“Oddities” of the Russian language



Everybody says Russian is a “strange” language, but we are sure that you could not imagine to what extent! We made a list of unusual Russian grammar cases for you to be ready when you will face these phrases!

Travel in Russia

The Russian alphabet is a kind of strange. Some letters here are the same as in Latin, but others look the same, but they sound quite different. In addition, two more letters – «ъ» and «ь» do not have their own sounds, what do they need for?

The Russian letter «E» can represent two different sounds: [й’э] and [й’о]. In addition, there is a separate letter for [й’о] – «Ё», but almost nobody writes these two points, so it turns out to be «Е», not «Ё». It is possible to get confused.

In the modern Russian language, the word «товарищ» (comrade) is no longer used, so the Russians do not have a special word-appeal to another person or group of people. Sometimes you can hear «дамы и господа» (ladies and gentlemen), but this sounds somewhat pretentious and unnatural, and the word «гражданин» (citizen) sounds too officially. People can use the word-appeal «мужчина, женщина, девушка» (man, woman, girl) but this is somewhat rude. Over the past 20 years, the Russians have not been able to decide how they address other people, so in each situation they choose the most appropriate word.

The verb «быть» (to be) is not used in the present tense. However, it is used in the future and in the past.

The word order in Russian is considered free, but this does not mean that you can put the words as you want. The meaning of the sentence can fundamentally depend on the word order, its stylistics. For example, the phrase «Я иду домой» literally means “I’m going home” (although, of course, much depends on the intonation), but in the phrase «Я домой иду» it stresses that «я иду ДОМОЙ» (I’m going HOME), not to some other place. And the phrase «Домой иду я» means that this is the «Я» иду домой (“I am” going home), not you and not someone else. So in Russian the meaning of the message depends on what you want to say, and this is achieved by using the words order and intonation.

To turn a sentence into a general question, you do not need to change anything at all, just an intonation. «Ты дома.» (You are at home.) is a statement, fact; but «Ты дома?» (Are you at home?) is a question already.

Numerals «один» (one) and «два» (two) vary by genus, and the rest do not: «один мальчик» (one boy) «одна девочка» (one girl), «две девочки» (two girls), «два мальчика» (two boys), but «три мальчика» (three boys) and «три девочки» (three girls).

The numerals «один» (one), «тысяча» (thousand), «миллион» (million), «миллиард» (billion) have plural form «одни» (ones), «тысячи» (thousands), «миллионы» (millions), «миллиарды» (billions), but the others quantitative and collective numerals do not have the plural form.

The verbs in the past tense have a genus, but in the present and the future, they do not. For example, «играть» (to play), «он играл» (he played), «она играла» (she played); «он играет» (he plays), «она играет» (she plays).

There are “animate” nouns in Russian language. Moreover, some “animate” nouns are considered more “animate” than inanimate. For example, the word «мертвец» (dead man) is considered animate in comparison with the same reality, denoted by the word «труп» (corpse). Example: «Вижу кого? – мертвеца, но вижу что? – труп». (See who? – a dead man, but I see what? – a corpse.)

There is a Russian word consisted of two letters in which you can make 8 mistakes is «щи» (shchi*Name of the Russian soup). The Russian Empress Catherine the Great, while she was still a German princess Sophie, wrote the simple Russian word «щи» like this: “schtschi”, and this is 8 letters, all of which are incorrect!

The five letters of the Russian alphabet, which are «Г, Д, Е, Ё, Ж» go in succession, are forming a sentence: «Где ёж?» (Where is the hedgehog?).

A Russian sentence can consist of the verbs only, for example: «Посидели решили послать сходить купить выпить» (We sat down and decided to send somebody to buy a drink.)

And there is one more language “explosion” for you:
«— Есть пить?» (Do you have a drink?)
«— Пить есть, есть нету.» (I have a drink, but I do not have (anything) to eat)
In the first sentence, the word «Есть» means the form of the verb «иметь» (to have), in the second, it means «принимать пищу/еда» (to eat/food).

Nadezhda Krasnokutskaya
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