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If you’ve listened to a speaker of Russian in an informal conversation, you know that there are a few words they say over and over again. Some are fillers, meant to give the speaker some time to come up with what to say. Others mark logical connections in a conversation or express the speaker’s attitudes. Here is a list of 5 popular colloquial expressions, illustrated by examples from the Russian National Corpus.
This is one of the most versatile words in Russian. Ладно is similar to “all right,” “fine,” or “OK” and can express a range of emotions, including agreement, wrapping-up a conversation, or making a decision.
Ну is another common word in informal speech. It often appears at the beginning of a phrase to convey hesitation (like the English “well…”) or for emphasis. A longer list of the senses of ну is available in Russian on Gramota. “Ну да” is used as an emphatic “yes” in informal speech.
Дава́й is related to the verb “дава́ть,” to give. This word is used to encourage someone, to suggest some activity, or sometimes as part of saying goodbye. The formal or plural form is дава́йте. It may be followed by a subject and a future verb when used as an offer or suggestion.
Ничего́ literally means “nothing,” but it is also widely used in everyday speech to say “that’s OK” or “fine.” It can serve as a response to an apology, where you can also find the longer form “Ничего́ стра́шного” (literally, “nothing scary”) or as a predicate saying something/someone is OK.
Finally, вот is normally used to point to some object—”Вот маши́на!” (“Here’s the car!”). However, it can also be used for emphasis or to sum something up in colloquial speech. The many uses of вот can be found on Gramota.
Have you heard any of these? Were they easy to understand?
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