Russian Language Blog

Russian Set Expressions: It’s All in Your Hands Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in language, when in Russia


In the process of acquiring any foreign language the importance of set expressions cannot be underestimated. Scarce or nonexistent knowledge of these language units is what frequently makes us feel as if our mastery of the language is still in its infancy stages. However, people who have invested their time in learning and implementing such expressions appear to have an easier time understanding that foreign language, even if their grammar is severely handicapped. When I first came to the US in 2003, even though my vocabulary and grammar knowledge was excellent (for a foreigner), I felt like people here were speaking a different language altogether. It took me a couple of years to fill the gap with commonly used set expressions and slang before I could easily understand most conversations. Russian is no exception in this regard.

Surprisingly, there is an overwhelmingly large amount of set expressions with the word “hand” and “arm” in Russian. Since most of these expressions are pretty handy :-), why not arm 🙂 yourself with some of them.

Все в твоих руках (it’s all in your hands) – this one couldn’t be easier, the expression is translated word for word and carries the same meaning.

Example: Ну что, Максим, теперь все в твоих руках! Твои способности открывают перед тобой множество возможностей. (Well, Maxim, now it’s all in your hands! Your abilities open up many opportunities before you.)

Взять себя в руки (to control yourself)

Example: Наташа, хватит реветь! Возьми себя в руки! (Natasha, stop wailing! Get a hold of yourself!/Control yourself!)

Рукой подать (very close)

Example: – Ну и где это кафе? (Where is that cafe you are talking about?)

– Да за углом, тут рукой подать. (It’s right around the corner, very close.)

Быть под рукой (to be handy, to be close by)

Example: У меня словарь всегда под рукой. (I always keep a dictionary handy.)

На руках носить ( to worship, to treasure, to admire, to exalt)

Example: – Как мужу нравится новая работа? (How does your husband like his new job?)

Нравится, еще как! Его там все на руках носят. (He likes it big time! Everybody worships him there.)

Не покладая рук (nonstop, diligently)

Example: – Я не понимаю, как у них на все денег хватает! (I do not understand where do they get the money to pay for everything.)

– Да что тут понимать, работают люди не покладая рук, только и всего! (There is nothing to understand, the people simply work nonstop.)

Руки не доходят (to have no time/chance to do something)

Example: Я так устаю на работе, что дома не до чего уже руки не доходят. (I get so tired at work, I cannot do anything when I come home).

Золотые руки (gifted hands, said about someone who can make many things with their hands)

Example: Больше всего мне запомнились золотые руки его матери. (More than anything I remember his mother’s gifted hands.)

Иметь длинные руки (to be well connected, to be in a position of power/authority)

Example: У него теперь руки длинные, так что с ним лучше не шутить. (He is well connected now, so it is best not to take him lightly.)

Руки чешутся (to eagerly want to do something, usually not in a positive way)

Example: -У меня руки так и чешутся пирог попробовать. (I can’t wait to taste this pie.)

– Не надо, мама будет ругаться. (Don’t touch it, mom will get mad.)

These are just some of the phrases I was able to recall. There are many others. If you have heard any in the past, please share, preferably with examples 🙂

Всего хорошего!


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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. danvolodar:

    От рук отбиться.
    Я ему руки не подам.
    Рукастый парень.

    • Jenya:

      @danvolodar Danvolodar,
      спасибо большое 🙂

  2. Vale:

    >> Example: Наташа, чватит реветь! (A misprint?)
    Great post, btw!

    • Jenya:

      @Vale Vale, definitely a misprint! Thanks for spotting it!