Russian is a Slavic language of the Indo-European language family. It is a native language for about 150 million people and an official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Despite the fact, that Russian does not have a status of the official language in other countries of the former USSR (Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, etc.) it still widely spoken there.
Understanding the similarities and differences between your native language and the language you are going to learn is a first step towards successful language acquisition.
|Alphabet||Cyrillic (32 letters)||Latin (26 letters)|
|Vowel sounds||5 sounds. No distinction between short and long vowels||12 sounds: 7 short and 5 long|
|Consonant sounds||20 consonant letters designate 37 consonant sounds||20 consonant letters designate 24 consonant sounds|
|Word order in a sentence||Flexible||Fixed|
|Articles||No articles. However, there are some ways of expressing whether a noun is definite or indefinite: word order, the use of plurals and demonstrative pronouns, etc.||Definite, indefinite and zero articles|
|Declension||Nouns, pronouns, adjective, demonstratives, most numbers, ordinals and other particles are declined for number (singular, plural) and gender (masculine, feminine, neutral)||Nouns have distinct singular and plural forms|
|Subject–verb agreement||Verbs agree with subjects in person and number (non-past tense) or in number and gender (past tense)||Verbs agree in the third-person singular of the present indicative|
|Forms of address||Familiar “ты” and respectful “Вы”||A word “you” for both familiar and respectful forms|
|Grammatical genders||Three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. In contrast to English, you need to know the gender of each noun (even of inanimate thing or animal) because it affects on endings of other words in the sentence.||Three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter.|
The above are the main differences between the Russian and the English languages and this list goes on. However, it is enough to understand the nature of the language we are dealing with.
Here are some fun facts about the Russian language, which may give you more information about this language.
- Russian is the most widespread language over Eurasia. It is the most spoken out of all Slavic languages and the largest one out of all European native languages.
- The 3 longest verbs consist of 24 letters:
- Переосвидетельствоваться (To be reexamined).
- Субстанционализироваться (To become a substance).
- Интернационализироваться (To be internationalized).
- The 2 longest nouns also consist of 24 letters:
- Человеконенавистничество (Misanthropy).
- Высокопревосходительство (Excellency).
- There are words in the Russian language with three consecutive letters “Е”:
- Длинношеее (“Long-necked” in neuter gender).
- Змееед (Toed snake-eagle).
- Apatr from words-homonyms, there are even sentences that pronounced the same, but have different meanings:
- “Мы же на ты!” (We address each other as “ты”!) – “Мы женаты” (We are married).
- “Несуразные вещи” (Ridiculous Things) – “Несу разные вещи” (I’m carrying different things)
- “Покалечилась” (She/I was injured) – “Пока лечилась” (While she/I was treated).
- “И дико мне” (I feel wild) – “Иди ко мне” (Come to me).
- “Ему же надо будет” (He will need this) – “Ему жена добудет” (His wife will get it for him).
- The Russian language has some fun features that you don’t really understand until you start to “feel” the language. For instance, the use of words «Стоять» (stand) and «Лежать» (lay) can be a bit confusing to newcomers.
If an object is designed to hold something, it stands: тарелка (plate), миска (bowl) and шкатулка (jewelry box) стоят на столе (stand on the table). In boxes, things always seem to lie: тарелка лежит в красной коробке (The plate is in the red box).
When dealing with small animals, you should say “sit”. Ящерица сидит на стене (A lizard is on the wall). Large creatures with visible legs “stand”. Лошадь стоит в поле. (A horse is standing in the field). Most food that is not in packages lies: Хлеб лежит на столе (bread is on the table). However, if things are in a package, you might say соль стоит на полке (the salt is on the shelf).