If you weren’t already intrigued by Russia, here are a few facts to get you there: Did you know that that there are 9 million more women in Russia than there are men? Or that most Russians that are of legal age consume around 4.8 gallons of alcohol per year?
There are so many interesting things that might make you want to learn how to speak Russian. Or, at the very least, you might be a young man looking to talk to some attractive Russian women, or a woman completely sick of living in a male-dominated country. Whatever the case, Russian is a beautiful, yet complex language; and who does not like a challenge? Although it might sound and look a bit intimating, Russian is actually one of the nine easier languages to learn if you are considering learning a second language. So get a bottle of your favorite beer, have a seat, and let’s take a look at things you need to know to learn how to speak Russian.
The Russian Alphabet
Before you begin to speak Russian, you are going to want to know the basics. With any language, the first thing you will learn is their alphabet and the individual pronunciations of each word. For the Russian language, their alphabet can look like a bit of a challenge. As such, we are going to split it up for you into sections to make the learning process a bit easier.
Group 1: Letters Written and Pronounced the Same:
Аа – Pronounced like the “a” in the word “car” or “bar”.
Кк – Pronounced like the “k” in “kitten” or “kelp”. It sounds the same as the English “c” sound.
Мм – Pronounced like the “m” in male.
Oo – When this letter is stressed, it sounds like the “o” in “born”. When un-stressed it will sound more along the lines of an “a”.
Тт – Pronounced like the “t” in “tame”.
Group 2: Letters that Look Familiar but Sound Different (try not to mix these up!)
Вв – Pronounced like the “v” in “vent”.
Ее – Pronounced like the “ye” in “yelp” or “yes”.
Нн – Pronounced like the “n” in “no” or “not”.
Рр – Pronounced like the “r” in “runt” or “run”. However, be sure to roll your “r”.
Сс – Pronounced like the “s” in “seen” or “sea”.
Уу – Pronounced like the “oo” in “toot” or “boot”.
Хх – Pronounced like the “h” in “happy” or “hello”.
Бб – Pronounced like the “b” in “barn” or “bat”.
Гг – Pronounced like the “g” in “gone”.
Дд – Pronounced like the “d” in “down” or “dog”.
Зз – Pronounced like the “z” in “zone” or “zoo”.
Ии – Pronounced like the “i” in “taxi”.
Лл – Pronounced like the “l” in “like” or “love”.
Пп – Pronounced like the “p” in “pound” or “pot”.
Фф – Pronounced like the “f” in “farm” or “fat”.
Ээ – Pronounced like the “e” in “fend” or “fed”.
Group 4: New Letters and Sounds
Юю – Pronounced like the “u” in “unity”.
Яя – Pronounced like the “ya” in “yam” or “yard”.
Ёё – Pronounced like “yo” in “young”.
Жж – Sounds similar to the “s” in “measure” or “pleasure”. It can also sound like “g” in the word “beige”.
Цц – Sounds similar to the “ts” sound in “fits” or “its”.
Чч – Pronounced like the “ch” in “chips” or “churn” .
Шш – Pronounced like the “sh” in “shade” or “shut”.
Щщ – This pronunciation is a little tricky. You will want to make a “sh” sound, but with your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
Ыы – Pronounced like the “i” in “bill” or “will”.
Йй – This letter is used while forming diphthongs. So, the “oй” will be like the “oy” sound in “boy”. Or, the “aй” will be familiar to the “igh” in “sigh”.
Counting In Russian
Next, you will want to learn how to count in Russian. Let’s take a look at the words and their pronounciations. Counting in Russian may look like a hassle, but keep at it! And, as will you notice, at least one of them sounds like an English word!
One: один (“ah-DEEN”)
Two: два, (“dvah”)
Three: три, (“tree”)
Four: четыре, (“chee-TIH-r’eh”)
Five: пять, (“p’aht”)
Six: шесть, (“shehst”)
Seven: семь, ( “s’ehm”)
Eight: восемь, (“VOH-s’ehm”)
Nine: девять, (“D’EH-v’uht”)
Ten: десять, (“D’EH-s’uht”)
Learning How to Speak In Russian
Now that you have your alphabet and numbers down, here are some steps that you will want to take on your path to fluency:
Vocabulary: You are going to want to memorize some of the simple vocabulary words of the Russian language.
- Make some flashcards and aim to learn a certain number each day. Soon, you will build up a pretty dense vocabulary!
- Depending on your native language, determine how you would say that word in Russian.
- Stick post-it notes around your house and have the Russian word for these items printed on them.
Conversational Phrases: Learn phrases that will help you carry a conversation in Russian. Usually this means learning greetings and questions pertaining to the language. Here are a few Russian phrases and words that we thought might come in handy. Their pronunciation is in parenthesis.
- Hello: Здравствуйте (“zdra-stvooy-tye”)
- Yes: Да, (“da”)
- No: Нет, (“nyet”)
- Thank you: Спасибо, (“spuh-SEE-buh”)
- Please: Пожалуйста, (“pah-ZHAH-luh-stuh”)
- My name is… :Меня зовут… (“men-ya za-voot”)
- What is your name?: Как вас зовут? ( “kak vas za-voot”)
- Pleased to meet you: Очень приятно, (“och-en pree-yat-na”)
- Goodbye: До свидания, (“da-svee-da-nee-ye”)
Grammar: Study the basic grammar that is associated with Russian. Just like any language and form of communication, you are going to want to make sense! Russian has a few unfamiliar grammatical concepts that you might want to watch out for:
- Case System: The case system is a set of endings that are associated with certain words to tell their function and relationship to the other words in the sentence. The Russian language has 6 cases, which are: Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive, Instrumental, and Prepositional cases.
- Gender: Every person has a gender, and Russian nouns are separated into masculine, feminine, and neutral. As you begin learning Russian, you will be able to start distinguishing its gender based on the spelling of the noun itself.
- Verbs: Russian can be complex, but you will get a break with Russian’s verbs! The verbs carry only 3 tenses, which are: past, present, and future. The endings to the verbs will change based on the subject.
Keep At It!
The main thing to keep in mind when learning a second language is to not get frustrated or discouraged along the way. Learning anything new takes time and is a process. We are going to let you in on a few things that make Russian easier than other languages to boost your spirits!
- Russian does not use articles such as “a” or “the” in its sentences.
- Russian’s sentence structure is much easier than English. You may be able to say something in a few words.
- There are fewer tenses than English: only three!
- You will get to try some delicious Russian food! Such as: Syrniki (cheese-filled pancakes), honey poppy seed rolls that go great with tea, or Piroshki (savory stuffed bread).
Do It For The Stroganoff!
As always, remember to immerse yourself in the language just as you would anything that you want to become fluent or a master at. There is no one “easy” way to learn a language – just simply to find the best method that works for you. So get started, and soon you will be on your way to some amazing Russian culture, food, and tradition!