Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Basic Russian Grammar

Okay, I’m finally going to try and tackle the problem of Russian Grammar. Wish me luck!!

Actually, I don’t think it needs to be tremendously difficult if you don’t try and tackle the myriad of tables and forms. It’s incredibly confusing, so what’s needed is a step by step approach that builds up a solid understanding of various fundamentals with a minimum vocabulary and then continues to slowly build on that.

Of course, it still takes significant time and effort, but I suspect this approach will be a lot less painful for most people.

Have a look at what I’ve put together so far at my website to learn Russian.

Basic Russian Grammar

Here’s a few examples that I’ve asked some friends to check for mistakes and correct them. (I’ve highlighted mistakes in red, and ‘sort of’ mistakes in blue.)

I’m a student. Я – студент.
He’s a student. Он – студент.
She’s also a student. Она тоже студентка.
We’re students. Мы – студенты.
We’re all students. Мы все студенты.
What are they talking about? О чём они разговорят?
Who are they talking about? О ком они разговорят?
They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студенте.
Which student? Какой студент?
They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студентка.
Which student? Какая студентка?
They’re talking about the students. Они разговорят о студенты.
They’re talking about some students. ”  “
What were you talking with her about? О чём ты с ней говорила?
What are you thinking about now? О чём ты сейчас думаешь?
About my students. О моих студентах.
About one of my students. Об одном из моих студентов.
About my son. О моём сыне.
About my daughter. О моей дочери.

Here are the corrections and suggestions from my friend.

So, you’ve started to dig in to the most complex part of the Russian language. I guess that most people probably give up exactly here 🙂

These tables look absolutely crazy and even for me they look scary, because it’s a rather strange way of looking at the language ( like looking at the working heart – you know that it’s there, you use it for years, but looking at it – is very weird).

A more natural way is to understand that nouns in Russian can be divided into several groups and inside one group they are changed in the same way.

Female:
Сестра
Подруга
Начальница

Male:
Брат
Друг
Начальник

Whom are talking with? – C кем ты разговариваешь?

With my brother. – C братом.
With a friend. – C другом.
With my boss. – C начальником.

With my sister. – C сестрой.
With my friend. – C подругой.
With my boss. – С начальницей.

It is relatively easy to understand what group a word belongs to.
Female:
– машина
– картина
– проблема
Most of them end with “a”, so that’s easy.
Neutral:
– поле
– озеро
– море
Neutral end with “е” or “о”.
Male:
– рынок
– сигнал
Male are ending with a consonant.

So first of all you need to quickly understand what group a word belongs to.
Then practice all groups separately and I hope that after some time, you will feel what are the possible endings in each group.

Here is the full list of corrections to your examples below.

What are they talking about? О чём они разговорят?
Who are they talking about? О ком они разговорят?

There are two similar words:
– разговаривать (to talk)
– разговорить (to make someone talking, for example if someone doesn’t want to talk at all or about something)

So the correct sentences in Russian are:
– Кого они хотят разговорить?
– О чем они разговаривают?
– О ком они разговаривают?

Maybe you have noticed that there are two other similar words in Russian:
– говорить (to talk) – one is speaking, others are listening
– разговаривать (to talk) – several people are talking to each other, the roles are exchanged  all the time.

They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студенте.

They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студентка
– Они разговаривают о студенте.
– Они разговаривают о студентке. 

Which student? Какой студент?

In general it’s OK, but I guess that this was a conversation:

– They are talking about a student. Which student?
Then in Russian it would be:
– Он разговаривают о студенте. О каком студенте?

They’re talking about the students. Они разговорят о студенты.

There is no way to directly translate “the”, because in this case I guess “the” is also meaningless in English, because you don’t know “which” students 🙂
They’re talking about the students. Они разговаривают о студентах.

They’re talking about the students. Они разговорят о студенты.
They’re talking about some students.   ”  “

They’re talking about the students. Они разговаривают о (тех) студентах. (The one who is speaking knows which students they are talking about)
They’re talking about some students. Они разговаривают о каких-то студентах. (The one who is speaking doesn’t know which students they are talking about)

About my daughter.  О моей дочи.

There is no such word as “дочи” (though some people can use them, but in Russian it’s allowed to play with words with those whom you know very well, like with your family).
About my daughter. О дочери (but this is too official). О дочке.
I hope, this helps.
Good luck,
Diana

Obviously, that helps a lot!!!  Next I’ll try some more samples to unravel this mystery. 🙂

Until then, come visit our website to learn Russian.

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Learn Russian – Word by Word : 0-50

The first word you need to learn in any language is “thank you”.  Then “hi” and “hello” are handy. The standard layout for phrasebooks is really quite useless since they don’t teach you any of the fundamentals of a language. The question “Where’s the ….?” is equally useful whether you’re at the bank, the restaurant or the post office.

What you need to do is simply begin learning basic words and concepts and build on them until you have enough to get around regardless of where you’re at. And, you need to be able to understand their answer!!

Here’s a sample bit from a Google docs that I’ve started for learning Russian and other languages – word by word:

Let’s take a new approach to language learning, and really understand, word by word, how to express ideas clearly and naturally in the language you’re trying to learn. The first word you need to learn is simply “thank you”.

thank you terima kasih спасибо merci
Thank you very much. Terima kasih banyak. Спасибо большое. Merci beaucoup.
Thanks. ‘ma kasih Спасибо. Merci.
Thanks a lot. Terima kasih banyak. Спасибо большое. Merci beaucoup.

Google and other translation software have a difficult time getting the correct match of expressions. They used to be much worse, giving ‘large thanks’ for ‘большое спасибо’. And by the way, which is more common: ‘большое спасибо’ or ‘спасибо большое’? From my sampling of Russian movies, ‘спасибо большое’ is more common (17 vs 7) but in my sampling of English movies (Russian subs) the ratio is exactly the opposite! (4 vs 17). So, which is most common? Time to ask my Russian speaking friends. 🙂

You can view the entire document here: Language learning – word by word, and you can also add comments, ask questions and contribute with your own native language.

In the meantime, let’s have a look at some other approaches for learning basic Russian. For a whole range of material to learn Russian, come visit our website: elearnrussian.com

If you want to learn Russian completely, including reading and writing, then the best way to get started is simply with “What’s this? / What’s that?”.  Here’s an example:

And from Lesson 1 which takes less than 5 minutes, simply carry on with lesson 2.

You’ve now had a really good introduction to about 20 key words and even if this is your first time ever learning Russian, you probably feel pretty comfortable with them. Of course, it’s important to also have the audio for the lesson, and you can get that from our website with lots of material to help you learn Russian.

Now, let’s go straight into Russian Lesson 3:

I’ll finish converting Lesson 4 to Slideshare and post it maybe tomorrow.

Пока!! (Ciao!!)