7 Secrets to Learn Russian Fast

Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy 8

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Episode #8 – Russian Made Easy


Today’s podcast is in response to an email from Matt in Arizona. He writes, “Hi Mark, I’m really enjoying your podcasts. They go great with your RussianAccelerator course, which is why I’m writing. In Unit 4 we learn how to say Ты хочешь but I’m hoping you can elaborate on when you need to say Ты and when you can leave it off. Spasibo! Matt, Chandler, AZ.


Thanks for the email, Matt, and for the kind words about the course. And yes, your question is perfect for today’s podcast. So, before getting to our review, let’s try saying








[NOTE: I’ve chosen to not sound out the Russian words in these transcripts using English letters. If you’d like to be able to read Russian (it can be learned in just a few days) I’ll include a link at the bottom of this transcript to my course on reading Russian.]


Alright, now it’s review time:


You’re in a cafe. How should you greet the waitress?



She replies with:

Здравствуйте. Я слушаю Вас.

…as she pulls out her pad and pen. We’re not sure exactly what she said, but it’s pretty clear she’s ready to take our order. So ask her….


Is there pasta?

Есть паста?


How will she say:

Yes, there is spaghetti and there is pizza.

Да, есть спагетти и пицца.


Tell her:

Ok, I’ll have pizza and a salad, please.

Хорошо. Я буду пиццу и салат, пожалуйста.


And then she adds:

Что-нибудь попить?


We haven’t learned that phrase yet in these podcasts. While we’re hemming and hawwing, saying, “Umm…” the waitress clarifies:


Ну…чай или кофе.


Ah, at last a word we understand! She said coffee. So she must be asking if we want something to drink. Ask her if there’s cappuccino.


Есть капучино?


She replies: Yes, there is.

Да, есть.


So say:

A cappuccino, please.

Капучино, пожалуйста.


And she reads back your order:

Хорошо. Значит пиццу, салат и капучино.


Sounds like she got it right. So say:

Yes. Thanks.

Да. Спасибо.


And she says “You’re welcome” as she walks off.



So, what was the word we learned at the start of this episode? It started with that “xo” sound…



If you haven’t encountered the word before, let’s try to get it from context. Imagine you’re at your friend’s house. Now, as a conneisuer of soft-drinks, you happen to like Pepsi but not Sprite. So, your friend opens his fridge and…well…here’s the dialogue:


Эй Марк, хочешь Спрайт?


Спрайт? Нет, спасибо.


Хочешь Пепси?


Пепси? Хорошо. Спасибо.


Let’s try a similar set up, and then we’ll go through word by word. You guys are both hungry so again, he pops open his fridge and says…


Хочешь салат?


Салат? Ээээ….нет спасибо.




Есть пицца? Хорошо, я буду.


Do you have a feel for the flow of these conversations? Let’s go through them again.

Эй Марк, хочешь Спрайт?

He said: Hey Mark, want a Sprite?


Спрайт? Нет, спасибо.

Sprite? No thanks.


Хочешь Пепси?

Want a Pepsi?


Пепси? Хорошо. Спасибо.

Pepsi? Ok. Thanks.


So, in that second one, how will he ask:

Want a salad?

Хочешь салат?


So, хочешь is the casual form of the word “want”. You’d use it with friends, family members, and kids. I’d like to concentrate on just this casual form of it for now, but we did encounter the formal form in the previous espisode. Remember when the waitress took out her pad ‘n’ pen and asked us:


Что Вы хотите?


She’s asking us formally, What do you want?

Хотите is the polite version

хочешь is the casual version


So ask your friend:


Want a cappuccino?

Хочешь капучино?


Want yogurt?

Хочешь йогурт?


Want a muffin?

Хочешь маффин?


Want pizza?

Хочешь пиццу?


Want coffee?

Хочешь кофе?


Want caviar?

Хочешь икру?


Now let me stop there for a second. Imagine you have a friend who’s also studying Russian but he’s not as advanced as you are. And he says, “Wait a second. I’m pretty sure the word for caviar ends in an “a” sound. икра. Why did you say хочешь икру? Why the “u” sound?


What would you tell him?


My answer would be: Because when you do something to words that end in an “ah” sound — what we call feminine nouns — they change their ending to an “uu” sound. And wanting them counts as doing something to them.


That was a long buildup, but now I can answer Matt’s question. Listen to this word:



That’s one of the ways to say “you” when talking to a friend. And Matt wants to know, when do we add it before the word хочешь?


Well for starters, you have to add it when making a statement. Until now, we’ve only been asking our friend questions about what he wants. But imagine you’re discussing with him where to go for dinner. You say, “I want sushi, but …ты хочешь пиццу.”


See? There I was making a statement: You want pizza.

Tы хочешь пиццу.


I had to add the word ты there.


Next, and this is kind of subtle, but…Imagine if I’m surprised that my friend wants vodka. After all, I thought he didn’t drink. I’d say…


You want vodka?

Ты хочешь водку?


Does that make sense? If I left off the “you” part of that, and just said:

Want vodka?

Хочешь водку?


…it sounds like I’m offering him vodka.


But since we’re more likely to offer our friends something than we are to make statements about the things they want, you’ll mostly be asking just: Хочешь? And as a parting thought on the topic, that’s perhaps the most common version yet. You just hold out the thing you’re offering and ask: Хочешь?


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


Here’s a great tip. Along with making flashcards, which I really hope you’re making, you should be writing down every grammar point and every construction you learn. The reason is, you constantly want to insert old vocabulary into new constructions, and vice-versa. For example: By episode 3, we knew how to say: “This is my ___.”

For example, say:


This is my friend Charlie.

Это мой друг Чарли.


Or: This is my friend Monica.

Это моя подруга Моника.


So let’s make sure we can do this with recent vocab. Try saying:


Is this my coffee?

Это мой кофе?


No. This is your coffee.

Нет. Это твой кофе.


Is this my pasta?

Это моя паста?


Yes, this is your pasta.

Да, это твоя паста.


Is this my salad?

Это мой салат?


Yes, this is your salad.

Да, это твой салат.


Say: This is your yogurt and your muffin.

Это твой йогурт и твой маффин.


So the main point here is to be sure to circulate older material with newer material. Even just adding one new word — like adding “and” as we did in episode #6 — should make you go back and apply it to earlier material. Remember the word “and”, as in: I’ll have pizza and a salad, please.

Я буду пиццу и салат, пожалуйста.


We should use that word, И, with our earliest words. Try saying:

This is my mom and this is my dad.

Это моя мама и это мой папа.


Mom is a musician and dad is an engineer.

Мама музыкант и папа инженер.


…and so on.


Now here’s a question for you. How do you think you’d ask a friend:

Want my muffin?

Хочешь мой маффин?


And the real test, now. Try asking:

Want my pizza?

Хочешь мою пиццу.


Did you catch that? He said: мою пиццу.


Before analyzing it, try asking:

Is this my vodka?

Это моя водка?


Now ask your friend:

Want my vodka?

Хочешь мою водку?


So, what’s going on here? Basically, we have our two main grammar patterns working at the same time. We know that the adjective my has to rhyme with vodka. That’s pattern #1.


And we know that водка changes to водку when we do something to it. In this case, we were wanting it. Since водка changes to водку, the word моя has to go along for the ride. It also has to rhyme, so it becomes: мою


Хочешь мою водку?


Ask your friend:

Want my soup?

Хочешь мой суп?


Want my pasta?

Хочешь мою пасту?


Want my salad?

Хочешь мой салат?


Want my caviar?

Хочешь мою икру?


If you got all these, you should honestly feel really good about your progress. Those are not easy…it’s actually pretty advanced stuff. But the underlying idea is kinda simple, isn’t it? Remember, grammar is all about patterns. Not rules and charts and fancy terms.


Finally, you may’ve noticed we only learned one new word today. That’s not me trying to be stingy. When you first start in a new language, the brain is a sponge and it can absorb a lot of words. That’s why we were learning eleven new words in that very first podcast. But soon the spots kind of fill up, and so we taper off new stuff and we concentrate on mastering what we have. As your current vocabulary becomes second nature — which it pretty much is, by the way…just about, after this podcast — then the brain feels ready for the next wave of new vocabulary. That’s really how language learning works.


Anyway, head on over to RussianMadeEasy.com for the transcript and audio exercises, and I’ll see you in the next episode where you’ll learn to talk about what you want.

Quite a few listeners wrote in asking for a translation of the “Want a salad?” dialogue in this podcast, so here it is in full:


Want a salad?

Хочешь салат?


A salad? Ehhh….not thanks.

Салат? Ээээ….нет спасибо.




Notice how he says “pizzu” because he’s still asking if you want pizza, which counts as doing something to the pizza.


Say: There is pizza? Ok, I will.

Есть пицца? Хорошо, я буду.

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