Russian/Lesson 1

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Герб России
Lesson 1 — Как тебя зовут?
The Kremlin, which is known to be headquarters of Russian authorities.

Dialogue[edit | edit source]

Read an introductory dialogue between a boy, Sasha, and a girl, Katya. You can read the lines using pronunciation respelling key.

Line Respelling
Са́ша: Приве́т! Меня́ зову́т Са́ша. Как тебя́ зову́т? SA-sha: preev-YET! men-YA za-VOOT SA-sha. kak tye-BYA za-VOOT?
Ка́тя: Приве́т, Са́ша. Меня́ зову́т Ка́тя. Как дела́? KAT-ya: preev-YET, SA-sha. men-YA za-VOOT KAT-ya. kak dye-LA?
Са́ша: Хорошо́. А у тебя́? kha-ra-SHO. a oo teb-YA?
Ка́тя: О́чень хорошо́. O-chen kha-ra-SHO
Са́ша: Я студе́нт. А ты студе́нтка? ya stoo-DYENT. a ti stoo-DYENT-ka?
Ка́тя: Да, я студе́нтка. da, ya stoo-DYENT-ka
Са́ша: Ну, пока́! noo, po-KA
  • Приве́т! is an informal greeting, loosely translated as 'Hi!' or 'Hey!'. The more formal meeting is здра́вствуйте (ZDRAV-stvooy-tye)
  • Меня́ зову́т... literally means 'Me they call...' or 'They call me...', and is the Russian way of saying 'My name is...'. Similarly, как тебя́ зову́т? literally means 'How you they call?', or 'How do they call you?', and is how Russians ask 'What's your name?'.
  • Как дела́? literally means 'How (are) things?' (the word 'are' is omitted in Russian). А у тебя́? means 'And by you?'.
  • Хорошо́ is a general catch-all word that means 'good', 'fine', 'OK', etc.
  • Студент and студентка both mean 'student', but the former is for males and the latter is for females. Feminine words often end in a or a , while masculine words often end in a consonant. See the page on gender for more details.
  • Russians often omit the copula, i.e., words like 'is', 'are', 'am' - any present tense form of the verb 'to be'. They also omit articles, which in English are 'a', 'an', and 'the'. Thus, 'I am a student' becomes Я студент / Я студентка.
  • Ну is an interjection, a filler word that corresponds to the English 'well'.

Translation (test yourself)

Hello![edit | edit source]


Russian Vocabulary • Lesson 1
Привет! Flag of Russia.svg Hello!

English Русский Listen Notes
Hello здрáвствуйте ·
здрáвствуй ·
Hi привéт · X
Good morning! дóброе ýтро
Good day! дóбрый день
Good evening! дóбрый вéчер
Good night! спокóйной нóчи
See you later! покá · X
Goodbye до свидáния · O

  • The first "в" in "здравствуйте" is silent.
  • The adjective добрый means "kind".

Formal and Informal[edit | edit source]

Russian distinguishes between formal and informal modes of address (register). Friends and family address each other using the informal register with the second person singular pronoun "ты" (you), while employees and students use the formal register with bosses and professors with the second person plural pronoun "вы" (you, referring to more than one person). Adults always use "ты" when talking to a child. In the vocabulary tables "Notes" column, the "X" denotes an exclusively informal term, and the "O" indicates an exclusively formal term.


What's your name?[edit | edit source]

— Как тебя зовут?
Владимир. А тебя?
Иосиф. Очень приятно.

Russian Vocabulary • Lesson 1
Как тебя зовут? Flag of Russia.svg What is your name?

English Русский Notes
What is your name? как тебя́ зову́т? X
как вас зову́т? O
My name is.. меня́ зову́т..
Your name is.. тебя́ зову́т.. X
вас зову́т.. O
Nice to meet you. óчень прия́тно
  • "Как тебя зовут?", the phrase used to ask someone's name, translates to "How do they call you?"
  • "Очень приятно", means "very pleasant."
  • Как тебя зовут?
    What is your name?
  • Меня зовут Пётр.
    My name is Pyotr.
  • Очень приятно.
    Nice to meet you.
  • It should now be obvious that тебя and вас are interchangeable, the former used in casual / familiar settings and the latter in formal settings; вас is also the plural form of "you". An example may be у вас есть хлеб? meaning, "do you have bread?" - being both plural and formal.
  • With the first phrase comes an interesting note. Because the function of words is mostly determined by declension, word order is mostly free. "Меня зовут Пётр" and "Пётр меня зовут" mean the same thing. "Mostly" is highlighted, however, because some combinations do not work, so avoid straying too far from the word order of the examples until later.

Go to the exercise

Russian names[edit | edit source]

Russian names for people are composed of a given name, a patronymic, and a family name. The given name is a person's first name, and is usually chosen by the parents at birth. The patronymic is a derivation of the father's name, modified by gender. The family name is the name shared by the immediate family and passed down by the male descendants, but also modified by gender.

How are you?[edit | edit source]

— Мария, как дела?
— Неплохо.

Russian Vocabulary • Lesson 1
Как дела? Flag of Russia.svg How are you?

English Русский Listen Notes
How are you? Как дела́?
Well ("good") хорошо́ ·
Bad пло́хо
Not bad непло́хо
And you? А у тебя́? X
А у вас? O
Thank you спаси́бо ·
  • The three answers to "как дела" are adverbs.
  • You can append "очень" (very) to the front of any adverb.
  • Иван: Привет, Юлия. Как дела?
    Hello, Yuliya. How are you?
  • Юлия: Очень хорошо, спасибо. А у тебя, Иван?
    Very well, thanks. And you, Ivan?
  • Иван: Неплохо. Пока!
    Not bad. See you later!

Go to the exercise

Who is this?[edit | edit source]

— Кто это?
— Это Миша. Он лев.
Ясно. Очень приятно.

Russian Vocabulary • Lesson 1
Кто это? Flag of Russia.svg Who is this?

English Русский Listen Notes
I am.. Я.. ·
You are.. Ты.. X
Вы.. O
He is.. Он.. M
She is.. Она.. F
Student студе́нт · M
студе́нтка F
Who is.. кто ·
This э́то ·
  • Сергей: Доброе утро, Наташа. Как дела?
    Good morning, Natasha. How are you?
  • Наташа: Хорошо, спасибо. Кто это?
    Well, thanks. Who is this?
  • Сергей: Это Иван. Он студент.
    This is Ivan. He is a student.
  • Иван: Очень приятно. Вы студентка?
    Nice to meet you. Are you a student?
  • Наташа: Да, я студентка.
    Yes, I am a student.
  • Russian lacks "is" and articles: Russian does not use the existence verb "быть" in the present tense, or articles such as "a", "an", or "the." The verb "быть" does have a present tense, but it is considered archaic and old fashioned in standard Russian, albeit still used regularly in most dialects. Simply following "я" (I, me) with a noun suffices to say "I am a.." However, in written Russian, when the subject is a noun (not a pronoun), an em dash (—) functions as the verb. The proper sentence to say "Ivan is a student" is "Иван — студент."
  • Gender: The noun "студент" is the first instance of grammatical gender. "Студент" is used when the speaker is referring to himself or another male. "Студентка" is used when the speaker is referring to herself or another female.

Go to the exercise

Summary[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, you have learned:

  • How to greet people (Привет, доброе утро)
  • How to introduce yourself (Меня зовут Иван)
  • How to introduce others (Это Сергей)
  • How to say how you are (Хорошо, неплохо)

Finish the exercises and translate the introductory dialogue before moving on.

External links[edit | edit source]

Lesson 2 >>