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The fast and easy way to learn to speak Russian

With Russia in line to host the World Cup in 2018, the Winter Olympics in 2014, as well as a Formula 1 Grand Prix, interest in Russia is on the rise. Russian For Dummies is an excellent resource for students, tourists, and businesspeople looking for an introduction to this popular and complex language.

This updated edition offers new and improved content, more useful exercises and practice opportunities, all new content devoted to the Cyrillic alphabet, and much more.

• A revamped, user-friendly organization
• A fully updated and expanded audio CD with real-life conversations by native speakers
• Expanded coverage of grammar, verb conjugations, and pronunciations
• A refreshed and expanded mini-dictionary complete with even more essential vocabulary

Russian For Dummies provides basic instruction to those seeking to grasp the basics of conversational Russian. Students, travelers, and businesspeople with little or no language experience will gain a clearer understanding on how to communicate in Russian.
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Russian For Dummies,® 2nd Edition

Visit www.dummies.com/cheatsheet/russian to view this book's cheat sheet.

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Getting Started

Part II: Russian in Action

Part III: Russian on the Go

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Part V: Appendixes

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Getting Started

Chapter 1: Russian in a Nutshell

Discovering How Easy the Russian Alphabet Really Is

Tackling Basic Grammar

Easing into Common Expressions

Counting on Numbers, Times, and Measurements

Speaking Russian around the House

Using Russian in Social Scenarios

Starting conversations

Finding your way around

Eating out and buying food

Going shopping

Exploring entertainment opportunities

Doing business and communicating

Enjoying sports, hobbies, recreation, and more

Getting a Handle on Travel Topics

Chapter 2: Checking Out the Russian Alphabet

Recognizing Russian Letters (It’s Easier Than You Think)

Introducing the entire alphabet

I know you! Familiar-looking, same-sounding letters

Playing tricks: Familiar-looking, different-sounding letters

How bizarre: Weird-looking letters

Sounding Like a Real Russian with Proper Pronunciation

Understanding the one-letter-one-sound principle

Giving voice to vowels

Enunciating consonants correctly

Surveying sticky sounds

Chapter 3: Warming Up with Russian Grammar Basics

Beginning with Nouns and Pronouns

Defining a noun’s gender

Making a noun plural

Replacing nouns with pronouns

The Case of Russian Cases: What Are They For?

The nominative case

The genitive case

The accusative case

The dative case

The instrumental case

The prepositional case

Putting Nouns and Pronouns in the Correct Cases

Checking out cases for singular nouns

Putting plurals into proper cases

Perusing the correct cases of pronouns

Decorating Your Speech with Adjectives

Making sure that adjectives a; nd nouns agree

Putting adjectives into other cases

Surveying possessive pronouns

Adding Action with Verbs

Spotting infinitives

Living in the present tense

Talking about the past tense

Planning for the future tense

Using the unusual verb “to be”

Expressing possession with a special phrase

Helping yourself with modal verbs

Providing Extra Details with Adverbs

Describing how

Describing when and how often

Constructing Sentences Like a Pro

Enjoying the freedom of word order

Creating a Russian sentence step by step

Connecting with conjunctions

Forming questions

Chapter 4: Getting Started with Basic Expressions

To Whom Am I Speaking? Being Informal or Formal

Comings and Goings: Saying Hello and Goodbye

Saying hello to different people

Greeting folks at any time of day

Handling “How are you?”

Taking your leave

The Name Game: Deciphering Russian Names

Breaking the Ice: Making Introductions

Getting acquainted

Introducing yourself

Introducing your friends, family, and colleagues

You Can Say That Again: Using Popular Expressions

Speaking courteously

Excusing yourself

Arming yourself with other handy phrases

Talking about Talking: The Verb “To Speak”

Chapter 5: Getting Your Numbers, Times, and Measurements Straight

One by One: Counting in Russian

From zero to ten

From 11 to 19

From 20 to 99

From 100 to 999

From 1,000 to beyond

Special rules for counting things and people

Ordinal numbers

The Clock’s Ticking: Telling (And Asking About) Time

Counting the hours

Marking the minutes

Distinguishing day and night

Understanding the 24-hour clock

Asking for the time

It’s a Date! Checking Out the Calendar

Naming the days of the week

Talking about time relative to the present

Mentioning months and seasons

Delving into dates

Saying years

The Long and Short of It: Familiarizing Yourself with Metric Measurements

Chapter 6: Speaking Russian at Home

Taking a Tour of Your Home

The kitchen

The dining room

The living room

The bedroom

The bathroom

The laundry room

The garage

Home Is Where the Food Is

Get cookin’: The verb “to cook”

Eat up: The verb “to eat”

Drink up: The verb “to drink”

Enjoying different meals

Describing your food and drink preferences with the verb “to like”

Engaging in Daily Activities

Discussing your household chores

Talking about all the places you go

Bantering about bedtime activities

Part II: Russian in Action

Chapter 7: Getting to Know You: Making Small Talk

Let Me Tell You Something: Talking about Yourself

Stating where you’re from

Talking about your nationality and ethnicity

Giving your age

Discussing your family

Telling what you do for a living

I’m Sorry! Explaining that You Don’t Understand Something

Let’s Get Together: Giving and Receiving Contact Information

Chapter 8: Asking for Directions

Using “Where” and “How” Questions

Asking where a place is

Inquiring how to get to a place

The Next Step: Understanding Specific Directions

Making sense of commands in the imperative mood

Listening for prepositions

Keeping “right” and “left” straight

Going here and there

Traveling near and far

Chapter 9: Dining Out and Going to the Market

Eating Out in Russia

Finding a place to eat

Making reservations on the phone

Ordering a meal

Having handy phrases for the wait staff

Receiving and paying the bill

Going Out for Groceries

Meats and fish

Fruits and vegetables

Dairy products and eggs

Baked goods

A Russian tradition: Hot cereal


Chapter 10: Shopping Made Easy

Shopping with Confidence: The Verb “To Buy”

So Many Stores, So Little Time: The Shopping Scene in Russia

Looking at different types of stores and merchandise

Finding out when a store is open

Navigating a department store

You Are What You Wear: Shopping for Clothes

Seeking specific items of clothing and accessories

Describing items in color

Finding the right size

Trying on clothing

This or That? Deciding What You Want

Using demonstrative pronouns

Comparing two items

Talking about what you like most (or least)

You Gotta Pay to Play: Buying Items

How much does it cost?

I’ll take it! How do I pay?

Chapter 11: Going Out on the Town

Together Wherever We Go: Making Plans to Go Out

On the Big Screen: Going to the Movies

Picking a particular type of movie

Buying tickets

Choosing a place to sit and watch

It’s Classic: Taking in the Russian Ballet and Theater

Culture Club: Visiting a Museum

How Was It? Talking about Entertainment

Chapter 12: Taking Care of Business and Telecommunications

Looking Around Your Office

Indispensable office supplies

Rooms around the office

Simple office etiquette

Ringing Up Telephone Basics

Brushing up on phone vocabulary

Distinguishing different types of phones

Knowing different kinds of phone calls

Dialing the Number and Making the Call

Arming Yourself with Basic Telephone Etiquette

Saving time by not introducing yourself

Asking for the person you want to speak to

Anticipating different responses

Leaving a message with a person

Talking to an answering machine

Using a Computer

Familiarizing yourself with computer terms

Sending e-mail

Sending Correspondence

Chapter 13: Recreation and the Great Outdoors

Shootin’ the Breeze about Recreational Plans

What did you do last night?

What are you doing this weekend?

What do you like to do?

Surveying the World of Sports

Listing a few popular sports

Using the verb “to play”

Talking about other athletic activities

Reading All about It

Talking about what you’re reading

Discussing genres

Sounding Off about Music

Taking note of a few popular instruments

Asking about instruments that others play

Wondering what kinds of music others like

Being Crafty

Rejoicing in the Lap of Nature

Part III: Russian on the Go

Chapter 14: Planning a Trip

Where Do You Want to Go? Picking a Place for Your Trip

Checking out continents and countries

Visiting Russia

How Do We Get There? Booking a Trip

Don’t Leave Home without Them: Dealing with Passports and Visas

Taking It with You: Packing Tips

Chapter 15: Dealing with Money in a Foreign Land

Paying Attention to Currency

Rubles and kopecks

Dollars, euros, and other international currencies

Changing Money

Using Banks

Opening an account at the bank of your choice

Making deposits and withdrawals

Heading to the ATM

Spending Money

Using cash

Paying with credit cards

Chapter 16: Getting Around: Planes, Trains, Taxis, and More

Understanding Verbs of Motion

Going by foot or vehicle habitually

Going by foot or vehicle at the present time

Explaining where you’re going

Navigating the Airport

Using the verb “to fly”

Checking in and boarding your flight

Handling customs and passport control

Conquering Public Transportation

Taking a taxi

Using minivans

Catching buses, trolley buses, and trams

Hopping on the subway

Embarking on a Railway Adventure

Making sense of a train schedule

Surveying types of trains and cars

Buying tickets

Stocking up on essentials for your ride

Boarding the train and enjoying your trip

Chapter 17: Finding a Place to Stay

Finding a Hotel that’s Right for You

Distinguishing different types of hotels

Making a reservation

Checking In

Enduring the registration process

Taking a tour of your room

Familiarizing yourself with the facilities

Meeting the staff

Resolving Service Problems Successfully

Reporting a broken item

Requesting missing items

Asking to change rooms

Checking Out and Paying Your Bill

Chapter 18: Handling Emergencies

Finding Help in Case of Accidents and Other Emergencies

Hollering for help

Making an emergency phone call

Reporting a problem

Requesting English-speaking help

Receiving Medical Care

Knowing parts of the body

Describing your symptoms

Understanding questions a doctor asks

Communicating allergies or special conditions

Seeing a specialist

Undergoing an examination and getting a diagnosis

Visiting a pharmacy

Calling the Police When You’re the Victim of a Crime

Talking to the police

Answering questions from the police

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Chapter 19: Ten Ways to Pick Up Russian Quickly

Check Out Russian TV, Movies, and Music

Listen to Russian Radio Programs

Read Russian Publications

Surf the Internet

Visit a Russian Restaurant

Find a Russian Pen Pal

Teach English to a Russian Immigrant

Visit a Jewish Community Center

Travel to Russia

Marry a Russian!

Chapter 20: Ten Things Never to Say in Russian

Use the Right Form of “You”

Don’t Rush to Say “Hi!”

Don’t Switch to First Names Prematurely

Use “How Are You?” with Caution

Respond to “How Are You?” in a Culturally Appropriate Manner

Choose the Right Form of “Happy”

Watch Out When You Talk about Studying

Accent a Certain Verb Carefully

Know the Difference between a Bathroom and a Restroom

Don’t Toast with the Wrong Phrase

Chapter 21: Ten Favorite Russian Expressions

Showing Strong Feelings

Using “Give” in Various Situations

Starting a Story

Taking “Listen!” to the Next Level

Describing Amazement about Food

Insisting that the Good Times Continue

Noting the Benefit of Silence

Saying that Two Heads Are Better Than One

Expressing that a Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed

Understanding the Importance of Old Friends

Chapter 22: Ten Phrases That Make You Sound Fluent in Russian

Showing Off Your Excellent Manners

Paying a Compliment

Inviting Someone Over for Tea

Saying “Help Yourself”

Wishing “Bon Appétit!”

Embracing the Tradition of Sitting Down Before Leaving

Offering Hospitality

Wishing Good Luck

Signing Off with Kisses

Offering Unusual Congratulations

Part V: Appendixes

Appendix B: Verb Tables

Appendix C: On the CD

Appendix D: Answer Keys

Cheat Sheet

Download CD/DVD Content

		 			 				Russian For Dummies,® 2nd Edition

				by Andrew Kaufman, PhD, and Serafima Gettys, PhD

			 				Russian For Dummies,® 2nd Edition

				Published by

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

111 River St.

Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774

				Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey

				Published simultaneously in Canada

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			 				About the Authors

				Andrew Kaufman, PhD, is a Russian literature and culture scholar who has spent the last 15 years bringing alive the Russian classics to Americans young and old. An innovative, award-winning teacher of Russian language, literature, and culture, Dr. Kaufman holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University and currently lectures at the University of Virginia.

				Author of Understanding Tolstoy, Dr. Kaufman has discussed Russian literature and culture on national and international TV and radio programs. Known as a passionate, down-to-earth, and inspirational speaker and workshop facilitator, he was a featured Tolstoy expert for Oprah’s Book Club in 2004 and cowrote the Reader’s Guide to Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich for the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Big Read” program. He is currently at work on Give War and Peace a Chance, to be published by Free Press.

				Fluent in Russian, Dr. Kaufman has lectured at the Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences and at the Leo Tolstoy Museum and Estate at Yasnaya Polyana. Having lived and studied extensively in Russia, he has also worked as an interpreter, translator, and management consultant.

				Dr. Kaufman also trained and worked as a professional actor for close to a decade. He helps people appreciate the rich tradition of Russian literature and draws on his acting skills to create captivating and enlightening talks, as well as inspirational readings from the Russian classics. He is currently a Lecturer and an ACE Faculty Fellow at the University of Virginia, where he created and teaches a community-based literature course, “Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature, and Community Leadership,” in which students lead discussions about Russian literature with incarcerated youth at juvenile correctional and treatment centers in Virginia.

				Serafima Gettys, PhD, earned her doctorate degree in Foreign Language Education from A.I. Hertzen State Pedagogical University, Leningrad, USSR. Before coming to the U.S. in 1990, Dr. Gettys taught English, American Studies, and Methodology of Teaching Foreign Language at A.I. Hertzen University of Education. In the U.S., she taught Russian at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently a Director of the Foreign Language Program at Lewis University, where she also teaches Russian. Dr. Gettys is also a member of a number of professional language associations. She is the author of more than 30 publications in the area of foreign language education.

				The second edition of Russian For Dummies was prepared by Dr. Gettys.

				Authors’ Acknowledgments

				Andrew Kaufman: I would like to thank my colleague, former Stanford professor, and coauthor, Serafima Gettys, one of the most original and inspired Russian language teachers I know. Her grace, infectious love of Russian, and professionalism were instrumental in making this book happen — and a joy to write.

				A hearty thanks to Georgette Beatty at Wiley for her expert guidance and her encouragement throughout the writing process, and to Tracy Boggier at Wiley for her supervision and coordination, and for making this book possible. I’d also like to thank Christy Pingleton, the copy editor, and Carol Apollonio and Natalia Rekhter, the technical reviewers, for helping to make sure that every sentence in the book is both accurate and readable.

				A heartfelt thanks to my agent, Margot Maley-Hutchison of Waterside Productions, for her expert representation and skillful problem resolution throughout.

				Thanks to all my colleagues and students at the University of Virginia for helping to create a supportive and stimulating environment in which to share our common passion for Russian literature and culture.

				I am grateful to my former professors at Stanford University and Amherst College for their mentorship and for helping me to discover the fascinating world of Russian language, literature, and culture.

				Finally, and most importantly, I thank my wife, Corinne, whose love, generosity, and encouragement are the greatest gifts a writer could ever hope for.

				Serafima Gettys: Many thanks to Andy Kaufman for bringing this project to my attention and for taking on the responsibility of organizing and managing the project.

				Many thanks go to Stanford University for bringing Andy and me together at an earlier point in our lives, first as teacher and student, later as colleagues, and now finally as coauthors. Warm thanks also to my past and current students of Russian at various schools, both in Russia and the United States, who constantly challenge and inspire me and without whom this book would not have been written.

				A loving thanks also to my family, husband Steve and daughter Anna. Their love has been an inspiration throughout.

			 				Publisher’s Acknowledgments

				We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at http://dummies.custhelp.com. For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

				Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

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				Acquisitions Editor: Tracy Boggier

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				Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

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				Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director

				Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

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				Speaking more than one language is like living more than one life, one of the ancient philosophers said. And it’s true — traveling in a foreign country such as Russia suddenly becomes a lot more exciting when you can engage in elegant small talk with a hotel receptionist, compliment your tour guide’s dress, or actually read the menu and order the food that you really want. Being able to ask for things instead of pointing at them and getting directions from the locals instead of staring at a map are some of the little things that make you feel at home.

				You don’t even need to cross the ocean to immerse yourself in Russian culture; you can find little Russian neighborhoods (or even pretty big ones!) in many American cities. Whether your colleagues, your neighbors, or your friends speak Russian, the best way to win their hearts is to speak their language to them.

				Now, Russian For Dummies, 2nd Edition, won’t make you a fluent reader of the original works of Dostoevsky (most Russians themselves need some preparation for that). It will, however, equip you with phrases necessary to function in many life situations, from shopping to visiting the theater. And little gems of cultural wisdom offered throughout the book help you not only translate the language, but also understand Russians so much better. So, buckle up, and good luck on your journey! Or, as the Russians like to say, Желаем вам удачи! (zhi-lah-eem vahm ooh-dah-chee!) (We wish you good luck!)

				About This Book

				The best thing about Russian For Dummies, 2nd Edition, is that you don’t have to read all the way through it to get the information you need. You can open the table of contents, find the section that interests you at the moment, and start talking! You don’t have to read the previous chapters to understand any sections of this book. And if you decide that you want more information about something, a convenient system of cross-references takes you to just the right place.

				Another thing you don’t need to do is memorize long vocabulary lists or grammar rules. We give you ready-made phrases; you just need to read them to start using them right away to impress your Russian friends!

				Conventions Used in This Book

				Here are some conventions that allow you to navigate through this book with maximum ease:

				 We present Russian in Russian, or what is also known as the Cyrillic alphabet. You can see the Cyrillic alphabet in Chapter 2. Russian terms are easily found in the text because they’re set in boldface.

				 Each Russian word or sentence is followed by its pronunciation shown in English letters, and its English translation, respectively, in parentheses. In each pronunciation, the stressed syllable is in italics; translations are also in italics.

						Here’s a little example to give you an idea of what we mean: The phrase for “I love you” in Russian is Я тебя люблю (ya tee-bya lyooh-blyooh) (I love you).

				 Verb conjugations (lists that show you the forms of a verb) are given in tables in this order:

						The I form

						The you (informal singular) form

						The he/she/it form

						The we form

						The you (formal singular or plural) form

						The they form

						Pronunciations follow in the second column.

				The meaning of a phrase doesn’t always equal the sum of the individual words the phrase consists of. In this case, we talk about a literal meaning (the meaning of the individual words) and an idiomatic meaning (the actual meaning of the phrase in conversation). If the literal translation of a phrase differs from its idiomatic meaning, we give you both the idiomatic and the literal meanings in parentheses. For instance: Как дела? (kahk dee-lah?) (How are you? Literally: How is business?)

				In each chapter, look for the following elements:

				 Talkin’ the Talk: These real-life dialogues illustrate how native speakers use words and phrases in a particular section of the book. These informal dialogues are the actual conversations you may hear in similar situations. You can also play an audio version of these dialogues to help you grasp them even faster!

				 Words to Know: This element follows every Talkin’ the Talk and provides pronunciation and transcription of key words and expressions you encounter in the dialogue.

				 Fun & Games: Find this section at the end of each chapter. These fun activities allow you to use the new words and phrases you encounter in each chapter to answer questions and solve puzzles.

				What You’re Not to Read

				We like to think that you’ll read every word in this book, but we also know that you’re eager to start speaking Russian. So feel free to skip the sidebars (the gray-shaded boxes sprinkled throughout the book); they contain interesting information but aren’t essential to your study of Russian.

				Foolish Assumptions

				When we started writing this book, we tried to imagine what our future reader was going to be like. In the end, we came up with a list of foolish assumptions about who we think wants to read this book. Do you recognize yourself in these descriptions?

				 You know no Russian — or if you took Russian in high school, you don’t remember a word of it.

				 You’re not looking for a book that will make you fluent in Russian; you just want to know some words, phrases, and sentence constructions so that you can communicate basic information in Russian.

				 You don’t want to have to memorize long lists of vocabulary words or a bunch of boring grammar rules.

				 You want to have fun and learn a little bit of Russian at the same time.

				How This Book Is Organized

				Russian For Dummies, 2nd Edition, consists of five parts. Each part of the book offers something different.

				Part I: Getting Started

				In this part, you find the essentials of the Russian language. Chapter 1 gives you an overview of what you discover in this book. Chapter 2 introduces the Russian alphabet, Chapter 3 gives you a crash course on Russian grammar, and Chapter 4 gets you started with some basic Russian expressions. Chapter 5 is the right place to turn to if you want to talk about numbers, times, and measurements in Russian. And finally, Chapter 6 encourages you to start speaking Russian in the comfort of your home.

				Part II: Russian in Action

				Part II prepares you for most social situations that you need to handle in Russian. Chapter 7 shows you how to make small talk; Chapter 8 is all about asking for directions in a strange city. Chapters 9 and 10 prepare you to talk about food and shopping. Chapter 11 equips you with words and phrases you can use while going out on the town. Chapter 12 takes you on a tour of your office and equips you with the necessary phrases to make phone calls and use a computer. In Chapter 13, you find out how to talk about fun things, such as sports, reading, and other hobbies.

				Part III: Russian on the Go

				This part covers all the aspects of traveling, such as planning your trip (Chapter 14), settling your financial matters (Chapter 15), discussing transportation (Chapter 16), and arranging for a place to stay (Chapter 17). Chapter 18 prepares you for handling emergencies.

				Part IV: The Part of Tens

				The Part of Tens is an unusual part of this book; it gives you lists of fun things to know, such as ten ways to pick up Russian quickly and ten things never to say in Russian. This part is also the place to find ten favorite Russian expressions and to pick up ten phrases that make you sound authentically Russian.

				Part V: Appendixes

				Russian For Dummies, 2nd Edition, also includes four appendixes, which bring together some useful information. In Appendix A, you find two mini-dictionaries (both Russian-to-English and English-to-Russian) for quick reference. Appendix B contains verb tables that show you how to conjugate regular and irregular verbs. Appendix C contains descriptions of all the audio dialogues and tells you in which chapter you can find the text of each dialogue. And Appendix D offers the answer keys to the Fun & Games sections of each chapter.

				Icons Used in This Book

				For your convenience, we marked some information in this book with special icons. Check out this guide to the icons, and the next time you see one of them, you’ll know what to expect!

					From famous Russian writers to a polite way to decline an invitation, this icon marks a wide variety of curious and useful facts about Russian culture.

					If you’re curious about how the Russian language works or if you want to expand your command of Russian to the extent of making up your own phrases, these bits of grammatical information may be of interest to you.

					This icon indicates those Talkin’ the Talk dialogues that are featured on audio tracks, allowing you not only to read but also to hear real, conversational Russian.

					This icon points out some important information about Russian that’s worth remembering.

					This icon signals a useful bit of information that can make life easier for you, whether it’s a handy way to remember a useful word or an insider’s advice on how to better handle a certain situation.

					This icon attracts your attention to something you need to know to avoid a common mistake.

				Where to Go from Here

				Now that you’re familiar with the anatomy of Russian For Dummies, 2nd Edition, you can embark on your journey. You can start anywhere, and you don’t have to go in a specific order. Just choose a topic that seems appealing, find the corresponding chapter in the table of contents, and start speaking Russian!

				If you’re at a loss about where to start, please take our advice and begin with Chapter 2: It provides you with a very powerful tool — the ability to read Russian. Chapter 3 is a good place to get a grasp on the essentials of Russian grammar. After that, you can go straight to the sections that deal with information you need urgently. Wherever you decide to start, you can find plenty of useful phrases to get you speaking Russian and exploring the benefits that your language skill brings. And now we wish you Счастливого пути! (sh’ees-lee-vah-vah pooh-tee!) (Bon voyage!)

		 			 				Part I

				Getting Started

In this part . . .

				Part I is the beginning of your exciting journey with Russian. Here you get the essential information you need to take you through the rest of this book. First, we put you at ease with the Russian alphabet and give you the basics of Russian grammar. We also provide some handy expressions you can start using right away and help you get your numbers, times, and measurements straight. Finally, we encourage you to start speaking Russian at home.

		 			 				Chapter 1

				Russian in a Nutshell

In This Chapter

				 Approaching the Russian alphabet

				 Looking at grammar in a new light

				 Getting started with some useful words and expressions

				 Putting Russian to use in common social situations

				 Taking Russian on the road

				Russian has a reputation for being a difficult language. Is it? We would say different is a better word to describe the experience of studying Russian. Russian actually is a distant cousin of English: They both belong to a huge Indo-European family of languages — unlike, say, Arabic, Chinese, or Japanese, which belong to completely different language family clans.

				This chapter provides you with a taste of Russian; get ready to study this fascinating language!

				Discovering How Easy the Russian Alphabet Really Is

				If you were to ask people on the street what they think the most difficult thing about learning Russian is, most of them (slightly taken aback by your question) would likely say “The alphabet!”

				But we’re here to tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth: The Russian alphabet is perhaps the easiest part of learning Russian. In fact, you may be surprised to hear that most people are able to start reading Russian in several hours! That’s how easy the Russian alphabet is!

				Don’t believe us? Consider this: The Russian alphabet, often called the Cyrillic alphabet, was named after a 9th century Byzantine monk named Cyril, who developed it with the help of his brother, Methodius. (Please don’t ask us why Methodius’s name wasn’t added to the name of the alphabet: Life isn’t fair.) Cyril and Methodius wanted to translate the Bible into one of the Slavic languages spoken by the Eastern European pagan tribes, because the brothers were planning to convert those tribes to Christianity. These languages had never been written down before. When the brothers were creating their alphabet, they borrowed quite a few letters from the Latin alphabet to indicate the sounds produced by the tribes. Luckily for those tribes (and for anyone studying Russian), a lot of the borrowed letters sound the same in Russian as they do in any Latin-based alphabet (like English).

				Are you ready to jump in and start reading Russian? Chapter 2 shows you how to sound out the letters of the Russian alphabet.

				Tackling Basic Grammar

				In addition to the alphabet, grammar is responsible for earning Russian its reputation for being a difficult language. Don’t worry, though! Chapter 3 makes your transition from English grammar to Russian grammar as smooth as possible. We give you the scoop on Russian nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and sentence construction.

					One benefit of Russian: Compared to English, which enforces the strictest order of words on its speakers, Russian allows a completely free, almost anarchic order of words. For example, in the sentence “The dog chased the boy,” the Russian words for boy and dog can switch places and the sentence will still mean “The dog chased the boy.”

				But to fully enjoy this freedom of word order, Russians had to pay a dear price: six grammatical cases (nominative, genitive, accusative, dative, instrumental, and prepositional), which anybody who speaks Russian has to constantly juggle in order to create sentences that make sense. Don’t let this fact, however, intimidate you. With the guidelines we provide in Chapter 3, you’ll have a handle on cases in no time.

				Easing into Common Expressions

				In Chapter 4, we present numerous basic Russian expressions that enable you to start speaking Russian immediately (and politely). Here are just a few of the easiest, shortest ones:

				 Привет! (pree-vyeht!) (Hi!)

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

				 Пока! (pah-kah!) (Bye!)

				 Спасибо! (spuh-see-bah!) (Thank you!)

				 Понятно! (pah-nyat-nah!) (I see!)

				 Да. (dah.) (Yes.)

				 Да-да-да! (dah-dah-dah!) (Yes-yes-yes!) The repetition makes your yes stronger.

				 Нет. (nyeht.) (No.)

				 Нет-нет-нет! (nyeht-nyeht-nyeht!) (No-no-no!) You guessed it —this expression makes your no stronger.

				 Простите! (prahs-tee-tee!) or Извините! (eez-vee-nee-tee!) (Sorry!) This word is a bit longer than its English counterpart, but it comes in handy for acknowledging the blunders you may make as a beginning Russian speaker.

				 Ой! (ohy!) (Oh!) This term serves to express a wide range of emotions, such as fear, surprise, delight, anger, and many more.

				 Ай! (ahy!) (Ah!) Use this expression in place of Ой if you prefer, or just for the sake of variety.

				Counting on Numbers, Times, and Measurements

				Even if you were bad at math in high school, don’t underestimate the importance of numbers, times, and measurements while learning a new language (including Russian). Just think about the activities you can then perform: using currency, calculating prices, exchanging phone numbers, setting meeting times, making sense of addresses and zip codes, and a lot more. So, don’t even think about missing Chapter 5 — it brings you up to speed on all these topics.

					In the meantime, you can start using Russian numbers by counting on both hands:

				 один (ah-deen) (one)

				 два (dvah) (two)

				 три (tree) (three)

				 четыре (chee-ti-ree) (four)

				 пять (pyat’) (five)

				 шесть (shehst’) (six)

				 семь (syehm’) (seven)

				 восемь (voh-seem’) (eight)

				 девять (dyeh-veet’) (nine)

				 десять (dyeh-seet’) (ten)

				Speaking Russian around the House

					A great way to practice Russian is to wander around your home! Each time you enter a room, recall its name in Russian:

				 кухня (koohkh-nyeh) (kitchen)

				 столовая (stah-loh-vuh-yeh) (dining room)

				 гостиная (gahs-tee-nuh-yeh) (living room)

				 спальня (spahl’-nyeh) (bedroom)

				 туалет (tooh-uh-lyeht) (bathroom)

				 гараж (guh-rahsh) (garage)

				Chapter 6 introduces you to Russian words for common rooms, household items, and regular everyday activities, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and doing chores.

				Using Russian in Social Scenarios

				After practicing Russian at home, you can take it outside. Part II comes in handy in a lot of life scenarios: making small talk with new acquaintances, asking for directions, eating out and shopping, going out on the town, communicating and handling routine tasks at work, and enjoying hobbies. The following sections give you a sense of what to expect.

				Starting conversations

				If you want to learn a new language, making small talk is a valuable skill to have. Chapter 7 helps you initiate conversations with folks in Russian. You find out how to state where you’re from, talk about your nationality and ethnicity, give your age, and discuss your family.

				You’ll also be armed with a battery of questions that are great ice-breakers, such as the following:

				Откуда вы? (aht-kooh-duh vi?) (Where are you from?)

				Сколько вам лет? (skohl’-kah vahm lyeht?) (How old are you?)

				У вас большая семья? (ooh vahs bahl’-shah-yeh seem’-ya?) (Do you have a big family?)

				Кто вы по-профессии? (ktoh vi pah-prah-fyeh-see-ee?) (What do you do?)

				Finding your way around

					Asking for directions is what tourists in all countries of the world do. If you’re in Russia (or traveling in any new place where Russian is the main language), it doesn’t hurt to carry a map with you at all times, just in case. That way if you ask passers-by for directions, they can explain which way to go by just pointing it out to you on the map. But first you need to attract a passer-by’s attention. The best way to do this is to say the following: Извините, где. . . ? (eez-vee-nee-tee, gdyeh. . . ?) (Excuse me, where is. . . ?) plus the place you’re looking for in the nominative case. For full details on asking for (and understanding) directions, see Chapter 8.

				Eating out and buying food

					A fun (and satisfying!) activity for practicing your Russian is going out to eat. At a Russian restaurant or café, you may discover that the names of dishes on the menu are translated into English followed by very flowery explanations; the wait staff usually understands English, as long as it covers the menu. When placing an order, you can just point to the item you want. You can also add the following phrase, just to show off your Russian: Я буду . . . (ya booh-dooh . . .) (I will have . . .) followed by the name of the item in the accusative case.

				You can discover more Russian to use while eating out and buying food at a market in Chapter 9.

				Going shopping

					To indicate that they want to buy an item, Russians use a language structure that, in a way, reflects the shortages in merchandise they experienced in Soviet times: У вас есть. . . ? (ooh vahs yehst’. . . ?) (Do you have. . . ?) plus the name of the item in the nominative case.

				A couple of Russian phrases are especially useful when you go shopping. To ask how much something costs, use the phrase Сколько стоит . . . ? (skohl’-kah stoh-eet. . . ?) (How much does . . . cost?), inserting the name of the item in the nominative case, if you’re buying one thing. If you’re buying more than one thing, ask Сколько стоят. . . ? (skohl’-kah stoh-eet. . . ?) (How much do . . . cost?), using the word for the items in the nominative plural form.

				Chapter 10 features a lot more shopping vocabulary and phrases for getting help, trying on clothes, asking for specific colors, and paying for the merchandise you buy.

				Exploring entertainment opportunities

				Exploring new places and meeting new people are always fun. When you head out on the town, you may choose from a variety of activities; for instance, you may decide to check out a museum, a movie, or a play.

					Seeing a classical Russian ballet, either in the newly renovated Bolshoy Theater in Moscow or the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, is a must for any self-respecting tourist in Russia.

				Going out on the town often involves making plans, buying tickets, and finding the correct seating. Chapter 11 helps you navigate all these tasks in Russian.

				Doing business and communicating

				If you’re planning a business trip to Russia or need to speak to Russian colleagues in your home office, you should definitely go over Chapter 12. There you find common words and phrases used in an office setting. In addition, you find guidance to help you master the art of telephone conversations in Russian — and don’t forget about using computers and sending correspondence!

				Enjoying sports, hobbies, recreation, and more

				Hobbies can take many forms, and you may want to share information about yours with friends and acquaintances in Russian. For example:

				 If you’re a sports fan, you better know how to talk about your favorite sports in Russian. (Also, prepare to be converted into a soccer or hockey fan — these are Russians’ two most favorite games.)

				 Russians are avid readers and, for the most part, very well-read individuals. So if you’re speaking Russian, be prepared to say at least something about books and literature genres you like or dislike.

						Beware: Saying “I don’t read much” can earn you a tarnished reputation.

				 If you happen to be in Russia in summer, late spring, or early autumn, don’t miss the experience of going to a country house on a weekend. You’ll never forget it.

				Flip to Chapter 13 for more about hobbies and the great outdoors.

				Getting a Handle on Travel Topics

				After you’ve had time to practice Russian at home, you may consider traveling to Russia. Be sure to acquaint yourself with the following tasks in Russian:

				 Preparing for a trip: Planning a trip is an enjoyable part of the travel process, and we let you enjoy it to the fullest with phrases and words you need to decide where you want to go, book your trip, and pack. All this info and more is in Chapter 14.

				 Making sense of money: Financial matters can be very confusing when you travel to a different country. That’s because you deal with foreign currency while performing such everyday transactions as getting money out of an ATM, using your credit card, and paying with cash. Chapter 15 provides plenty of guidance on how to manage your money and perform financial transactions.

				 Getting around with local transportation: Clearly, expertise in using various types of public transportation is an important skill a traveler should have. Dealing with public transportation isn’t as easy as it may seem if you’re speaking a new language! Don’t panic, though; just turn to Chapter 16 for help.

				 Securing a place to stay: Hotels, as you know, can be good, bad, or ugly. To avoid the latter, we provide you with essential questions you may want to ask before buying into a deal. Chapter 17 provides Russian vocabulary that helps you make hotel reservations, check in, resolve issues, and pay your bill.

					 Taking action during emergencies: We hope you won’t need any of the expressions we provide in Chapter 18 during your trip. But it’s always a good idea to plan for emergencies. Here’s one word that lets others know you need help: Помогите! (pah-mah-gee-tee!) (Help!) — don’t forget it!

		 			 				Chapter 2

				Checking Out the Russian Alphabet

In This Chapter

				 Deciphering the letters of the Russian alphabet

				 Properly pronouncing Russian letters

				Suppose you’re walking in the Russian district of an American city and are suddenly in the mood for food. You’ll be glad you can read Russian when you see a building with the sign PECTOPAH (ree-stah-rahn) on it, because you’ll know that the building is exactly what you’re looking for — a restaurant!

				Knowing how to read Russian is a great stepping stone to speaking Russian properly. As you read this chapter, trust your eyes, ears, and intuition, and you’ll quickly discover that reading Russian isn’t that hard after all. In this chapter you discover how to recognize all the letters of the Russian alphabet, and we introduce you to the basic rules of Russian pronunciation.

				Recognizing Russian Letters (It’s Easier Than You Think)

				When people talk about studying a foreign language, they often mention the alphabet to measure their success (or lack thereof) in mastering the language. You may often hear comments like “I just know the alphabet” or “I don’t even know the alphabet!” In other words, the alphabet is seen as the first, unavoidable step in learning a language.

				Knowing the alphabet — or rather, the sounds that the letters of the new language correspond to — is indeed very important. This is especially true of languages like Russian, in which nearly every letter corresponds to only one sound. What a relief from English, where one letter often represents several different sounds, depending on the word it’s used in. In fact, for those poor souls studying English, knowing the English alphabet isn’t so much a help as an obstacle.

				Not so in Russian! When you study Russian, the Russian alphabet (also known as the Cyrillic alphabet) is your ticket to reading Russian, and knowing how to read Russian is very important in mastering spoken Russian. That’s because an average Russian word is much longer than an average English word.

				If you’re like most English speakers, you probably think that the Russian alphabet is the most challenging aspect of picking up the language. But not to worry. The Russian alphabet isn’t as hard as you think. In fact, the alphabet is a piece of cake. In the following sections, we show you how to recognize all the letters of the Russian alphabet.

				Introducing the entire alphabet

				The Russian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic alphabet, which was named after the ninth-century Byzantine monk, Cyril (see the sidebar “Who was this Cyril guy, anyway?” later in this chapter). Over a period of centuries, many attempts were made to shorten Cyril’s original alphabet from its original 43 letters. Today, the alphabet is still pretty lengthy — 33 letters in all, compared to 26 letters in the English alphabet. But don’t panic. Throughout this book, every Russian word or phrase is accompanied by its phonetic transcription so you can see how to pronounce it (we convert the Russian letters into familiar Latin symbols, which are the same symbols the English alphabet uses).

				This isn’t to say, however, that English and Russian sounds are completely the same; they absolutely aren’t (see the later section “Sounding Like a Real Russian with Proper Pronunciation” for details). But because your chances of learning to sound like a real Russian just by reading this book are rather slim, we use what phoneticians call approximation and consider most English sounds and their Russian counterparts to be the same, as long as native speakers of Russian have no difficulty recognizing them. Yes, Russians will discern your accent as not being authentic, but they’ll be able to understand you!

				Table 2-1 has the details on Cyrillic letters. In the first column, you see the uppercase and lowercase versions of the letter, respectively. The second column shows how the Russian letters are pronounced using familiar English letters and example words. The third column of the table indicates whether the letter is a vowel or a consonant:

				 You may remember from your English classes that vowels are the sounds that are usually said with an open mouth, without stopping the flow of air coming from the lungs. The English letters A, E, I, O and U are vowels.

				 Letters like B, K, L, M, N, P, and T are consonants: They’re all pronounced with some sort of obstruction that gets in the way of the air coming out of your lungs.

				You may wonder why you need this information, another burden for your poor memory. Believe it or not, knowing whether the sound is a vowel or a consonant comes in handy in helping you understand some very important grammatical rules as you delve deeper into the language.

					Play Track 1 to hear the pronunciation of the Russian alphabet.

				Table 2-1	The Russian Alphabet

				 					 						 							 								Russian Letter


							 							 								Vowel or Consonant


							 							 								ah in a stressed syllable, as the a in father; uh in an unstressed syllable, as the u in upstage



							 							 								b as in book; p at the end of a word



							 							 								v as in valve; f at the end of a word



							 							 								g as in grotto; k at the end of a word



							 							 								d as in dad; t at the end of a word



							 							 								yeh in a stressed syllable, as the ye in yes or yesterday; ee in an unstressed syllable, as in beet or birdseed



							 							 								yoh as the yo in yoke



							 							 								zh as the s in pleasure; sh at the end of a word



							 							 								z as in zoo; s at the end of a word



							 							 								ee as in beet



							 							 								very short y as in York

							 							 								Vowel or consonant


							 							 								k as in key



							 							 								l as in lamp



							 							 								m as in mom



							 							 								n as in no



							 							 								oh in a stressed syllable, as the o in opus; ah in an unstressed syllable, as the a in father



							 							 								p as in parrot



							 							 								r as in red



							 							 								s as in so



							 							 								t as in tea



							 							 								ooh as the oo in shoot



							 							 								f as in flag



							 							 								kh like you’re clearing your throat or like the ch in Scottish loch



							 							 								ts as in tsetse fly



							 							 								ch as in chair



							 							 								sh as in woosh



							 							 								soft sh as in sheep or sherbet



							 							 								A “hard sign,” transcribed as ” but not pronounced, so for the purposes of this book, we just ignore it!



							 							 								i as in bit



							 							 								A “soft sign” that makes the preceding consonant soft; we show it as ’



							 							 								eh as the e in end



							 							 								yooh as the Yu in Yukon



							 							 								ya as in yahoo if stressed; ee if unstressed and not in the final syllable of a word; yeh if unstressed and in the final syllable of a word


					 				 					Note the letter Йй in Table 2-1. Scholars don’t agree on this one: Some believe it’s a consonant; others think it’s a vowel. We don’t want to take sides in this matter, so we list it as both a consonant and a vowel.

				Who was this Cyril guy, anyway?

				Picture this: The year is sometime around a.d. 863. Two Byzantine monks and brothers, Cyril and Methodius, were commissioned by their emperor to Christianize the East European pagan tribes. To carry out the emperor’s order, the two brothers had to transcribe the Bible into Slavic. This task was very daunting because the Slavs didn’t have any written language at the time, and the Slavic dialect they were working with contained a lot of bizarre sounds not found in any other language.

				One of the brothers, Cyril, came up with an ingenious idea: Create a Slavic alphabet from a mishmash of Greek, Hebrew, and old Latin words and sounds. That was a clever solution, because by drawing on different languages, Cyril’s alphabet contained practically every sound necessary for the correct pronunciation of Russian.

				In honor of Cyril’s clever idea, the alphabet became known as the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic script is now used by more than 70 languages, ranging from Eastern Europe’s Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Macedonian) to Central Asia’s Altaic languages (Turkmen, Uzbek, Kazakh, and Kirghiz).

					Our advice for you is to go over the alphabet as many times as needed to memorize letter-sound correspondences while you listen to Track 1. (We provide extra help in the later section “Sounding Like a Real Russian with Proper Pronunciation.”) Test yourself a couple of times: Cover the pronunciation column in Table 2-1 and say out loud the sound that corresponds to each Russian letter. If you forget a sound, you can peek at the corresponding English letter. Keep at it until you can say each letter. And keep the table handy for future reference!

				I know you! Familiar-looking, same-sounding letters

					You may notice that some of the letters in the Russian alphabet in Table 2-1 look a lot like English letters: For example, check out Аа, Вв, Ee, Кк, Мм, Нн, Оо, Рр, Сс, and Хх. Guess what? Some (but not all!) of them even sound like English letters. The letters that look like English and are pronounced like English letters are

				 Аа pronounced as ah or uh depending on the stress: ah in a stressed syllable and uh in an unstressed syllable

				 Кк pronounced as k

				 Мм pronounced as m

				 Оо pronounced as oh or ah depending on the stress: oh in a stressed syllable and ah in an unstressed syllable

				 Тт pronounced as t

				Playing tricks: Familiar-looking, different-sounding letters

					Some Russian letters look like English letters but are pronounced differently. You want to watch out for these:

				 Вв: The capital letter in this pair looks exactly like the English B, but don’t trust appearances: The letter is pronounced like the English letter v, as in victor or vase.

				 Ее: English speakers very often feel an irresistible urge to say it like ee, as in the English word geese — but that sound in Russian is made by the letter И. In fact, it should be pronounced as ye in yesterday. Be aware, though, that the letter Ee is sometimes pronounced as ee, but only in an unstressed position in a word.

				 Ёё: Note the two cute little dots and don’t confuse this one with the English letter E — Ee and Ёё are two different letters! Ёё is pronounced like the yo in yoke.

				 Нн: This letter looks like the English H, but actually it’s pronounced like n, as in Nick.

				 Рр: In Russian, this letter is pronounced like an r, not like the English letter P, as in Peter.

				 Сс: This letter is always pronounced like the s in sun and never like the k in cake.

				 Уу: This letter is pronounced like the oo in shoot, never like the y in yes.

				 Хх: Never pronounce this letter z or ks, like the first and last x, respectively, in the word Xerox. In Russian, the sound it represents is a coarse-sounding, guttural kh, similar to the German ch. (See “Surveying sticky sounds,” later in this chapter, for info on pronouncing this sound.)

				How bizarre: Weird-looking letters

				As you’ve probably noticed, quite a few Russian letters don’t look like English letters at all:





















					Don’t panic over these letters. They look weird but are easy to pronounce. Mastering them is just a matter of memorizing their proper pronunciations. (Refer to Table 2-1 for details on how to say each letter.)

				You may recognize several of these weird letters, such as Ф, Г, and П, from learning the Greek alphabet during your fraternity or sorority days.

				Sounding Like a Real Russian with Proper Pronunciation

				Compared to English pronunciation, which often has more exceptions than rules, Russian rules of pronunciation are fairly clear and consistent. In this section, you discover some of the basic rules and patterns of Russian pronunciation. In addition, we show you how to say some of the more difficult letters.

				Understanding the one-letter-one-sound principle

				For the most part, one Russian letter corresponds to one sound. For example, the letter K is always pronounced k, and the letter M is always pronounced m. This pattern is different from English, where a letter can be pronounced in different ways depending on the word it’s in. For instance, consider the two different pronunciations for the letter c in the words cat and race.

				Such drastic differences never happen in Russian, but to be quite honest, you may note occasions when a letter in Russian sounds slightly different depending on its position in a word. Take, for example, the Russian word жук (zhoohk) (beetle) where the first letter ж is pronounced zh, like the s in pleasure. In the word гараж (guh-rahsh) (garage), however, the ж is pronounced sh rather than zh. Why? Because when it appears at the end of a word, ж (zh) is pronounced as ш (sh). (For more information, flip to the later sections “Vowels misbehavin’: Understanding when vowels change sounds” and “Cat got your tongue? Consonants losing their voice.”)

				Giving voice to vowels

				Vowels are the musical building blocks of every Russian word. If you flub a consonant or two, you’ll probably still be understood. (To avoid such flubs, though, check out “Enunciating consonants correctly,” later in this chapter.) But if you don’t pronounce your vowels correctly, there’s a good chance you won’t be understood at all. So it’s a good idea to get down the basic principles of saying Russian vowels, which we cover in the following sections.

				That’s stretching it: Lengthening out vowels

					If you want to sound more Russian, don’t shorten your vowels like English speakers often do. When you say Аа, Оо, or Уу, open your mouth really wide, like a Russian opera singer. Also, be sure not to round your mouth after Оо or Уу, and purposefully stretch out the sounds to make them a little bit longer. Imagine, for example, that you’re in your room on the second floor, and your mom is downstairs in the kitchen. You call her by saying “Mo-o-o-m!” That’s the way Russians say their vowels (except for the shouting part!).

				Some stress is good: Accenting the right vowels and getting used to shifting accents

					Stress is an important concept in Russian. Putting a stress in the wrong place isn’t just a formal mistake. It can hinder communication, because the meaning of a word can change based on where the stress is. For example, the word замок (zah-mahk) means castle. However, if you shift the stress from the first syllable to the last, the word замок (zuh-mohk) now means lock.

				Unfortunately, no hard and fast rules about stress exist. Stress in Russian is unpredictable and erratic, though you begin to recognize some patterns as you learn more. The harsh truth, however, is that each word has its own stress pattern. What happens if you stress the vowel in the wrong place? Certainly, nothing terrible: The earth will continue to rotate around its axis. What may happen, however, is that the person you’re talking to may have a hard time understanding you and take longer to grasp what you really mean.

					Before learning a new Russian word, find out which vowel to stress. Look in any Russian-English dictionary, which usually marks stress by putting the sign ´ over the stressed syllable. In a dictionary, замок (zah-mahk) (castle) is written зáмок, and замок (zuh-mohk) (lock) is written замóк.

				Vowels misbehavin’: Understanding when vowels change sounds

					Some Russian letters change their behavior depending on whether they’re in a stressed or an unstressed syllable. The vowels Аа, Оо, Ее, and Яя, for example, sound like ah, oh, yeh, and ya when they’re in a stressed syllable, but when they’re in an unstressed position, they sound like uh, ah, ee, and yeh, respectively.

				Here are some examples of how one letter is pronounced differently in different positions:

				 You write Колорадо (Colorado) but say kah-lah-rah-dah. Notice how all the o’s in this word are pronounced ah rather than oh. None of them are pronounced oh because they all appear in unstressed syllables.

				 You write хорошо (good, well) but say khah-rah-shoh. Here we have three o’s. Notice how the first and the second o’s are pronounced ah, whereas the last one, in the stressed syllable, is pronounced oh.

				 You write направо (to the right) but say nuh-prah-vah. Notice that the first a is pronounced uh because it’s not in the stressed syllable, the second a is pronounced ah because it’s in the stressed syllable, and the final o is pronounced ah because it’s not stressed.

				 You write Петербург (Petersburg) but say pee-teer-boohrk. Notice how the e is pronounced as ee in each case because it’s not stressed.

				Hear that hiss: Saying sibilants with vowels

				The letters ж, ц, ч, ш, and щ are called sibilants, because they emit a hissing sound. When certain vowels appear after these letters, those vowels are pronounced slightly differently than normal.

				 After a sibilant, е is pronounced eh (as in end) and ё is pronounced oh (as in opus). Examples are the words центр (tsehntr) (center) and шёл (shohl) (went by foot; masculine).

				 The sound ee always becomes i after one of these sibilants, regardless of whether the ee sound comes from the letter и or from an unstressed е. Take, for example, the words машина (muh-shi-nuh) (car) and больше (bohl’-shi) (bigger).

				Enunciating consonants correctly

				Like Russian vowels (see the preceding section), Russian consonants follow certain patterns and rules of pronunciation. If you want to sound like a real Russian, you need to keep the basics in the following sections in mind.

				Say it, don’t spray it! Relaxing with consonants

				When pronouncing the letters Пп, Тт, or Кк, English speakers are used to straining their tongue and lips. This strain results in what linguists call aspiration — a burst of air that comes out of your mouth as you say these sounds. To see what we’re talking about, put your hand in front of your mouth and say the word “top.” You should feel air against your hand as you pronounce the word.

					In Russian, however, consonants are pronounced without aspiration. In other words, say it, don’t spray it! In fact, you should totally relax your tongue and lips before saying the Russian Пп, Тт, or Кк. For example, imagine a woman who has just had a stroke. She isn’t able to put too much effort into her consonants. Believe it or not, that’s almost the way you should say your Russian consonants. Relax your lips as much as possible, and you’ll say them correctly. To practice saying consonants without unnecessary aspiration, again, put your hand in front of your mouth and say the following Russian cognates (words that Russian borrowed from English): парк (pahrk) (park), лампа (lahm-puh) (lamp), and танк (tahnk) (tank). Practice until you don’t produce a puff of air with these words!

				Cat got your tongue? Consonants losing their voice

					Some consonants (namely Бб, Вв, Гг, Дд, Жж, and Зз) are called voiced consonants (because they’re pronounced with the voice), but they become devoiced when they appear at the end of a word; in other words, they kind of lose their voice.

				So, at the end of a word:

				 Бб is pronounced p.

				 Вв is pronounced f.

				 Гг is pronounced k.

				 Дд is pronounced t.

				 Жж is pronounced sh.

				 Зз is pronounced s.

				For example, in the word Волков, should the final letter в be pronounced v or f? In this case, you pronounce it f (vahl-kohf) because a в at the end of a word is pronounced f.

				Nutty clusters: Pronouncing consonant combinations

				To those who don’t know Russian, Russian speech often sounds like an endless flow of consonant clusters. Combinations of two, three, and even four consonants are quite common. Take, for example, the common word for hello in Russian — здравствуйте (zdrah-stvoohy-tee), which has two difficult consonant combinations (здр and ств). Even Russians have a hard time saying all the sounds in this long word; in fast, colloquial speech, Russians replace it with здрасте (zdrahs-tee). Or take the word for opinion in Russian — взгляд (vzglyat). The word contains four consonants in a row: взгл.

					How in the world do Russians say these words without choking? They come naturally to Russians because Russian is their native language. You, on the other hand, simply need to practice. Here are some words that contain consonant clusters you may want to repeat at leisure:

				 обстоятельство (ahp-stah-ya-teel’-stvah) (circumstance)

				 поздравлять (pah-zdruhv-lyat’) (to congratulate)

				 преступление (pree-stoohp-lyeh-nee-ee) (crime)

				 рождество (razh-dees-tvoh) (Christmas)

				 вздор (vzdohr) (nonsense)

				 взглянуть (vzglya-nooht’) (to look/glance)

				Surveying sticky sounds

				Some Russian letters and sounds are difficult for speakers of English. Take a look at the following sections to find out how to pronounce some of them.

				The bug sound zh

				The zh sound corresponds to the letter Жж. It looks kind of like a bug, doesn’t it? It sounds like a bug, too! In pronouncing it, try to imitate the noise produced by a bug flying over your ear — zh-zh-zh. . . . The sound is similar to the sound of the s in the words pleasure and measure.

				The very short i sound

				The short i sound corresponds to the letter Йй. This letter’s name is и краткое (ee kraht-kahee), which literally means a very short i, but it actually sounds like the very short English y. This sound is what you hear when you say the word York. You should notice your tongue touching the roof of your mouth when you say this sound.

				The guttural sound kh

				The Russian letter that corresponds to the kh sound is Хх. To say it, imagine that you’re eating and a piece of food gets stuck in your throat. What’s the first reflex your body responds with? Correct! You try to cough it up. Remember the sound your throat produces? The Russian kh makes this sound. It’s similar to the German ch.

				The revolting sound i

				To say the y sound correctly, imagine that you’re watching something really revolting, like an episode from a reality competition show where the participants are gorging on a plate of swarming bugs. Now recall the sound you make in response to this. This sound is pronounced something like i, the short vowel sound of the English i, and that’s how you pronounce the Russian ы. Because this letter appears in some commonly used words, including ты (ti) (you; informal singular), вы (vi) (you; formal singular or plural), and мы (mi) (we), it’s important to say it as best you can.

				The soft sign

				The soft sign is the letter ь. We transcribe it using the symbol ’, and it doesn’t have a sound. Its only mission in life is to make the preceding consonant soft. This sound is very important in Russian because it can change the meaning of a word. For example, without the soft sign, the word мать (maht’) (mother) becomes мат, which means obscene language. And when you add a soft sign at the end of the word вон (vohn) (over there), it becomes вонь (vohn’) and means stench. See how important the soft sign is?

					So, here’s how you can make consonants soft:

					1.	Say the consonant — for example, Лл, Тт, or Дд — and note where your tongue is.

						You should feel that the tip of your tongue is touching the ridge of your upper teeth, and the rest of the tongue is hanging in the mouth like a hammock in a garden on a nice summer day.

					2.	While you’re still pronouncing the consonant, raise the body of your tongue and press it against the hard palate.

						The process is exactly the same as preparing a piece of bubble gum for blowing a bubble by flattening the gum on the roof of your mouth. Bingo: You’re ready to pronounce your soft consonant. Can you hear how the quality of the consonant changes? It sounds much “softer” now, doesn’t it?

				The hard sign

					The hard sign is represented by the letter ъ. Whereas the soft sign makes the preceding consonant sound soft (see the preceding section), the hard sign makes it — yes, you guessed it — hard. The good news is that this letter (which is transcribed as ”) is rarely ever used in contemporary Russian. And even when it is, it virtually doesn’t change the pronunciation of the word. So, why does Russian have this sign? For two purposes:

				 To harden the preceding consonant

				 To retain the hardness of the consonant before the vowels Eе, Ёё, Юю, and Яя

				Without the hard sign, these consonants would normally soften. When a hard sign (ъ) separates a consonant and one of these vowels, the consonant is pronounced without softening, as in the word подъезд (pahd-yehzd) (porch), for example.

					Don’t worry too much about this one if your native language is English. Native speakers of English rarely tend to soften their Russian consonants the way Russians do it. In other words, if you’re a native English speaker and you come across the situation described here, you’ll probably make your consonant hard, pronouncing it correctly by default!

		 			 				Chapter 3

				Warming Up with Russian Grammar Basics

In This Chapter

				 Using nouns and pronouns

				 Understanding the Russian case system

				 Forming verbs in different tenses

				 Discovering Russian adjectives and adverbs

				 Creating Russian-sounding statements and questions

				In any language, grammar is the glue that ties together all the words in a sentence. Russian involves more grammar than English does, but fortunately it’s all very structured, and you can easily master it if you put forth a little effort.

				You may be surprised to find out that English and Russian are distant relatives. Both belong to the same family of Indo-European languages. Although they’re distantly related, they have one big difference: Unlike English, Russian is a flectional language, which is a fancy way of saying that it has lots of different word endings. A single word may acquire a multitude of different endings depending on the role it plays in a sentence.

				In this chapter, you discover how and why Russian words drop and acquire new endings. You find out how to change Russian nouns for different grammatical cases and how to spice up your speech with pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. You also find out how to form complete sentences that make you sound like a real Russian.

				Beginning with Nouns and Pronouns

				The best way to start getting a feel for Russian grammar is to understand nouns’ grammatical gender (not to be confused with biological gender!). After that, you can easily make a singular noun plural and replace all types of nouns with pronouns. We give you the information you need in the following sections.

				Defining a noun’s gender

					Unlike English nouns, all Russian nouns, even those indicating inanimate objects, have a gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Determining a noun’s gender is surprisingly easy (a lot easier than determining, say, the gender of a kitten): You just need to look at the noun’s ending. Here’s how:

				 If a noun ends in a consonant or й, the noun is masculine.

				 If a noun ends in а or я, the noun is feminine.

				 If a noun ends in e, ё, or o, the noun is neuter.

				 If a noun ends in ь (the soft sign) it may be either feminine or masculine. To figure it out, look up the word in a Russian dictionary (either a hard-copy version or online): All Russian nouns in the dictionary have a gender notation.

				For example, the noun стол (stohl) (table) is masculine, because it ends in the consonant л. The word лампа (lahm-puh) (lamp) ends in a, and is, therefore, feminine. The word море (moh-ree) (sea) is neuter because it ends in e. It’s that simple!

				In the majority of cases, the grammatical gender of words denoting living beings coincides with their biological gender. For example, the word мальчик (mahl’-cheek) (boy) is a masculine noun and the word девушка (dyeh-voohsh-kuh) (young woman) is a feminine noun, just as you’d expect.

					When it comes to inanimate objects, gender is completely unpredictable and illogical — it doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the meaning of the word. Why, for example, is the word дверь (dvyehr’) (door) feminine? Or why are пол (pohl) (floor), окно (ahk-noh) (window), and занавеска (zuh-nuh-vyehs-kuh) (curtain) masculine, neuter, and feminine, respectively? Nobody can answer these questions for you. Sorry!

					Of course, there are exceptions; grammar wouldn’t be grammar without exceptions! Here are a few common words indicating (biologically at least) masculine beings that look like feminine nouns in Russian:

				 дедушка (dyeh-doohsh-kuh) (grandfather)

				 дядя (dya-dyeh) (uncle)

				 папа (pah-puh) (dad)

				Note: Wondering why you need to know this stuff about genders? The gender of a noun determines how the noun changes for Russian grammatical cases. We tell you about cases a little later in this chapter.

				Making a noun plural

				In English, nouns are usually made plural by adding an “s.” Russian uses a different set of suffixes. To make a Russian noun plural, follow the simple steps in Table 3-1.

				Table 3-1	How to Make a Noun Plural

				 					 						 							 								If a noun in its dictionary form ends in

							 							 								To form its plural form

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -ы: стол → столы (stah-li) (tables)


							 							 								Replace it with -и: герой → герои (gee-roh-ee) (heroes)


							 							 								Replace it with -ы: лампа → лампы (lahm-pi) (lamps)

								If the stem ends in г, к, х, ц, ч, ш, or щ, replace with -и rather than ы


							 							 								Replace it with -и: няня → няни (nya-nee) (nannies)


							 							 								Replace it with -я: море → моря (mah-rya) (seas)


							 							 								Replace it with -а: окно → окна (ohk-nuh) (windows)


							 							 								Replace it with -и: лошадь → лошади (loh-shuh-dee) (horses)

					 				 					The rules in Table 3-1 have a few important exceptions. Some consonants, namely ж (zh), ш (sh), щ (sh’), г (g), к (k), and х (kh), are very touchy. They just don’t tolerate the letter ы (i) after them, preferring и (ee) instead. Take, for example, the word книга (knee-guh) (book). According to Table 3-1, you should replace the final -a with -ы to form its plural. But the touchy г doesn’t tolerate the -ы ending. It takes an -и ending instead. So the plural of книга is книги (knee-gee) (books).

				Replacing nouns with pronouns

				From your grammar lessons in school, you probably remember that a pronoun is a word used instead of a noun. Words like I, you, he, she, it, we, and they are all called pronouns or, to be more specific, personal pronouns. One of the reasons why we need pronouns is to avoid needless repetitions of one and the same noun: you can always replace John with he, Mary with she, car with it, and so on. Table 3-2 shows Russian pronouns and their English equivalents. (Flip to Chapter 4 for details on informal versus formal versions of “you.”)

					As Table 3-2 indicates, the word it may be translated into Russian by three different words. The choice of the Russian pronoun here depends on . . . yes, you guessed it, the gender of the noun it replaces. Use он to replace a masculine noun, она to replace a feminine noun, and оно for a neuter noun.

				Because Russian nouns indicating inanimate objects have genders, their pronoun replacements may literally translate to he or she in English. Consider these examples:

				 The word машина (muh-shi-nuh) (car) is replaced by она (ah-nah) in Russian, which literally means she in English.

				 The word дом (dohm) (house) is replaced by он (ohn) in Russian, which literally means he in English.

				The Case of Russian Cases: What Are They For?

				One very nice feature of English is that words don’t change their form, no matter where they are in a sentence. Take, for example, the word table. You may say The table is round, or There is a book on the table, or There is no table in the room. No matter where in a sentence you use the word table, a table is a table is a table.

				Not so in Russian . . . the Russian word for table in each of the preceding sentences has a different ending in each instance — стол (stohl), столе (stah-lyeh), and стола (stah-lah) — because of the different role the word стол plays in each sentence. These roles are indicated in Russian by grammatical case and case endings.

				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 the sentence. If you’ve studied languages such as Latin or German, you know that 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.

				In the following sections, you discover the six different cases in Russian and how to use them. (Later in this chapter, we explain the specific endings that nouns, pronouns, and adjectives take in each case.)

				The nominative case

				Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives always appear in the nominative case in an English-Russian dictionary. The main function of the nominative case is to indicate the subject of the sentence. All the Russian words we use in the earlier section “Beginning with Nouns and Pronouns” are in the nominative case. The nominative case requires no changes in ending.

					As a rule, the subject behaves the same way in Russian as it does in English. It answers the question “Who or what is performing the action?” For example, in the sentence Девочка изучает русский язык (dyeh-vahch-kuh ee-zooh-chah-eet roohs-keey ee-zik) (A girl studies Russian), the word девочка, indicating a girl who studies Russian, is the subject of the sentence and consequently is used in the nominative case.

				The genitive case

				One of the important functions of the genitive case is to indicate possession. It answers the question “Whose?” In the phrase книга девочки (knee-guh dyeh-vahch-kee) (the girl’s book), the word девочка takes the genitive case (девочки) because she’s the book’s owner.

				The genitive 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, including the following:

				 без (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)

				The accusative case

				The accusative case is very often used to indicate a direct object, which is the object of the action of the verb in a sentence. For example, in the sentence Я люблю литературу (ya lyooh-blyooh lee-tee-ruh-tooh-rooh) (I love literature), the word literature is in the accusative case because it’s the direct object of the verb. That’s why the form of the word is no longer литература (lee-tee-ruh-tooh-ruh; the nominative case) but rather литературу (lee-tee-ruh-tooh-rooh).

					Verbs like читать (chee-taht’) (to read), видеть (vee-deet’) (to see), слушать (slooh-shuht’) (to hear), and изучать (ee-zooh-chaht’) (to study) take the accusative case. As in English, these verbs in Russian are transitive verbs (verbs that require a direct object).

				The accusative case is also required in sentences containing verbs of motion, which indicate destination of movement. For instance, if you want to announce to your family that you’re going to Россия (rah-see-yeh) (Russia), Россия takes the form of the accusative case, which is Россию (rah-see-yooh).

				You also use the accusative case after certain prepositions, such as про (proh) (about) and через (chyeh-rees) (through).

				The 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. Consider this example sentence:

				Я дал учителю сочинение. (ya dahl ooh-chee-tee-lyooh sah-chee-nyeh- nee-ee.) (I gave the teacher my essay.)

				The word учителю (ooh-chee-tee-lyooh) (teacher) is, in fact, the dative form of the word учитель (ooh-chee-tyehl’). The original dictionary form of the word changes because in this sentence teacher functions as an indirect object. (My essay acts as the direct object, which we cover in the preceding section.)

				You also use the dative case after certain prepositions, such as к (k) (toward) and по (poh) (along).

					Some frequently used verbs, such as помогать (puh-mah-gaht’) (to help) and позвонить (puh-zvah-neet’) (to call), force the nouns that come after them into the dative case. The implication with these verbs in Russian is that you’re giving help or making a call to somebody, which suggests an indirect receiver of the action of the verb.

				The instrumental case

				As the name suggests, the instrumental case is often used to indicate the instrument that assists in carrying out an action. So, when you say that you’re writing a letter with a pen, you have to put ручка (roohch-kuh) (pen) in the instrumental case, which is ручкой (roohch-kаhy).

				You also use the instrumental case after certain prepositions, such as the following:

				 между (myezh-dooh) (between)

				 над (naht) (over)

				 перед (pyeh-reet) (in front of)

				 под (poht) (below)

				 с (s) (with)

				The prepositional case

				The prepositional case is so named because it’s used only after certain prepositions. Older Russian textbooks frequently refer to it as the locative case, because it often indicates the location where an action takes place. No wonder it’s used with the prepositions в (v) (in) and на (nah) (on).

				The prepositional case is also used after the prepositions o (oh) and oб (ohb), two Russian words that mean about. So when you say to that special someone, I am constantly thinking about you, make sure to put ты (ti) (you; informal singular) in the prepositional case, which is тебе (tee-byeh): Я постоянно думаю о тебе (ya pahs-tah-ya-nuh dooh-muh-yooh uh tee-byeh).

					By the way, you may wonder why the English preposition about has two different Russian equivalents: o and ob. For your information, you use o if the following word begins with a consonant. You use ob if the following word begins with a vowel.

				Putting Nouns and Pronouns in the Correct Cases

				Nouns and pronouns are the building blocks of any sentence, but they need to be in the proper case (as you find out earlier in this chapter). In the following sections, you discover how to change the endings of nouns and pronouns depending on their function in a sentence.

				Checking out cases for singular nouns

				As you see earlier (in the section “The Case of Russian Cases: What Are They For?”), in Russian you can’t just use a singular noun in its dictionary form all the time; you need to very carefully put it in a certain grammatical case. Use the information in the following sections to find out exactly what you need to do to put the dictionary form of a singular noun (also known as the nominative case) into another desired case form.

				Switching to the genitive case

				Table 3-3 explains how to transform a singular noun in the nominative case into the genitive case, which you use to indicate possession.

				Table 3-3	How to Put a Singular Noun into the Genitive Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To put the noun in the genitive case

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -a: дом (dohm) (house) → дома (doh-muh)

						 							 								-й, -е, or -ь and is masculine

							 							 								Replace -й, -е, or -ь with -я: море (moh-ree) (sea) → моря (moh-rya)


							 							 								Replace -а with -ы: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → мамы (mah-mi)

						 							 								-я or -ь and is feminine

							 							 								Replace -я or -ь with -и: няня (nya-nyeh) (nanny) → няни (nya-nee)


							 							 								Replace -о with -а: окно (ahk-noh) (window) → окна (ahk-nah)

					 				 				Switching to the accusative case

				Table 3-4 explains how to put a singular noun in the nominative case into the accusative case, which you use to indicate a direct object.

				Table 3-4	How to Put a Singular Noun into the Accusative Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To put the noun in the accusative case

						 							 								A consonant, and the noun is for a living person or thing

							 							 								Add -a: студент (stooh-dyehnt) (student) → студента (stooh-dyehn-tuh)

						 							 								A consonant, and the noun is for an inanimate object

							 							 								Don’t do anything

						 							 								-й or -ь and is masculine

							 							 								Replace -ь with -я: преподаватель (pree-pah-duh-vah-teel’) (professor) → преподавателя (pree-pah-duh-vah-tee-lyeh)


							 							 								Replace -а with -y: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → маму (mah-mooh)


							 							 								Replace -я with -ю: няня (nya-nyeh) (nanny) → няню (nya-nyooh)

						 							 								-e or -о; or -ь and is feminine

							 							 								Don’t do anything

					 				 				Switching to the dative case

				Table 3-5 explains how to transform a singular noun in the nominative case into the dative case, which you use to indicate an indirect object.

				Table 3-5	How to Put a Singular Noun into the Dative Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To put the noun in the dative case

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -y: дом (dohm) (house) → домy (doh-mooh)

						 							 								-й, -е, or -ь and is masculine

							 							 								Replace -й, -е, or -ь with -ю: море (moh-ree) (sea) → морю (moh-ryooh)

						 							 								-a or -я

							 							 								Replace -а or -я with -е: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → маме (mah-mee)


							 							 								Replace -о with -у: окно (ahk-noh) (window) → окну (ahk-nooh)

						 							 								-ь and is feminine

							 							 								Replace -ь with -и: лошадь (loh-shuhd’) (horse) → лошади (loh-shuh-dee)

						 							 								-ие or -ия

							 							 								Replace -е or -я with -и: Калифорния (kuh-lee-fohr-nee-yeh) (California) → Калифорнии (kuh-lee-fohr-nee-ee)

					 				 				Switching to the instrumental case

				Table 3-6 explains how to put a singular noun in the nominative case into the instrumental case, which you use to indicate the instrument that helps carry out an action.

				Table 3-6	How to Put a Singular Noun into the Instrumental Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To put the noun in the instrumental case

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -ом: студент (stooh-dyehnt) (student) → студентом (stooh-dyehn-tahm)

						 							 								-й or -ь and is masculine

							 							 								Replace -й or -ь with -ем: преподаватель (pree-pah-dah-vah-teel’) (professor) → преподавателем (pree-pah-dah-vah-tee-leem)


							 							 								Replace -а with -ой: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → мамой (mah-mahy)


							 							 								Replace -я with -ей: няня (nya-nyeh) (nanny) → няней (nya-nyehy)

						 							 								-е or -о

							 							 								Add -м: окно (ahk-noh) (window) → окном (ohk-nohm)

						 							 								-ь and is feminine

							 							 								Add -ю: лошадь (loh-shuhd’) (horse) → лошадью (loh-shuhd’-yooh)

					 				 				Switching to the prepositional case

				Table 3-7 explains how to change a singular noun from the nominative case into the prepositional case, which you use only after certain prepositions.

				Table 3-7	How to Put a Singular Noun into the Prepositional Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To put the noun in the prepositional case

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -e: студент (stooh-dyehnt) (student) → студентe (stooh-dyehn-tee)

						 							 								-й, -a, -я, or -о

							 							 								Replace these letters with -e: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → мамe (mah-mee)


							 							 								Don’t do anything

						 							 								-ь and is masculine

							 							 								Replace -ь with -e: преподаватель (pree-pah-dah-vah-teel’) (professor) → преподавателe (pree-pah-dah-vah-tee-lee)

						 						 							 								-ь and is feminine

							 							 								Replace -ь with -и: лошадь (loh-shud’) (horse) → лошади (loh-shuh-dee)

						 							 								-ия or -ие

							 							 								Replace -я or -е with -и: Калифорния (kuh-lee-fohr-nee-yeh) (California) → Калифорнии (kuh-lee-fohr-nee-ee)

					 				 				Trying your hand at changing the case of a singular noun

				All the tables in the preceding sections may look kind of scary at first, but they’re actually easy to use.

				Imagine you want to brag to your Russian friends about your new car by saying I bought a car. The first part of the sentence is Я купил (ya kooh-peel) (I bought). But what do you do with the noun car? In this sentence, машина (muh-shi-nuh) (car) is a direct object of the action expressed by the verb купил. The accusative case is for nouns that serve as direct objects, so you have to change машина from the nominative case to the accusative case.

				The next step is to find the appropriate table (Table 3-4, by the way). It tells you exactly what to do to put your noun in the accusative case. Ask yourself: What letter does the word машина end in? The last letter in the word машина is -a. Table 3-4 indicates that when a word ends in -a, you replace the -a with -y. This little operation creates the word машинy (muh-shi-nooh) (car).

				So here’s your complete sentence:

				Я купил машину. (ya koo-peel muh-shi-nooh.) (I bought a car.)

				Congratulations! You just created your first Russian sentence!

				Putting plurals into proper cases

				Russian plural nouns, like singular nouns, take different endings depending on the case they’re in. In the following sections, you find out how to obtain the plural forms of nouns in different cases. Because we cover what plural nouns look like in the nominative case in Table 3-1, we begin with the genitive case. Note: You start each transformation with the singular noun in the nominative case.

				Plurals in the genitive case

					Of all cases, the genitive plural case is perhaps the most unpleasant one, because it has so many exceptions that you just need to memorize. These exceptions, however, are usually listed in any Russian dictionary. You can find all the endings for this case in Table 3-8; keep in mind that you use them to indicate possession.

				Table 3-8	How to Put a Noun into the Genitive Plural Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To form the genitive plural

						 							 								A consonant other than -ж, -ц, -ч, -ш, or -щ

							 							 								Add -ов: студент (stooh-dyehnt) (student) → студентов (stooh-dyehn-tuhf)

						 							 								-ж, -ч, -ш, or -щ

							 							 								Add -ей: ключ (klyoohch) (key) → ключей (klyooh-chyehy)


							 							 								Add -ев: месяц (myeh-seets) (month) → месяцев (myeh-see-tsehf)


							 							 								Replace -й with -ев: герой (gee-rohy) (hero) → героев (gee-roh-eef)


							 							 								Drop the -a: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → мам (mahm)


							 							 								Replace -я with -ь: баня (bah-nya) (sauna) → бань (bahn’)

						 							 								-е or -ь

							 							 								Replace -е or -ь with -ей: море (moh-ree) (sea) → морей (mah-ryehy)


							 							 								Drop the -o: окно (ahk-noh) (window) → окон (oh-kuhn)

						 							 								-ие or -ия

							 							 								Replace -е or -я with -й: здание (zdah-nee-yeh) (building) → зданий (zdah-neey)

					 				 				Plurals in the accusative case

				Table 3-9 explains how to transform a singular noun in the nominative case into the accusative plural case, which indicates a direct object.

				Table 3-9	How to Put a Noun into the Accusative Plural Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case

							 							 								To form the accusative plural

						 							 								Indicates a living being and ends in a consonant or in -й, -a, -я, or -ь

							 							 								Refer to the corresponding endings in Table 3-8, because in these instances, the accusative plural is the same as the genitive plural.

						 							 								Indicates an inanimate object and ends in a consonant or in -й, -a, -я, -е, -ё, -о, or -ь

							 							 								Make no change. It looks exactly like the nominative plural (see Table 3-1).

					 				 					You may wonder: What if a singular noun indicates a living being and ends in -e, -ë, or -o? In Russian, nouns indicating living beings do not end in these letters.

				Plurals in the dative case

				Table 3-10 explains how to change a singular noun in the nominative case into the dative plural case, which indicates an indirect object.

				Table 3-10	How to Put a Noun into the Dative Plural Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To form the dative plural

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -ам: студент (stooh-dyehnt) (student) → студентам (stooh-dyehn-tuhm)

						 							 								-й, -я, -е, or -ь

							 							 								Replace -й, -я, -е, or -ь with -ям: герой (gee-rohy) (hero) → героям (gee-roh-yehm)

						 							 								-a or -о

							 							 								Replace -а or -о with -ам: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → мамам (mah-muhm)

					 				 				Plurals in the instrumental case

				Table 3-11 explains how to put a singular noun in the nominative case into the instrumental plural case, which indicates an instrument that helps carry out an action.

				Table 3-11	How to Put a Noun into the Instrumental Plural Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To form the instrumental plural

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -ами: студент (stooh-dyehnt) (student) → студентами (stooh-dyehn-tuh-mee)

						 							 								-й, -я, -е, or -ь

							 							 								Replace -й, -я, -е, or -ь with -ями: герой (gee-rohy) (hero) → героями (gee-roh-ee-mee)

						 							 								-a or -о

							 							 								Replace -а or -о with -ами: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → мамами (mah-muh-mee)

					 				 				Plurals in the prepositional case

				Table 3-12 explains how to transform a singular noun in the nominative case into the prepositional plural case, which is used only after certain prepositions.

				Table 3-12	How to Put a Noun into the Prepositional Plural Case

				 					 						 							 								If a singular noun in the nominative case ends in

							 							 								To form the prepositional plural

						 							 								A consonant

							 							 								Add -аx: студент (stooh-dyehnt) (student) → студентаx (stooh-dyehn-tuhkh)

						 							 								-й, -я, -е, or -ь

							 							 								Replace -й, -я, -е, or -ь with -яx: герой (gee-rohy) (hero) → герояx (gee-roh-yehkh)

						 							 								-a or -о

							 							 								Replace -а or -о with -аx: мама (mah-muh) (mother) → мамаx (mah-muhkh)

					 				 				Trying your hand at putting nouns into plural cases

				To get comfortable with putting plural nouns into the correct case, apply the tables in the preceding sections to a real-life situation. Imagine that your friend asks you whether you have a pencil:

				У тебя есть карандаш? (ooh tee-bya yest’ kuh-ruhn-dahsh?) (Do you have a pencil?)

				You, being by nature a very generous person, say that you have a lot of pencils, meaning that your friend is free to use all of them. It may come as a surprise to you, but when you make this statement, the word много (mnoh-gah) (many/a lot of) requires the noun used with it to take the genitive plural form. Thus, in your sentence, the word карандаши (kuh-ruhn-duh-shi) (pencils) takes the genitive plural case.

				What does Table 3-8 say about words that end in -ш? Yep, you need to add the ending -ей to the singular noun in the nominative case. You say

				У меня много кaрандашей. (ooh mee-nya mnoh-gah kuh-ruhn-duh-shyehy.) (I have many pencils.)

				We admit that the geni