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?):
Attention! Lots of letters and hardly any pictures.
Ever wondered why you nailed English easily at the tender age of 0-5 but struggle with other languages now? If so, it feels like our brains actually get worse and worse for languages. Children have 2 basic advantages over adults in this matter:
1) Motivation. In attempt to learn something new, they are ready to sacrifice their mum (yea, let’s drag her by her shiny hair!), dad (yea, he does not need to sleep, so he can read me this book again for the 45736th time) and even own life (let’s try and see what it tastes like – never mind mum shouted “don’t touch it!”).
To make this post a bit more serious, I will add three smart words – hippocampus, amygdala and dopamine, all about brains. The first one, hippocampus, is responsible for collecting information from all sources (visual, auditory, etc) and transferring short-term memory into long-term memory. If you are truly enjoying something (let’s refer to languages again as an example), this changes much how your memory works, as you involve amygdala as well. Amygdala is a little part of the brain which influences the strength of the memory if strong emotions are added to an event. Emotional memory is viewed as an implicit or unconscious form of memory and contrasts with explicit or declarative memory mediated by the hippocampus. Also, if you are really motivated about something (let’s say to learn a language), amygdala releases dopamine (a chemical) which improves your concentration and abilities. Dopamine is like ketchup on your hot dog – a little thing but changes so much.
And now a question: how much motivation to study English did people have before they put this sign in a public place:
Thanks to my student Jim who sent it to me! Word for word, it is all correct (the top line is in Ukrainian but source language does not matter here). This is probably what happens if you assign the job to Google translate or have no interest in what you are doing (have you done your homework?=).
2) Special “mechanism” in their brains. How do actually children learn a language if they can’t read? How do they know this is one word and this is another? The first thought is probably that they listen and try to make sense of words between pauses. But if we look at oscillogramme (visual representation of speech – the last smart word here, I promise!), we will see that there are actually no pauses between words and sometimes there are pauses between parts of one word:
What children do is, as they are highly sensitive to repeated segments, they look for repetitions. Once they heard same syllables or their combination in different contexts, they can think it is a separate word. Such a complicated work they do! While we normally say that it is so easy for them and so hard for us poor. Neuroscientists say we loose this great decoding ability as we grow older but maybe we just get lazier and lazier with every year=) Plus children love repetitions while we hate. Children want the same book with the same story again and again until they make sense of every atom in it while we want something new every day and hop from one thing to another.
So, to be successful in leaning, we need to have a stubborn baby-like motivation (not something abstract) + enjoy what we are doing (then it is physically easier to remember stuff and do it really well) + study regularly + work hard, and all at the same time. An old truth many forget!
You probably remember a similar word – СПАТЬ/to sleep which in Russian sounds a bit like relaxing SPA. No way, you would think, will English DREAM go to waste then? Well, there is a similar word in Russian which sounds like English DREAM.
ДРЕМАТЬ (*ДРИМАТЬ) – imperfective infinitive.
We also know that typically unstressed Е becomes И (as transcribed above), which makes Russian ДРЕМАТЬ even more like English DREAM. Isn’t it a dream word? And yes, wise books say these words are related as they had the same “granddad”.
The word for today is ЦЕНА (read like *ЦЫНА). Means “price”. ЦЕНЫ will be plural:
The reason why unstressed Е becomes Ы is as follows: normally unstressed Е becomes И, plus after Ж, Ш, or Ц letter И actually becomes Ы as these three consonants are always hard.
Let’s play with this word a bit and change it to other parts of speech:
ЦЕННЫЙ (adjective) – valuable
БЕСЦЕННЫЙ (adjective) – priceless
Here Е is stressed, therefore it is pronounced like Э. But if we decide to form a verb, that would be Ы as the verb is
ЦЕНИТЬ (verb) – to value, as for example here:
The only difficulty with this one, apart from different perception by men and women (refer to the picture below), is letter В which should not be pronounced. Therefore, it will read like *ЧУСТВА.
That was plural. Singular will be ЧУВСТВО (again, no В in pronunciation). As the final vowel here reduces to А (it is not stressed), pronunciation of ЧУВСТВА = ЧУВСТВО (do you remember about В?)
And the verb derived from it will be ЧУВСТВОВАТЬ (you still remember about В?)
Its beginning sounds a bit like English “choose” (but with S, not Z). We don’t choose чувства (but we do remember about В)!
It would not be a surprise for you to hear that Russian word for bank is банк (masculine gender).
Also, we have a similarly pronounced word, but of feminine gender – банка. Means a jar (glass jar for storing).
But in prepositional case, they would take the same forms – банке. So,
– Возьми в банке! can mean 1) take (it) in/from bank 2) take it in/from the jar
– Я храню деньги в банке! can mean 1) I keep money in bank 2) I keep money in a jar
And one more about work (not bank/jar) for more advanced speakers:
This word is pronounced like ЧИЛАВЕК. Like 3 English words:
Chill love ache (just throw i from last word /eɪk/)
What kind of person would chill you to the core?
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!
In Russian, we have a great slang word for working hard – ПАХАТЬ. It also has a non-slang meaning (to plough). It is regular in the past – ПАХАЛ, ПАХАЛА etc but irregular in present:
Я пашу, ты пашешь, он пашет, мы пашем, вы пашете, они пашут.
Я пашу ночью и днём! – I work hard nights and days!
A great idea for your office:
СТАТЬ sounds a bit like British English START, doesn’t it? Just mind the soft Т in the end. I want to start and become a…
Also, we use Instrumental case after this verb:
Я хочу стать врачом. – I want to become a doctor.
Я хочу стать космонавтом. – I want to become a cosmonaut.
Я хочу стать звездой. – I want to become a star.
A little joke to practice (it’s Friday today, don’t work too much!):
We don’t always put dots above Ё (like in the second word above).