Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 5

Who and What in Russian

Listen To Entire Episode

Exercises Only

Welcome to Podcast #5. Before doing our review, let’s add one new occupation which is kind of a cognate. Listen and repeat:


[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.]

One more time: адвокат

So what kind of occupation is an адвокат? Well, when the police arrest a suspect in the U.S., they must inform him that he has the right to remain silent, and that he has the right to hire an адвокат.

To put it another way: The person you hire to represent you in court is called your адвокат.

So адвокат is the Russian word for lawyer. It sounds like advocate, which is what a lawyer is, right? He’s an advocate for your rights and your side of the story. Just note how the emphasis is on the end of the word. адвоКАТ.

Say: My Dad is a lawyer.

Мой папа – адвокат.

Alright, now let’s do some review.

What Russian word do we use to greet people?


Say: My name is George.

Меня зовут Джордж.

Ask someone:

And what’s your name?

А как Вас зовут?

Say: This is my dad. He’s a lawyer.

Это мой папа. Он – адвокат.

Try saying: My dad is an American, whereas my mom is an Englishwoman.

Мой папа – американец, а моя мама – англичанка.

This is my friend. He’s an Australian.

Это мой друг. Он – австралиец.

This is my female friend. She is an American.

Это моя подруга. Она – американка.

Alright, in this podcast we’ll be learning two question words. Here’s the first one. Repeat after the speaker:


One more time:


Imagine I’m showing my Russian friend Natasha some photos of my friends and family on Facebook. Can you get the meaning of КТО from our short conversation? I point to a family photo and say…

Это Я.

А кто это?

Это моя мама.

I then show her the next photo of me and some friends. Natasha asks…

Это твой друг Джэйсон, да?

Да, это Джэйсон.

Ммм-хмм. А кто это? (NOTE: That’s not a typo. т is the script version of the letter T in Cyrillic)

Это моя подруга Нэнси.

What is she asking when she says, “А кто это?” She’s asking, “And who is this?”

So, KTO is one of the Russian words for “who”? The word is spelled with just three letters: A “K” a “T” and an “O”.

So ask someone: Who is this?

Кто это?

As we did in the last podcast, I want to show you how that little word “ah” works in Russian.

Imagine my friend is looking at my photos in Facebook. He points to someone and asks…

(Vlad) Кто это? Твой друг Стив, да?

(Yuri) Да. Это Стив.

(Vlad) (pointing to a girl) А кто это?

See how he used “ah” to set up a contrasting question? The actual literal meaning of “a” in this context is along the lines of: Having processed what you just said, I’d now like to ask the following:

I don’t mean to make a big deal out of such a little word, but you’ll hear it all the time, so I just want you to really grasp it. So ask your friend:

Who is this? Your mom, yes?

Кто это? Твоя мама, да?

She answers that yes, it’s her mom. So now follow that up by asking:

And who is this? Your dad?

А кто это? Твой папа?

Did you add the “ah” sound at the beginning?

This is a good point to talk about word order, which is quite a bit more flexible in Russian than in English. For example, we might have phrased that last question this way:

А это кто?

And this is who?

By putting the question word last, we’re placing more importance on it. Again, word order is one of those things I’ll be pointing out as we go.

Now let’s try our other question word for this episode. Repeat after the speaker:


And again…


So for this one, imagine you’re at a Russian friend’s house for dinner. Now, you know darn well that the soup you’ve just been served is borscht, but you want to practice asking questions, so you point to the soup and ask your friend Tanya…

Таня, что это?

Это борщ.

Then Uncle Tolik pours a clear liquid into your shotglass. Ask him..

Эй, Толик…что это?

Это водка.

So, ЧТО is one of the Russian words for “what”? Now you ask…

What is this?

Что это?

She tells you it’s borscht, and then — pointing to the dish of red fish eggs that she just gave you — follow up with…

And what’s this?

А что это?

Did you add the “ah” at the beginning?

[NOTE: You could have reversed the word order and said…А это что? And this is what? ]

Anyway she points to the red fish eggs and tells you…

Это икра.

So, ИКРА is the Russian word for caviar.

And that’s why our question phrase is so useful because we can use it to learn lots of new words, kind’ve “on location.” So, let’s repeat the word for caviar one more time:


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

Now here’s a cool way to remember the word. Imagine you don’t like caviar, and yet someone just served you some. You kinda freak out and say…”EEK, raw fish eggs!”

Say that again: Eek, raw fish eggs!

Do you get it? That phrase has the sound of ИКРА hidden in it. eek raw…gives us икра

I call that kind of mnemonic device a PowerPhrase and they’re a great tool for quickly memorizing a ton of words. When I was first learning Russian I made a PowerPhrase for just about every new word I learned. It’s amazing how much you can remember that way. And I use those same ones in our Russian Accelerator videos, along with funny pictures to really drive home each phrase. The visual part is really important, and it’s a limitation of an audio-only format. Because you really want to associate an image with each PowerPhrase….that helps to make it memorable. These kinds of mnemonic devices are used by all memory experts and advanced language students. Ask anyone who’s learned a 2nd or 3rd language quickly, and they’ll admit they used these kinds of memorable phrases to help them recall words.

Alright, let’s get back to our lesson today. So…pretend your Russian friend is showing you a picture of himself sitting in a restaurant across from two men wearing suits. Point to the older man in the picture and ask…

Who is that?

Кто это?

How will your friend reply:

This is my lawyer.

Это мой адвокат.

Then point to the other man and ask…

And who is this?

А кто это?

He answers:

This is my friend Pavel. He is a businessman.

Это мой друг Павел. Он – бизнесмен.

Then point to the bottle of alcohol in the photo and ask…

What’s this?

Что это?

Listen to his answer:

Это виски.

And so, with that “что это?” question, we learned another easy word. We say “whiskey” and Russian it’s “veesky”, with a “v” sound. Listen…


Just one last new word to cover today, and you probably already know it. But I just need to make sure. Try saying:


That beginning sound is like from the middle of the word “onion.” That transition. Onion…NYET…

If you know the meaning of this word say, ДА …I know it.

If you don’t, then say НЕТ I don’t know it.

So, Да and НЕТ are opposites.

Да means YES and НЕТ means No.

Let’s work with it a little bit. Imagine showing a picture of your friend Kevin to your Russian girlfriend. She asks:

Это Джон?

Tell her: No, this is Kevin.

Нет. Это Кэвин.

She asks: Is he a businessman?

Он – бизнесмен?

Tell her: No, he’s an engineer.

Нет. Он – инженер.

Not that you could ever mistake one for the other, but point to the filled shotglass in front of you and ask…

What is this? Vodka

Что это? Водка?

How will the person tell you:

No. This is whiskey.

Нет. Это виски.

So, practice asking these questions as you go about your day.

In the next episode we’ll learn how to order food and drinks….certainly a useful thing to know…and we’ll learn how to develop fluency in Russian. Yes, even beginners should be working towards fluency right from the start. And I’ll show you how, in the next episode. Meanwhile, head over to RussianMadeEasy.com for today’s downloads.

DOWNLOADS – (right click with mouse and “save as”)

Episode 5 – Full Program

Episode 5 – Exercises Only


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23 responses to “Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 5”

  1. Dominick Avatar

    It appears there are two instances in the transcript where it is written “это”. After studying Russian for a while, and having purchased a Russian Script book, I realize that is the handwritten version of lowercase T, but the font in the rest of the transcript is printed, so it looks like эto. I found this confusing and spent much time trying to research why the t changed to m, and only recently figured out the answer. I think it would be helpful if you could change it.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Dominic, next time please just reach out to us via emaail or a post here. We’re quick to respond.

      re: the script font…Note added now to the script. And again, I invite: If any other questions like this arise, please don’t hesitate to write.

  2. Judy Avatar

    Hello! I am enjoying your site for review purposes … trying to get back into Russian language. Is there a difference between an адвокат and a юрист?



    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Judy,

      Glad you’re enjoying the podcast. As I understand it, there’s not much difference between the two. My gut says that a юрист is perhaps more likely to specialize in trials/criminal proceedings and such, but it’s honestly just a guess.

  3. Hagen Bracey Avatar
    Hagen Bracey

    Hey Mark,

    I decided to pick up Russian when I was in the 6th grade but lost the textbook I’d bought. I’ve tried many times since to find a good platform for learning Russian, but none really sufficed or went about learning in an engaging or effective way. I found the Russian Made Easy video podcasts on a Google search yesterday, and I’m absolutely in love. Contextual learning is the secret weapon in the expansion of language skills. It’s all really engaging and you have a very nice voice. I feel like I’m already learning and retaining a lot, and for the first time since I was twelve, I’m really engaged and excited about learning Russian. I hope over the summer I can sign up for your Russian Accelerator class.

    Thank you, Mark!


    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Hagen!

  4. Brajesh Avatar

    Hi Mark ,

    Really enjoying your lessons. I am considering the Russian accelerator course would you recommend that i go through the Russian made easy programmer and then start the accelerator .
    I am on lesson 5 and prior to that i went through the 8 lessons of russian alphabets

    I am doing about 3 lessons a day.


    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Brajesh!

      Thanks for asking. You can start ,y Accelerato course at any point, because the two courses are independent of one another.
      Many people do both at the same time, doing on epside of the podcast and then one lesson from Accelerator.

      The alphabet lessons…Did you mean my ‘3 Hour Cyrillic’ course (the one where we read all those Russian signs)? How did you do in that?

      Anyway, thanks again for the kind words. Looking forward to welcoming you to R.A.

  5. William Zade Avatar
    William Zade

    So my story is a bit involved, but I wanted to say thank you right up front, this is very much the course I have been looking for. I actually learned a fair bit of Russian as a child, there was a huge immigrant population and I wanted to be able to play with my friends that didn’t speak English all that well. That led my to a lifetime of studying languages, with at one point having a working fluency (Not a full on speaker per se, but understandable) in about 9 languages. This became very useful when I decided to join the military, a skill set I would use a lot. However, I found that while I learned quickly I wouldn’t retain a language well. I would later learn it was because my brain and mind learning style was not being engaged properly. I have since left the service after a long and interesting career, and now work in Alaska where, as I am sure you are not surprised, there is a large russian speaking population. Being the first foreign language I learned this has been a welcome challenge and I’m finding it much easier to retain now with how you teach. Knowing some of the psychological tools behind your method I have to say that you put together very clear, effective lessons that are immediately useful, usable, and retainable. I will move on to the rest of your classes as I get through these podcasts, I am very excited to develop a greater fluency than I have had in the past. Thank you.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, William. Having a grasp on nine languages is a heck of an achievement!
      Looking forward to welcoming you to Russian Accelerator.
      Happy New Year,

  6. Lee Avatar

    Well, I tried a popular online language program and then, at the library, picked up a set of a popular Russian language learning CDs. Last week, I decided I needed to commit and was going ahead and ordering the CDs (purchasing online). Before I decided on going ahead with buying the CD set, I decided to do ONE LAST look around…While checking reviews, comments, doing more research and considering the options, “BOOM!” I came upon YOUR program!!!
    “Learn…even if you are getting along in years…” I read. Hmmm…as a mid-fifties woman, that appealed to me. I kept reading/listening to what you had to say…and I was hooked : )

    Here I am, on Lesson 5. I have been using your lessons for one week and have learned MUCH more than I had after a few WEEKS with the others. I have had a similar experience to others who have commented above: it’s fun, you are great and I am making progress–SO exciting!

    I could go on, but just a couple more comments before I go:
    –Recognizing that the student CAN–and then MOTIVATING the student to–solve the problem/figure things out makes a HUGE difference in learning!
    –You, as our teacher, are very encouraging and supportive, which is SUCH a crucial component in language learning!
    Thanks for your hard work to put this together and sharing your knowledge with us, Mark!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Lee!

      Wow, thanks so much for the enthusiastic support. I hope to see you in my video-based ‘Russian Accelerator’ after you finish RME.
      In the meantime, keep up the great work and don’t hesitate with any questions. 🙂


      Spasibo bolshoe,

  7. Jenny B Avatar
    Jenny B

    I have to say, though I’m only on lesson 5 here, I am thoroughly enjoying the Russian Made Easy program! Thank you for making these lessons available for free – as I am trying to figure out the best program to learn from, I appreciate being able to REALLY try out your program without having to actually buy anything before I have an idea of whether I will like and be able to learn from it. It’s so frustrating to get just a few steps in to a program then be hit with “if you want more, you can purchase the rest of the program for…..”. Ugh!
    I plan to continue on to the next couple of lessons before signing up for the Russian Accelerator program but I did want to send a quick shout-out to say that so far, I am FINALLY beginning to feel like I’m getting a handle on learning Russian and feel like I actually CAN learn Russian!
    Thanks and I’m looking forward to learning more!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Jenny,

      Wow, thanks so much for the kind words. So glad you’re enjoying my podcast!
      I certainly look forward to welcoming you to Russian Accelerator, but in the meantime take your time
      as you go through the podcast, be sure to make those flashcards, and let me know how you do on the mid-term and final!

  8. Jeeva Avatar

    Hi Mr Mark. Thank you for your podcasts. I am just a beginner. I am listening to the third podcast. And I have a question. How come you to forget our country, India. Please tell how I can say my nationality that I am an Indian. Thank you again

  9. Beny Avatar

    Hi Mark, Excellent podcast – I can’t stop listening to it. I have a few questions accumulted until this lesson, can you help?
    1. I’ve noticed that many words in their feminine version change the sound of an O to A – is there a rule for this? for example он sounds like “on” but она sounds like “Ana”, similar with Эtо, моя, Твоя, etc.
    2. When it comes to nationalities, it seems that male nationalities end with ец and females with ка – except for Englishment! which end in ин – is that an exception?
    3. What is the difference between Меня and Моя/мон

    (sorry about the typos – russian charachters don’t paste well here!)

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Beny,

      Glad you’re enjoying the podcasts!

      1. The Russian letter ‘o’ when unstressed, sounds like an “ah” or “uh” sound.

      2. Yes, the ИН ending for Englishman is a less common pattern than the ЕЦ for nationalities.

      3. This is a more involed question than space/time warrant here. Hopefully you’ll join my Russian Accelerator video course where we cover this in great detail.

      All the best,

  10. Diane Campbell Avatar
    Diane Campbell

    This is perfect!!! I am enjoying every podcast that is listed. Do you have others. From intermediate to advanced? Thank you very much!!!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Diane. The podcast acts a primer for my comprehensive video course called ‘Russian Accelerator’.
      You’ll hear me plug it here and there in the podcasts. (And if you finish all 30 episodes you’ll hear about a discount for podcast graduates. 🙂

      Thanks for writing!


  11. Miguel Avatar

    A note: the link to the audio exercises of episode 5 is actually pointing to episode 4…

    Keep up the great work!

  12. Sandy Avatar

    Hi Mark, I really love your course! It’s brilliant and I am recommending it to everyone who asks and even to those who don’t.
    Got a question though. I do not understand why in Lesson 5 exercise, the first sentence is
    “Моя” папа and not “мой папа”. Please help!

    1. Christa Avatar

      Apparently this was a typo that has since been corrected.

  13. Gertrude Colvan Avatar

    Enjoying Russian Made Easy as a supplement to my Russian Accelerator lessons

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