Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 19

How To Say I Have in Russian

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Exercises Only

Welcome to episode 19 of Russian Made Easy. As always, if you’re new here, it’s best to start with Episode 1. Anyway, today we’ll learn a very useful construction to talk about what we, or other people, have. So let’s start by repeating this new phrase:

У меня есть

One more time:

У меня есть

How would you translate it? Imagine you’re hanging out with your friend when she tells you, “Darn, my battery died and I need to make a call.” So you take out your cellphone and say:

У меня есть телефон. Хочешь?

We know everything except those first two words: U minya….there is a telephone. You want?

Although “u minya” translates as, “I have”, it’s important to know the super literal translation which is: AT ME

Notice, too, that the 2nd word is меня not мне. Listen to them side by side:


Мне. Меня.

So, in normal English we’d say: I have a car.

But in Russian, they phrase it literally:

At me there exists a car.

У меня есть машина.

Also notice that the feminine word ‘mashina’ doesn’t change. That’s because the car is really the subject of the sentence. We’re not doing anything to the car. There just exists a car….at me.

Try saying:

I have a computer. (Lit: At me there is a computer.)

У меня есть компьютер.

Alright. Let’s let all that percolate in the part of your brain — and there is one, now — dedicated to Russian. Time for some review…

Ask your friend:

Do you need an apartment?

Тебе нужна квартира?

Tell your friend:

I like your car.

Мне нравится твоя машина.

Ask your friend: Where’s your apartment? Downtown?

Где твоя квартира? В центре?

Ask your friend:

Want a souvenir?

Хочешь сувенир?

Say: No, I don’t need a souvenir.

Нет. Мне не нужен сувенир.

Ask your friend: Where’s your computer?

Где твой компьютер?

Tell him: I need the internet.

Мне нужен интернет.

Finally, say:

You speak Spanish well.

Ты хорошо говоришь по-испански.

Ok….let’s get back to today’s new construction. Imagine you just offered your friend coffee but he said he didn’t want any. Tell him…

I have tea.

У меня есть чай.

So again, we know these two forms of the word “me” now. Say…

I need a telephone. (Lit: TO me is needed a phone.)

Мне нужен телефон.

Now say: I have a telephone.

Literally: At me there is a telephone.

У меня есть телефон.

Again, that’s: mne versus minya.

So, with that in mind, how do you think you’d ask a friend:

Do you have a telephone?

Hit PAUSE and think about it for a moment:

Do you have a telephone? (Lit: At you there is a telephone?)

У тебя есть телефон?

Did you hear the word “tibya”? Say it one more time:

У тебя есть телефон?

Let’s compare:

Do you need a computer?

Literally: TO YOU is needed a computer?

Тебе нужен компьютер?

Now ask: AT YOU there is a computer?

У тебя есть компьютер?

So we have:

to you = тебе


at you = у тебя


Ask your friend:

Do you have a car?

У тебя есть машина?

Now let’s learn how to use this construction to say or ask what other people have. First, how do you say:

This is my friend John.

Это мой друг Джон.

Now listen to how we say:

John has a car.

У Джона есть машина.

Did you hear that? Say just…”At John…”

У Джона.

Based on that one example, how do you think you’d say:

Mark has a telephone.

У Марка есть телефон.

U Marka….At Mark. Let’s discuss what’s going on here in today’s tip…

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

In Russian, there are many small words, like “U” that we just learned, and “v” or “ff” as in, V Makdonaldsyeh. And these little words have a big effect on the words that follow.

For example, ask: Where’s the bank?

Где банк?

But now say:

I’m now in the bank.

Я сейчас в банке.

That little word, “в” forced the word банк to change to банке. And that Russian word “у”, which we’ve been translating as “at”, also affects the words that follow. For example, my friend’s name is Vadim. But to say: At Vadim there is a computer, his name changes. Listen…

У Вадима есть компьютер.

As we’re seeing, the pattern with masculine words and names — when we have “uu” in front of them — is to simply add an “ah” sound at the end. У Марка….У Вадима…and so on.

Now listen to these:

This is Olga.

Это Ольга.

Olga has a car. (Literally: AT Olga there is a car.)

У Ольги есть машина.

How might you say: This is Svetlana. Svetlana has a computer.

Это Светлана. У Светланы есть компьютер.

So , the pattern with feminine words and names — when we have “у” in front of them — is to change the “ah” sound at the end to an “ee” sound. U Svetlani….U Olgi…and so on.

Again, the takeaway here is: Keep an eye out — well, an kee[ ear out — for the effect that these little words have on the words that follow.

Alright, let’s add a new word, now, to our vocabulary. Repeat after the speaker:


One more time:


The only pet I have is a koshka named Fluffy. She likes to sit in my lap and purr when I pet her.

So, a кошка is a cat.

How would you say:

This is my cat Fluffy.

Это моя кошка Флафи.

I like your cat.

Мне нравится твоя кошка.

I want a cat.

Я хочу кошку.

I have a cat.

У меня есть кошка.

And one more new word. Listen and repeat:




Can you guess what a ruchka is? Here it is in context.

I have two writing utensils on my desk. The wooden one that writes with lead is a pencil, and the plastic one that writes with ink is called a ручка.

So a ручка is a pen.

Ask your friend:

Do you have a pen?

У тебя есть ручка?

Say: I need a pen.

Мне нужна ручка.

Imagine your friend has a really cool, glow-in-the-dark pen. Tell her:

I want your pen!

Я хочу твою ручку!

How would you say:

Vladimir has a pen.

У Владимира есть ручка.

Say: Mom has a cat.

У мамы есть кошка.

Let’s work in other recent vocabulary. Say…

This is Dasha.

Это Даша.

Dasha has an apartment in the center.

У Даши есть квартира в центре.

This is Ivan.

Это Иван.

Ivan has a car.

У Ивана есть машина.

(Notice we say Ivan, they say Иван.)

This is my dad.

Это мой папа.

Dad has a computer.

У папы есть компьютер.

Before we end, let’s ask our friend one more time:

Do you have a cat?

У тебя есть кошка?

How will she say:

Yes, I have a cat.

Да, у меня есть кошка.

And I should add: У меня есть новость.

I have news.

And what is it? Well…

У меня есть новый курс.

I have a new course.

And I do. During the Covid years of 2020 and 2021 I was working on two massive projects for you guys: One is a brand new audio course called Russian Made Easy plus. It’s just like this podcast but more! And the other project is our awesome new Media Center for Russian Accelerator. I’m psyched to tell you about both courses, but this isn’t the place. So to check out RME Plus, go to RussianMadeEasy dot com then simply check the sidebar links, or the footer links. Or even simpler, just write and I’ll send you a link. My email is: Mark(at)russianmadeeasy.com (RussianMadeEasy Plus Here)

Meanwhile, next week we have our second major review, so make sure you’re ready for that, and I’ll see you then!

New Course* Russian Made Easy Plus Information Here

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

Episode 19 – Full Program

Episode 19 – Exercises Only


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21 responses to “Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 19”

  1. moe Avatar

    Why when we say exists by mother do we use мамы with ы and when we say another a ending it’s и like with Ольги

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Moe,

      Great question. It’s known as the Seven Letter Spelling Rule. In short, certain consonants in Russian can not be followed by Ы and instead require И.
      I wouldn’t waste the time trying to memorize it. Instead, the natural way to handle it, is (as always) keep an eye open for the pattern. Build up a list over time, as you note which letters take Ы and which get И. Meantime, when speaking (which is where you focus should be anyway), make it a generic “ee” sound. The rest will take care of itself.

      Hope this helps,

  2. Dave Avatar

    Привет Марк,
    I am confused. We use an ah sound with y in front of it with masculine names and words. And an feminine word or name changes the ah sound to an ee sound.
    Now I am pretty sure папа is masculine, so how is it possible that it becomes папы in the sentence У папы есть компьютер?
    I’m lost…
    Hope you can explain.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Dave,

      Glad to help. There are quite a few masculine words (usually relating to guys, like “uncle”, “Papa”, “Grandpa”) which **although they look and act feminine** are actually masculine. I’ll explain in a second, but here’s a fundamental truth about Russian: THE ADJECTIVE ALWAYS TELLS THE TRUTH (about a noun’s gender.)

      So: Это мой папа.

      We see the masculine adjective “мой” telling us that–despite the “ah” sound at the end of Папа–it is in fact masculine.

      And again, Папа will behave as if it were a feminine noun. The word “thinks” it is feminine. And thus…
      (imagine a kid screaming) I want Papa!
      Я хочу Папу!

      See? Папа behaved just like any other feminine noun. But remember…the adjective ALWAYS tells the truth (about gender).
      If the kid says: I want my Papa!

      …watch what happens to Мой….

      Я хочу моего папу! (or if the kid was speaking really grammatically, he might use свой…Я хочу своего папу!) (But let’s leave СВОЙ for another lesson.)

      Bottom line: When determining what ending you need for Папа, treat it like any other feminine noun (for ex: машина).
      When determining what ADJECTIVE to use with Папа be sure to use the correct MASCULINE form.

      Why? Say it with me…

      In Russian, the adjective always tells the truth.

      We cover this in great detail in my Russian Accelerator course…far better than can be done here in a text-only post.
      Hope to see you there one day!

  3. Prathamesh Parikh Avatar
    Prathamesh Parikh

    Hello Mark, I’m learning Russian rapidly thanks to these podcasts. As a student, it is difficult to learn a new language, along with academics. Your podcasts have helped me a lot and your methods are very effective. I was a little intimidated by the language at first but now I’m alright. I’ll definitely purchase Russian Accelerator when I decide to learn Russian full time.
    Thank You,

    1. Наташа Avatar

      Spasibo, Prathamesh! My name is Natasha..I will pass on your kind words to Mark.

  4. Lora Avatar

    Hi Mark,
    My accuracy was about 70%. It gets tricky with remembering ew before the name and the ah sound afterwards. I struggle, but then it becomes easier after doing the exercises over and over for a few days. Some tell me that Russian is such a hard language to learn. I want your opinion of what barriers that many without the correct support tend to encounter and giving it a level 4 difficulty label? I really enjoy your podcasts. It’s very gratifying. Also, does Russian Accelerator make accommodations for students who work consistently, but at a slower pace? You know the ones that just take a bit longer cause that is me. Thanks

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Lora, In Russian Accelerator you will go at your own pace. The lessons remain open,
      and you can review them as often as you like.

      The common barriers to fluency are the relatively complex grammar which includes numerous forms of nearly every word.
      This, as you’re discovering in my podcast, is easy enough to overcome, given the proper approach.

      Hope to see you there!

  5. John McClain Avatar
    John McClain

    Dear Mark, I’m using this, along with several books with ‘first words, common words, and flash cards’ and it is your podcasts that pull all the other sources into play, because I get an accurate ‘read’ and ‘feel’ for the small changes which are so crucial to getting the linguistics right and natural. I’ve had to learn Spanish and Italian by immersion, being taken there as a “navy brat”, and German, because one too few students for classes in Russian at school, but this has been the easiest next to simply living in it, as I did fifty years ago in Spain and Italy.
    You make this come alive, and the natural sound of the native speakers is a major asset.
    Semper Fidelis,
    John McClain

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thank you, Sir, and on (an important) sidenote: Please allow me to say thank you for your service.
      We appreciate the great risks you have taken on behalf of the rest of us.

      Best wishes from Ukraine, and I hope to one day welome you to my video-course, Russian Accelerator.

      Mark Thomson
      Pres. Russian Accelerator

  6. Leesa Avatar

    Love love love your technique!

    My question is about a word near the end of this episode….

    Dad has a computer

    У папы есть компьютер.

    Why not use an ‘a’ ending??? Papa is male, correct, like Ivan?

    Спасибо. Лиса 🙂

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Привет Лиса!

      Apologies for the immense delay in responding. Some tech glitch prevented me from getting post notifications.

      Although Папа indeed indicates a man (and all adjectives would be masculine), the word itself changes (“declines”) like a feminine noun.
      So we’d say: THis is my Dad. = Это МОЙ папа. <---- Note the masculine "мой" But: Dad has a car. = У Папы есть машина. Again, sorry for being years late to the party on this one....

  7. Zoe Avatar

    Здравствуйте Марк! Меня зовут Зоуи. Я живу в Тюмени но я англичанка.

    I have lived here for four months but only started learning Russian seriously at the beginning of March. My colleagues are super impressed by my new Russian language after listening to your podcasts alongside studying my own Russian for Beginners book. The waitresses in my favourite cafes have also stopped hiding when I walk through the door, as ordering is now far less stressful and sharades-ey.

    Thank you for stressing the importance of patterns in grammar! The way you introduce them has made learning what I thought was difficult before, incredibly easy.
    Спасибо большое!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Не за что! 🙂

  8. Peter Carlstedt Avatar
    Peter Carlstedt

    Looking forward to purchasing your Russian Accelerator course!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Thanks. And for those who are interested, we have an updated version of the sales page…


  9. Peter Carlstedt Avatar
    Peter Carlstedt

    Really enjoying your course Mark. Just a small comment: In this lesson you stress that меня is different than the word мне which is important, but you don’t point out that we’ve learned меня already in lesson 4 (Меня зовуt . . .). I think it would be helpful to remind the listener this is not a new word.
    cheers, Peter

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Peter,

      Good point. I actually considered that, except I realized that **anyone** going through these podcasts — anyone bright enough to learn Russian — would recall having learned меня.
      I have faith in you guys. 🙂

  10. Anux Avatar

    Zdravstvidtye! Do you say кошка or кот? Cpaseeba

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Depends if you mean a male or a female cat. кошка is for female cats.
      But it’s also the generic word for “a cat”.
      (When using English letters, ‘Thanks’ is more commonly written: Spasibo)

  11. Eric Rademacher Avatar
    Eric Rademacher

    Hi Mark,

    I am learning Russian through your Podcasts and just want to tell you that they are brilliant! I already tried to learn Russian a few times through courses and other self-study, but not living in a Russian-speaking country, I just kept forgetting due to lack of practice. With these Podcasts I finally feel that constructions are staying in my head thanks to constant repitition and context-based learning.

    Thanks a lot!

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