Russian For Dummies
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You can travel more comfortably in Russia when you know a bit of the language, such as how to greet locals, use common expressions, and ask basic questions in Russian. Knowing about the use of cases is also essential for speaking Russian properly in any situation.

Meeting and greeting in Russian

Whether you’re traveling to a Russian-speaking country for business or pleasure, make sure you know how to greet and get acquainted with people. Some common Russian greetings include the following: Давайте познакомимся! (dun-vahy-tee pahz-nug-koh-meem-syeh!) (Let’s get adquainted!) [formal])

Давай познакомимся! (dun-vahy-tee pahz-nug-koh-meem-syeh!) (Let’s get adquainted!) [informal])

Очень приятно! (oh-cheen’ pree-yat-nah!) (Nice to meet you!)

Здравствуйте! (zdrah-stvoohy-tee!) (Hello! [formal])

Здравствуй! (zdrah-stvoohy!) (Hello! [informal])

Привет. (pree-vyeht.) (Hi.)

Доброе утро! (dohb-rah-ee ooh-trah!) (Good morning!)

Добрьӏй день! (dohb-riy dyehn’!) (Good afternoon!)

Добрьӏй вечер. (dohb-riy vyeh-cheer!) (Good evening.)

Как поживаете? (kahk pah-zhee-vah-ee-tee?) (How are you? [formal])

Как дела? (kahk dee-lah?) (How are you? [informal])

Хорошо. (khah-rah-shoh.) (Good.)

Ничего. (nee-chee-voh.) (So-so.)

Неплохо. (nee-ploh-khah.) (Not bad.)

Нормально. (nahr-mahl’-nah.) (Okay.)

А у вас? (uh ooh vahs?) (And you? [formal])

А у тебя? (uh ooh tee-bya?) (And you? [informal])

До свидания! (dah svee-dah-nee-yeh!) (Goodbye!)

Пока! (pah-kah!) (See you later!)

Handy and polite Russian expressions

Being polite is welcome in any language, including Russian. Try the following Russian phrases for help in almost any situation and to make a good first impression:

Меня зовут… (mee-nya zah-vooht…) (My name is…)

Спасибо! (spuh-see-bah!) (Thank you!)

Спасибо большое! (spuh-see-bah bahl’-shoh-ee!) (Thank you very much!)

Пожалуйста. (pah-zhahl-stuh.) (Please/You’re welcome.)

Ничего! (nee-chee-voh!) (It’s all right/No problem!)

Всего хорошего! (vsee-voh khah-roh-shee-vah!) (All the best!)

Желаю удачи! (zhee-lah-yooh ooh-dah-chee!) (Good luck!)

Приятного аппетита! (pree-yat-nah-vah uh-pee-tee-tuh!) (Bon appetit!)

Извините. (eez-vee-nee-tee.) (Excuse me.)

Извините, пожалуйста, мне пора. (eez-vee-nee-tee. pah-zhahl-stuh, mnyeh pah-rah.) (Excuse me, it’s time for me to go.)

Asking useful questions in Russian

If you’re lost, you need to know the time, or you’re just trying to communicate more clearly in Russian, practice the pronunciation of the following essential Russian phrases and questions:Что? (shtoh?) (What?)Почему? (pah-chee-mooh?) (Why?)Кто? (ktoh?) (Who?)Как? (kahk?) (How?)Когда? (kahg-dah?) (When?)

Где?/Куда? (gdyeh?/kooh-dah?) (Where/Where to?)

Вы говорите по-английски? (vi gah-vah-ree-tee puh uhn-gleey-skee?) (Do you speak English?)

Повторите, пожалуйста? (pahf-tah-ree-tee, pah-zhahl-stuh?) (Could you please repeat that?)

Как вы сказали? (kahk vi skuh-zah-lee?) (What did you say?)

Что случилось? (shtoh slooh-chee-lahs’?) (What happened?)

Сколько это стоит? (skohl’-kah eh-tah stoh-eet? (How much does it cost?)

Как я отсюда могу попасть в…? (kahk ya aht-syooh-duh mah-gooh pah-pahst’v…?) (How do I get to …?) + the location in the accusative case

Сколько сейчас времени? (skohl’-kah seey-chahs vryeh-mee-nee?) (What time is it?)

Introducing different Russian cases

What’s a case? In simple terms, cases are sets of endings that words take to indicate their function and relationship to other words in a sentence. Different languages have different numbers of cases. Russian has 6 cases, which isn’t that bad compared to Finnish, which has 15! English speakers, on the other hand, never have to bother with cases. Here’s an introduction to Russian’s six cases:Nominative case: The main function of the nominative case is to indicate the subject of the sentence.Genitive case: The genitive case indicates possession; it answers the question “Whose?” This case also is used to indicate an absence of somebody or something when you combine it with the word нет (nyeht) (no/not), as in Здесь нет книги (zdees’ neet knee-gee) (There’s no book here). Книги (knee-gee) (book) is in the genitive case because the book’s absence is at issue.In addition, Russian uses the genitive case after many common prepositions, includingбез (byehs) (without)вместо (vmyehs-tah) (instead of)из (ees) (out of)

мимо (mee-mah) (past)

около (oh-kah-lah) (near)

у (ooh) (by, by the side of)

Accusative case: The accusative case is often used to indicate a direct object, which is the object of the action of the verb in a sentence. This case is also required in sentences containing verbs of motion, which indicate destination of movement. You also use this case after certain prepositions, such as про (proh) (about) and через (chyeh-rees) (through).

Dative case: Use the dative case to indicate an indirect object, which is the person (or thing) for whom (or which) the action in a sentence is performed. You also use this case after certain prepositions, such as к (k) (toward) and по (poh) (along).

Instrumental case: As its name suggests, the instrumental case is often used to indicate the instrument that assists in carrying out an action. For example, when you say that you’re writing a letter with a pen, you have put ручка (roohch-kuh) (pen) in the instrumental case. You also use this case after certain prepositions, such as the following:

между (myehzh-dooh) (between)

над (naht) (over)

под (poht) (below)

перед (pyeh-reet) (in front of)

с (s) (with)

Prepositional case: The prepositional case is so named because it’s used only after certain prepositions. It’s used with the prepositions в (v) (in) and на (nah) (on). The prepositional case is also used after the prepositions о (oh) and об (ohb), two Russian words that mean about.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Andrew D. Kaufman, PhD, is an associate professor, general faculty; lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures; and assistant director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia. His work has been featured on Today, NPR, PBS, and Oprah.com, as well as in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Serafima Gettys, PhD, is Director of the Foreign Language Program at Lewis University, where she also teaches Russian.

Andrew D. Kaufman, PhD, is an associate professor, general faculty; lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures; and assistant director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia. His work has been featured on Today, NPR, PBS, and Oprah.com, as well as in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Serafima Gettys, PhD, is Director of the Foreign Language Program at Lewis University, where she also teaches Russian.

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