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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Russian.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by…
Hi everyone! I'm Katya
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Russian grammar.
Word Order
"Word Order" refers to the order in which words are structured to form a sentence in a given language.
Consider the English sentence "I ate an apple." But first, let's remove the article "an" here for simplicity, so we're just left with "I ate apple."
The basic Word Order for English is subject, verb, object, or SVO for short.
If we break down the English sentence "I ate apple," we can see that the subject "I" is presented first, followed by the verb "ate," and then finally the object "apple" is positioned last.
This is the basic word order for sentences in English.
Russian uses the same word order as English, SVO.
Парень купил собаку. (Paren' kupil sabaku.) “guy bought dog”
Парень, the subject “a guy,” goes first.
купил, the verb “bought,” goes second.
And собаку, the object “dog,” goes last.
This means that you can create any basic sentence in Russian, simply by exchanging the English words for Russian words using a dictionary, and still be understood. Isn't that easy?
In fact, Russian word order is much more flexible than English. Compare the following examples:
“Cats eat mice.”
If we were to swap the subject with the object, we'd get...
“Mice eat cats.”
As you can see, the SVO word order in English is fixed. Changing the word order changes the meaning of the sentence completely.
Russian on the other hand, is much more flexible. Starting with the SVO word order...
Кошки едят мышей. (Koshki yedyat myshey.) “Cats eat mice.”
We can swap the subject with the object like we did for English, and yet...
Мышей едят кошки. (Myshey yedyat koshki.) “Cats eat mice.”
The meaning of the sentence remains the same.
In fact, we could swap the sentence any which way, and it still wouldn't change the core meaning of the sentence.
Unlike English, Russian doesn't rely on the word order of the sentence to signify if a word is the subject or an object because it uses special word endings that act as markers to indicate the role of the word in the sentence.
In this example, we use the word ending ей in мышей, to indicate that "mice" is the object of the sentence. And so we can move it around, anywhere in the sentence, and it'll still be the object.
How to Form Negative Sentences
Now you know how to create basic sentences in Russian, but how do you make a sentence negative?
Negation in Russian is easy, just add не (ne), meaning "no," before the verb.
Он спит (On spit) “He's sleeping.”
Он не спит (On ne spit) “He's not sleeping.”
Я знаю (Ya znayu) “I know.”
Я не знаю (Ya ne znayu) “I don't know.”
Unlike English, Russian permits double negatives. So in English, you would say "nothing happened," but in Russian, we would say "nothing didn't happen."
Ничего не произошло. (Nichevo ne praizashlo.) literally, "nothing didn't happen."
You can form many basic negative sentences in Russian by placing "no" before the verb.
How to Form Questions in Russian
Turning a sentence into a question in Russian is even easier than turning it into a negative sentence.
Simply raise your pitch at the end of the question, as you would in English.
Unlike English though, you do not need to rearrange the order of any words. Simply say the sentence and raise the pitch at the end.
Ты понимаешь. (Ty panimayesh’.) “You understand.”
Ты понимаешь? (Ty panimayesh’?) “You understand?”
To ask more than yes or no questions, you'll need to learn question words. Some common questions words are:
Что? (Shchto?) “What?”
Как? (Kak?) “How?”
Кто? (Kto?) “Who?”
Какой? (Kakoy?) “Which?”
Когда? (Kagda?) “When?”
We'll cover more of this in future lessons on Russian grammar.
Well done! Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that Russian sentences can be formed using a SOV word order, just like English.
Additionally, Russian uses markers to indicate the role of a word in a sentence, which allows the word order to be much more flexible.
You make a negative sentence by adding "no" before the verb.
And to create basic questions in Russian, simply add a question mark and raise your pitch at the end of a sentence.
We've covered only the absolute basics of Russian grammar. If you're interested in learning more, check out our "Russian in 3 minutes" video series. In that course, we teach you useful phrases while covering the fundamentals of Russian grammar, and each lesson is only 3 minutes long!
In the next lesson, we'll introduce you to the basics of Russian writing.
See you in the next lesson. Bye!