7 Secrets to Learn Russian Fast

Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy 15

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Episode #15 – Russian Made Easy


Alright, welcome to episode 15. Today we’ll be talking about where we live. So, let’s start by repeating these two phrases:

Я живу

Ты живёшь

You might be thinking, “Wait…Didn’t we already kinda learn this? In the 3rd podcast, we learned to say things like I’m an American, and I’m Australian.” True, we did learn that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you currently live in America or Australia. You might be living in Moscow or Kiev. Anyway, let’s repeat those two phrases again. Can you remember them?

Я живу

Ты живёшь

Also, after today’s podcast you’ll be able to say what city or state you live in. Anyway, say just that first phrase one more time…

Я живу

You hear that “zh” sound? Like the end of the word “mirage”…zh. Живу

Here it is in context:

Imagine a guy who has to commute to work in New York from his home in Boston. He’d tell people…

I work in New York, but я живу в Бостоне.

So, я живу means “I live”. Try saying…

I live in New York.

Я живу в Нью Йорке.

Try saying:

I’m an American but I live in London.

Я американец но я живу в Лондоне.

Now what was that 2nd phrase we learned?

Ты живёшь

Let’s say you’re at a party and a friend of a friend has had too much to drink. Since you’re headed out anyway, tell him: “I can take you home. А где ты живёшь?”

Где…..ты…..живёшь…translates as: Where do you live?

Ask your new friend:

You live in Kiev?

Ты живёшь в Киеве?

So far so good. Let’s now go back and review the material from the last podcast.

With just two words, ask your friend:

Where are you?

Tы где?

Say: I’m now downtown. Or….I’m in the center.

Я сейчас в центре.

Ask, “And where’s Olga?”

А где Ольга?


Say: She’s now at work.

Она сейчас на работе.


Did you remember that работа requires “na” instead of that “v” or “f” sound we would’ve expected? Great! Then let’s keep going. Imagine you’re in a cafe. Tell the waitress:


I’ll have Russian pancakes, please.

Я буду блины, пожалуйста.


Then add:

And I want coffee, please.

И я хочу кофе, пожалуйста.


And now say:

I live in Moscow.

Я живу в Москве.


Listen to those three verb phrases one more time:

Я буду

Я хочу

Я живу


I know it’s only three examples, but do you notice a pattern? When a Russian speaker starts with YA, the end of his verb will always have an “uu” sound, as long as he’s not using the past tense. Sometimes the “uu” or “yu” sound will be right before the end, like these. Listen closely:


Я боюсь

Я занимаюсь


Do you hear the “yu” sound in there? zah-nee-MAI-yuu…..sss


Я занимаюсь

Я боюсь

To repeat: With very few exceptions, the “ya” form of verbs will end in an “uu” sound. And that leads me to today’s tip…


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

This is one of the most important language learning tips I can give you. Never, ever learn grammar by memorizing rules or charts. Instead, learn grammar the way we’re designed to learn it, which is simply by noticing the patterns of language. Because that’s all grammar is: the patterns of how words change.


If a Russian teacher ever tries to make you memorize a chart of verb conjugations, don’t just walk away…RUN away, screaming. Memorizing sucks. It’s hard and it’s unproductive. But learning is awesome. It’s natural, it’s effortless, and it’s effective. And that’s what you’re doing when you notice the patterns of a language. That’s what Russian infants are doing, too. They notice, “Gosh, every time someone starts with Я there’s an “uu” sound at the end of the next word.” This then helps them guess the meaning of future, unfamiliar words. The language center of his brain absolutely understands these patterns and what they’re associated with. Fore sure, that’s what’s going on.


This is why native speakers usually make terrible teachers. They’re teaching you grammar the way they remember being taught in grade school. But that’s not how they learned it. They were completely fluent in Russian before they ever even attended kindergarden. Heck, they learned all of the word endings before they could even read. How? By picking up on the patterns. The things they learn in school are all the fancy grammar names..all the declension charts and all that stuff. That’s what they remember and that’s what they burden you with it.


I don’t teach that way. Yes, eventually it’s good to know certain grammar terms, but only AFTER you have the patterns mastered. This is why I don’t ever mention any of the case names until Unit 15 of Russian Accelerator. Throughout the course I simply help you discover the patterns of how Russian words change.


So, speaking of patterns, let’s look at another one. Pretend your friend has ordered tea and you thought he didn’t like tea at all. In three words — including the word “you” — ask him:

You want tea?

Ты хочешь чай?


Ask a friend:

You live in Boston?

Ты живёшь в Бостоне?


Now we only have two examples here, but do you hear a pattern? Listen again…


Ты хочешь

Ты живёшь


When a Russian speaker starts with ТЫ, the end of the verb will always have an “ish” sound, as long as they’re not talking about the past tense. Sometimes it’ll sound like “eesh”, sometimes like “ish”, sometimes “aiesh”..but always that “sh” sound at the end.


Ты хочешь

Ты живёшь


And as with the YA forms, sometimes it’s right before the end. Like these…


Ты занимаешься

Ты боишься


Hear the “sh” sound in there? Ты занимаешься zah-nee-MAI-ish-…..sya


So here, the pattern is that the “tee” form of verbs will have a “sh” sound at the end. That’s the pattern you want to be aware of.


Imagine, then, that we’re in a cafe with our friend. I say..

I’ll have coffee.

Я буду кофе.


Now, how might you ask your friend:

What will you have?


Hit PAUSE and think about it for a second.




What will you have?

Что ты будешь?


Let’s compare the Я and ТЫ forms side by side. Repeat after the speaker…

Я буду….ты будешь

Я хочу…ты хочешь

Я живу….ты живёшь


So it’s always: Ya-something-uu….and….tee-something-shh


So, from now on, try to keep your ear out for those patterns.


And let’s go back, now, to our main construction of the day. Imagine you’re showing your new Russian friend some photos, one of which is of the city you live in. Your friend will ask: Is this __blank__? And you’ll answer, Yes. I live in __blank__.


So let’s try that:

Это Нью Йорк?


Say: Yes, I live in New York.

Да. Я живу в Нью Йорке.


Do you see how that exchange let’s us hear the basic version of New York..and then the “in New York” version, with that “yeh” sound at the end? Let’s try another. This time, though, I won’t prompt you. Just reply to the speaker’s question the way we did in the first example.


Это Лондон?

Да. Я живу в Лондоне.


Это Санкт Петербург?

Да. Я живу в Санкт Петербурге.


Это Севастополь?

Да. Я живу в Севастополе.


Это Лос Анджелес?

Да. Я живу в Лос Анджелесе.


Это Вашингтон?

Да. Я живу в Вашингтоне.


Now, regardless of whether we’re talking about a city or a state, if it ends in an “oh” sound, it won’t change. Listen…


Это Чикаго?

Да. Я живу в Чикаго.


And if the word ends in a “ya” sound, like Australia and California, listen to the new ending…


Это Калифорния?

Да. Я живу в Калифорнии.


Instead of the expected “yeh” sound, we get a long “ee” sound.


Is this Australia?

Это Австралия?


Yes. I live in Australia.

Да. Я живу в Австралии.


Let’s try a few more. Again, without any prompting, just answer the speaker:

Это Аризона?

Да, я живу в Аризоне.


Это Сан Диего?

Да. Я живу в Сан Диего.


Let’s try to work this construction into a longer statement about yourself, using stuff we’ve learned from earlier podcasts. Ready?


Say: Hello, my name is Tony.

Здравствуйте, меня зовут Тони.



I’m an American but I live in Odessa.

Я американец но я живу в Одессе.


If you’re an American woman, you’d of course have said:

Я американка…


Anyway, speaking with you on friendly terms, that is, informally, your new friend asks:

Do you like Odessa?

Тебе нравится Одесса?


Yes, I love Odessa.

Да. Я люблю Одессу.


Did you get all the three forms of the word Odessa correct? We heard: Одесса, Одессе and Одессу.

If you got all three correct, give yourself an A+ for having excellent Russian grammar. It really will impress your Russian friends that you speak so grammatically.


Anyway, let’s try that same exchange but with a different content words:


Say: Hello, my name is Robert.

Здравствуйте, меня зовут Роберт.


I’m an Englishman but I live in Moscow.

Я Англичанин но я живу в Москве.


Again, speaking with you on friendly terms, your new friend asks:

Do you like Moscow?

Тебе нравится Москва?


Tell her:

Yes, I love Moscow.

Да. Я люблю Москву.


For homework, try that exchange with some other combinations. And of course, make sure you’ve made flashcards for these new constructions


In the next episode we’ll learn to talk about one of the most common topics of conversation: Where we work. Meanwhile, head over to RussianMadeEasy.com for today’s transcript and audio downloads and I’ll see you next time!

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