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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]


Please to leave a comment.
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Wednesday at 6:30 pm
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Have you been to St Petersburg? Do you love to travel? Where is the best place you have been to.... And why? Where would you recommend a friend to go to? We would love to know all these and more!

Tuesday at 10:57 pm
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Hello terhje,

Your sentence is great, just few small mistakes:

"Нет, я не был в Санкт-Петербурге, но я слышал, что это очень красивый город, и поэтому я хочу посетить его." 👍


Team RussianPod101.com

Friday at 7:57 pm
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Hello Nour,

Thank you for your message!

Looking forward to seeing you often here.👍



Team RussianPod101.com

Wednesday at 8:06 pm
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нет, я не был в Санкт-Петербурге, но я слушал что это очень красивый город, и позтому я хочу посетить.

Wednesday at 5:27 am
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Anna have amazing voice I like to hear her Russian phrases and English too 😍😍❤️❤️♥️

Wednesday at 5:25 am
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I really want to visit Santa Peterboroug so much because I really started to love all about Russia and Russian ❤️ and I love to travel so much

Monday at 10:32 pm
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Hello Tunc,

Because we use polite pronoun [вы] here. With [вы] we use the verb in plural form (in past).


Team RussianPod101.com

Wednesday at 9:24 pm
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My question is why plural form "были" at the sentence?

Джеймс, вы уже были в Санкт-Петербурге?

Best Regards


Tuesday at 1:48 am
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Hello Gene,

You have amazing story, and almost totally correct!

Just few small mistakes:

1. в Вьетнаме ---> вo Вьетнаме

2. в Томске, Россия ---> в Томске, в России

3. замечательно ---> замечательное

Everything else is good.


Team RussianPod101.com

Sunday at 12:07 pm
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Здравствуйте! Мне нравятся уроки. Где я был?

Я жил в Вьетнаме, Корее, Германии и США. Я посетил Японию, Норвегию, Швецию, Данию, Нидерланды, Бельгию, Люксембург, Францию, Андорру, Испанию, Англию, Восточную Германию, Австрию, Лихтенштейн, Швейцарию, Мексику, Канаду, и в прошлом году я был в Томске, Россия, в течение десяти недель. Мое время в Томске было замечательно. Я надеюсь вернуться.

Tuesday at 3:47 am
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Hello Christophe,

It's a very interesting questions.

'понравилось' - liked, past tense, perfective verb

'нравится' - like, present time, imperfective verb.

"понравиться" is for something you liked once, and "нравиться" is for something you like constantly, or more than once/over and over again.

The verb "нравиться" is used mainly (not always) to describe your general attitude to something.

For example:

1. I like this job. - Мне нравится эта работа (general attitude).

I liked this job. - Мне нравилась эта работа (in this case we know that in past you liked this job, but probably you changed your mind and in present you don't like.)

"понравилось" means that you started to like something.

1. Мне понравилась эта работа - I started to like this job (probably before you didn't like it but you changed your mind and started to like).

Please let us know if you have questions.


Team RussianPod101.com