Russian Language Blog

Tag Archives: grammar

Твёрдый знак (hard sign): a case study in Russian language reforms Posted by on Jul 2, 2020


Last month we looked at мягкий знак (soft sign) and the rules that govern its proper use. In this blog, let’s explore the other unusual letter of the Russian alphabet: твёрдый знак (hard sign). Твёрдый знак “ъ” is the 28th letter of the Russian alphabet and similar to the soft sign, it doesn’t carry its…

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How to sound Russian in less than 4 letters Posted by on Jun 1, 2020


An interjection is, ironically, a big name for the little words we use to express emotions. Here are five such utterances that have less than four letters. These interjections will help you feel and sound more Russian than saying babooshka over and over again (with the exception of Kate Bush, of course.)   Эx [ˈɛx]…

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When “Yes No Maybe” Is A Complete Sentence Posted by on Apr 22, 2020

Decision Dice

Words or whole phrases, intonation, and stress are used to express confidence and uncertainty in speech. In the Russian language, as well as in other languages, there are formal and informal forms of expression. Let’s look at a few examples. Modal words Modal words (мода́льные слова́) in the Russian language is the category of words…

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Gotta Do What You Gotta Do, or Expressing Obligation in Russian Posted by on May 23, 2019

neon sign saying "you need coffee"

Most learners of Russian will remember the word до́лжен (have to) for talking about your obligations. It may be trickier to remember other expressions. Let’s review some ways of expressing obligation in Russian. Должна́ The following short adjectives mean “owe” or “have to”: должна́ (feminine) должно́ (neuter) до́лжен (masculine) должны́ (plural) These words are related…

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Describing States of the Body in Russian Posted by on Jan 22, 2019

plush toys in bed with a thermometer

You might have noticed that, to talk about physical sensations or afflictions in Russian, you often use an impersonal construction, where the person not feeling well is technically not the subject of the sentence. Here are some of the most common patterns for these sayings. Dative noun + predicative expression First, what’s a predicative expression?…

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Beyond Хорошо: 5 Ways of Saying “Good” In Russian Posted by on Jan 29, 2018

man giving thumbs up

Do you still answer “хорошо” when someone asks you how you are doing or how you liked that film? Here are some words to help you express positivity with more nuance. Note on grammar: different phrases will require different forms of the word. For example, when someone asks you “Как дела?” (“How are you?”) you…

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Contrast in Russian: What’s The Difference Between А (And/But) And Но (But)? Posted by on Jul 25, 2017

man wearing one blue shoe and one yellow shoe

If your native language only has the basic “and” vs “but” distinction, Russian conjunctions а and но may be a bit confusing. How do you use them, and what’s the difference? I will explain the difference on an intuitive level below and will include links to additional resources at the bottom. Но: Contrasting the Entire…

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