочный (Oriyentirovochnyy) – “Preliminary” / “Approximate” [adjective]
  • Общежитие (Obshchezhitiye) – “Dormitory” [noun]

В общежитии был беспорядок. 
V obshchezhitii byl besporyadok.
“The dormitory was a mess.”

  • Формат (Format) – “Format” [noun]

Сдайте работу в формате pdf. 
Sdayte rabotu v formate pdf.
“Submit your work in PDF format.”

  • Среда (Sreda) – “Medium” [noun]

Питательная среда содержит лактопептон. 
Pitatel’naya sreda soderzhit laktopepton.
“The nutrition medium contains lactopeptine.”

  • Продолжительность (Prodolzhitel’nost’) – “Duration” [noun]

Продолжительность занятия — 30 минут. 
Prodolzhitel’nost’ zanyatiya — 30 minut.
“The duration of the lesson is 30 minutes.”

  • Убеждённый (Ubezhdyonnyy) – “Convinced” [adjective]

Убеждённый европеец, он рассматривал европейский идеал строго в рамках международного сотрудничества. 
Ubezhdyonnyy yevropeyets, on rassmatrival yevropeyskiy ideal strogo v ramkakh mezhdunarodnogo sotrudnichestva.
“A convinced European, he set the European ideal squarely in a framework of international cooperation.”

2. Advanced Business Words

Business vocabulary is not limited to business contexts; many of the advanced Russian words presented below are used in ordinary everyday conversations as well. While going through this list, keep in mind that each specialty requires a specific vocabulary set. Daily meetings with colleagues, negotiations with business partners, communication by phone and email—all these things require a special skill set and a specific set of vocabulary.

  • Стратегия (Strategiya) – “Strategy” [noun]
  • Встречное предложение (Vstrechnoye predlozheniye) – “Counteroffer” [noun]

Встречное предложение партнёра было частью запасной стратегии. 
Vstrechnoye predlozheniye partnyora bylo chast’yu zapasnoy strategii.
“The partner’s counteroffer was part of a fallback strategy.”

  • Фискальный (Fiskal’nyy) – “Fiscal” [adjective]

Бухгалтерский и налоговый учёт фискального накопителя
Bukhgalterskiy i nalogovyy uchyot fiskal’nogo nakopitelya
“Accounting and tax accounting of the fiscal driver”

  • Сотрудничество (Sotrudnichestvo) – “Collaboration” / “Cooperation” [noun]
  • Соглашение / Договор (Soglasheniye / Dogovor) – “Agreement” [noun]

Частью сотрудничества является подписание договора. 
Chast’yu sotrudnichestva yavlyayetsya podpisaniye dogovora.
“Part of cooperation is the signing of an agreement.”

  • Бюджет (Byudzhet) – “Budget” [noun]

Бюджет академии увеличился на 11 процентов. 
Byudzhet akademii uvelichilsya na 11 protsentov.
“The budget for the academy was raised by 11 percent.”

Russian Rubles

Russia was the sixth-largest economy in the world in 2019, the World Bank estimates. In nominal terms, Russia ranks eleventh.

  • Бухгалтер (Bukhgalter) – “Accountant” [noun]
  • Отдел (Otdel) – “Department” [noun]
  • Визитка (Vizitka) – “Business card” [noun]

На визитке бухгалтера был указан его отдел. 
Na vizitke bukhgaltera byl ukazan yego otdel.
“The accountant’s business card indicated his department.”

  • Валюта (Valyuta) – “Currency” [noun]
  • Товар (Tovar) – “Commodity” [noun]
  • Покупатель (Pokupatel’) – “Customer” [noun]

Покупатель купил товар за валюту. 
Pokupatel’ kupil tovar za valyutu.
“The buyer bought the product with foreign currency.”

  • Эффективность (Effektivnost’) – “Efficiency” [noun]

Отдел повысил показатели эффективности. 
Otdel povysil pokazateli effektivnosti.
“The department has improved efficiency indicators.”

  • Упаковочный лист (Upakovochnyy list) – “Packing list” [the word лист is a noun and упаковочный is an adjective]
  • Срок (Srok) – “Deadline” / “Time” [noun]
  • Счёт (Schyot) – “Invoice” [noun]

Срок поставки по счёту и упаковочному листу — сегодня. 
Srok postavki po schyotu i upakovochnomu listu — segodnya.
“The invoice and packing list delivery time is today.”

  • Инвестиции (Investitsii) – “Investment” [noun]
  • Директор (Direktor) – “Managing director” [noun]
  • Переговоры (Peregovory) – “Negotiation” [noun]

Директор провёл переговоры, касающиеся инвестиций. 
Direktor provyol peregovory, kasayushchiyesya investitsiy.
“The managing director negotiated investments.”

  • Вакансия (Vakansiya) – “Opening” / “Vacancy” [noun]

Вакансия руководителя этого проекта заполнена. 
Vakansiya rukovoditelya etogo proekta zapolnena.
“The leadership vacancy on this project has been filled.”

  • Прибыльный (Pribyl’nyy) – “Profitable” [adjective]
  • Заказ (Zakaz) – “Purchase order” [noun]

Компания выполнила прибыльный заказ
Kompaniya vypolnila pribyl’nyy zakaz.
“The company has completed a profitable order.”

  • Резюме (Rezyume) – “Resumé” / “Curriculum vitae” [noun]

Я отправила моё резюме на вакантные места. 
Ya otpravila moyo rezyume na vakantnyye mesta.
“I sent my resumé for a few job openings.”

  • Подпись (Podpis’) – “Signature” [noun]

Подпись не нужна, только инициалы. 
Podpis’ ne nuzhna, tol’ko initsialy.
“You don’t have to sign it; just your initials.”

  • Поставка (Postavka) – “Supply” [noun]
  • Налог (Nalog) – “Tax” [noun]

Поставка не облагается налогом. 
Postavka ne oblagayetsya nalogom.
“The supply is tax-deductible.”

  • Сделка (Sdelka) – “Transaction” / “Deal” [noun]

Сделка была прибыльной. 
Sdelka byla pribyl’noy.
“The deal was profitable.”

3. Advanced Medical Words

Imagine that you’re in Russia when you start to feel unwell. To get the help you need, you’ll have to describe your symptoms and overall condition (knowing a little about the Russian health system would help, too). In this section, we’ll introduce you to the most useful advanced Russian words related to healthcare. 

  • Биопсия (Biopsiya) – “Biopsy” [noun]

Эндометриальная биопсия нужна, чтобы проверить эффективность прививки. 
Endometrial’naya biopsiya nuzhna, chtoby proverit’ effektivnost’ privivki.
“An endometrial biopsy is needed to test the vaccine efficacy.”

  • Деменция (Dementsiya) – “Dementia” [noun]

Совет фонда считает, что у меня деменция. 
Sovet fonda schitayet, chto u menya dementsiya.
“The foundation board thinks I have dementia.”

  • Ординатура (Ordinatura) – “Residency” [noun]

Мне так сильно понравилась ординатура, что я прошёл её дважды.
Mne tak sil’no ponravilas’ ordinatura, chto ya proshyol yeyo dvazhdy.
“I liked residency so much that I did it twice.”

  • Заболевание (Zabolevaniye) – “Disease” / “Illness” [noun]

Заболевание является серьёзным тормозом для развития. 
Zabolevanie yavlyayetsya ser’yoznym tormozom dlya razvitiya.
“The disease is a major problem for development.”

  • Рецепт (Retsept) – “Prescription” [noun]

Врач выписал мне рецепт. 
Vrach vypisal mne retsept.
“The doctor wrote me a prescription.”

A Doctor Is Consulting with a Patient

Health is one of the crucial things in life that money can’t buy. Please, stay healthy!

  • Астма (Astma) – “Asthma” [noun]

Ну, у её дочери астма. 
Nu, u yeyo docheri astma.
“Well, her daughter has asthma.”

  • Зависимость (Zavisimost’) – “Addiction” [noun]

Ричардс лечился от алкогольной зависимости в 2006 году. 
Richards lechilsya ot alkogol’noy zavisimosti v 2006 godu.
“Richards was in rehab for alcohol addiction in 2006.”

  • Поликлиника (Poliklinika) – “Outpatient department” [noun]

Поликлиника была создана для диагностики. 
Poliklinika byla sozdana dlya diagnostiki.
“The outpatient department was set up to provide diagnostic care.”

  • Медицинский центр (Meditsinskiy tsentr) – “Health care center” [the word центр is a noun and медицинский is an adjective]
  • Cтоматологический (Stomatologicheskiy) – “Dental” [adjective]

Стоматологические клиники и медицинские центры в России могут быть частными. 
Stomatologicheskiye kliniki i meditsinskiye tsentry v Rossii mogut byt’ chastnymi.
“Dental clinics and medical centers in Russia can be private.”

  • Медицинский полис (Meditsinskiy polis) – “Health insurance certificate” [the word полис is a noun and медицинский is an adjective]

Медицинский полис будет только через месяц. 
Meditsinskiy polis budet tol’ko cherez mesyats.
“The health insurance certificate will be ready in a month.”

  • Приёмный покой (Priyomnyy pokoy) – “Emergency room” [the word покой is a noun and приёмный is an adjective]
  • Больничная палата (Bol’nichnaya palata) – “Hospital ward” [the word палата is a noun and больничная is an adjective]

В приёмном покое много больничных палат. 
V priyomnom pokoye mnogo bol’nichnykh palat.
“There are many hospital wards in the emergency room.”

  • Операционная (Operatsionnaya) – “Operating room” [noun]
  • Реанимация (Reanimatsiya) – “Intensive care unit” [noun]
  • Пациент, больной (Patsiyent, bol’noy) – “Patient” [noun]

Из операционной пациента перевели в реанимацию. 
Iz operatsionnoy patsiyenta pereveli v reanimatsiyu.
“The patient was transferred from the operating room to the intensive care unit.”

  • Стационарный больной (Statsionarnyy bol’noy) – “Inpatient” [the word больной is a noun and стационарный is an adjective] Please note that the word больной can also be used as an adjective, just as “patient” can be a noun or an adjective in English.  
  • Амбулаторный больной (Ambulatornyy bol’noy) – “Outpatient” [the word больной is a noun and амбулаторный is an adjective]
  • Медсестра (Medsestra) – “Nurse” [noun]
  • Терапевт (Terapevt) – “Physician” [noun]
  • Отоларинголог (Otolaringolog) – “ORT specialist” [noun]

Медицинское обслуживание стационарных и амбулаторных больных осуществляется разными группами докторов и медсестёр, в том числе терапевтами и отоларингологами. 
Meditsinskoye obsluzhivaniye statsionarnykh i ambulatornykh bol’nykh osushchestvlyayetsya raznymi gruppami doktorov i medsestyor, v tom chisle terapevtami i otolaringologami.
“Medical services for inpatient and outpatient care are provided by various groups of doctors and nurses, including physicians and ORT specialists.”

  • Записаться на приём (Zapisat’sya na priyom) – “To make an appointment” [verb]

Записаться на приём было очень сложно. 
Zapisat’sya na priyom bylo ochen’ slozhno.
“It was very difficult to make an appointment with a doctor.”

According to statistics, more than half of Russians trust alternative and complementary medicine. Previously, only old ladies knew and shared amongst themselves all the recipes of alternative medicine; now, these recipes can be found on TV and the internet. Healing properties are attributed to herbal tinctures, the steam of boiled potatoes, and other methods of alternative medicine. Here are some advanced Russian words related to complementary medicine:

  • Народная медицина (Narodnaya meditsina) – “Alternative medicine” / “Complementary medicine” [the word медицина is a noun and народная is an adjective]
  • Грелка (Grelka) – “Hot water bottle” [noun]
  • Горчичник (Gorchichnik) – “Mustard plaster” [noun]
  • Отвар (Otvar) – “Brew” [noun]
  • Целебные травы (Tselebnyye travy) – “Medicinal herbs” [the word травы is a noun (plural of трава – “herb”) and целебные is an adjective]

Отвар из целебных трав, горчичники и грелка являются популярными средствами в народной медицине. 
Otvar iz tselebnykh trav, gorchichniki i grelka yavlyayutsya populyarnymi sredstvami v narodnoy meditsine.
“Medicinal herb brews, mustard plasters, and a hot water bottle are popular remedies in alternative medicine.”

4. Advanced Legal Words

While these legal words and phrases may be long, difficult to remember, and even harder to spell, they’re sure to prove useful in a number of contexts. Memorize these advanced Russian words to get a leg up in the business world and to enrich your personal life (these are words you might find used on news stations and in the paper). 

  • Гражданин (Grazhdanin) – “Passport holder” / “Resident” [noun]
  • Закон (Zakon) – “Law” [noun]
  • Нарушать закон (Narushat’ zakon) – “To break the law” [verb]

Граждане не должны нарушать закон. 
Grazhdane ne dolzhny narushat’ zakon.
“Residents must not break the law.”

  • Тяжба (Tyazhba) – “Lawsuit” [noun]
  • Юрисконсульт (Yuriskonsul’t) – “Legal adviser” [noun]
  • Законный представитель (Zakonnyy predstavitel’) – “Legal representative” [the word представитель is a noun and законный is an adjective]

Законный представитель и юрисконсульт помогут с судебными тяжбами. 
Zakonnyy predstavitel’ i yuriskonsul’t pomogut s sudebnymi tyazhbami.
“A legal representative and a legal adviser will help with filing a lawsuit.”

  • Нотариус (Notarius) – “Notary public” [noun]

Нотариус проверяет чистоту сделки и следит за тем, чтобы недвижимость продавалась свободной от долгов. 
Notarius proveryayet chistotu sdelki i sledit za tem, chtoby nedvizhimost’ prodavalas’ svobodnoy ot dolgov.
“A notary public verifies the purity of a deal and ensures that property is sold free of debts.”

  • Бездействие (Bezdeystviye) – “Omission” / “Nonfeasance” [noun]

Такие нарушения могут иметь место в силу действия или бездействия государства.
Takiye narusheniya mogut imet’ mesto v silu deystviya ili bezdeystviya gosudarstva.
“Such violations can occur by state action or omission.”

  • Юрист (Yurist) – “Lawyer” [noun]
  • Суд (Sud) – “Court” [noun]
  • Спорить (Sporit’) – “To dispute” [verb]

Юрист оспорил это решение в суде. 
Yurist osporil eto resheniye v sude.
“The lawyer disputed this decision in court.”

A Russian Courtroom

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is the highest judicial body of constitutional supervision in the Russian Federation.

  • Мошенничество (Moshennichestvo) – “Fraud” [noun]
  • Прокурор (Prokuror) – “Prosecutor” [noun]

Прокурор предъявил обвинение в мошенничестве. 
Prokuror pred’yavil obvineniye v moshennichestve.
“The prosecutor indicted for fraud.”

  • Обжалование (Obzhalovaniye) – “Appeal” [noun]
  • Виновный (Vinovnyy) – “Liable” / “Guilty” [adjective]
  • Обвинительное заключение (Obvinitel’noye zaklyucheniye) – “Indictment” [the word заключение is a noun and обвинительное is an adjective]

Виновный обжаловал обвинительное заключение. 
Vinovnyy obzhaloval obvinitel’noye zaklyucheniye.
“The person found guilty appealed against the indictment.”

  • Судебное постановление (Sudebnoye postanovleniye) – “Injunction” [the word постановление is a noun and судебное is an adjective]

Это судебное постановление у нас в кармане. 
Eto sudebnoye postanovleniye u nas v karmane.
“This injunction is in the bag.”

  • Правосудие (Pravosudiye) – “Justice” / “Justice systems” [noun]
  • Приговор (Prigovor) – “Verdict” / “Sentence” [noun]

В то же время женщины теряют доверие к системе правосудия, если приговоры минимальны и не обеспечивают им какую-либо защиту. 
V to zhe vremya zhenshchiny teryayut doveriye k sisteme pravosudiya, yesli prigovory minimal’ny i ne obespechivayut im kakuyu-libo zashchitu.
“At the same time, women lose faith in justice systems where sentences are minimal and fail to offer them any protection.”

  • Свидетель (Svidetel’) – “Witness” [noun]

Свидетель видел золотой рисунок. 
Svidetel’ videl zolotoy risunok.
“The witness saw a gold stripe.”

  • Правоотношение (Pravootnosheniye) – “Legal arrangement” / “Legal relation” [noun]

Ссылка на конкретное правоотношение может не вполне подходить для некоторых правовых систем. 
Ssylka na konkretnoye pravootnosheniye mozhet ne vpolne podkhodit’ dlya nekotorykh pravovykh sistem.
“The reference to a defined legal relationship might not easily be accommodated in certain legal systems.”

  • Права человека (Prava cheloveka) – “Human rights” [noun]

Права человека также являются основой внешней политики. 
Prava cheloveka takzhe yavlyayutsya osnovoy vneshney politiki.
“Human rights also constitute one of the key pillars of foreign policy.”

5. Alternative Words for Academic or Professional Writing 

To write a really good essay, you need to have a sufficient vocabulary of advanced Russian words. Developing the necessary language skills for writing a persuasive argument is crucial. In this section, we’ll equip you with the words and phrases you’ll need to write a great essay or to compose other forms of academic/professional writing. We have also included a number of advanced Russian words that are hard to pronounce, long, or hyphenated. 

Alternative Words

In the first column, you’ll find a simple Russian word; in the second column, you’ll find a more advanced or nuanced replacement you could use instead. 

поэтому (poetomu) – “so”
Conjunction
таким образом (takim obrazom) – “therefore”
Conjunction
Таким образом, курс рубля повысился. 
Takim obrazom, kurs rublya povysilsya. 
“Therefore, the ruble has been appreciated.”

большой (bol’shoy) – “big”
Adjective
огромный (ogromnyy) – “huge” / “enormous”
Adjective
Это огромный успех. 
Eto ogromnyy uspekh. 
“This is a huge success.”

любить (lyubit’) – “to love”
Verb
обожать (obozhat’) – “to adore”
Verb
Я обожаю этот сериал. 
Ya obozhayu etot serial. 
“I adore this show.”

хорошо (khorosho) – “good”
Adjective
прекрасно / замечательно (prekrasno / zamechatel’no) – “beautiful” / “wonderful”
Adjective
Это прекрасно, просто замечательно. 
Eto prekrasno, prosto zamechatel’no. 
“It’s wonderful, just beautiful.”

Complex Linking Words

  • Для того чтобы (Dlya togo chtoby) – “For the purpose of” / “In order to” 

This linking word can be used to introduce an explanation.

Example:

Нужно прийти домой пораньше, для того чтобы успеть сделать уроки.
Nuzhno priyti domoy poran’she, dlya togo chtoby uspet’ sdelat’ uroki.
“You need to come home early in order to have time to do your homework.”

  • Другими словами / Иными словами (Drugimi slovami / Inymi slovami) – “In other words” 

Use the linking word другими словами or иными словами when you want to express something more simply so that it’s easier to understand, or to emphasize or expand upon a point of view.

Example:

Иными словами, он переживает кризис.
Inymi slovami, on perezhivayet krizis.
“In other words, he is in a state of crisis.”

Complicated Words for Russian Learners

Are you up for a challenge? Then try memorizing a few of these more complicated Russian words for advanced learners! 

  • Подбираться, подкрадываться (Podbirat’sya, podkradyvat’sya) – “To sneak up” / “To creep up” [verb]

Он подобрался незаметно. 
On podobralsya nezametno.
“He crept up unnoticed.”

  • Растеряться (Rasteryat’sya) – “To become confused” [verb]
  • Вдобавок (Vdobavok) – “In addition” [adverb]

Я растерялась и вдобавок забыла, что хотела сказать.
Ya rasteryalas’ i vdobavok zabyla, chto khotela skazat’.
“I was confused and, in addition, forgot what I wanted to say.”

  • Неудовлетворённость (Neudovletvoryonnost’) – “Discontent” [noun]

Они вечно показывали неудовлетворённость работой. 
Oni vechno pokazyvali neudovletvoryonnost’ rabotoy.
“They were forever discontent with work.”

  • Правописание (Pravopisaniye) – “Spelling” [noun]

Одно ясно — его правописание оставляет желать лучшего. 
Odno yasno — yego pravopisaniye ostavlyayet zhelat’ luchshego.
“One thing is certain—his spelling leaves much to be desired.”

  • Самообладание (Samoobladaniye) – “Self-control” [noun]

Самообладание очень важно в любом обществе. 
Samoobladaniye ochen’ vazhno v lyubom obshchestve.
“Self-control is crucial to any society.”

  • Приспосабливаться (Prisposablivat’sya) – “To adapt” [verb]

Эти голограммы способны учиться и приспосабливаться. 
Eti gologrammy sposobny uchit’sya i prisposablivat’sya.
“These holograms have the ability to learn and adapt.”

  • Орудовать (Orudovat’) – “To work by tool” / “To wield” [verb]

Я даже не знаю, как орудовать ножом. 
Ya dazhe ne znayu, kak orudovat’ nozhom.
“I wouldn’t even know how to wield a knife.”

  • Махнуть рукой (Makhnut’ rukoy) – “To give up” / “A lost cause” [verb]

А ты, на тебя можно махнуть рукой. 
A ty, na tebya mozhno makhnut’ rukoy.
“You, however—you’re a lost cause.”

  • Истолковывать (Istolkovyvat’) – “To interpret” / “To translate” [verb]
  • Ненадлежащий (Nenadlezhashchiy) – “Improper” [adjective]

Ненадлежащее поведение и поступки можно оценивать и истолковывать по-разному. 
Nenadlezhashcheye povedeniye i postupki mozhno otsenivat’ i istolkovyvat’ po-raznomu.
“Improper behavior and conduct can be appraised and interpreted in different ways.”

  • Несподручно (Nespodruchno) – “Awkwardly” / “Inconveniently” / “Uncomfortably” [colloquialism] [adverb]

В смысле… для меня это, как бы, несподручно. 
V smysle… dlya menya eto, kak by, nespodruchno.
“I mean, I’m not comfortable with that.”

Hyphenated Words

In the Russian language, compound words are often hyphenated. These words include compound nouns, compound names, the names of compass points, shades of color, and so on. Here are some examples:

  • Северо-восточный (Severo-vostochnyy) – “Northeast” [adjective]

Подул северо-восточный ветер. 
Podul severo-vostochnyy veter.
“The northeast wind blew.”

  • Фруктово-ягодный (Fruktovo-yagodnyy) – “With/made from fruits and berries” [adjective]
  • Изумрудно-зелёный (Izumrudno-zelyonyy) – “Emerald-green” [adjective]

Это был фруктово-ягодный изумрудно-зелёный джем.
Eto byl fruktovo-yagodnyy izumrudno-zelyonyy dzhem.
“It was a fruit and berry emerald-green jam.”

  • Диван-кровать (Divan-krovat’) – “Convertible sofa bed” [noun]
  • Купля-продажа (Kuplya-prodazha) – “Buy/sell” / “Sale and purchase” [noun]

Фирма занималась куплей-продажей диванов-кроватей. 
Firma zanimalas’ kupley-prodazhey divanov-krovatey.
“The company was engaged in the sale and purchase of sofa beds.”

  • Мало-помалу (Malo-pomalu) – “Little by little” [adverb]

Мало-помалу каждая часть головоломки становится на своё место. 
Malo-pomalu kazhdaya chast’ golovolomki stanovitsya na svoyo mesto.
“Little by little, every piece of the jigsaw is falling into place.”

  • Перекати-поле (Perekati-pole) – “Rolling stone” [noun]

Потому что ты и я, мы — перекати-поле. 
Potomu chto ty i ya, my — perekati-pole.
“Cause you and I, we’re rolling stones.”

6. Conclusion

In this article, you have learned more than 100 new advanced Russian words and phrases that will help you improve and enrich your Russian vocabulary

RussianPod101.com has plenty of resources designed to help you reach your Russian learning goals, no matter your current proficiency level. If you’re feeling confident, we recommend creating your free lifetime account today and checking out our advanced Russian course

In case you found this topic a bit difficult to grasp on your own, you can upgrade to Premium PLUS in order to use our MyTeacher service. A personal tutor will gladly help you memorize and use new Russian words and phrases, provide you with personalized assignments, and more! 

Before you go: Which of the above words and phrases do you find most useful? Please, let us know in the comments.

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

Intermediate Russian Words: Expanding Your Vocabulary

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As an intermediate learner of Russian, you already know how to form basic sentences, ask for directions, and even order a beer. Congrats on making it this far! Since you already have a sense of basic grammar, adding up new layers of vocabulary will be easier from now on. This is where the real expansion starts!

To pass the intermediate level of TORFL (Test of Russian as a Foreign Language), you’ll need to know around 2000 words. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll cover 300+ intermediate Russian words in this article—just enough to give you a general idea of what areas you could explore to increase your vocabulary. 

Remember to keep your intermediate words relevant. Save any complicated or situational terms like “chisel” or “egg slicer” for the advanced level. There—the sky’s the limit, you know. For now, let’s just focus on less common pronouns, more sophisticated verbs, additional nouns for describing the physical world around you, and other parts of speech to help you cover more topics in a conversation.

➤ Check our beginner Russian words list first if you’re looking for something simpler. There, you’ll also find plenty of general tips on vocabulary learning.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Nouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Adjectives
  5. Numbers
  6. Adverbs
  7. Conjunctions and Prepositions
  8. What’s Next?

1. Pronouns

whoseчей (chey)

my
your [form.] / [inf.]
his, its
her
our
their
мой (moy)
ваш (vash) / твой (tvoy)
его (yego)
её (yeyo)
наш (nash)
их (ikh)

nobody’sничей (nichey)

[refers to my, your, his, her, our]свой (svoy)
  • У неё своя квартира. 
    (U neyo svoya kvartira.)
    “She has her own apartment.”

(at least) somebodyкто-нибудь (kto-nibud’)

(at least) somethingчто-нибудь (chto-nibud’)

someнекоторые (nekotoryye) [plural]

which oneкоторый (kotoryy)

every, eachкаждый (kazhdyy)

anyлюбой (lyuboy)

other, another oneдругой (drugoy)

-selfсебя (sebya)
  • Я себя виню. 
    (Ya sebya vinyu.
    “I blame myself.”

(by) myself,
(by) yourself, etc.
[without any help]
сам (sam)
  • Я сам всё сделаю. 
    (Ya sam vsyo sdelayu.)
    “I’ll do it myself.”

A Woman Painting the Walls of Her New Apartment Yellow

Теперь у неё своя квартира. 
(Teper’ u neyo svoya kvartira.)
“She now has her own apartment.”

2. Nouns

Because nouns make up such a huge chunk of any language, they should be one of your top priorities as you build up your intermediate Russian vocabulary. Below, we’ve listed several Russian nouns in a variety of categories to get you started. 

Relatives

auntтётя (tyotya)
uncleдядя (dyadya)
nieceплемянница (plemyannitsa)
nephewплемянник (plemyannik)
grandmotherбабушка (babushka)
grandfatherдедушка (dedushka)
granddaughterвнучка (vnuchka)
grandsonвнук (vnuk)
cousin [f.]двоюродная сестра (dvoyurodnaya sestra)
cousin [m.]двоюродный брат (dvoyurodnyy brat)

➤ You can also check our list of common occupations to learn how to talk about people’s jobs.

Around Town

cinema theaterкинотеатр (kinoteatr)
parking lotпарковка (parkovka)
libraryбиблиотека (biblioteka)
hairdresser’sпарикмахерская (parikmakherskaya)
bus stop
tram stop
остановка (ostanovka)
bus stationавтовокзал (avtovokzal)
shopping mallторговый центр (torgovyy tsentr)
pharmacyаптека (apteka)
night clubночной клуб (nochnoy klub)
templeхрам (khram)

➤ You can find even more shops downtown!
➤ If you’re more into nature, though, we have a vocabulary list for you as well.

Around the House

kitchenкухня (kukhnya)
kettleчайник (chaynik)
panсковорода (skovoroda)
сковородка (skovorodka) [informal]
saucepanкастрюля (kastryulya)
lidкрышка (kryshka)
stoveплита (plita)
ovenдуховка (dukhovka)
fridgeхолодильник (kholodilnik)
microwave ovenмикроволновая печь (mikrovolnovaya pech’)
микроволновка (mikrovolnovka) [informal]
sinkраковина (rakovina)
living roomгостиная (gostinaya)
armchairкресло (kreslo)
sofaдиван (divan)
carpetковёр (kovyor)
curtainsшторы (shtory)
fireplaceкамин (kamin)
shelfполка (polka)
bedroomспальня (spal’nya)
alarm clock
[even in your smartphone]
будильник (budil’nik)
pillowподушка (podushka)
blanketодеяло (odeyalo)
bedsheetпростыня (prostynya)
wardrobe
[also the cupboard
in the kitchen]
шкаф (shkaf)
bathroomванная (vannaya)
studyкабинет (kabinet)
balconyбалкон (balkon)

A Kitchen

Let’s practice what we’ve learned! Answer in Russian:
1. What is this room?
2. In the picture, find at least three items from the list!

Veggies, Fruits, Berries

eggplant
aubergine
баклажан (baklazhan)
zucchiniкабачок (kabachok)
pumpkinтыква (tykva)
cucumberогурец (ogurets)
broccoliброкколи (brokkoli)
cabbageкапуста (kapusta)
lettuceсалат (salat)
pearгруша (grusha)
watermelonарбуз (arbuz)
melonдыня (dynya)
peachперсик (persik)
apricotабрикос (abrikos)
avocadoавокадо (avokado)
grapeвиноград (vinograd)
kiwiкиви (kivi)
pineappleананас (ananas)
plumслива (sliva)
strawberryклубника (klubnika)
raspberryмалина (malina)
cherryвишня (vishnya)

Animals

wolfволк (volk)
bearмедведь (medved’)
deerолень (olen’)
foxлиса (lisa)
elephantслон (slon)
giraffeжираф (zhiraf)
lionлев (lev)
tigerтигр (tigr)
monkeyобезьяна (obez’yana)
whaleкит (kit)
snakeзмея (zmeya)
goatкоза [f.] (koza)
козёл [m.] (kozyol)
sheep
ram
овца (ovtsa)
баран (baran)
roosterпетух (petukh)
rabbitкролик (krolik)
hedgehogёж (yozh)

➤ For animal lovers, we’ve prepared an entire article dedicated to animal words in Russian!

A Llama

Моё любимое животное — лама. А твоё?
(Moyo lyubimoye zhivotnoye — lama. A tvoyo?)
“My favorite animal is the llama. What about you?”

Clothes and Footwear

swimming suitкупальник (kupal’nik)
bathrobeхалат (khalat)
jacketкуртка (kurtka)
sneakers
trainers
кроссовки (krossovki)
slippersтапки (tapki) [plural]
тапочки (tapochki) [plural]
flip-flopsшлёпанцы (shlyopantsy) [plural]
bootsботинки (botinki) [plural]
high bootsсапоги (sapogi) [plural]

Technology

screenэкран (ekran)
keyboardклавиатура (klaviatura)
mouseмышь (mysh’)
laptopноутбук (noutbuk)
speakersколонки (kolonki) [plural]
headphones
earphones
наушники (naushniki) [plural]
USB-stickфлеш-карта (flesh-karta) [formal]
флешка (fleshka) [informal, more common]
chargerзарядное устройство [formal]
(zaryadnoye ustroystvo)

зарядник (zaryadnik) [informal]

Sports

tennisтеннис (tennis)
basketballбаскетбол (basketbol)
soccerфутбол (futbol)
volleyballволлейбол (volleybol)
swimmingплавание (plavaniye)
karateкарате (karate)
hockeyхоккей (khokkey)
gymтренажёрный зал (trenazhyornyy zal)
тренажёрка (trenazhyorka) [informal]

➤ Do you know which of these sports are in the Olympic Games? Check our list of Olympic sports to see if you were right!

3. Verbs

Verbs comprise another key component of language, so it would be wise to learn the most common intermediate Russian verbs at this stage. Doing so will give you more precise and engaging words to use when talking about actions or states of being.

to standстоять (stoyat’)
to sitсидеть (sidet’)
to lie downлежать (lezhat’)
to liveжить (zhit’)
to dieумирать (umirat’)
to seemказаться (kazat’sya)
to stay, to remainоставаться (ostavat’sya)
to enterвходить (vkhodit’)
to exitвыходить (vykhodit’)
to meanзначить (znachit’)
to loseтерять (teryat’)
to returnвозвращаться (vozvrashchat’sya)
to noticeзамечать (zamechat’)
to be afraidбояться (boyat’sya)
to feelчувствовать (chuvstvovat’)
to be on timeуспевать (uspevat’)
to be lateопаздывать (opazdyvat’)
to recallвспоминать (vspominat’)
to holdдержать (derzhat’)
to releaseотпускать (otpuskat’)
to nameназывать (nazyvat’)
to approachподходить (podkhodit’)
to pick upподнимать (podnimat’)
to throwбросать (brosat’)
to throw awayвыбрасывать (vybrasyvat’)
to sendпосылать (posylat’)
to receiveполучать (poluchat’)
to tellрассказывать (rasskazyvat’)
to be silentмолчать (molchat’)
to believeверить (verit’)
to have doubtsсомневаться (somnevat’sya)
to runбежать (bezhat’)
to walk, to strollгулять (gulyat’)
to shoutкричать (krichat’)
to call (somebody)звать (zvat’)
1. to imagine
2. to present
представлять (predstavlyat’)
to pronounceпроизносить (proiznosit’)
to smileулыбаться (ulybat’sya)
to cryплакать (plakat’)
to laughсмеяться (smeyat’sya)
to offerпредлагать (predlagat’)
to agreeсоглашаться (soglashat’sya)
to refuseотказываться (otkazyvat’sya)
to fallпадать (padat’)
to winвыигрывать (vyigryvat’)
to loseпроигрывать (proigryvat’)
to disappearисчезать (ischezat’)
1. to meet with sb.
2. to date sb.
встречаться (vstrechat’sya)
to carryнести (nesti)
to be surprisedудивляться (udivlyat’sya)
to botherмешать (meshat’)
to promiseобещать (obeshchat’)
to remindнапоминать (napominat’)
to forceзаставлять (zastavlyat’)
to observeнаблюдать (nablyudat’)
to wake upпросыпаться (prosypat’sya)
to fall asleepзасыпать (zasypat’)
to useпользоваться (pol’zovat’sya)
to dreamмечтать (mechtat’)
to explainобъяснять (ob’yasnyat’)
to confessпризнаваться (priznavat’sya)
to inviteприглашать (priglashat’)
to get to know sb.знакомиться (znakomit’sya)
to lieврать (vrat’)
to give a presentдарить (darit’)
to take awayзабирать (zabirat’)
to sufferстрадать (stradat’)
to get tiredуставать (ustavat’)
to be sickболеть (bolet’)
to recoverвыздоравливать (vyzdoravlivat’)

A Woman being Gifted Something by Her Friends

Choose five Russian verbs to describe the image.
___________________________
Level up: Now, make sentences using these verbs to describe the image!

4. Adjectives

Our next set of intermediate Russian words consists of frequently used adjectives. You may have learned a few of these descriptive words as a beginner, but now that your Russian skills are stronger, you can make better use of them to really engage your audience.

➤ If these aren’t enough for you, please head over to our blog post on the top 100 Russian adjectives.

mainглавный (glavnyy)
similar toпохожий (pokhozhiy)
entireцелый (tselyy)
realнастоящий (nastoyashchiy)
differentразный (raznyy)
sameодинаковый (odinakovyy)
weirdстранный (strannyy)
loudгромкий (gromkiy)
noisyшумный (shumnyy)
quiet, soft [sound]тихий (tikhiy)
emptyпустой (pustoy)
fullполный (polnyy)
cleanчистый (chistyy)
dirtyгрязный (gryaznyy)
regular, usualобычный (obychnyy)
nextследующий (sleduyushchiy)
previousпрошлый (proshlyy)
famousизвестный (izvestnyy)
familiarзнакомый (znakomyy)
formerбывший (byvshiy)
free [without cost]бесплатный (besplatnyy)
correctправильный (pravil’nyy)
wrongнеправильный (nepravil’nyy)
interestingинтересный (interesnyy)
boringскучный (skuchnyy)
poorбедный (bednyy)
richбогатый (bogatyy)
specialособый (osobyy)
greatотличный (otlichnyy)
terribleужасный (uzhasnyy)
softмягкий (myagkiy)
hard, firmтвёрдый (tvyordyy)
funnyвесёлый (vesyolyy)
happyсчастливый (schastlivyy)
dangerousопасный (opasnyy)
safeбезопасный (bezopasnyy)
futureбудущий (budushchiy)
closestближайший (blizhayshiy)
dryсухой (sukhoy)
wetмокрый (mokryy)
1. useful
2. healthy
полезный (poleznyy)
uselessбесполезный (bespoleznyy)
harmfulвредный (vrednyy)

5. Numbers

11одиннадцать (odinnadtsat’)
12двенадцать (dvenadtsat’)
13тринадцать (trinadtsat’)
14четырнадцать (chetyrnadtsat’)
15пятнадцать (pyatnadtsat’)
16шестнадцать (shestnadtsat’)
17семнадцать (semnadtsat’)
18восемнадцать (vosemnadtsat’)
19девятнадцать (devyatnadtsat’)
20двадцать (dvadtsat’)
30тридцать (tridtsat’)
40сорок (sorok)
50пятьдесят (pyat’desyat)
60шестьдесят (shest’desyat)
70семьдесят (sem’desyat)
80восемьдесят (vosem’desyat)
90девяносто (devyanosto)
100сто (sto)
200двести (dvesti)
300триста (trista)
400четыреста (chetyresta)
500пятьсот (pyat’sot)
600шестьсот (shest’sot)
700семьсот (sem’sot)
800восемьсот (vosem’sot)
900девятьсот (devyat’sot)
1,000
2,000
3,000
etc.
тысяча (tysyacha)
две тысячи (dve tysyachi)
три тысячи (tri tysyachi)
10,000
20,000
30,000
etc.
десять тысяч (desyat’ tysyach)
двадцать тысяч (dvadtsat’ tysyach)
тридцать тысяч (tridtsat’ tysyach)
100,000
200,000
300,000
etc.
сто тысяч (sto tysyach)
двести тысяч (dvesti tysyach)
триста тысяч (trista tysyach)
1,000,000миллион (million)

➤ Our video on Numbers will explain how to say numbers like “22” and “56.” It’s pretty straightforward, as you’ll see. 

An Old Guy Fanning Out His Money while Holding a Cigar

Let’s practice more!
Check how much cash you have in your pocket or wallet right now. Can you say the number in Russian?
– You can keep it a secret ;) –

6. Adverbs

(at) homeдома (doma)
alreadyуже (uzhe)
stillпока (poka)
beforehandзаранее (zaraneye)
immediatelyсразу (srazu)
constantlyпостоянно (postoyanno)
againснова (snova)
onceоднажды (odnazhdy)
approximatelyпримерно (primerno)
enoughдостаточно (dostatochno)
justтолько (tol’ko)
finallyнаконец (nakonets)
togetherвместе (vmeste)
accidentallyслучайно (sluchayno)
obligatoryобязательно (obyazatel’no)

➤ You’ll find example sentences for these adverbs (and many more) on our 100 Must-Know Russian Adverbs List.

7. Conjunctions and Prepositions

At the intermediate level, one of the best ways to improve your Russian is to become familiar with the most common conjunctions and prepositions. These little words and phrases can help you more smoothly connect ideas, provide additional information, and more.

even thoughхотя (khotya)
as ifбудто (budto)
ifесли (yesli)
despiteнесмотря на (nesmotrya na)
instead ofвместо (vmesto)
forради (radi)

Я делаю это ради тебя.
(Ya delayu eto radi tebya.)
“I’m doing it for you.”
throughчерез (cherez)
amongсреди (sredi)
betweenмежду (mezhdu)
atу (u)

у окна (u okna) – “at the window”
except forкроме (krome)

A Woman Smiling while Walking into Her Home

Наконец-то я дома! 
(Nakonets-to ya doma!)
“I’m finally home!”

8. What’s Next?

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of intermediate Russian words, but it should give you some ideas on how to develop your vocabulary further. Did you know any of these words already, or were they all new to you?

Feel free to explore more words in each category and come up with your own lists. Just keep it relevant: Learn something that you personally need or want to know. If knowing the bird names isn’t on your priority list, let them wait. At this level, you can also dip your toes into abstract topics: politics, economics, culture. But don’t overcomplicate it just yet.

To make the most of this article, you can create flashcards with new words from this list. Reviewing them helps retention, especially when combined with spaced repetition. And I can’t stress enough the importance of practice: producing new words—for example, making up sentences on your own—and recognizing them in texts or speech make them stick even faster. 

Also, keep in mind that nouns and pronouns decline, adjectives change their ending depending on the gender and case, and verbs conjugate. Remember: It’s not the number of words that matters, but your ability to combine them well

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 the best pathway to continue your Russian learning journey. You can ask them anything about Russian grammar, vocabulary, or culture—they will dispel any doubts! You can also opt to receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, as well as voice recording tasks to work on specific skills. Too many benefits to fit into one paragraph… Just give it a try!

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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Learn the Names of Animals in Russian

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A visit to Russia presents a great opportunity to see some extraordinary wildlife! For example, the Russian taiga is home to such animals as boars, reindeer, moose, and even bears. Russians also love their pets—if you ever find yourself invited to a Russian’s home, don’t be surprised if you encounter a dog or cat during your stay.

Pets

In this article, we’ll be taking a trip to the zoo to learn the names of different animals in Russian. While some of these animal names may sound familiar to you and prove easy to memorize, others will be more of a challenge. Make sure to keep an open mind while reading and to write down any unfamiliar animal names for future reference—you might already know the basics, like “cat” and “dog,” but I doubt you know the Russian word for “monkey”! 

We will be covering the names of animals in a variety of categories: 

  • Pets
  • Farm animals
  • Wild animals
  • Sea animals
  • Bugs and insects
  • Birds, reptiles & amphibians

In addition, we’ll teach you the sounds of animals in Russian according to our onomatopoeia, the names of animal body parts, and several expressions and idioms related to animals. 

Before we continue, keep in mind that the Russian language has grammatical gender. This applies to animals, as well, so we’ve included the names for both male and female animals where applicable (sometimes, the name is the same regardless of the animal’s gender). 

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Pets
  2. Farm Animals
  3. Wild Animals
  4. Sea Animals
  5. Bugs and Insects
  6. Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians
  7. Animal Body Parts
  8. Animal Verbs
  9. Animal Sounds
  10. Animal-Related Idioms and Slang Expressions
  11. Conclusion

1. Pets

More than half of Russian families have pets. The most popular are cats, which comprise 54% of all pets. 38% of the pets in Russia are dogs, while 7% are farm animals (like rabbits). Only 3% are animals like hamsters, turtles, rats, mice, aquarium fish, and ornamental birds (parrots). Very few people here have exotic animals. 

Interesting fact: Snails are probably the most exotic animal you’ll find kept as a pet in Russian homes. They have recently gained popularity, especially the giant African snail Achatina

Now, here are the names of the most common Russian pets: 

  • Кошка (Koshka) / Кот (Kot) – “Cat (female)” / “Cat (male)” 
  • Собака (Sobaka) – “Dog” 
  • Хомяк (Khomyak) – “Hamster” 
  • Черепаха (Cherepakha) – “Turtle” 
  • Аквариумная рыбка (Akvariumnaya rybka) – “Aquarium fish” 
  • Улитка (Ulitka) – “Snail” 
  • Мышь (Mysh’) – “Mouse” 
  • Крыса (Krysa) – “Rat” 
  • Морская свинка (Morskaya svinka) – “Guinea pig”

A Snail Creeping on a Table

Snails are very therapeutic to watch and easy to take care of.

2. Farm Animals

Farming is quite popular in Russia nowadays. Townspeople began to master farming during the 2008 financial crisis; some lost their jobs and took up farming to support themselves, and others just wanted to do something different. Retired people often move to villages and keep poultry such as chickens, geese, and ducks. Rabbits are also quite popular in villages and on small farms. Of course, there are also large animal farms with livestock such as goats, sheep, pigs, horses, and cows.

One more exotic farm animal in Russia is the reindeer, which is most often bred for its meat and antlers. In some regions, farms have larger numbers of reindeer than sheep or horses.

The word for “farm” in Russian is: 

  • Ферма (Ferma) “Farm” 

And here’s a list of the most common farm animals in Russian: 

  • Курица (Kuritsa) – “Chicken” 
  • Петух (Petukh) – “Rooster” 
  • Цыплёнок (Tsyplyonok) – “Chick” 
  • Утка (Utka) – “Duck” 
  • Кролик (Krolik) – “Rabbit” 
  • Коза (Koza) – “Goat” 
  • Овца (Ovtsa) – “Sheep” 
  • Лошадь (Loshad’) – “Horse” 
  • Свинья (Svin’ya) – “Pig” 
  • Корова (Korova) – “Cow” 
  • Северный олень (Severnyy olen’) – “Reindeer” 

3. Wild Animals

Most of the wild animals in Russia live in the taiga, the Arctic, and the Subarctic regions.

Common animals in Russian forests include chipmunks, hazel grouses, wolverines, sables, squirrels, and sika deer. Legendary predators include the Ussuri tiger, the leopard, and of course, the national animal of Russia—the bear. Wild ungulates are well spread throughout the territory of Russia: big boar, wild reindeer, graceful roe deer, large moose, and saiga. 

Traditionally, Russian hunters favored fur-bearing animals such as sables, muskrats, minks, and foxes. The arctic fox is the primary species harvested for its fur. 

Here are the names of popular wild animals in Russian: 

  • Бурундук (Burunduk) – “Chipmunk” 
  • Рябчик (Ryabchik) – “Hazel grouse” 
  • Росомаха (Rosomakha) – “Wolverine” 
  • Соболь (Sobol’) – “Sable” 
  • Белка (Belka) – “Squirrel” 
  • Олень (Olen’) – “Deer” 
  • Тигр (Tigr) – “Tiger” 
  • Леопард (Leopard) – “Leopard”
  • Медведь (Medved’) – “Bear” 

In ancient times, people would call certain animals by so-called euphemisms (substitute words). It was believed that calling a bear by its real name was seen as an invocation of the bear, which was obviously undesirable. So, Медведь (Medved’) literally means “honey-eater.” This beast has other euphemistic names, as well: Mishka, Potapych, Toptygin, and others.

A Mother Bear and Her Cubs

The bear is one of the most common symbols associated with Russia.

  • Кабан (Kaban) – “Boar” 
  • Лось (Los’) – “Moose” 
  • Сайгак (Saygak) – “Saiga” 
  • Норка (Norka) – “Mink” 
  • Песец (Pesets) – “Arctic fox” 
  • Лиса (Lisa) – “Fox” 
  • Волк (Volk) – “Wolf” 
  • Манул (Manul) – “The Pallas’s cat, Manul” 

The manul is a very expressive cat and the constant hero of Russian memes.

4. Sea Animals

In Russia, whose shores are washed by the waters of three oceans and thirteen seas, there are a lot of sea animals—many of which are rare species. Below, you’ll find the English and Russian names of the most common marine animals.

  • Рыба (Ryba) – “Fish” 
  • Кит (Kit) – “Whale” 
  • Тюлень (Tyulen’) – “Seal” 
  • Морж (Morzh) – “Walrus” 
  • Морской котик (Morskoy kotik) – “Fur seal” 
  • Медуза (Meduza) – “Jellyfish” 
  • Бутылконос (Butylkonos) – “Bottlenose whale” 

The bottlenose whale is quite a rare animal, found in the cold Barents Sea. 

5. Bugs and Insects

There are also many types of bugs in Russia, most of which are active from April to May and hibernate during autumn. There are also a few dangerous bugs with toxic venom, which can be fatal under unfavorable conditions. Such venomous bugs include the Karakurt (black widow) spider in Southern Russia and the Asian hornet in the East. But actually, they’re quite rare, and most of the insects here are harmless.

  • Пчела (Pchela) – “Bee” 
  • Комар (Komar) – “Mosquito” 
  • Муха (Mukha) – “Fly” 
  • Паук (Pauk) – “Spider” 
  • Бабочка (Babochka) – “Butterfly” 
  • Шершень (Shershenʹ) – “Hornet” 
  • Таракан (Tarakan) – “Cockroach” 
  • Муравей (Muravey) – “Ant” 
  • Мотылёк (Motylyok) – “Moth” 
  • Божья коровка (Bozh’ya korovka) – “Ladybug” 

Literally, the term Божья коровка (Bozh’ya korovka) means “God’s little cow.” This name refers to the spots on its body, which are similar to the spots on certain cows. In addition, ladybugs can give milk—but rather than ordinary milk, it is red and poisonous! 

But…why God’s? 

Nobody knows exactly. But they fly in the sky, and in the past, superstitious people asked them to forecast the weather or predict the harvest.

6. Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians

There are about 804 bird species in Russia, and in the cities, you’ll likely see a lot of pigeons, chickadees, sparrows, wagtails, and bullfinches in the wintertime. Sometimes, you might even see a woodpecker or a crossbill. People feed birds (especially during the winter), and many Russians build feeders to help birds survive cold days.

  • Голубь (Golub’) – “Pigeon” 
  • Синица (Sinitsa) – “Chickadee” 
  • Воробей (Vorobey) – “Sparrow” 
  • Трясогузка (Tryasoguzka) – “Wagtail” 
  • Снегирь (Snegir’) – “Bullfinch” 
  • Дятел (Dyatel) – “Woodpecker” 
  • Клёст (Klyost) – “Crossbill”

A Snake

77 reptile species inhabit the territory of Russia. Luckily, only a few of them are venomous.

  • Лягушка (Lyagushka) – “Frog” 
  • Змея (Zmeya) – “Snake” 
  • Жаба (Zhaba) – “Toad” 
  • Ящерица (Yashcheritsa) – “Lizard” 
  • Черепаха (Cherepakha) – “Turtle” 
  • Крокодил (Krokodil) – “Crocodile” 

7. Animal Body Parts

Here are the names of basic animal body parts in Russian: 

  • Волосы (Volosy) – “Hair” 
  • Крыло (Krylo) – “Wing” 
  • Хвост (Khvost) – “Tail” 
  • Шерсть (Sherst’) – “Fur” 
  • Рог (Rog) – “Horn” 
  • Перо (Pero) – “Feather” 
  • Крыло (Krylo) – “Wing” 

8. Animal Verbs

  • Мяукать (Myaukat’) – “To meow” 
  • Лаять (Layatʹ) – “To bark” 
  • Рычать (Rychat’) – “To roar” 
  • Жужжать (Zhuzhzhat’) – “To buzz” 
  • Скакать (Skakat’) – “To gallop” 
  • Ползти (Polzti) – “To crawl” 
  • Кормить (Kormit’) – “To feed” 

9. Animal Sounds

The interesting thing about animal sounds is that they vary from one language to another. For example, a child in the U.K. imitates a dog’s sound as “woof-woof,” while a Russian toddler is taught to imitate barking with gav-gav.

  • Хрю-хрю (Khryu-khryu) – Pig 
  • Мяу-мяу (Myau-myau) – Cat 
  • Чик-чирик (Chik-chirik) – Bird
  • Кря-кря (Krya-krya) – Duck 
  • И-го-го (I-go-go) – Horse

A Cow

And what sound does a cow make in Russian? Correct: “moo.”

Curious how to pronounce some additional animal sounds and other words? Then you might enjoy reading the children’s poem Путаница (Putanica) by renowned Russian poet Kornej Chukovskij! 

10. Animal-Related Idioms and Slang Expressions

Animals have always lived close to people. And in Russian speech, many idioms and slang expressions mention different characteristic features of some common animals in Russia in one way or another.

Денег куры не клюют. (Deneg kury ne klyuyut.)

Literal translation: Chickens do not peck money.
Meaning: to have lots of money

Съел собаку (S”yel sobaku)

Literal translation: to have eaten a dog
Meaning: to be an old hand at something

Тянуть кота за хвост (Tyanut’ kota za khvost)

Literal translation: to pull the cat by its tail
Meaning: to beat around the bush

Кошки скребут на душе. (Koshki skrebut na dushe.)

Literal translation: Cats are scratching on the soul.
Meaning: to feel sick at heart

Делать из мухи слона (Delat’ iz mukhi slona)

Literal translation: to make an elephant out of a fly
Meaning: to make something out of nothing

Хоть волком вой (Khot’ volkom voy)

Literal translation: to howl like a wolf
Meaning: to despair due to an inability to correct a bad situation

Чёрная кошка пробежала. (Chyornaya koshka probezhala.)

Literal translation: Black cat ran between people.
Meaning: This is what they say about people who have quarreled.

Надуться как мышь на крупу (Nadut’sya kak mysh’ na krupu)

Literal translation: pouted like a mouse about the grains
Meaning: to be offended or dissatisfied with something

На кривой козе не подъедешь. (Na krivoy koze ne pod”yedesh’.)

Literal translation: You can’t drive up on a crooked goat to a person.
Meaning: Russians say this about people who are difficult to find an approach to. In the old days, one-eyed animals were called crooked. In particular, goats with only one eye lose the ability to move straight.

На птичьих правах (Na ptich’ikh pravakh)

Literal translation: bird rights
Meaning: without a legal basis; unofficially

Ежу понятно. (Yezhu ponyatno.)

Literal translation: Even a hedgehog understands.
Meaning: We say this about something that is obvious.

11. Conclusion

In this article, you learned the names of several different animals in the Russian language. If you would like to hear a recording of their pronunciation, make sure to visit our vocabulary list Animal Names

Once you’ve mastered this key topic, you’ll be able to enjoy a greater range of conversations with native Russian speakers during your visit. Russians love their pets, and many of us live in the countryside where we raise farm animals. What better way to begin a casual chat than by asking someone about their favorite furry friends? 

To continue learning about the Russian language and culture, create your free lifetime account on RussianPod101.com today! We offer a range of themed vocabulary lists, audio and video lessons, and other free resources (such as this English-Russian dictionary). If you sign up for a Premium PLUS account, you’ll also get access to our MyTeacher service; your personal Russian tutor will help you learn faster and smarter through personalized exercises and more. 

Before you go: What’s your favorite pet? Do you know its name in Russian? Please let us know in the comments!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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