Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 12

I Love You in Russian

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Exercises Only

Alright, welcome to episode number 12. Here’s our main phrase for today. Please repeat after the speaker:

Я люблю

One more time…

Я люблю

We’ll come back and learn the meaning of that in a moment, but let’s review the material from the last episode. How do you say:

I like crepes. (We need the plural form here.)
Мне нравятся блины.

And how does that literally translate?
To me are pleasing crepes.

Try saying:
I like her.
Again…what’s the SLT here?
She to me is pleasing.
Она мне нравится.

Ask a friend:
Do you like rock?
Тебе нравится рок?

No. I like blues.
Нет. Мне нравится блюз.

Alright, so…What was that new phrase we started this podcast with?
Я люблю

To our Russian Accelerator members, I’m sure you remember learning that word in Unit 5 Lesson 3. In today’s podcast, we’re going to get extra practice with this very useful construction. For those who haven’t encountered this phrase yet, let’s try to get the meaning from context. So…

I like milk chocolate, but Я люблю dark chocolate!

And I like spaghetti, but Я люблю пиццу!

Do you have a feel for it? Я люблю translates as “I love…”

Say: I love to dance!
Я люблю танцевать!

I love borscht!
Я люблю борщ!

Let me do a quick flashback to the previous podcast. How would you say:
This is caviar.
Это икра.

Икра with an “ah” sound at the end. That’s its most basic form. But how do we say:
I want caviar.
Я хочу икру.

икру…with an “uu” sound because we’ve done something to the caviar. We wanted it.
By now, that rule is old hat for you, I’m sure. But how do you say:
I like caviar.

Мне нравится икра.

Why is it ending with an “ah” sound? Икра. Doesn’t liking it count as doing something to the caviar? And thus, shouldn’t it change to икру?

Hit pause and give your own explanation for this. If you understand this point, you’ll have another major aspect of Russian grammar mastered.


The reason икра doesn’t change in that construction is because, in Russian, the caviar is doing the action. Strange as it sounds, it is pleasing us. Or to us, really. But notice how, in our new construction, we are once again the one doing the action. That is:

I love caviar.
Я люблю икру.

…and that’s why it’s now икру with an “uu” ending. Let’s practice this idea of liking vs. loving.

Ask your friend:
Do you like vodka?
Тебе нравится водка?

How will he say:
Yes. I love vodka.
Да. Я люблю водку.

In that first one we had Водка with an “ah” and in the second one we had водку with an “uu”. Why? Because vodka is doing the action in the first sentence. But in the second one, we’re doing the action – we’re loving vodka.

Apologies, by the way, if I’m beating a dead horse with this grammar point, but again, if you get this, you’re actually mastering a big chunk of Russian grammar.

Next, let’s learn the name of two Russian cities and two Ukrainian cities. Repeat after the speaker:

Санкт Петербург

One more time:
Санкт Петербург

Fill in the blank with one of those cities. Ready?
The capital of Russia is….Москва

The capital of Ukraine is….Киев

The home of Russia’s world-class Hermitage museum is…Санкт Петербург

Ukraine’s largest port city, located on the Black Sea is….Одесса

So, try saying:
I love St. Petersburg!
Я люблю Санкт Петербург.

I love Moscow!
Я люблю Москву!
Did you remember to change the “ah” at the end of Москва to an “uu” sound? Москву.

I love Kiev.
Я люблю Киев.

I love Odessa.
Я люблю Одессу.

Of course, you can put any location into this construction. For example:
I love New York.
Я люблю Нью Йорк.

There’s a very useful transitional word we should learn now. Listen and repeat:

Of course, it sounds just like the English word “no” but that’s not what it means. As I said, it’s used to make transitions. Like this…

I’d love to stay for dinner HO it’s getting late…I really should go.

Or how about:

I’d lend you the money HO I left my wallet at the office.

So, HO is the Russian word for “but”. So try saying:

I like Moscow but I love St. Petersburg.
Мне нравится Москва но я люблю Санкт Петербург.

I love pizza, but I don’t want to eat.
Я люблю пиццу но я не хочу кушать.

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

One of my listeners wrote the other day and asked, “I listen to your podcasts every day and I think I’m doing really well. But I worry that maybe my pronunciation isn’t very good. And the problem is I have no one to practice with in my area. Any suggestions? Spasibo!” From Janet, in Vermont.

Thanks for writing, Janet. And that’s certainly a common issue. So what I’d like to offer you Janet, and any of our listeners who are in the same boat, is a chance to use our Success Coaching over at Russian Accelerator. For free. I wish I could offer the full, year-long access that Russian Accelerator members get, but I can’t do that. Still, I invite you to send them one recording of yourself. So here’s what to do. And again, this invite is for anyone listening to these RussianMadeEasy podcasts.

Just record yourself speaking the Russian you’ve learned in these podcasts. Do NOT say the English part. Just the Russian. And please keep it under five minutes. Make sure it’s an mp3 or wav file, and email it to: coaching@russian-accelerator.com

Again that’s: coaching@russian-accelerator.com

For the subject line of the email, please write: Podcast Offer

In a day or two, one of our coaches will have listened to it, and will get back to you with their comments. Because, really, one of the most important things for you, as a new student is to know that a native speaker understands you.

Alright, and here’s the last new word for today. Repeat after the speaker:


One more time:


Notice it’s tibya with a “ya” sound, not tebe with a “yeh” sound. Let’s get it from context:

When I proposed to my wife, I got down on one knee and told her:
“Honey, Я люблю тебя. Will you marry me?”

Я люблю тебя.
Translates as I love you.

And you’ll hear it in this word order as well. Listen…
Я тебя люблю.

Either is fine but that second one is probably more common.

Ask your friend:
Do you like jazz?
Тебе нравится джаз?

I love you.
Я тебя люблю.

Here I’m just contrasting: тебе and тебя

Let’s work once more with all of today’s new words. Say…

I like Kiev but I love Odessa.
Мне нравится Киев но я люблю Одессу.

I love St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Я люблю Санкт Петербург и Москву.

Imagine you’ve asked a Russian woman to marry you, and you’re explaining to her child:
I love your mom.
Я люблю твою маму.

I like blues but I love rock.
Мне нравится блюз но я люблю рок.

And let’s end with that most useful romantic phrase:
I love you.
Я тебя люблю.

Alright…As always, head over to RussianMadeEasy.com for today’s audios and transcript. And you’ll find our Success Coaching email address there, too, if you didn’t write it down.

In the next podcast we’ll talk about heading out and seeing the town. Keep practicing, and I’ll see you next time!

Send your 5 minute recording (mp3 or wav file) only in Russian, to:


Subj: Podcast Offer

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Episode 12 – Full Program

Episode 12 – Exercises Only


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27 responses to “Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 12”

  1. Lucia Farmer Avatar

    Hello Marco,
    Thank you for your interesting lessons. I’ve been studying Russian for 5 years by myself and the intermet now, and still can use your lessons well for better understanding and structured approach. I see that you also recommend to use flashcards and preferably self made and handwritten. My problem is that in handwritten text like in italic, various letters are very different from print (some even look like different latin letters ). The words are more difficult to read and thus to remember. Should I adapt the letters, (what adaptations should I make) or just make printed flashcards? Or be brave?
    Thank you very much for an answer, Lucia

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Good question, Lucia. I recommend starting with block printing (the way the letters look here: КАК У ТЕБЯ ДЕЛА?) It’s okay to be brave and try Russian cursive, but I’d rather you spent the time learning to speak and understand Russian, for now. 🙂

  2. Ammon Callejo Avatar

    Hey Mark,

    I’m a little confused about the words “тебе’’ and ‘’тебя’’. In lesson 11 we learned the word “тебе” and in this lesson we Learned the word “тебя”. What’s the difference between the words, what’s the literal meaning of both, and when would you use them? For example, why would you say “я тебя люблю’’, and not “я тебе люблю’’?

    Thank you,

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Ammon,

      A common question. I’ve answered it elsewhere on this site, but easy to miss given that there are thirty posts. 🙂
      For now, the simplest way to think of them is:
      ТЕБЕ = to you / you are the recipient of something
      Тебе нравится = TO YOU is pleasing

      I gave to you a book. This is for you. Is it interesting to you? <-- these (and many others) require ТЕБЕ ТЕБЯ = you / something is being done to you Я люблю тебя. <-- loving you counts as "doing something" to you I see you. I know you. I understand you. I hate you. I want you. etc...these are require ТЕБЯ It's hard to explain all the subtleties here in a blog post, but in my Russian Accelerator course we go into extreme detail. By the end, you'll wonder how you ever got them confused. 🙂 Cheers, Mark

  3. autumn Avatar

    bonjour. i actually already knew how to say i love you because i have a girlfriend and i fund out beforehand. anyways have a nice day or night.

    autumn E, from ny

  4. Ahdi Alhunaif Avatar
    Ahdi Alhunaif

    Dear Mark, thanks again for a yet great podcast.. with the phrase “Я люблю твою маму”, did “твою маму” change for the same reason that we are doing something to it, like your examples of “икра” vs. “икру”? just making sure.. as it is the first time you used “твою.”

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Ahdi,

      Yes, “loving someone” counts as “doing something” to them, so мама changes to маму (and твоя changes to rhyme with it…твою)
      Hope this helps…

      1. Paul Avatar

        Hey Mark,
        So why didn’t тебя get changed to твою when we said “Я тебя люблю.” Aren’t we loving YOU in this sentence which means we are doing something to YOU?

        Thank you.

        1. Mark Thomson Avatar
          Mark Thomson

          Hi Paul,

          ТЕБЯ is the “doing something to you” form of ТЫ.

          1. Paul Avatar

            It has been a few days since I wrote my previous post above. Now that it has sunk in to my brain, I understand it. And now my original post above seems like a “bone-head” question….sorry about that!

          2. Mark Thomson Avatar
            Mark Thomson

            I’m just glad you understand it, now. And please don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a really tough language!

  5. Warren Avatar

    Hi Mark
    Really enjoying the lessons. Also learning the alphabet, which is fun too. Have lots of Russians moving to Australia so there are plenty of friends to practice on.

  6. LiLi Avatar

    I’ve really been enjoying these lessons! I have a very specific cultural question related to the use of the word “lublu” (love). I have a Russian friend who I sometimes practice my Russian on – (gotta feel for her!!!) – and when I commented to her little girl “Ya tibya lublu,” Milena advised me that Russians don’t use the word for love nearly as liberally as we do here in America. She said that it is a phrase chiefly reserved for romantic relationships. Thus, it would be a little odd for a family friend to make that particular comment to one’s child. Is this true?
    Thank you for weighing in!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Lili,

      I’m loathe to disagree with a native Russian speaker, but having lived here now for ten years,
      (and having three native speaking kids of my own, now) I feel comfortable weighing in.
      I hear ‘lublu’ used all the time for non-romantic relationships.

      Babushka and Dedushka (the grandma and grandpa of our three children) tell the kids every day:
      Ya tibya lublu, Andrushka! (or Sophia! or William!)

      So, absolutely the verb is used with what I’ll call “familial” love (betwen family members)

      But I also hear it from non-family members. My wife has friends who love our kids. But it’s not said casually, I suppose.
      They really do love them. Again, though merely family friends, it’s being unsed in the ‘familial’ sense.

      When I think of a ‘love’ verb that truly is used only for romantic love, I think of the Ukrainian word ‘kohaiyu’
      THAT for sure you’d only use to your partner.

      Hope this helps,


      1. Tom Robertson Avatar
        Tom Robertson

        Hi Mark
        Fantastic lessons. Can’t wait to move onto Russian Accelerator. I’m up to lesson 22 but I came back to this one to ask: when I say to my girlfriend ”My love” should I use Мой or моя?

        I read somewhere that ь can be either feminine or masculine.

        Thanks to you and all the people who made this fantastic podcast.

        1. Mark Thomson Avatar
          Mark Thomson

          Thanks so much, Tom. Golden Rule coming up….something we discuss at great length in RA. You ready?

          This is why we say: Мой папа. Even though “papa” ends with an ‘a’ and thus *appears* to be feminine, the **adjective tells us the truth.**
          Masculine “мой” tells us that ПАПА is in fact masculine. And thus the phrase:

          Ты моя любовь.
          моя being in its feminine form tells us that the soft-sign noun любовь must be feminine.

          Make sense?

          1. Tom Robertson Avatar
            Tom Robertson

            It does! Thank you so much!

          2. Mark Thomson Avatar
            Mark Thomson

            Quick quiz, Tom:

            Дедушка = grandfather

            What’s the gender of the word? Well, let’s look at the word in action, in an actual Russian phrase:

            Это мой дедушка.


            Despite the ‘a’ ending, the word must be masculine. Why? (Say it with me)
            “The adjective always tells the truth (about noun gender).”

  7. David Avatar

    Great podcast! Why do we say Я тебя люблю and not Я тебy люблю (or however that ought to be spelled for the “oo” “being acted upon” sound)? Thank you.

  8. Jeeva Avatar

    Hi, I heard a song in the end of the previous episode(11), can you please tell me where I can get that? I think it is part of our learning process. You would have included it other wise. Thank you, Mr Mark.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      re: the song…It’s called ZACHEM (which translates as “Why…What for?”)


  9. Ken Avatar


    Podcasts 11 and 12 teach us the Russian for “like”, “do not like” and “love, but how would you say “I hate caviar”, or “I hate vodka” ??


    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      The Russian verb “to hate” ( ненавидеть ) is not as common in Russian as in English.
      It normally suffices to say: i don’t like caviar. (Lit: to me not pleasing caviar.)
      Мне не нравится икра.

      If you *really* want to emphasize your dislike, you can add “very”
      Literally: To me VERY not pleasing caviar.
      Мне очень не нравится икра.

      Hope this helps,

      1. Ken Avatar

        Useful, thanks Mark.

        Interesting use of the adverb “очень” rather than using a stronger word as we would in English.

  10. Marco Avatar

    Dear Mark,

    thank you for these lessons!
    I have a question; the word “you” is translated in Russian as Ты, when it is subject and Bac when object (Как Вас зовут?) .
    In today lesson 12 I’ve learned this new Tебя (Я Tебя люблю).

    There are two ways to say you in Russian as object?
    Could you please explain?

    Thank you

    1. Greg T Avatar
      Greg T

      Hi Marco,

      In Russian there are two categories for the word “you.”
      Forms that start with a “t” (ты тебе тебя)are used when talking to one person…either a friend or a child. (The informal you)
      Forms that start with a ‘v’ sound (Вы, Вас, Вам etc) are used when talking to a group of people, or someone you don’t know. (What we’d call the Formal You)

      So before choosing which form, you need to know who you’re addressing.

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