Russian Language Blog

Songs from Russian Cartoons: Grammar Clinic Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Russian for beginners

Many a student of Russian learned from the songs in Soviet cartoons. These cartoons are widely-known classics, some of which, like Cheburashka, have developed a cult following abroad. However, all too often learners will recogniz/se the cartoon and hum the tune but won’t know the lyrics or what they mean. Why don’t we take this opportunity to glean some grammar and vocabulary knowledge from these old favo(u)rites.

Песенка крокодила Гены

This song is widely known thanks to the Cheburashka (Чебура́шка) cartoons. For those who don’t know them, Cheburashka is an unidentified big-eared stuffed animal who arrives in a box of oranges. He befriends Gena, a zoo crocodile. This is a song Gena sings in the cartoon.

Click here to see the lyrics

слова А. Тимофеевского, музыка В. Шаинского
м/ф Чебурашка

Пусть бегут неуклюже
Пешеходы по лужам,
А вода по асфальту рекой.
И не ясно прохожим
В этот день непогожий,
Отчего я веселый такой.

А я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду.
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

Прилетит вдруг волшебник
В голубом вертолете,
И бесплатно покажет кино.
С днем рождения поздравит
И конечно, подарит
Мне в подарок пятьсот “эскимо”.

Пусть is a particle introducing a wish or a concession — something like “let” in English. So, пусть бегу́т … пешехо́ды is “let pedestrians run.” In many languages, this would require a special subjunctive form for the verb. Luckily, in Russian пусть is followed by the present tense indicative form.

The second refrain is a good illustration for using the perfective in Russian. Gena is talking about about one time-events that will happen in the future — прилети́т (will come /by plane/), пока́жет (will show), поздра́вит (here: will wish a happy birthday), пода́рит (will give).

The verb бежа́ть (to run) is modified by an adverb and a noun. The pedestrians (пешехо́ды) run clumsily (неуклю́же). The water runs like a river (реко́й). Note the use of the instrumental case to describe the manner in which something is done.


Кро́шка ено́т” (Baby Raccoon) is a cartoon about a young raccoon who was scared of his own reflection in the pond because he kept making menacing faces at it. His mother encourages him to smile at the reflection. This song captures the spirit of “smile and the world smiles with you.”


От улыбки хмурый день светлей,
От улыбки в небе радуга проснется.
Поделись улыбкою своей,
И она к тебе не раз еще вернется.

И тогда наверняка
Вдруг запляшут облака,
И кузнечик запиликает на скрипке.
С голубого ручейка
Начинается река,
Ну а дружба начинается с улыбки.
С голубого ручейка
Начинается река,
Ну а дружба начинается с улыбки.

От улыбки солнечной одной
Перестанет плакать
Самый грустный дождик.
Добрый лес
Простится с тишиной,
И захлопает в зеленые ладоши.

От улыбки станет всем теплей,
И слону, и даже маленькой улитке,
Так пускай повсюду на земле
Будто лампочки включаются улыбки.

Once again here, we have a series of perfective verbs used to denote one-time finite actions in the future — проснётся (will wake up), вернётся (will return), запля́шет (will start dancing), запиликает (will start tinkling), переста́нет (will stop), прости́тся (will say goodbye), захло́пает (will clap). Note the use of the prefix за- to talk about starting something.

От is used here to talk about the cause of something — от улы́бки is “because of a smile” or rather “thanks to a smile.” The song uses “начина́ться c + genitive case” to talk about starting with something (“дру́жба начина́ется с улы́бки” — “friendship starts with a smile.”

Пуска́й” in this song is a variation of “пусть” from Gena’s song. It is used to introduce a wish and is followed by the present tense — “пусть включа́ются улы́бки” (let smiles come on /like lights/).

Are there any Russian songs that helped you learn grammar? Are there any other popular songs you would like to workshop?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.