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Russian Tutorial

written by Stephen VanZuylen


Note: Before heading to the tutorial I would Strictly recommend to download any
online dictionary which could easily translate the difficult Russian words provided below so that you can understand them easily and learn quickly, if you have one so thats good if not then Ill personally prefer BabelFish dictionary which is free so you dont need to buy it. The download link is provided below:

Download BabelFish Translator


1. Basic Phrases Yes dah Hello (Formal Usage) zdrav-stvoo-tye Good Evening doh-bry vyecher No nyet Hi (Informal Usage) preev-yet Good Night doh-broo-y noh-tchi Maybe moh-zhit bit' Good Day, Hello doh-bry dzyen' Good Bye (General use/more formal) duh-svee-dah-nya Please/You're Welcome pah-zhahl-stah Welcome dah-broh poh-zhahl-oh-vat' As always Kahk vseg-dah How old are you? ? Skohl-kuh vahm l-yet

See You (informal) pah-kah Thank You spah-see-bah How are you doing? ? kahk dze-la? Excellent Khah-rah-sho

See you tomorrow dah zav-trah Sorry prah-stee-tye (Not) bad () (neh)ploh-khah Pleased to meet you (lit. "it is very pleasant")

oh-chen' pree-yaht-nah I'm x years old __ m-nyeh __ l-yet Excuse me... eez-vee-nee-tye Do you speak English? ? vi znah-yeh-tye an-gleeskee

What languages do you know? K ? kahk-ee-ye yah-zik-ee vi znah-ye-tye? I (don't) know () yah (neh-) znah-yoo My name is... meen-yah zah-voot... Do you know where x is? ...? vi znah-yeh-tye g-dze No, that isn't necessary , nyet, neh nah-duh

How do you say x in Russian? I don't understand -...? () Kahk pah-roos-kee yah (nyeh-) poh-nee-mahyoo

Where are you from? ? aht-koo-dah vi? What time is it? C ? skohl-kuh vreh-meh-nee? Do you want...? ? Ti kho-tchesh Help me! ! pah-mah-gee-tyeh

What is your name? ? kahk vas zah-voot How much does it cost? ? skohl-kuh stoy-it Is that everything? ? eh-ta f-syoh? Bless you! (after cough or sneeze) ! Boodz-tye z-dah-roh-vi

Could you repeat that? ! () Pav-toh-ree-tye! (pahzhahl-stah)

Bold syllables indicate stress. 2. Pronunciation & Alphabet The Russian Alphabet, known as Cyrillic or (Ki-reel-lee-tsa) has 33 letters; 21 consonants, 10 vowels and two signs. The letters are: and . In order to make this explanation

easier, the letters are broken down into specific groups. While many who are unfamiliar with the alphabet dismiss it as being too hard, the alphabet is deceptively simple, as the phonetic principle is very prominent, and successive reforms have removed excess letters and greatly simplified the spelling system. Consonants -- Beh Best -- Veh Vent -- Geh Gift -- Deh Deep -- Zheh Pleasure -- Zeh Zebra -- i York kratkoye King -- Kah Lion -- El Mend -- Em Next -- En Pet -- Peh trilled r -- Err Sink -- Es Tape -- Teh Find -- Ef Kh, like German -- Khah machen -- Tseh Boots -- Cheh Chair -- Shah Ship -- Shchah See note* *I have heard two ways of pronouncing the letter , which I will assume to be regional variances. The first is to begin with a sound with a made just after without pause. (The example "fresh cheese" is most common.) The second is to make a "sh" sound, but push your jaw slightly forward and tighten the corners of your lips into a kind of semismile. In addition to the above consonants, there are certain variations in the sound made for most consonants, referred to most often as "soft" consonants. Rather than add new letters to represent these sounds, the Russian Alphabet shows them in one of two ways: either through a softening vowel, or should there be no vowel, a soft sign, used below. An explanation of how to pronounce these individually are below as well. The signs have additional uses, explained later. Soft Consonants -Like , but voiced -Push your lower lip upwards so the inside

touches the lower front portion of your front teeth - Use the frontal portion of your tongue rather than just the tip to make a sound similar to "dz" or the d in the French "jeudi." -This is, in theory, a voiced version of , but is rarely spoken as anything other than , and is marked by , not , for reasons explained later. -Push your lower jaw forward a little, and/or press the first centimeter or so of your tongue just behind your front teeth. -Use the whole front portion of your tongue to make an l sound like that in French or German. -Press the front of your tongue against the top of your mouth, just behind the front teeth; sounds like Spanish . -Like the p in "computer" -Similar to a regular , but with more aspiration. -This is a devoiced version of the soft . -Sounds a bit like but with the front of the tongue on the roof of the mouth. The t in the French "tu" makes the same sound. -Like , but devoiced.

"Soft" Vowels Yeh Yes Yoh Yodel Ee Feet Yu Youth Yah Yacht is always stressed "Hard" Vowels Eh Enter Oh Note * Ooh Boot Ah Swan *This is difficult to pronounce until you hear it, a sort of mix between the u in "under," the i in "if," and the ee in "feet;" until you have heard it a few times, pronounce it like the i in "if." (If you know Romanian, is the same sound as , and if you know Polish, it is the same sound as y. A similar vowel is found in the Turkish l, but is made further forward in the mouth.)

Pronunciation With Wide / Bay Boy Hooey While most Cyrillic typefaces' letter forms may look only slightly different than the one used on this page, the letter forms of handwritten Russian are decidedly different, and can be easily comfused to those unfamiliar with them. My own handwriting being as terrible as it is, I would recommend downloading OdessaScript to get an idea of what the letter forms should look like, and Pushkin for a more stylized and "realistic" example. The key to learning the written script is practice; start by mimicking the OdessaScript letters individually, copying them out 20-30 times in a row before moving onto the next one. Then move on to words of 3-5 letters, and finally onto longer words. Copying out poems, newspaper articles and other short texts can be the final step, and aid greatly in keeping your skills up to par. 3. Further Notes on Pronunciation The "Signs" The , or ("soft sign,") as noted before, denotes a soft consonant when there is no vowel present to perform that function. However, when placed in front of a soft vowel, it not only shows a soft consonant, indicates a more strongly pronounced y (as in yoke) sound in the vowel following. The , or ("hard sign,") fulfills the same latter function of the soft sign, but also indicates that the preceding consonant is hard, despite the soft vowel following it. This is, however, a rarely used letter and is seen mostly in verb prefixes, as in , and the like, and can also be marked with a double quotation or ". Stress Whenever you learn a new word, be sure to remember the stress patterns, as unlike Polish, Czech, and some other Slavic languages, syllable stress in Russian is free, unpredictable, and sometimes mobile; two-syllable neuter words, for instance, almost always change stress in the plural. For a graphic example of the importance of stress, the verb (stressed on a) which means "to write," can have its meaning suddenly and easily changed to , (stress on ) which means "to piss," so be careful! Vowel Reduction As with any language, there are certain differences in vowel pronounciation to be heard in different areas of Russia. Many of the boundaries of these differences remain a subject of debate, but below are the common changes in vowel pronunciation commonly heard in and around the Moscow region, and is thus considered the "standard" form of Russian. --The O rule: an unstressed o, before the point of stress, is pronounced like an a, and after

the point of stress, makes an "uh" sound, a schwa in linguistic terms. --The Rule: an unstressed before the point of stress is pronounced like the i in if, whereas a finial is pronounced normally. --The E rule: at the beginning of a word, e is always pronounced as "ye," regardless of stress. An unstressed e, unless preceded by a vowel is pronounced like a "schwa", though any preceding consonant is still softened. In virtually all spoken forms, all final consonants are devoiced. 4. Spelling & Combination Rules There are three main spelling rules that you have to know in Russian; they are fairly simple and easy to remember, so don't forget them! The 7-Letter Rule After , , , , , , & , write instead of The 5-Letter Rule After , , , , , dont write O if its unstressed; write E instead The Hush Rule After , , , , dont write or ; use or instead Note that the letters , and are always soft, and , , and are always considered hard; this means that after the former two, a is always pronounced as , is always pronounced like , and so on, while after the latter three, sounds like , and sounds like . Rules of Combination Once you start changing words as required by inflection (nouns, adjectives, pronouns) or conjugation (verbs) you not only have to apply the three rules above, but also the rules of vowel combination. Don't worry though; once you understand hard and soft consonants and the vowels/signs that reflect them, this makes absolute sense. Rule # 1: After or , of there is a hard vowel, the two "blend" to form the soft variant This table shows it how it works: When Meets You And plus equals this... this... get... this... this... this... / /

One little thing: or plus o always makes e unless it is stressed; only then does it become To illustrate this, I will use the adjective (Dark Blue) Notice the soft H. Say I want to make the feminine-nominative form: Take , and add the proper adjective ending, -. Thus we get + or . However, +=, so we get Or say I want the neuter-genitive: Take and the proper ending, . Thus we get . However + when unstressed as here =, so we get Rule # 2: After or , if there is a soft vowel, the former is removed and the latter left on its own. Take for instance . Want the plural? Add -, and you get , but the soft sign gets absorbed, so we end up with Keep in mind, however, that if there is a soft sign in front of a soft vowel already in the singular-nominative form, leave it alone, as it performs a phonetic, rather than grammatical, function. For instance: The singular-nominative (family) becomes in the plural; the soft sign was in front of the vowel already and so it stays there. If you need some more help with this, I would suggest checking out this page. 5. The Fleeting Vowel Every once in a while you'll notice how sometimes words gain or lose a penultimate e or o outside of regular declension or conjugation. For instance, if I wanted the genitive plural of the word "" (letter,) the standard is to remove the finial o, leaving us with "." However, the actual form in the genitive plural is "." Where did that e come from? The e is actually an unstressed, softened o; the o is added based on an alternating paradigm left over from ancient Russian. However in this case, because of the soft sign, and because the stress is on the first syllable and not the new letter, we end up with an e. One little trick is usually right: if you get an awkward consonant cluster, say the word out loud; if you find yourself adding an "uh" sound, chances are, an o is needed, so add it in and go through the spelling rules checklist and the word should now be spelled correctly, though one common exception is words that end in -; the genitive plural is -. Also, sometimes it is an e, even when there is no soft sign present. For those a little more confident or curious, you can apply the alternation rule, which is best explained here. These "fleeting vowels" also disappear in declension. Take for instance (father,)

in the genitive singular: ; the dative singular: ; and the genitive plural: . Normally when a word ends with an e or o plus consonant, the e/o is dropped and the new ending placed after the consonant. These seem unpredictable at first, but with patience, they are not a problem. 6. Nouns and Gender Russian nouns belong to one of three genders: Masculine, ( ) Feminine ( ) and Neuter ( ). Unlike German and some of the Romance languages, the gender of a noun can be easily assessed, simply by looking at the ending in the nominative case. Masculine nouns end in consonants or Feminine nouns end in -, -, or - Neuter nouns end in -, -, or - There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they are easy to spot: -There are a few masculine nouns that end in a; these are usually associated exclusvely with males, such as (man,) (uncle,) (grandfather,) and the like, or "familiar" forms of masculine names, like , , and so on. These nouns have one attribute that is easy to remember: they decline like feminine nouns, but any demonstratives, adjectives and the like decline like masculine nouns. -There are 10 words which are neuter, yet end in -. These have their own unique declension class, which is shown below, and all demonstratives, adjectives and the like use the standard neuter endings. The words are: (burden,) (time,) (udder,) (banner,) (given name,) (flame,) (tribe,) (seed,) (stirrup) and (crown.) -Neuter nouns ending in - or - that are direct imports from foreign languages, such as , , or do not decline at all, regardless of what case they ought ot be in, however any adjectives or demonstratives tied to them do. -And finally, there are a number of nouns, which end in - and can be either masculine or feminine. There are generally few ways to predict this, however, if a noun ends in -, such as (fortress,) or it ends in a hush-plus-soft-sign, (-, -, -, -) it is feminine. Masculine nouns with a - ending decline like those ending with . The feminine ones have their own declension class, detailed below. 7. Personal Pronouns Personal Pronouns Case I/Me You (singular/ He/It She We You They (plural/

Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive Prepositional Instrumental

informal) formal) /

Note that when preceded by a preposition, those pronouns beginning with a vowel take an H- on the beginning. 8. Demonstrative Pronouns Demonstrative Pronouns This/These Masc. Fem. Neut. Pl. / / That/Those Masc. Fem. Neut. Pl. / /

Case Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive Prepositional Instrumental

Notes on : Not only is this word the neuter-nominative, it is also used in the predicative sense; that means if you want to say "this is" or "is this," you simply write . (See section 36 for more on this.) Also, you may have noticed that there are no articles (a, an, the) in Russian, a fact that can make direct translations sound strange at times; if you wish to indicate that you are speaking about a specific thing, you can use the , , or . 9. Possessive Pronouns Possessive Pronoun My/Mine Masc. Fem. Neut. /

Case Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive Prepositional

Pl. /

Instrumental Pronouns that decline like this one: (your/yours informal) Note that the possessive pronouns (his,) (her,) (their) do not decline.

Possessive Pronoun Our/Ours Case Masc. Fem. Neut. Pl. Nominative Accusative Dative Genitive Prepositional Instrumental Pronouns that decline like this one: - (your/yours formal, plural)

10. The Pronoun / (Both) In Russian, there are two ways of sayng "both" as we would know the word. Here, it is used as a semi-adjective and often with nouns, such as "both children" or "both players" and so on. If you wish to use the word both in the sense of "both x and y," you must use the conjunction ..., discussed in section 29. Case Masc./Neut. Fem Nominative o o Accusative o/ o/o Dative Genitive Prepositional Instrumental 11. The Case System: Introduction to Inflection To those who have studied languages such as German, Greek, Latin or another Slavic Language, you are already familiar with the concepts of inflection and can likely skip this introduction, but if you haven't, it helps to receive a quick introduction. To give a dictionary style answer, inflection is the process where a word is changed

(declined) relative to its role as a part of speech in a sentence. Thus in Russian, nouns and other declining words have different forms depending on whether they are the subject, direct object, indirect object, or possessor. English has lost most of it's ancient inflection system, but there are a few remnants to build off of. Let's start with a common, and often ignored, mistake in English: "Me and my friend went to a movie." We are often told that this is properly written as "My friend and I wend to a movie," but rarely told why. The answer is that the pronoun I is in the subjective (or nomnative) form, or case, while me is in the objective (accusative/dative) case; that is, marking the sucject and object (direct or indirect) respectively. "Me," thus, cannot be used as the subject of a sentence! Here is a quick summary of the personal pronouns in English: Subjective I You He She We They Objective Me You Him Her Us Them If a pronoun is the subject, it must be in the subjective case, and when it is an object, it must be in the objective case; sounds simple enough. Unfortunately, English does not have separate pronouns to disambiguate the direct and indirect objects, thus relying on prepositions and word order to do the job instead. The direct and indirect objects can be written one of two ways: -"He gave her it." -"He have it to her." (The direct object is bold, the indirect is italic) In Russian, the word break-down for the same sentence would look like this: - "he;" subject; nominative case - "to give" past tense, masculine - "it;" direct object; accusative case - "her;" indirect object; dative case It would then be written as " " or any combination of those words, so long as they remain in their proper case. If you are translating from Russian, the subject and objects are easy to see, as the case is evident, but when trying to translate into Russian, it is often difficult at first due to the ambiguities of English grammar. Until you are familiar with these concepts enough to feel confident, it helps to use this methodology: when you come across a sentence, the first thing you should look at is the verb, which is key to finding the subject/object. Let's say the verb is "to take." Ask yourself the following questions: --For the Subject: "Who or what did or is doing the taking?" --For the Direct Object: "Who or what was/is being taken?" --For the Indirect Object: "To whom or to what was the direct object taken?" Keep these questions in mind as you practice and learn and adapt them to the specific verb and subject/objects you are using at the time and you should not have too many problems.

However, as you have seen form the tables just above this section, Russian has cases for more than just subjects and objects, for a total of six, and unlike English, not only pronouns, but also nouns and adjectives all change by case. The concept of case usage can be overwhelming if you are unfamiliar with the idea, so it helps to learn just one or two at the most at one time, and only moving on when you are comfortable in your knowledge, as learning all of them in one stretch can complicate matters greatly. Also, keep this in mind: if you were never taught these grammatical concepts before, it will take a little extra effort to fully comprehend it all, but there is a plethora of additional resources, both on-line and in print to help you understand, all of which are usually easy to find, so it is far from impossible. In this tutorial, each of the six cases used in Russian is given an individual treatment with nouns of all genders, as they are more complicated than pronouns. For the examples, I have used the same series of words to show the patterns in inflection. They are: (television), (museum), (king), (car), (land, earth), (surname), (kindness), (lake), (dress), (opinion), and (time). 12. The Nominative Case ( ) This case is used to indicate the subject of the sentence, as well as in comparisons following , and a few other instances, discussed later. If you look up a word in the dictionary, it is always in the nominative case unless stated otherwise. Forming the plural: Masc. Masc Masc. - Fem. - Fem. Fem.- Fem. - (consonant) - - New - - - - - - - ending Example Plural

New ending Example Plural

Neut. -

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

There are a few exceptions for masculine nouns ending in a consonant; rather than ending in , they take a stressed a. There is no real way of predicting them, so the easiest way to memorize them, in my opinion, is to say the singular and plural forms out loud; you'll remember the different forms as you remember the pronunciation of the word. Be careful, however, not to confuse them with the gentive-singular forms, which often look

exactly the same. Examples: -Bridge - - Bridges -City - - Cities In addition, there are a number of words that end in -; these decline regularly except in the nominative plural, where it becomes -, and in the genintive plural, where it becomes - 13. The Accusative Case ( ) The Accusative is used to indicate the direct object of a sentence or phrase, that is the noun on which the action was performed. Simple as this may sound, this case is complicated by the fact that it is, in effect, five cases; masculine nouns are the same as the nominative form, unless they are animate, in which case t takes the noun takes the genitive case endings; neuter nouns are always the same as the nominative; and feminine nouns ending in - or - become - and -, while those ending in - stay the same, all regardless of animacy, while in the plural, they are like the nominative plural, unless it is animate, in which case it takes the genitive. Forming the singular: Masc. (consonant) - Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- -- - - - Fem. - -

New ending Example

*animate, thus the endings are genitive Neut. - Neut. - Neut. - - Neut. - -

New ending Example

Forming the plural: Masc. (consonant) Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- Fem. -

New ending Example

*animate, thus the endings are genitive Neut. - Neut. - Neut. - - Neut. - -

New ending Example

14. The Dative Case ( ) The Dative is used to mark the indirect object in the sentence or phrase, that is, the recipient or "benefactor" of the action. It can also represent the opinion statements "to me..." or "for me..." Forming the Dative in Russian is very easy; Masculine and neuter nouns take - or - as the ending, depending on whether or not it is hard or soft, and Feminine nouns take - regardless. There is a caveat here: if the (feminine) word ends in -, it takes - in the dative, and if it ends in -, it takes -. The plural is even easier: all nouns take - or -, depending on a hard or soft ending . Forming the singular: Masc. (consonant) - Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- - - - - - Fem. - -

New ending Example

New ending Example

Neut. -

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut - -

Forming the plural: Masc. Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- Fem. - (consonant) New - - - - - - - ending Example

Neut. Neut. New ending - - Example 15. The Genitive Case ( )

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

The Genitive is perhaps the most versatile of all of the cases in Russian; it shows ownership or possession ( -- my sister's room,) construction involving "of" ( -- A photo of the new house,) amounts of things ( -- many people,) in conjunction with numbers ( -- five brothers,) and more. It's formation in the singular is highly regular; masculine and neuter nouns take - or - depending on whether it is hard or soft; feminine nouns take the letter - or- , again depending on whether it's hard o soft. The genitive plural, however, is probably the most difficult aspect of noun declension; there are even jokes about it in Russian. Masculine nouns ending in consonants take - and those ending in take - or -, but masculine nouns ending in -, -, -, -, and -, all take the ending -. Feminine and neuter nouns ending in - and - lose that letter, - and - take- , and feminine and neuter nouns ending in- and - both take the -. Finally, feminine nouns ending in -, as well as neuter and feminine nouns with - just prior to the final vowel, such as , all take the ending . Forming the singular: Masc. (consonant) - Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- - - - - - Fem. - -

New ending Example

New ending Example

Neut. -

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

Forming the plural: Masc. (consonant) - Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- - - --- - Fem. - -

New ending Example

New ending Example

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

16. The Prepositional Case ( ) This is probably the easiest case to learn other than the nominative. It is used purely with prepositions; it is never used on its own, hence its name. The prepositions are (in/at) (on/at/in) (about) (near/next to/in the time of/on one's person). To form it, masculine neuter and feminine nouns take -e in the singular, unless it is feminine and ends in -, in which case it becomes -, or - or -, which become -. The plural is - or - depending on the stem. Forming the singular: Masc. (consonant) - Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- - - - - - Fem. - -

New ending

Example

nding Example

Neut. -

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

Forming the plural: Masc. Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- Fem. - (consonant) New - - - - - - - ending Example

nding Example

Neut. -

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

There is an exception here; in the singular masculine, there are a number of nouns that take a stressed - or -, but this is ONLY when used with the prepositions or ; if you use o or , you use the regular prepositional ending. Examples: -- Forest - c - In the Forest, - Near the Forest -- Ball - - At the Ball, - About the Ball 17. The Instrumental Case ( ) This is the final case you need to learn. It is used to indicate how an action is carried out, roughly the same as the English "by" or "with," the German "per," or the French

"par." It is also used following the verb (to be,) or following certain verbs where it acts as the word "as," like , "to work as a waitress," as well as in the sense of "by" in the passive voice, discussed later. It is also used in time references like (in the evening) or (in the autumn). The formation is rather straightforward: masculine and neuter nouns take - or - depending on the ending; feminine nouns ending in - and - take the ending - or -, while those ending in - take the ending -. The main exception is feminine nouns ending in -, which take the ending -. The plural is even easier to form: simply add - or - depending on the original ending. Forming the singular: Masc. Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- Fem. - (consonant) New - - - - - - - ending Example

nding Example

Neut. -

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

Forming the plural: Masc. Masc - Masc. - Fem. - Fem. - Fem.- Fem. - (consonant) nding - - - - - - - Example

nding

Neut. -

Neut. -

Neut. - -

Neut. - -

18. Summary of Regular Noun Case Endings - - - - -n/g - -n/g n/g n/g - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Example

N A D G P I

-n/g - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - -n/g - -n/g - -n/g - -n/g - -n/g - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - --

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - -

19. Adjectives Adjectives must agree with the nouns that they modify in gender, number and case. Adjective endings are distinctive for each case. One more thing: although written as , the genitive endings are pronounced as though they were written . However, this is only for endings associated with the genitive case. Also, some masculine-nominative nouns have - instead of as its ending. This does not change the declension patterns, however. Hard Stem Adjective ( - Black/dark) Case Masc. Fem. Neut. Nominative Accusative / Dative Genitive Prepositional Instrumental

Pl. /

Case Nominative Accusative Dative

Soft Stem Adjective ( - Medium/middle) Masc. Fem. Neut. /

Pl. /

Genitive Prepositional Instrumental

You should know that a number of adjectives, such as (scientist) or (worker) and decline like adjectives but are otherwise treated as nouns. There are also four short form adjectives, used only in the nominative. They appear as follows: Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural

Their usage is discussed in section 35.