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Lesson Transcript

Eric: Eric here. Beginner Series Season 1, Lesson 4 – “And just where in Russia have you been?”
Anna: Welcome back to RussianPod101.com
Eric: With us you’ll learn to speak Russian like a native.
Anna: We also provide you with cultural insights and tips you won’t find in a textbook.
Eric: In the previous lesson, we talked about how to say where you’re from.
Anna: The focus of this lesson is the verb “to be” in the past, in prepositional case.
Eric: This conversation takes place on a flight from New York to Moscow.
Anna: The conversation is between James and Natasha.
Eric: I’ll be playing James and Anna will be playing Natasha. Ok, let’s have a listen to today’s conversation.
Anna: Джеймс, вы уже были в Санкт-Петербурге?
Eric: Да, я был там в прошлом году.
Anna: Вам понравилось?
Eric: Да, очень.
Eric: One time, slowly.
Anna: Еще раз, медленнее.
Anna: Джеймс, вы уже были в Санкт-Петербурге?
Eric: Да, я был там в прошлом году.
Anna: Вам понравилось?
Eric: Да, очень.
Eric: One time, natural native speed with translation.
Anna: Еще раз, с английским переводом.
Anna: [Джеймс, вы уже были в Санкт-Петербурге?]
Eric: James, have you already been to Saint Petersburg?
Anna: [Да, я был там в прошлом году.]
Eric: Yes, I was there last year.
Anna: [Вам понравилось?]
Eric: Did you like it?
Anna: [Да, очень.]
Eric: Yes, a lot.
Anna: Eric, [А ты был в Санкт-Петербурге?]?
Eric: Have I been to Saint Petersburg? No, unfortunately not, but I definitely would like to go there. Anna, [А ты была в Санкт-Петербурге]?
Anna: [Нет] but this is my must do plan for the summer. I’ll be sure to show you the pictures.
Eric: Oh, you’re teasing me again, Anna. [А ты была в Москве]?
Anna: Yes, this winter. And I saw no snow there. Can you believe that?
Eric: I guess it’s quite rare for Moscow, but since I’ve never been I'm able to imagine just about anything you tell me. Let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
Anna: [был]
Eric: Was.
Anna: [был]
Eric: Next.
Anna: [уже]
Eric: Already, yet.
Anna: [уже]
Eric: Next.
Anna: [там]
Eric: There.
Anna: [там]
Eric: Next.
Anna: [в прошлом году]
Eric: Last year.
Anna: [в прошлом году]
Eric: Next.
Anna: [в]
Eric: In, at, to.
Anna: [в]
Eric: Next.
Anna: [Вам понравилось?]
Eric: Did you like it?
Anna: [Вам понравилось?]
Eric: Ok, let’s have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Anna: And the first word or phrase we’ll look at is Russian verb [быть] or “to be”.
Eric: It has several different forms depending on the tense and the gender of the noun it’s used with.
Anna: This verb isn’t generally used in the present, just in the past and in the future.
Eric: So, in English, we have to always use “to be” in the present tense. For example, “I’m Anna and you are Eric.”
Anna: Eric, again.
Eric: Oh, boy.
Anna: Ok, in Russian I would say. [Я Анна, а ты Ерик] Oh, no, no, no. [Я Эрик, а ты Анна]
Eric: There it is. Beautiful Russian girl… so that literally means “I Anna, you Eric”. Alright, it’s a good thing that Russian is simpler than English in this respect.
Anna: Hold on Eric! The verb has 4 forms in the past.
Eric: Anna, I knew it was too good to be true.

Lesson focus

So let’s go right into the grammar since we’re talking about the verb “to be” in Russian.
Anna: The verb “to be” is not usually used in the present, just in the past and in the future. And the verb has four forms in the past.
Eric: For example, if I say [Сергей был в Италии] which means “Serghei has been to Italy”. Serghei is a man, of course, so we use the masculine form of [быть] in the past tense.
Anna: [Марина была в Москве в прошлом году] “Marine was in Moscow last year.” Marine is a woman, so we use the feminine form of [быть].
Eric: So just to recap quickly, if I say [Я был в Санкт-Петербурге], that would mean…
Anna: It would mean that you’re a man.
Eric: Ok, it’s good that Russian reaffirms that every time. And [Анна, ты была в Санкт-Петербурге?]…
Anna: [Я не была]
Eric: [Ты не была?]
Anna: [Нет, я не была]
Eric: [ещё не была]
Anna: [ещё не была]
Eric: You haven’t been yet. Ok. So you said [была] which is the feminine form of “to be” in the past, right?
Anna: Right.
Eric: So Anna, would you ever hear on the radio something like this: [Утро было холодное]. “It was a cold morning.”
Anna: Are you kidding me, Eric? It sounds very weird. Where did you hear that?
Eric: I didn’t hear it, actually I just made that up.
Anna: Ok, as usual.
Eric: As usual. So they wouldn’t say that because everybody knows it’s cold, right?
Anna: Yeah, that’s true. It’s always cold in the morning in Russia or in Kirghizstan, whatever.
Eric: So [утро] which means “morning” is neutral, so we the neutral form of [был] which is [было]. So even though this form sounds like the feminine [была], it’s actually spelled with an O instead of an A. So Anna, could you give us a side by side comparison of the neutral and feminine forms of “to be” in the past?
Anna: Ok, Eric. For feminine it will [была, Я была].
Eric: [была], so there’s kind of an accent on the A.
Anna: So the accent is on the second syllable.
Eric: So it would be [была].
Anna: [была], right. And for the neutral, we say [была].
Eric: [было]
Anna: [было]
Eric: So it’s on the first syllable.
Anna: True.
Eric: So for feminine it’s [была] and neutral, [было].
Anna: Perfect, Eric.
Eric: Wow, I’m learning. I didn’t know that. So I always wondered what the difference was. Now I know. Thank you, Anna. [Спасибо]
Anna: Ok, Eric, can I give another example?
Eric: [Пожалуйста, Анна]
Anna: [Они не были там] which means “They haven’t been there”. [Они] is plural, so we use the plural form of [быть] which is…
Eric: [были]
Anna: Right.
Eric: The accent would be [были]?
Anna: [были]
Eric: Ok, so not [были].
Anna: Not [были].
Eric: [были], ok. I’m sorry, it’s[были].
Anna: [были]


Eric: Ok, there we go. If you’d like to know more, please check out the PDF for a detailed explanation of this verb. In addition, we have lots of examples of the prepositional case in the PDF so please check that out. Ok, Anna, I think that does it for today.
Anna: Don’t forget to stop by and leave us a comment on today’s lesson.
Eric: Anna, are you ordering our listeners to leave comments?
Anna: Eric, stop it. You finish the lesson, right? Stop teasing me.
Eric: Ok, ok. Now you’re ordering me. Alright, that will definitely do it for this lesson. We’ll see you next time.
Anna: [До встречи]