Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 4

What’s Your Name? In Russian

NOTE* – Episode downloads and extras are located at the bottom of this page.

Listen To Entire Episode

Exercises Only

Welcome to this 4th episode of our Russian Made Easy podcast. If you’re just joining me, please know that the episodes are cumulative. Each one builds on the material learned in all the previous episodes, so it’s assumed you’ve mastered everything in those earlier ones.

Normally I start each podcast by reviewing the material from the previous episode, and we’ll do that in a second. But I want to start by having you try to say the following:


[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.]

It’s the first part of one of the longest, trickiest yet most common words in Russian. It starts with three consonants in a row. Very Russian, and very brutal: A “Z”, a “D”, and an “R”…zuh-duh-rah

Listen again to the native speaker:


Let’s let that float around in your subconscious for a bit while we review the material from Podcast #3.

So, imagine you’re introducing yourself and your friend to a new Russian acquaintance. How would a guy say:

I’m an American. He’s an Australian.

Я – американец. Он – австралиец.

How would a girl say:

I’m an American. She’s an Australian.

Я – американка. Она – австралийка.

Say: My mom is an Englishwoman.

Моя мама – англичанка.

My dad is a Canadian.

Мой папа – канадец.

Ask: Your mom is an American, yes?

Твоя мама американка, да?

Your dad is an Englishman?

Твой папа англичанин?

Tell someone: This is my friend. He is an American.

Это мой друг. Он – американец.

This is my female friend. She is a Canadian.

Это моя подруга. Она – канадка.

And since we’re reviewing, what was that tricky sound I had you pronounce at the start of this podcast?


Excellent. OK..Then let’s add an “st” sound to that, ready?


One more time: ZDRAST…

NOTE: You might notice a slight “f” sound in there, directly before the “st” sound. This is because I asked the speakers to sound out the whole word. But when spoken at normal speeds by a native speaker, the “f” sound is dropped.

We’ll come back to the rest of this word a bit later. Right now, I’d like to work with introductions.

Pretend my name is Steve, and I’ve just become acquainted with a woman in a cafe. So she asks me:

Как Вас зовут?

And I answer:

Меня зовут Стив.

Based on my answer — Меня зовут Стив — what do you think she was inquiring about? She was, of course, asking my name. Notice that the question has three words in it. Repeat each one after our native speaker:




Spoken quickly, though, the “s” sound at the end of that second word, VAS, becomes part of the “z” sound at the start of the last word, “zavoot”….so it’s more like, kak vahh….zovute

Now, as I mentioned in an earlier podcast, a lot of courses teach this next part incorrectly. They tell you that Kak vas zavoot means, “What’s your name?”

Unfortunately, that’s not very helpful. Because, although that is how we’d phrase it in English, she’s not literally asking “what….is…your….name?” She’s literally asking is:

(ME) как….вас….зовут ….how…..you…..they call?

In other words, “What do they call you?” But again, literally: How….you….they call?

Now you say it in Russian:

Как Вас зовут?

And our answer was: Меня зовут Стив.

Literally: Me….they call….Steve.

Here it is word by word:




Try it with your own name. I’ll pretend my name is John.

Меня зовут Джон.

If you’re name is, I dunno — Sara — you don’t have to russify the pronunciation of your own name. So it’s fine to say: Меня зовут Sarah. But you can also try to say it the Russian way:

Меня зовут Сара.

Your Russian friends, though, will have trouble saying the American version of Sarah. They’ll call you Сара instead of Sarah. Or: Марк instead of Mark, and so on. Just a heads up, there.

So, let’s try a back ‘n’ forth with these. How do you ask a Russian person his name?

Как вас зовут?

How would he say:

Me they call Nikolai.

Меня зовут Николай.

You just asked him his name, now listen how he asks you the same question.

А как Вас зовут?

Did you catch how he added an “ah” sound at the start? And how he emphasized “вас” a bit more? Listen again:

А как Вас зовут?

In English, the exchange would be like this:

What’s your name?

My name’s Steve. And what’s your name?

When the Russian person responds with: “А как Вас зовут?” that “ah” sound is functioning like that ‘and”……….”and what’s your name?”

“a” doesn’t MEAN “and”…they have a different word for that in Russian. That’s just how it’s functioning here.

Do you recall that bit of a Russian word we started learning earlier in this podcast? It started with a “z”?


Let’s try the 2nd half of the word:…ВУЙТЕ

One more time: ВУЙТЕ

Give me just the first half again:


…and the 2nd half:


Then let’s piece them together. Try to say:


Again: здравствуйте

So what does it mean? It’s simple: The first word you greet people with when you see them is здравствуйте

Once again, most courses will tell you that здравствуйте means Hello.

It doesn’t. Not even close. Yes, it’s a Russian greeting, just like “Hello” in English, but what you are literally saying is a command to, “Be healthy!”

здравствуйте is a formal greeting you’d use with strangers, co-workers, your elders, your boss, and so on. You’d also use it when greeting two or more people at the same time.

There’s an informal version of this greeting that we’ll learn some other time. For now, it’s best to just practice this version.

Let’s try to put all this together. Imagine you’ve just arrived to Moscow, and your friend has met you in the airport. There’s a man with her, and he sticks out his hand to shake yours. How will he greet you?


Greet him as well:


Ask him his name:

Как вас зовут?

How would he say, “Me they call Nikolai.”

Меня зовут Николай.

How will he ask:

And how do they call you?

А как ВАС зовут?

Tell him your name:

Your friend Robby is traveling with you. Say…

This is my friend Robby.

Это мой друг Робби.

Add: He is a musician.

Он – музыкант.

Is he an American?

Он – американец?

Say, He is an Englishman.

Он – англичанин.

You’re also traveling with a female friend of yours named Veronica. Introduce her by saying:

This is my friend Veronica.

Это моя подруга Вероника.

She is a student

Она – студентка

She is an American.

Она – американка.

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

I’d like to take a minute to share a great tip for maximizing your study time. This is gonna sound old school, and it is, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. I’m talking about flashcards. It’s nearly blasphemy in this digital age to talk about something so analog as flashcards, but trust me, you’ll want to start making them if you haven’t already. One card for each word, and main construction you learn.

I usually buy those blank recipe cards, and cut them in half. On one side, write the English word, and on the other side, the Russian version. Be sure to include the SLT, too. And when you study your cards — this is important — make a small X in the corner each time you get it wrong. This let’s you quickly see which ones you need more work with.

Another tip is, if you can’t remember the answer, don’t give in and read it. Instead, cover up the answer and reveal just the first letter. See if that jogs your memory. An important rule in developing your memory is the smaller the hint, the better.

And a final tip: Assuming you continue on and learn to read and write in Cyrillic, be sure to go through all your cards and add the Cyrillic version for every word. Again, this is an important part of learning a language…to physically write things down.

It’s funny, though…I know some people will be shaking their heads. They’ve got their cool flashcard apps, they’re not gonna bother actually writing OUT flashcards by hand. But what they don’t realize is that the physical act of writing things down helps you learn words more deeply. It’s due to something called kinesthetic learning. Your brain is basically like, “Oh yeah, I remember learning this word. I remember writing it down. I remember the physical motion of the word.”

So, if you want to just tell people you’re learning Russian, by all means, download some flashcard apps and show them to all your friends. But if you actually want to learn to speak Russian, and do so in an organized and efficient manner, I highly recommend making flashcards.

Alright…my flashcard rant is over. Let’s end with a cumulative review of the first four episodes of this podcast. Ready?

What’s the Russian word we use to greet people?


Say: This is my mom. She is a doctor.

Это моя мама. Она – доктор.

This is my dad. He’s a businessman.

Это мой папа. Он – бизнесмен.

In this next one we’ll use that “ah” sound we learned earlier, this time to convey the word “whereas”.

So say….

Dad is an American, whereas mom is an Australian.

Папа американец, а мама – австралийка.

Say: This is my friend, Pavel. He is a student.

Это мой друг Павел. Он – студент.

Is he an Englishman?

Он – англичанин?

He is a Canadian.

Он – канадец.

This is my friend Katya. She is an engineer.

Это моя подруга Катя. Она – инженер.

She is a Canadian.

Она – канадка.

Ask your Russian friend:

Is this my pizza?

Это моя пицца?

Yes, this is your pizza.

Да, это твоя пицца.

Is this my soup?

Это мой суп?

Yes, this is your borscht.

Да, это твой борщ.

One more time, we greet people with what word?


Tell someone your name:

Меня зовут Джордж.

Ask: And what’s your name?

А как Вас зовут?

That’s actually a lot of material we’ve covered. How are you feeling about things so far? Please send me an email and let me know how the pace is for you. Am I going too fast? Covering too much material? Not enough? I’d love to hear your input, so drop me a line at: Mark@RussianMadeEasy.com

In the next podcast we’ll learn our first question words in Russian. Very useful. And I’ll tell you the trick that memory experts use to remember tons of new words.

And as always, head over to http://russianmadeeasy.com/ to download a transcript of this podcast plus all the exercises from today. I’ll see you next time!

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

Episode 4 – Full Program

Episode 4 – Exercises Only


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46 responses to “Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 4”

  1. Anastasia Fiebig Avatar
    Anastasia Fiebig

    Здравствуйте Марк,

    I just have a quick question regarding a symbol I see you use a lot. For example, when you type out, in Russian, she is a doctor you put a dash symbol (-) between the pronoun and the noun. Она – доктор.

    I am wondering if this is how native speakers would write it down, or what the reasoning is behind using the symbol.

    Thanks for this lovely podcast.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Здравствуйте, Анастасия!

      Great question. Oddly, Russian doesn’t employ the present tense of the verb БЫТЬ (to be). And so Russians put a dash when stating things like: She (is) a doctor.
      There is a more formal version of “is” that you’ll see in newspapers. ALong the lines of: Он является владельцем нескольких коммерческих предприятий. (He is the owner of several commercial enterprises.) But it comes off quite formal. So, yeah…use the dash in these kinds of phrases.

  2. Rain Avatar

    Just wanted to tell you, thank you! I’m really horrible at studying but I wanted to study at least the basics of this language (and see how far I can go) and I’ve been actually learning from your podcast, and it’s been fun. You’re a great teacher and you probably know that but still, thank you! I’ll be sure to leave a feedback once I finish the podcast 😀

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      My pleasure, Ragenii!

  3. juanita Avatar

    Excellent podcast mark. I really like your approach of teaching a language and share your opinion that by solely concentrating on the grammar of a language, as it is done (it seems) in schools all over the world, the only thing you’ll learn is the grammar but not really communicating which is the the most gratifying part of learning a language. If I get past this course I’ll surely take your russian accellerator course.

    Best thanks for all the work putting up this free podcast (+ the learning the russian alphabet course)

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Juanita! I hope to welcome you to RA one day soon!


  4. Zahra Avatar

    Hey Mark👋 I wanna thank for these podcasts and say that you teach great and it’s fun to learn language this way but I had this question that am I gonna be able to speak Russian easily only by these 30 podcasts or I’m gonna need more??

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      RME is great, but it’s really just a primer for my Russian Accelerator…a huge, online course that will turn you into a confident conversational speaker of Russian.
      You can learn more about it here…


  5. Timo Mielke Avatar
    Timo Mielke

    Hi Mark
    I really just wanted to thank you for youre Podcast.
    It is really helping me by learning Russian. You teach it in such an logical and easy way that it is very helpful even after 7 Years.

    P.S : And seeing that you answered comments on that certain topic even after that long time just made my day. Really appreciate it, keep it up!!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Timo! I hope to welcome you to my Russian Accelerator course one day!
      Until then…Keep up the great work.


  6. Mysthral Avatar

    Hi Mark
    I am from Mexico and I´m trying to learn Russian I´ve found very helpful the podcast, the last week I´ve been moving slow cause I go back to one or two podcasts and review all material in order not to leave gaps. I have found them incredibly helpful. Of course base that my first language is Spanish but I do understand English pretty good it has been a nice way to learn especially here in Mexico, in my city is almost impossible to find material or a course to learn Russian they focus on german, or french, Portuguese, Italian but Russian has been a new challenge.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      So glad you’re enjoying the podcast, and I hope to welcome you to my Russian Accelerator course when you’re done.
      I promise we’ll turn you into a confident speaker of Russian.


  7. Marc Watson Avatar
    Marc Watson

    Why hello there Mark, I am Marc. I have always found the language of the Russ to be romantic sounding, much more than those Frankish frogs (jokingly insulative); and thus, on a purely random whim 2 days ago I found your podcast and went to see just how difficult Ruski is to learn. Since I have Aspergers (autism) I figured I wouldn’t get much, if any at all, of it. however, IT’S SO EASY!!!. I’m already on episode 5 and have only had difficulties with the words Englishman/woman. I could not separate what sounds make up the word. Now, if only there was a podcast through which I could learn ancient Sumerian…

  8. Kumaravelan Avatar

    This is the best Russian material I have ever seen. Great content mate!
    Happy to learn РУССИА…

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Glad you’re enjoying my podcast.
      I hope you’ll check out Russian Accelerator. It’s my online, video course.
      We’ll turn you into a confident, conversational Russian speaker.
      You can learn more about it here…


  9. NoName :/ Avatar
    NoName :/

    I’m pretty young but this still helps me try to learn how to speak Russian. Thank you so much!

  10. Hugo Williams Avatar
    Hugo Williams

    Heya Mark!

    Thanks so much for making this course. I saw Russian accelerator randomly online a while back while I was trying to find a way to learn Russian. From the starting advertisement on it (about the words for street and dog, I think) I could tell it seemed really solid and worth taking a second look at when I had any spending money that I was willing to part with (I tried other programs that were terrible and I didn’t want to spend money and get the same, bad result). Later, a friend of mine I met online referred me to Russian Made Easy, and I started listening to these podcasts. I have found them incredibly helpful, and I can’t even describe how much better they are than anything else I’ve tried. Now that I’ve got a better taste of how you teach and how it really doesn’t need to be mind-crushingly difficult to learn the language, I believe I’m going to buy Russian Accelerator as soon as I finish these podcasts. I really don’t think I’d be learning any of this language without you

    Thanks for your all your help!

    Hugo Williams

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Wow, William…Thanks so much. What’s great is how persistent you’ve been, through all of the other disappointing courses you’ve tried.
      Looking forward to hearing how you do in the podcast, and to welcoming you to Russian Accelerato.
      Until then, keep up the great wrok.

  11. Carsen Howell Avatar
    Carsen Howell

    I have tried a few other websites, apps and videos to help me learn russian and this one is by far the most helpful and easy to learn. When i listen to the podcasts i take notes to help me spell out each word in russian and that really helps me to remember everything.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Привет Карсен!

      Yes, writing things down is definitely a great way to reinforce what you learn. It makes it tacticleThere are actually studies proving the efficacy of handwritten flashcards.
      Hope to see you in my Russian Accelerator course!

  12. Yasin Avatar

    Hi Mark,

    I found you while i was trying to find an app for learning reading Russian alphabet.

    I also thank you for your work and effort. It seems very easy to understand. By the way my native language is Turkish:) Instead of following Turkish online courses, i am following your podcasts.

    By the time i finish all the courses i would give you a feedback again.


    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Спасибо, Ясин!

      I hope to welcome you to my Russian Accelerator course one day.
      Until then, keep up the great work!


  13. Akis Stavridis Avatar
    Akis Stavridis

    Hello Mark,

    I really thank you for your great work. These podcasts help me a lot. Methods you follow is quite efficient and facilitates learning.

    Best wishes,

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Akis!

  14. Lora Avatar

    Excellent pacing and you have the lessons individualized by posting the short exercises for reviewing. I am having trouble with the second half of zdrast. The word is unfamiliar and I know I am not saying it correctly . Hope the entire word is written out in English. As a beginner I am not hearing the second part of what to say after zdrast. Appreciate your amazing podcasts.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Lora,

      To sound out ЗДРАВСТВУЙТЕ using English letters, I’d write:

      zdrast -vu – ee- tyeh
      zdrast-vuey -tyeh

      Some native speakers scarecly enunciate the “oo-ee” sound in the middle and thus it comes ou as:


      Either is fine…just say it FAST.

      Hope this helps,


  15. Abbas Vaneshani Avatar
    Abbas Vaneshani

    Dear Mark,
    Good day,
    Thank you for your method of teaching Russian easily . It is really useful and I did learnt a lot. you really went to town . I tried to download the episodes but , I could not. Have a super nice time and keep using your method for teaching.
    Best wishes.
    Abbas Vaneshani from Tehran Iran.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hmm…Can you tell me the page you were having trouble with?
      (Can email me: mark@russian-accelerator.com

  16. James Bango Avatar
    James Bango

    I don’t know HOW I happened to find your program but I find it very interesting.
    In the 1950s after the Russians launched their Sputnik satellite there were many classes offered in Russian in colleges in Southern California. Because only the top universities had well educated Russian Instructors the instructor for my two years of study was very basic in his language and instructional skills.

    It was like two years in the Gulag and I eventually dropped my study of Russian.
    I think your program may have renew my interest. Although I am now 80 years old, I still enjoy studying and I think I still have my interest in the Russian Language.
    Thank you for designing this program.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Spasibo, James! Sputnik, of course, is the Russian word for ‘satelite’.
      I hope you’ll check out Russian Accelerator. It’s my online, video course.
      We’ll turn you into a confident, conversational Russian speaker.
      You can learn more about it here…


  17. Dusty Avatar


    Thanks for the lessons, they are awesome! How would you suggest learning to write in Cyrillic? I don’t even write in cursive in English but I see most things I search on the internet teach cursive for Cyrillic. Also, you say to add the Cyrillic version for all flashcards but what else what you put on there? Maybe I missed something…

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Dusty,

      Thanks for writing. So glad you’re enjoying my podcast.

      I would suggest learning to write the print version (block letters) of Cyrillic first.
      Newspapers, books, websites, SMS msgs…they all use that form.
      Later, after you’ve mastered it, you can move on to the more challenging script.
      (This is how we learn to write most languages.)

      re: flashcards….there’s a lot that eventually should go onto a flashcard, but at a minimum:
      English on one side
      Russian on the other

  18. Roberto Avatar

    Hi Mark
    Everything is good I don’t think you go to fast it is ok I just have to practice some of the of the words more then the pronunciation better like TBOЯ and TBOЙ
    I been writing but the idea of the flashcard i like it I will do that and review all 4 previews episode.

  19. Valeriy Avatar

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your lessons and especially for the tips-of-the-day. Although the lessons per se are not that useful for me because I’m Russian, but I’m now trying to use your method for learning Spanish.


    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Valeriy!

      Yes, most of the techniques I use in the podcast can be applied to learning other languages.
      Your English is great, so I’m sure you’ll do very well in Spanish, too.

  20. Juliette Avatar

    Hi Mark,

    I just wanted to reply to your query as to whether this has been a good pace or not. I think it’s been really nice, fast enough that I’m getting enough vocab and not feel like I’m slacking, but slow enough that I don’t feel overwhelmed. I can always listen to a couple podcasts in a row if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, anyway.


    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Juliette,

      Thanks for the feedback. Glad the pace works for you. Please let me know how you do on the final exam (podcast #30)!

  21. Jae Avatar

    This is very helpful and efficient. I understand how words are used and their corresponding translation as well as literal meaning. I hope this stays free

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Jae. The podcast is indeed free for the forseeable future. It acts as a prier for my online video course (Russian Accelerator).
      That we have to charge for.
      Best wishes,

  22. Sami Avatar

    Mark thank you so much for this, this is most certainly and incredibly helpful I learned English through TV and realized listening is the best way to learn… and this is the best podcast I found thank you so much for this

  23. Varg Avatar

    Hi Mark,

    I had a question regarding the “learning to read Cyrillic” link you mentioned that you’d include at the end of the transcript. I can not seem to find it on this page. If it still exists, would it be possible to have the link? I’m incredibly interested in the lesson/s.
    Thank you in advance


    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Varg,

      Apologies for the delay. Here’s a link to watch the videos on our site:

      And here you can download the app in iTunes:

      …and for Android

  24. vdal Avatar

    Excellent podcasts – I’ve been studying Russian for about a year, and your course is the most helpful one I’ve found so far. Thanks and keep up the great work!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks, Vdal. Let me know how you do on the Final Exam (Podcast #30)! 🙂

  25. Pina Avatar

    I can not wait to listening the next one. Great job

  26. randy Avatar

    Your podcast is really helpful, lucky I stumbled upon it. I’m learning faster than I thought I would.

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