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Lesson Transcript

Oksana: Всем привет!
Erik: Erik here. All about, Lesson 2. Russian grammar is easy! Hello and welcome to the RussianPod101.com , the fastest, easiest and most fun way to learn Russian!
Oksana: I'm Oksana, and thanks again for being here with us for this All About lesson.
Erik: In this lesson we'll tell you a little about Russian Grammar.
Oksana: I’ll get my coat, have a great day, Erik, Goodbye!
Erik: I know how it sounds and I’m sure we’ve all felt that cold chill at some point as soon as we hear that we’re about to learn about grammar.
Oksana: Yes indeed. However, we’re going to show you that some parts of Russian grammar are easier than English grammar!
Erik: Are you sure you’re feeling OK, Oksana?
Oksana: I’m just fine thank you, Erik, wait and see. Let’s start with tenses.
Erik: Right. We are all familiar with the past, present and future tenses. But it’s never that simple. Look at the future tense and you can say, ‘I will eat’ and also say, ‘I am going to eat’. Both represent the future but you can see that both examples are different.
Oksana: Absolutely, and interestingly, tenses cannot always be translated from one language to another.
Erik: So let’s have a look at the present tense. In English you use a different tense in the Present depending on whether it’s an action that happens regularly or is happening now, for example
- She writes letters every day.
- She’s writing a letter now.
Oksana: And yet in Russian you use just one tense in the Present, no matter if the action happens regularly or is happening now. For example
Она пишет письма каждый день. = She writes letters every day.
Она пишет письмо. = She's writing a letter.
Erik: Really? That’s really cool for learning Russian!
Oksana: Yes, it can really help simplify a lot of the initial learning.
Erik: Now let’s have a quick look at the past tense. In English, the past form of regular verbs in English end in ‘e’ and ‘d’. Like, ‘baked a cake'. Irregular verbs that don’t follow this rule must be learned individually and there are lots of irregular verbs in English, for example
break - broke
and buy - bought
speak - spoke
Oksana: Yes, and if you speak English natively you probably don’t realize how difficult learning so many irregular verbs can be!
Erike: It can be like one of those memory tricks where you learn things from a long list!
Oksana: And guess what?
Erik: What?
Oksana: In Russian there are hardly any irregular verbs in the Past tense!
Erik: Oh my, that’s handy!
Oksana: Isn’t it just. So
- If the subject is masculine, the ending is “– л”:
then it’s
Он видел фильм. – He saw the film.
- If the subject is feminine, the ending is “– лa”:
Она видела фильм. – She saw the film.
- If the subject is neuter, the ending is “– ло”:
Письмо было на столе. – The letter was on the table.
- If the subject is plural, the ending is “– ли”:
Они видели фильм. – They saw the film.
This works for almost ALL Russian verbs!
Erik: Now that really is helpful. Learning a list of irregular verbs can be challenging at the best of times when learning a new language. Thanks, Oksana. So next let’s have a look at articles.
Oksana: How would you define what an article is?
Erik: An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. The articles in the English language are “a” or “an” and “the”.
Oksana: Right, but you know what, Erik, don’t worry about it.
Erike: Oh no, is it that difficult in Russian? I’m scared. OK, I’ve braced myself, how many articles are there in Russian? Fifty?
Oksana: None.
Erik: No seriously, how many?
Oksana: I am serious, none at all. So, what’s next?
Erike: Wow, that was easy. I could get used to this! Next let’s look at an important verb in any language, and that is the verb, ‘to be’. In English you have three forms of this verb in the present tense.
Oksana: In Russian, the verb ‘to be’ should not be used in the Present tense, so you don’t have to worry about it at all. For example, ‘Я высокий - I am tall’ and, ‘Он врач - He is a doctor’.
Erik: That’s another useful tip!
Oksana: Yes it really is. What’s next?
Erik: Now we’re going to take a quick look at how questions are formed. In English, you need a different auxiliary depending on the tense, and you change the word order. For example
‘I often go there’ - ‘Do you often go there?’
‘I went to school yesterday’ – ‘Did you go to school yesterday?’
Oksana: In Russian rather than focusing on that, you just need to change your intonation. Nothing else changes. For example, ‘Он часто ходит туда. – Он часто ходит туда? - He often goes there. Does he go there often?’
Erik: I see, so the way you make it sound is really important.
Oksana: Yes, and with a bit of practice it’s not too bad at all. Having to change the tone of how you speak can really help you get into a new language too. What’s the next thing on the agenda?
Erik: Making a negative. In English, you need an auxiliary and ‘not’ to make a negative. For example, ‘I like apples’ and ‘I don’t like apples’. ‘He’s asleep’ and ‘He isn’t asleep’. How does that compare to Russian?
Oksana: In Russian you just put ‘не’, which means, ‘not’ in front of the verb in any tense. So to use the same examples, ‘Я люблю яблоки’ - ‘I like apples’ and, ‘Я не люблю яблоки’ - ‘I don’t like apples’. And, ‘Он спит’ - ‘He’s asleep’ and, ‘Он не спит’ - ‘He isn't asleep’.
Erik: That makes sense.
Oksana: Yes, it’s very logical.
Erik: Now let’s look at genders. In English you don’t have genders like you do in some languages. For example, in French and Italian, they do. And in French, you don’t know the gender of a noun unless you memorize it! What is it like in Russian?
Oksana: In Russian it’s actually much simpler in that you don’t have to memorize it. You can tell the gender just by looking at the ending of the word. Masculine nouns usually end in a consonant, for example, ‘Стол (table)’ and, ‘дом (house)’.
Erik: Right OK. And what about feminine nouns?
Oksana: Feminine nouns usually end in а or я, for example, ‘ручка (a pen)’ and ‘Мария (Mary)’.
Erik: I see. Is that it? Masculine and feminine?
Oksana: No there’s one more, neuter. Neuter nouns usually end in о or е, for example, ‘Письмо (a letter)’ and ‘солнце (the Sun)’.
Erik: Oh I see. That’s not too bad to remember.
Oksana: Yes, it’s quite straight forward really.
Erik: Having things like this is really important when learning a new language. It’s great to have foundations that are relatively straight forward and can be used to build upon.
Oksana: It’s not all easy by any means but you’re absolutely right. Having straight forward concepts to get you started can make all the difference. And in Russian we have it! What else should we look at?
Erik: Now we’re going to take a look at word order. We don’t often think about how important the order of words is.
Oksana: You’re right, I suppose for native speakers it just comes naturally.
Erik: Yes and actually English is rather strict in that to make sense, sentences to have to be structured in a particular way. Is it the same in Russian?
Oksana: Word order in Russian is much more flexible than in English and often many combinations are acceptable. For example, to say, ‘I love you’, you can say, ‘Я тебя люблю’ or, ‘Я люблю тебя’. However, changing the word order slightly changes the emphasis in the sentence and makes it sound more formal, informal or poetic. That’s quite nice actually.
Erik: I’m a poet and I don’t know it!
Oksana: I don’t quite think so, Erik.
Erik: No? I thought I was onto something there. So if Russian grammar is so easy, as everything here is straight forward, why does everybody complain about it?
Oksana: Well, some things are a bit more complicated, like cases!
Erik: Oh! What’s a case?
Oksana: Cases are generally considered one of the most difficult aspects of Russian grammar. There are no cases in English but you can meet them in Latin or German.
Erik: Oh, this really does sound scary. What exactly is a case?
Oksana: It's a grammatical term used to indicate a change in the ending of a noun, adjective or pronoun. The choice of the case depends on the grammatical function of the words in the sentence.
Erik: OK, I follow.
Oksana As all nouns, pronouns and adjectives have different endings in different cases, you have to remember lots of endings as well as to learn when to use each case.
Erik: What’s the best way to learn this?
Oksana: If you learn the cases progressively, like we do in our Russianpod101 beginner lessons, it makes it so much easier as you’re dealing with manageable chunks.
Erik: Learning anything by breaking it down is always a good idea. What’s the best advice to learn cases specifically?
Oksana: Well, as we’ve said, don't try to learn all six cases at the same time. You'll immediately get confused and it'll take a long time before you manage to use them correctly so altogether it will be counterproductive. Next, don't learn the endings of the adjectives at the same time as the endings of the nouns. Try to get used to the nouns first.
Erik: That REALLY is a good idea!
Oksana: Yes, and also don't learn the plural forms for each case at the same time as the singular form. Wait to be at ease with the singular form first.
Erik: And being at ease with each part before moving onto the next is really important.
Oksana: You’re absolutely right.
Erik: Well, this has been a very brief glimpse of how some grammar can be applied to Russian.
Oksana: And as you can see, it wasn’t so bad at all and some of it is simpler than it is in English. Of course, some is more difficult too but with RussianPod101 we understand this and design your learning accordingly so you won’t even notice.
Erik: We really hope this quick glimpse has helped and has given you the tools and motivation to learn more and more Russian.
Erik: That just about does it for today. Have a great day and good luck with your Russian.
Oksana: Всем пока!