A useful one sometimes. Let’s see how we can remember it.
You must already know the verb БЫТЬ – to be. As sound Ы is a hard nut to crack, probably in the beginning you always pronounced it like БИТЬ, completely unaware that it is another verb.
Быть = to be
Бить = to beat somebody
Убить = to kill (very close to бить, just add a prefix), perfective. A bit strange in the future: убью, убьёшь, etc.
Убивать = to kill, imperfective, regular.
It’s an exciting adjective in Russian, здоровый. You will probably hear something like this while drinking with a bunch of Russians (Ваше здоровье! – let’s drink for your health!) and think it is just about health – slim chance! Apart from “healthy”, it can also mean “very big, huge”. So,
здоровый мужчина can mean both, a healthy/strong man and a fat/sturdy one (aren’t in English fat chance and slim chance the same?)
That was interesting for me to know what the word ИДИОТ originally meant – a person who is concerned with their own business rather than public affairs, politics, etc. (and some politicians are called idiots?) which in Greece was not really a good quality, so it acquired a negative meaning, as in these words, usually attributed to Putin:
It’s strange but in Russian we have the same word for house and home – ДОМ. In certain context it’s possible to distinguish between them:
Я иду домой – I am going home
Я иду в дом – I am going inside the house (for example from the garden)
So, if we use Accusative with a preposition (second option), that’s more about building itself and house. Just the noun alone – more about home.
Я дома – I am home
Я в доме – I am inside the house
Again, if we use here Prepositional with a preposition (second option), that’s more about building itself and house. Just the noun alone – more about home.
В доме 5 этажей – There are 5 floors in the house (building).
(У нас) дома 5 этажей – (In our) home there are 5 floors.
The second is more about oligarchs!
Sometimes they are interchangeable:
The 6th of June in Russia is the day of the Russian language. Let’s celebrate it by learning something new! For example:
to congratulate on something, you can use the following pattern:
с + occasion in instrumental case.
C днём русского языка! (C + “day” in instrumental case + related words in genitive, as it corresponds to the of phrase) – “with (=on) day of Russian language!”
С днём рождения! – “with (=on) day of birthday!”
Haven’t learned Pushkin’s poems by heart yet? No problem, can be fixed by a little cheating.
There is some confusion with these words – both words will be “now” in English. Many Russian native speakers would even struggle to explain the difference even though they use them correctly on subconscious level.
СЕЙЧАС (*СИЧАС) means “now” without any reference to the past, and
ТЕПЕРЬ (*ТИПЕРЬ) means something like “… while now” as opposed to the past: we had something in the past but ТЕПЕРЬ we…
Sometimes the difference is not quite clear but if you let’s say compare it with how (different!) it was in the past, better say ТЕПЕРЬ.
Сейчас я пишу книги – Now I write books
Теперь я пишу книги- Now I write books but in the past wrote articles or did something else
Сейчас много говорят о политике – Now they speak much about politics
Теперь много говорят о политике – Now they speak more about politics than before
So, СЕЙЧАС in the examples above can replace ТЕПЕРЬ but it will loose its reference to the past. To retain the reference and СЕЙЧАС, we would need to create a special context:
Раньше я был банкиром, а сейчас пишу книги – I earlier was (used to be) a banker but now write books
But sometimes ТЕПЕРЬ cannot replace СЕЙЧАС at all, because often СЕЙЧАС is used for future without reference to the past:
Я сейчас напишу тебе письмо – I will write you a letter now (no reference to the past, so ТЕПЕРЬ would not make sense)
Я купил квартиру и теперь буду жить отдельно – I have bought a flat and will now live separately (here ТЕПЕРЬ is used for future but there is connection with the past!)
So, whenever you are talking about present/future and link it (compare it) with the past, go for ТЕПЕРЬ.
And for dessert (why do we use ТЕПЕРЬ and what word helps us make the choice?):
Quite a rude word, isn’t it? However, as it is unfortunately used very often, it won’t hurt to know it. So,
дурак is about a man, and
дура is about a woman:
To brush up your imperative mood skills, refer to my super scheme here. (ИЩИ is formed from stem ИЩ, infinitive ИСКАТЬ).
It is possible to soften this word slightly and instead of ДУРАК say ДУРАЧОК (with a proper soft intonation) – a woman who calls a man ДУРАК does not love this man, but if she says ДУРАЧОК, she probably does!
Also, in our failry tales we have a famous character ИВАНУШКА-ДУРАЧОК (something like Ivan-the-Little-Fool). He is usually silly, kind, lazy and not selfish at all, yet (or therefore?) lucky and in the end he marries a princess and gets half a kingdom! (How? He inherits a cow, foolishly changes it for a goat, then the goat for a chicken and the chicken for an egg but this egg turns out to be magical, etc).
And yes, in Russia single women in their 30s are in a tough condition as the society thinks they should already be married!
Normally with countries (unless it’s an island) we use preposition В + Accusative case for to or В + Prepositional case for in.
Я еду в Россию / в Англию / в Ирландию – I am going to Russia/ to England / to France
Я живу в России / в Англии / в Ирландии – I live in Russia/ in England / in France
It’s not easy with Ukraine. It used to be part of Russia, not a separate county, and we would say НА instead of В (there are lots of attempts to explain why but let’s not make it complicated now):
Я еду на Украину – I am going to Ukraine
Я живу на Украине – I am living in Ukraine
Now, when it is a separate country, some people, especially Ukrainians, say В instead of НА, like with other countries:
Я еду в Украину – I am going to Ukraine
Я живу в Украине – I am living in Ukraine
So, НА is more traditional while В has some political connotations.
Челябинск is a Russian town. You can find some smart and boring stuff about it here. If you want something funny on Friday, see below.
This town is very well known on the Internet for being ‘rough’ and ‘tough’. If something of this sort happens, they say it’s from Челябинск and in Челябинск (does not need to be true though, it is just a synonym of everything rough and tough).
Well, (by coincidence?) we had a meteorite shower there last year and therefore lots of jokes, like:
When I speak to people in the UK and mention the north of Russia, it turns out they think it is an area to the north of Moscow. It’s correct but often by “the north” in Russia we mean “Siberia”, especially its part which is famous for its oil and gas deposits. A good example of “the north” would be the town of Surgut or the Respublic of Yakutia. So don’t just restrict yourself to the north of Moscow!
Север – the north
Уехать на север – to go to the north (to work or live)
Работать на севере – to work in the north (you remember where the north is, right?). Often associated with work on rotation basis, for example 1 month on and 1 month off: you spend one month at your home in a warmer area and then travel to the north and stay there for a month. Also associated with a much bigger income.
Северные (“northern”, about money) – a kind of allowance which is paid to those working in the north. The reason for paying is severe life conditions. The amount depends on the area and can be additional 20-100% to your income.
And a northern joke for those who are not too bad at geometry: