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Ten Must-Know Introductory Phrases in Russian — Part I Posted by on May 5, 2016 in language

Please see Part II here.

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A comment to a recent post asked me to cover some introductory phrases in Russian. These small words are ubiquitous, especially in argumentative writing like news articles, and they link the ideas in a text to help the reader follow the writer’s logic.

In most cases, introductory words (вво́дные слова́) will be set off by commas. Consult an authoritative reference like Gramota to verify specific use cases.

1. Коне́чно

Коне́чно means “of course” and expresses certainty. It is pronounced коне́шно.

  • Коне́чно, снача́ла мы проведе́м инструкта́ж но́вых сотру́дников (Of course, we will first give some instructions to the new employees).

“Конечно” in Russian is fairly neutral and does not sound condescending as an answer.

  • Ты зна́ешь мою́ ма́му? (Do you know my mother?)
  • Коне́чно! (I certainly do.)

Some synonyms of конечно include разуме́ется (clearly) and несомне́нно (undoubtedly).

2. Мо́жет быть

dice

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Мо́жет быть literally translates to “may be” and is similar to its English counterpart. It makes the sentence tentative.

  • Па́ши все еще́ нет до́ма. Мо́жет быть, он задержа́лся на рабо́те. (Pasha [man’s name] still isn’t home. He might have stayed at work late.)

You could also say simply “може́т” in the same sense. Other similar words include возмо́жно (possibly) and вероя́тно (probably).

3. По-мо́ему

This very useful word means “in my opinion, it seems to me that.”

  • Я до́лго объясня́ла свою́ тео́рию, но, по-мо́ему, они ничего́ не по́няли (I explained my theory for a while, but I don’t think they understood anything).

Can we use it to talk about other people’s opinions? We certainly can for ты and вы.

  • Кто, по-тво́ему, победи́т на Еврови́дении? (Who do you think will win the Eurovision Song Contest?)
  • Я, по-ва́шему, совсе́м ничего́ не ви́жу? (Do you think I can’t see anything at all?)

In other cases, use “по ее/его/на́шему/их мне́нию” (in her/his/our/their opinion).

4. Вообще́

Вообще́ conveys the sense of “generally.”

  • Вообще́, мно́гие молоды́е лю́ди по-пре́жнему живу́т с роди́телями (Generally speaking, many young people still live with their parents).

Another variation is вообще́-то.

5. Кста́ти

Кста́ти is used to introduce a comment or a related idea, much like “by the way.”

  • Мое́й ко́шке три го́да. Кста́ти, ты ее не ви́дел? (My cat is three years old. By the way, have you seen her?)

A synonym is между про́чим.

  • Между про́чим, э́той пиани́стке всего́ 12 лет (By the way, this pianist is only 12 years old).

We will continue this list in our next post. Have you come across any of these or other introductory phrases?

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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 on her translation site and on Twitter at @intorussian.


Comments:

  1. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    When our small group (6 plus two guides) were in Turukhansk (northern Siberia on the Yenesei River) we met a man who invited us to his home for dinner. He started almost every sentence with “Дело в том, что”. I had been studying Russian and when I got home I looked for it in my large idiom dictionary. And I found it. It means, “The thing is that . . . ” – I have also heard it often since and occasionally I use it myself.

    • Maria:

      @Moonyeen Albrecht That definitely sounds like one of the older pesky fillers, although some people still abuse it today. Other fillers are “короче” (in short) and “значит” (I mean).

  2. Lauren:

    This is a great post! I am a high school Russian teacher and my students are at the point where they could use some phrases like this to add more sophistication to their speech and writing. 🙂

    • Maria:

      @Lauren Thank you, Lauren. These words can certainly be useful. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!

  3. Peter Ellis:

    Hi Maria

    Thanks again for a very useful post.

    Perhaps you’ll mention it in ‘Part 2’, but I’m interested in how to say ‘because’in Russian.

    I was told that ‘потому что’ is used in response to a question ‘почему’ or ‘зачем’, while if you want to introduce the reason for an action, that isn’t in response to a question you use ‘так как’.

    So, to say something like ‘because I want to lose weight, I’m not having a meal in the evening’, would be something like ‘так как я хочу похудеть, я не ужинать’.

    Am I on the right lines with this?

    Thanks

  4. Peter Ellis:

    Oh, one more thing.

    In your example for ‘вообще’, you use the adverb ‘по-прежнему’. I’ve never heard this one before. Is it commonly used in speech and how would it be translated … also as ‘generally’?

    Thanks again.

    Peter

  5. Richard:

    Some I’ve come across:

    1.) в пéрвую óчередь = primarily, first and foremost

    2.) несмотря́ на + acc. = despite, in spite of, notwithstanding

    3.) крóме тогó = moreover, furthermore, besides

    4.) мéжду тем = meanwhile, in the mean time