Dialogue - Russian



советоваться sovetovat'sya to consult with someone
похудеть pohudet' to lose weight
консультация konsul'tatsiya consultation
поинтересоваться pointeresovat'sya to inquire, to ask
спортзал sportzal gym, fitness class
сбалансированное питание sbalansirovannoye pitaniye complete nutrition, balanced nutrition
записаться zapisat'sya to sign up for
рекомендовать rekamendavat' to recommend
подсказать podskazat' to suggest, to give a hint, to tell
физическая нагрузка fizicheskaya nagruzka exercise, physical load

Lesson Notes



The Focus of this Lesson is on Saying "Could you...?" and Reflexive Verbs
Не могли бы вы подсказать, что для этого необходимо?
"Could you tell me what I need to do?"

In this lesson we're going to cover the very useful phrase "Could you ..." which you have probably learned in some of our previous series. Let me just quickly remind you. In Russian it would be Не могли бы вы..

Unlike in English, we put the verb мочь "can, could" in its negative form to make the phrase more polite. As you might see, the verb мочь is conjugated for the personal pronoun вы, plural "you" which is also the polite way to address people.

For example:

  1. Не могли бы вы подсказать который час?
    "Could you tell me what time is it?"
  2. Не могли бы вы повторить?
    "Could you repeat?"

The particle бы also adds politeness to the phrase. It represents an unreal condition implying the phrase "if it didn't bother you could you...."

We will touch upon the grammar for unreal conditions in the next lessons.

Now, let me give you more casual way to ask for a favor. We will use the same verb мочь but conjugated for the pronoun ты, "you" singular. It is Не мог бы ты... Here are some examples:

  1. Не мог бы ты повторить?
    "Can you repeat?"
  2. Не мог бы ты говорить погромче?
    "Can you speak louder?"


In the dialogue, we saw:

Не могли бы вы подсказать, что для этого необходимо? which means "Could you tell me what is needed?"


Reflexive Verbs in Russian



Reflexive verbs are used to indicate the concept of self in Russian. In our dialogue, we had three reflexive verbs: Записаться, Посоветоваться, Поинтересоваться. As you may notice, the ending ~ся is the same. This is the short way to write the pronoun себя ("self") in Russian. For example:

мыть "wash" - мыться "wash oneself"
одевать "dress" - одеваться "dress oneself"
увидеть "see" - увидеться  "see each other"

Cultural Insights

Restoring Russia's Sports Glory


Sport in Russia is one of the most discussed topics. The government is focusing on bringing back sports culture to Russia. In the past, Russia was one of the strongest sport competitors in international competitions, but years of an unstable economic and political climate have sidelined sport and significantly dampened its development. Many professional sportsmen and trainers went abroad and are now representing other countries.


So now the Russian government, with the president Vladimir Putin who is a professional judo practitioner, is attempting to revive national sport programs and return Russia's former status of a sports leader in the world.


Lesson Transcript

Jo: Hello everyone and welcome to RussianPod101.com. This is the Upper Beginner Series, season 1, lesson 1 Getting Fit in Russia. I’m Jo.
Svetlana: And I’m Svetlana. Privet.
Jo: In this lesson we're going to learn new words and grammar that we can use to get information at a sports and fitness clubs.
Svetlana: The conversation is between Elena and the receptionist at the reception counter in a fitness club.
Jo: Since they are meeting for the first time they will use relatively formal language.
Elena: Здравствуйте, я бы хотела записаться в спортзал. Не могли бы вы подсказать, что для этого необходимо?
Receptionist:Конечно, для начала я рекомендую вам посоветоваться с нашим специалистом по фитнесу и диетологии. После анализов и консультации, он посоветует вам правильную физическую нагрузку и сбалансированное питание.
Elena: Понятно.
Receptionist: Могу ли я поинтересоваться, что вас привело к нам?
Elena:Я хочу похудеть.
Elena: Zdravstvuytye, ya by hotela zapisat 'sya v sportzal. Ne mogli by vy podskazat ', chto dlya etogo neobhodimo?
Receptionist:Konechno, dlya nachala ya rekomenduyu vam posovetovat 'sya s nashim spetsialistom po fitnesu i diyetologii. Posle analizov i konsul 'tatsii, on posovetuyet vam pravil 'nuyu fizicheskuyu nagruzku i sbalansirovannoye pitaniye.
Elena: Ponyatno.
Receptionist:Mogu li ya pointeresovat'sya, chto vas privelo k nam?
Elena:Ya hochu pohudet'
Elena: I would like to sign up for fitness classes. Could you tell me what I need to do?
Receptionist: Certainly. First, I suggest you talk with our fitness and nutrition specialist. After a medical check up and consultation, he will recommend relevant exercises and a complete nutrition plan.
Elena: I see.
Receptionist: Can I ask what brought you here?
Elena: I want to lose weight.
Jo: It seems like fitness, sports, yoga, and healthy lifestyles in general have become a trend recently. Do Russians go to the gym a lot?
Svetlana: Well, I can’t say “a lot”, but definitely more often than in the past. The Russian government pays a lot of attention to the development of sports in the country.
Jo: Russian athletes are also well known worldwide. But I’ve heard that fitness services in Russia are still quite expensive.
Svetlana: That’s true. Plus there are not that many professional trainers and fitness instructors in Russia. However, in big cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, the fitness clubs are well equipped.
Jo: Yes, I’ve been to one in Moscow. Their staff were very trained and qualified as well. And the women all looked so beautiful! I wonder if they spend a lot of money on their looks...
Svetlana: (laughs) They certainly do! And it is always costly for their spouses. Russian women are known as some of the most beautiful in the world, and it requires a lot of hard work to maintain this status.
Jo: Maybe I should go to Russia to work as a fitness instructor. I’ll kill two birds with one stone – earn some money and get the beauty secrets of the Russian women.
Svetlana: Why not? But I have to warn you that in some regions people don’t really care about being skinny and fashionable. They think that “Хорошего человека должно быть много”.
Jo: What does that mean?
Svetlana: Well, roughly translated it means “If I am big, there is more of me to love.”
Jo: (laughs) How true.
Jo: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson. The first word we shall see is...
Svetlana: спортзал (sportzal) [natural native speed]
Jo: gym
Svetlana: спортзал (sportzal) [slowly - broken down by syllable] спортзал (sportzal) [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: записаться (zapisat'sya) [natural native speed]
Jo: to sign up for
Svetlana: записаться (zapisat'sya) [slowly - broken down by syllable] записаться (zapisat'sya) [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: подсказать (podskazat') [natural native speed]
Jo: to suggest, to give a hint, to tell
Svetlana: подсказать (podskazat') [slowly - broken down by syllable] подсказать (podskazat') [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: рекомендовать (rekamendavat') [natural native speed]
Jo: to recommend
Svetlana: рекомендовать (rekamendavat') [slowly - broken down by syllable] рекомендовать (rekamendavat') [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: советоваться (sovetovat'sya) [natural native speed]
Jo: to consult with someone
Svetlana: советоваться (sovetovat'sya) [slowly - broken down by syllable] советоваться (sovetovat'sya) [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: физическая нагрузка (fizicheskaya nagruzka) [natural native speed]
Jo: exercise, physical load
Svetlana: физическая нагрузка (fizicheskaya nagruzka) [slowly - broken down by syllable] физическая нагрузка (fizicheskaya nagruzka) [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: сбалансированное питание (sbalansirovannoye pitaniye) [natural native speed]
Jo: complete nutrition, balanced nutrition
Svetlana: сбалансированное питание (sbalansirovannoye pitaniye) [slowly - broken down by syllable] сбалансированное питание (sbalansirovannoye pitaniye) [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: похудеть (pohudet') [natural native speed]
Jo: to lose weight
Svetlana: похудеть (pohudet') [slowly - broken down by syllable] похудеть (pohudet') [natural native speed]
Jo: Next
Svetlana: поинтересоваться (pointeresovat'sya) [natural native speed]
Jo: to inquire, to ask
Svetlana: поинтересоваться (pointeresovat'sya) [slowly - broken down by syllable] поинтересоваться (pointeresovat'sya) [natural native speed]
Jo: And last...
Svetlana: консультация (konsul'tatsiya) [natural native speed]
Jo: consultation
Svetlana: консультация (konsul'tatsiya) [slowly - broken down by syllable] консультация (konsul'tatsiya) [natural native speed]
Jo: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Svetlana: The first expression we’ll take a look at is записаться в спортзал.
Jo: “Signing up at a gym.”
Svetlana: Записаться means “to sign up for”. The root of this word is the verb “писать”, which means “to write”. We use the prefix ЗА- to add the meaning “to do something in advance” or “to begin doing something”.
Jo: That makes sense, since Elena is signing up for a gym in advance.
Svetlana: Right! Here are some more examples using the prefix ЗА- in the context of “doing something in advance”
Я запланировал поездку за город на выходные.
Jo: “I planned a country trip for the weekend”.
Svetlana: Публика зааплодировала после его выступления.
Jo: “The audience gave him a round of applause after his performance”.
Svetlana: See, the verbs запланировать, “to plan in advance” and зааплодировать, “to begin applauding” show the role of the prefix ЗА- when added to imperfect verbs.
Jo: All right, what is the next word?
Svetlana: The next word is “подсказать”.
Jo: “To tell, give a hint, or suggest”. But it seems like these verbs have slightly different meanings, don’t you think?
Svetlana: Right, but it is mostly used to mean “to recommend, advise, or consult”, but in most cases it will be translated as the verb “to tell” in English. For example, "Подскажите, что лучше выбрать."
Jo: “Tell me what to choose.”
Svetlana: Он подсказал мне правильную тактику.
Jo: “He told me/advised me on what strategy to apply.”
Svetlana: Like in our first phrase, the verb is used with the prefix. The prefix ПОД- can be translated as “under” in English, which also shows that there is an incomplete action.
Jo: So in other words, somebody doesn’t tell you exactly what to do but only gives you a hint or consults with you, so you are free to make a final decision by yourself. Okay, what is the last key word for this lesson?
Svetlana: The last word is the verb “поинтересоваться”.
Jo: The translation of this verb is “to ask” but the interpretation is “showing your interest in something”.
Svetlana: This verb also has a prefix. The prefix ПО- indicates that the action has been done over a short period of time. So the verb “ПОИНТЕРЕСОВАТЬСЯ” means “being interested in something for a short period of time”. Let me give you a couple of other examples.
Я бы хотела поговорить с ним.
Jo: “I would like to talk to him (briefly)”.
Svetlana: Он сейчас не может говорить.
Jo: “He cannot talk right now.” Here, he is probably too busy so he cannot talk at all, even if it’s just for a short time. I see how this works. So now let’s move on to the grammar.
Jo: In this lesson we're going to cover the very useful phrase “Could you…?”, which you have probably already heard in some of our previous series.
Svetlana: In Russian it would be “Не могли бы вы”. Unlike in English, you can change the verb мочь, “can” or “could”, to the negative form to make the phrase more polite.
Jo: As you might notice, the verb...
Svetlana: ...мочь...
Jo: ...is conjugated with the personal pronoun...
Svetlana: ...вы,...
Jo: ...meaning plural “you” which also is a polite way to address people. Okay Svetlana, could you give me a sentence using this word?
Svetlana: Не могли бы вы подсказать который час?
Jo: “Could you tell me what time it is?”
Svetlana: Не могли бы вы повторить?
Jo: “Could you repeat that? ”
Svetlana: In this sentence, I used the particle бы. The particle бы also adds politeness to the phrase. It is also used as an unreal conditional. A full version of the phrase Не могли бы вы can be translated as “If it is not too much trouble, could you …?”
Jo: Well, the phrase is expressed in the unreal conditional, but we certainly hope you will really get the help you ask for!
And Svetlana, is there an informal way to ask for a favor?
Svetlana: Yes. We will use the same verb “can”, “мочь”, but conjugated with the pronoun “you” singular, “ты”. Не мог бы ты... For example “Не мог бы ты повторить?”
Jo: “Can you repeat that?”
Svetlana: Не мог бы ты говорить погромче?
Jo: “Can you speak louder?” Great! Could you also give us another variation of the verb “can” to make a sentence starting with “Could you...”?
Svetlana: Sure! It is actually easier than the previous ones but very casual. In this case, we don’t need to use the negative particle НЕ nor the particle БЫ. The only thing we should do is conjugate the verb “can” for the pronoun “you, singular”. Do you want to try?
Jo: Okay, so what is the dictionary form of the verb “can”?
Svetlana: It would be “мочь.”
Jo: And if we conjugate it with the “you, singular” pronoun in present tense, what would it be?
Svetlana: It would be “можешь”. So now we can translate the phrase “Can you...?” in a casual way. Ты можешь позвонить мне завтра?
Jo: “Can you call me tomorrow?”
Svetlana: In most cases you can drop the pronoun ТЫ... and just say Можешь. For example, Можешь разбудить меня через пару часов?
Jo: “Can you wake me up in a couple of hours?”
Svetlana: Remember! Since it is a very informal way to ask for a favor, use it only with your friends and family members.
Jo: Make sure you check our lesson notes for more examples and information.
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Jo: Okay, that’s it for this lesson. Thanks for listening everyone!
Svetlana: Poka poka