7 Secrets to Learn Russian Fast

Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy 27

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Episode #27 – Russian Made Easy

 

Привет! And welcome to episode 27 of Russian Made Easy. Как дела? Всё нормально?

 

 

Lots to cover today, so I’m going to jump right to it. Imagine you’ve just came hom from the mall. You set your packages down on the table and your roommate asks you:

 

 

Что ты купил?

 

 

What do you think he’s asking? Those of you in my Russian Accelerator course, learned — or will learn — this verb купить in Unit 8. But since it’s new to this podcast, let’s see if we can figure out what it might mean.

 

 

In some ways, it’s obvious from the context. I mean, what else might your roommate ask when you come home with packages after shopping? We know that “Что ты” means what….you…

 

 

…and kupil is, we can assume, a past tense verb in its masculine form. So he’s asking:

 

What did you buy?

 

Что ты купил?

 

 

If you’re a guy, say:

 

I bought a souvenir.

 

Я купил сувенир.

 

 

How would a girl say that?

 

Я купила сувенир.

 

 

Say: Dad bought a car.

 

Папа купил машину.

 

 

Remember: Buying the car counts as doing something to the car, so the word mashina becomes mashinu.

 

 

Say: Mom bought a cat.

 

Мама купила кошку.

 

 

Ask your friend’s grandmother politely:

 

And what did you buy?

 

А что Вы купили?

 

 

Using that construction we learned in the last podcast, try saying:

 

Mom said that she bought milk.

 

Мама сказала что она купила молоко.

 

 

Dad said that he bought beer.

 

Папа сказал что он купил пиво.

 

 

 

 

Say:

 

Svetlana bought an apartment in the city center.

 

Светлана купила квартиру в центре.

 

 

Let’s try a new phrase. Repeat these two words after the speaker…

 

 

Мы были

 

 

Let’s see if we can get the meaning.

 

 

You’re in your apartment, waiting for your two roommates to come home. When they finally do, you ask…”Where were you guys?” And one of them says…

 

 

Мы были в центре.

 

 

What do you think he said?

 

 

Мы были translates as “We were.” So he was saying, “We were in the center.”

 

Мы были в центре.

 

 

That’s a very Russian sound, that word были. To make your pronunciation more authentic, try puffing your cheeks as you say it. Like, try saying “Brr”…See how you kind of puff your cheeks?…”brr”…были

 

 

Note the rhyme, of course: We…..were……Мы былиииииии

 

 

Try saying:

 

We were in Las Vegas.

 

Мы были в Лас Вегасе.

 

 

Did you remember to add that “yeh” sound. since you were “in” Las Vegas?

 

 

Say:

 

We were in the store.

 

Мы были в магазине.

 

 

Ask your friends:

 

Where were you?

 

Где Вы были?

 

 

Using the verb we learned at the start of this podcast, how do you think you’d say:

 

We bought souvenirs.

 

Мы купили сувениры.

 

 

Say: We were in the park.

 

Мы были в парке.

 

 

We were in the office.

 

Мы были в офисе.

 

 

Imagine you’re in a cafe. You and your friend both ordered coffee but the waitress brings beer instead. Tell her…

 

We wanted coffee.

 

Мы хотели кофе.

 

 

Let’s see if we can pick up on the present tense pattern of verbs when we use “we.” Imagine you’re visiting Moscow with your wife. Your Russian guide asks you…

 

 

Where do you guys live?

 

Где Вы живёте?

 

 

Listen to our reply:

 

We live in New York.

 

Мы живём в Нью Йорке.

 

 

Say this part again.

 

We live…

 

Мы живём

 

 

Imagine the waitress comes and asks you…

 

What do you want?

 

Что Вы хотите?

 

 

Here’s how we’d say:

 

We want pizza.

 

Мы хотим пиццу.

 

 

Say just this part again:

 

We want

 

Мы хотим

 

 

Your friend asks the both of you:

 

Where do you guys work?

 

Где Вы работаете?

 

 

How do you think you might say:

 

We work in the company Cisco.

 

Мы работаем в компании Сиско.

 

 

Again, say just this part…

 

We work

 

Мы работаем

 

 

Hopefully a pattern is starting to emerge. When a verb phrase starts with “мы“, it ends with an “m” sound. So it starts with an “m” and ends with an “m”.

 

 

Мы живём

 

Мы работаем

 

 

Let’s try those three verbs again. Say..

 

We live in London.

 

Мы живём в Лондоне.

 

 

We work downtown.

 

Мы работаем в центре.

 

 

We want pizza and beer, please.

 

Мы хотим пиццу и пиво, пожалуйста.

 

 

 

V.O. And now, here’s your Tip of the Day from Russian Made Easy…

 

 

Having learned, now, the “we” form of verbs, we’ve encountered five of the six conjugations in Russian. And today’s tip is to remind you to use constructions to become fluent at switching between them. Take for example the verb “to live.” I’d run through those five conjugations we know, like this…

 

 

Я живу в Бостоне, где ты живёшь? Мы живём в Австралии. А где Вы живёте? Стив? Он живёт в центре.

 

 

What I used to do, before I lived here in Ukraine, was create my own conversations. I’d pretend to be talking with a friend, and go back and forth with the Я and ТЫ forms.

 

 

Я хочу кофе, а что ты хочешь? Ты хочешь кофе? Хорошо….я буду кофе. Ты будешь салат? Нет? Что…тебе не нравится салат?

 

 

Odd, perhaps, to have imaginary conversations, but it’s good practice for your Russian.

 

 

I’d also pretend I was speaking on behalf of myself and my wife, and talking with someone I just met. So I’d say things like, Мы живём в Севастополе. А где Вы живёте? Мы будем пиво…А что Вы будете? Кофе?

 

 

You might feel self-conscious talking out loud….to yourself. But it’s for a good cause. It’s realistic practice, and will boost your confidence a lot.

 

 

Alright, speaking of practice…let’s practice those “we” forms some more.

 

 

Say..

 

We live in Michigan.

 

Мы живём в Мичигане.

 

 

We work in the company Sony.

 

Мы работаем в компании Сони.

 

 

We don’t want pig fat..

 

Мы не хотим сало.

 

 

 

 

How might you say:

 

We speak English.

 

Мы говорим по-английски.

 

 

Try saying, We don’t speak Spanish.

 

Мы не говорим по-испански.

 

 

How about:

 

We were speaking with Vlad.

 

Мы говорили с Владом.

 

 

Say: We bought an apartment in Kiev.

 

Мы купили квартиру в Киеве.

 

 

Try saying: We were in Moscow and in St. Petersburg.

 

Мы были в Москве и в Санкт-Петербурге.

 

 

Alright, and let’s add one last new verb for today.Repeat after the speaker:

 

 

Я не знаю.

 

 

One more time…

 

 

Я не знаю.

 

 

Imagine it’s your first day in Moscow. You’ve just stepped out of your hotel, and a fellow tourist asks you: Где метро?

 

 

They’re asking: Where’s the metro? That is, Where’s the subway?

 

 

So you shrug your shoulders and say Я не знаю.

 

 

Someone asks you what time it is but you have no watch, and no phone with you so you shrug your shoulders…Я не знаю.

 

 

So, Я не знаю translates as I don’t know.

 

 

Ask your friend:

 

You don’t know?

 

Ты не знаешь?

 

 

This negative version of the phrase — literally: You don’t know? — also functions the way we would say, “You wouldn’t happen to know…” in English. That is, it’s a polite way of asking a question.

 

So let’s ask a stranger on the street:

 

 

You wouldn’t happen to know where there is a bank?

 

Again, literally: You dont know where there is a bank?

 

Вы не знаете где есть банк?

 

 

And we heard the cognate for “metro”, that is, the subway a minute ago. Listen again and repeat:

 

метро

 

 

So again, ask a stranger on the street:

 

You wouldn’t happen to know where the subway is?

 

Literally: You don’t know where is the metro?

 

Вы не знаете где метро?

 

 

Let’s use this construction to politely ask our friend:

 

You wouldn’t happen to know where my pen is?

 

Ты не знаешь где моя ручка?

 

 

How do you think you might say:

 

John knows.

 

Джон знает.

 

 

And finally, how might you say:

 

We don’t know.

 

Мы не знаем.

 

 

Alright, that’s it for today. Again, remember today’s tip: Create your own back and forth dialogue, running through as many verb forms as you can. Keep up the great work and I’ll see you next time!

 

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