7 Secrets to Learn Russian Fast

Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy 28

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Episode #28 – Russian Made Easy

 

Привет! And welcome to episode 28 of Russian Made Easy. Let’s start by repeating these two words.

 

дал….дала

 

One more time

 

дал….дала

 

What do they mean? Well, here’s the set up. You’re watching a soap opera with some friends. Unable to wait for a commercial, you go to use the bathroom and call out to your friends, “What just happened?” Well, it turns out that the character Vadim gave a beer to John, so your friend says:

 

Вадим дал Джону пиво.

 

Repeat that phrase after the speaker. Try to envision Vadim handing a beer to John.

 

Вадим дал Джону пиво.

 

Now, you’re still sitting on the toilet, and you hear your friend call out, “Oh my gosh! You just missed it!” It turns out that Svetlana just gave a telephone to Steve. So your friend tells you…

 

Светлана дала Стиву телефон.

 

Again, repeat that phrase after the speaker. Try to envision Svetlana handing a telephone to Steve.

 

Светлана дала Стиву телефон.

 

So, the Russian words дал and дала are two past tense forms of the verb “to give”, as in:

Vadim gave John a beer. Or, Svetlana gave Steve a telephone.

 

But did you notice how the recipient’s name changed? That is, John is the one who received the beer, and his name changed to John-u. Listen again, paying attention to his name:

 

Вадим дал Джону пиво.

 

And in the second one, Steve was the one who received the beer, and so his name changed to Steve-u. Listen closely…

 

Светлана дала Стиву телефон.

 

So, when a guy is the recipient of something in Russian, his name adds an “uu” sound at the end. It basically changes the meaning of the name. So, Johnu means, “To John.” And Steve-u means, “To Steve.”

 

 

So try saying:

 

I gave a pen to Mark.

Я дал ручку Марку.

 

And how would a woman say that? Remember, she needs the femine version of the verb:

Я дала ручку Марку.

 

And let me talk again about word order in Russian. This phrasing: Я дал ручку Марку….

…emphasizes that I gave the pen to Mark, and not to someone else. But if the speaker says it in this word order…

 

Я дал Марку ручку.

 

…he’s emphasizing that it was a PEN that he gave Mark, and not something else. So, the meaning is the same, but the emphasis is different.

 

Do you remember how to say: I like pizza.

Literally we phrase it:

To me is pleasing pizza.

Мне нравится пицца.

 

Well, we can use that word mne in our new construction. Because mne literally means, “TO me.”

So try saying:

 

Olga gave the computer to me.

Ольга дала компьютер мне.

 

Again, though, that’s emphasizing that she gave the computer to me, and not to someone else. But it’s more likely we’d emphasize that she gave us a computer, and not some other gift. So try saying …

 

Olga gave to me a computer.

Ольга дала мне компьютер.

 

Now, do you remember how to ask a friend:

Do you like raw pig fat?

Тебе нравится сало?

 

Well, we can use that word tebe in our new construction because tebe literally means, “To you.”

So try asking:

 

Pavel gave you a car?

Lit: Pavel gave to you a car?

Павел дал тебе машину?

 

How would you ask your friend’s grandmother, respectfully:

Do you like caviar?

Вам нравится икра?

 

What does VAM literally mean? VAM means “To you”. So how would you ask your boss:

 

He gave you a computer?

Lit” He gave to you a computer?

Он дал Вам компьютер?

 

Are you seeing, by the way, how important it was for us to have learned the super-literal version of every word and phrase? It really helps us to think in Russian.

 

Anyway, perhaps you’re wondering…Okay, but how do I say:

I gave the cat to Olga.

 

What’s the ending we use for female recipients? Well, great question and I’m glad you asked. See if you can pick it out.

 

Я дал кошку Ольге.

 

One more time…

 

Я дал кошку Ольге.

 

So, female names usually get a “yeh” sound when they’re the recipient. So try saying…

 

Mom gave Anya a souvenir.

Мама дала Ане сувенир.

 

Anya becomes “Anyeh”.

 

How about:

I gave to Dasha your computer.

Я дал Даше твой компьютер.

 

Dasha becomes Dash-yeh.

 

Time for today’s tip…

 

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

 

Remember, we do these tips after we’ve learned new material because it’s a way of not thinking about the stuff you just learned. You take a little break and then try to recall what you just learned. That’s the tip I explained in the very first podcast of this series, as a way of quickly developing your long term memory.

 

And speaking about this series…I’m going to have to put it on hold after Podcast 30. I’ve been asked to consult on the creation of some other language courses and it’s a great opportunity for me to get these new methods out there for others to use. If you’ve come this far, though, it means you’re really committed to learning Russian, so I hope to see you over at my online course, Russian Accelerator.

 

And although it’s only thirty episodes long, you nevertheless accomplished two hugley important things in Russian: You’ve learned all six verb conjugations (the sixth one is coming in the next episode) and you’ve learned all six grammatical cases. You may not know the official terms yet…the cases have fancy names like nominative case and instrumental case…but you know the endings. You know what they mean and how they work. That’s the killer part. Those two things — verb conjugations and case endings — make up the bulk of Russian grammar, and you have them pretty darn solid by now. That’s a hell of an accomplishment. In the next episode, we’ll go through them all, but for now I just wanted to congratulate you.

 

So what’s the tip? Well, it’s simple: Keep it up! If you keep practicing the way I’ve shown you, you really can become a fluent, conversational Russian speaker.

 

Alright….back to it. Try asking your friend:

Who gave you a car?

We use the masculine form of the verb when asking “who”.

Кто дал тебе машину?

 

Say…

My dad gave me a car.

Мой папа дал мне машину.

 

Let’s learn one more new word for today. Repeat after the speaker:

 

подарок

 

Again:

 

подарок

 

How would you translate it?

The thing you buy for someone on their birthday or for Christmas is a podarok. Usually, you put the podarok in a box, wrap it with colorful paper and put a bow on it. “Here,” you tell them. “I got you this podarok. Go ahead and open it.”

 

So, a подарок is a gift or a present.

 

Try saying:

I bought mom a gift.

Literally: I bought FOR Mom a gift.

Я купил маме подарок.

 

Right? We have to say “mam-yeh”. She was the recipient of the gift.

 

And how would a woman say that, by the way?

I bought for mom a present.

Я купилa маме подарок.

 

Imagine a bratty kid on his birthday, saying…

Where’s my present?

Где мой подарок?

 

 

Let’s do some review, now, of recent vocab. How would you ask your two friends:

Where were you?

Где Вы были?

 

Remember, we use Вы when addressing two or more people, even if they’re our friends.

 

Anyway, say:

We were in a store.

Мы были в магазине.

 

Ask them:

What did you guys buy?

Что Вы купили?

 

Say:

I bought mom a telephone.

Lit: I bought for mom — or to mom — a telephone. She is the recipient.

Я купил маме телефон.

 

Whereas Vlad bought Tanya a present.

А Влад купил Тане подарок.

 

Ask: What did he buy?

Что он купил?

 

Say: He bought milk and pig fat.

Он купил молоко и сало.

 

Say: Mmm…a tasty gift!

Ммм….вкусный подарок!

 

Try saying:

He said Hi to me, and that’s all.

We’ll use the following word order:

He said to me hi…and that’s all.

Он сказал мне “Привет”…..и всё.

 

Ask your guy friend:

You bought Alina a cat?

Again, remember, Alina is the recipient of the cat.

Ты купил Алине кошку?

 

She bought me a pen.

Она купила мне ручку.

 

Again, we’re using the “to me” form…that is, мне, because we are the recipient of the pen.

Она купила мне ручку.

 

 

Try saying:

She didn’t want to dance.

Она не хотела танцевать.

 

Imagine you’re with some friends, ordering food for takeout. Say…

I talked with Anton.

Я говорил с Антоном.

 

He said that he wants coffee with milk.

Он сказал что он хочет кофе с молоком.

 

Ask a stranger on the street:

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

Literally: You dont know where the metro is?

Вы не знаете где метро?

 

Say:

We live in the center.

Мы живём в центре.

 

How will the person tell you:

You speak Russian well.

Вы хорошо говорите по-русски.

 

That’s it for today’s podcast. Next time we’ll learn the sixth and final verb conjugation. Can you guess which one we’re missing? Keep practicing and I’ll see you next time!

 

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Olga gave the computer to me.

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