What are the basics of Russian I should learn?
The official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia is used widely throughout the Caucasus, Central Asia, and to some extent in the Baltic states. It is spoken by 258 million people. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 26 December 1991, Russian is the seventh-most spoken language in the world by a number of native speakers and the eighth-most spoken language in the world by a total number of speakers. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Russian is also the second-most widespread language on the Internet, after English. It is used in an official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states. The standard language is used in written and spoken form almost everywhere in the country, from Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg in the West to Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the East, the enormous distance between notwithstanding. Russian is the sixth-most used language on the top 1,000 sites, behind English, Chinese, French, German, and Japanese.
Let me introduce you to the basics of Russian you should learn!
1. Greetings & other Useful phrases
Whether you’re speaking with someone face-to-face, through Skype, or over the phone, greetings are an essential part of getting your Russian conversation started. However, Russian speakers don’t always say “hello” and “how are you?”. They also use many other Russian greetings expressions also called useful phrases, to say slightly different things. You can use such expressions to sound more natural and express yourself more clearly and precisely, even at the beginner English level. Learners can also hold a “Small talk”- a polite exchange used to pass the time, share non-essential information, or learn more about the other person. It’s also a great form of Russian conversation practice. This kind of communication can span a wide range of topics, from weather to sleep habits. Small talk often begins naturally with questions like, “How are you?” From there, it can expand to cover greater detail and more topics.
2. Build your vocabulary
A learner must pay great attention to capturing commonly used verbs, nouns, adjectives, synonyms, antonyms and more, in order to be able to frame intelligible, understandable sentences and convey your thoughts and emotions. Building vocabulary is key to fluency. You will need accurate, specific verbs to get your ideas across. The more verbs you know, the more ideas you can communicate.
Learn a few basic nouns and adjectives.
Knowledge of nouns and adjectives will help you describe and identify things. It will also help you practice the Cyrillic alphabet better. You may know the letters, but seeing them in context will significantly improve your learning. It will also help you build your vocabulary! Start with basic nouns and adjectives that describe things you encounter regularly such as objects, pets, stationery, vehicles, food items etc. Ensure they agree to the gender.
Learn present tense verb conjugations.
While Russian offers a significant advantage to simpler conjugation by utilizing the single most widely used tense throughout the language- the present tense, it is still not the simplest type of conjugation. Learning the present tense will allow you to put together basic sentences. You will also be able to describe everyday activities.
Put together simple sentences.
Every learner eagerly looks forward to the day he/she can make their first sentences. Simpler sentences encourage and motivate a learner to build their first conversation. A learner takes a cue to make simple sentences using the gathered vocabulary, previously learnt sessions, present tense conjugations, and the Cyrillic alphabet.
The sentences may not be perfect, to begin with, but it’s a great step towards fluency. One could use Google Translate, install a Cyrillic keyboard or use an online keyboard like TypeIt to get words not learnt as yet if required.
Learn to pluralize words.
In the Russian language, whenever a noun is a plural, the adjective must be plural too. Practising pluralizing both nouns and adjectives together is an important way to ensure your nouns and adjectives always agree. It is an essential building block to communicating clear ideas.
Learn past and future verb conjugations
Basic past and future tense verb conjugations are surprisingly simple. For many learners, they are actually easier than the present tense. Be sure to send a thank-you note to the creators of the Russian language for this one. This will help you communicate more complex ideas. By being able to communicate a time frame, you can better discuss actions.
Study the case system.
Understanding the case system is often one of the biggest hurdles for people learning Russian, so take it slowly. A case system is a system of marking dependent nouns for the role they play.
The Russian case system is a highly effective means of adding meaning to sentences without adding actual words, however, it can leave new learners confused. The Russian language utilizes the case system by making relevant changes towards the end of a word depending on the intent it serves. A case system helps one to have clear communication.
4. Cyrillic Alphabet
The Russian alphabet may look intimidating to a beginner but it is actually quite easy to learn. The Russian alphabet is also called the Cyrillic alphabet. And it shares several letters with the Latin alphabet. Learning the Cyrillic alphabet will make Russian pronunciation easier. Each letter of Cyrillic has a specific sound. It will enable you to sound out words. Once you know Cyrillic, you can look at a word and sound it out.
Learning the Cyrillic alphabet will also help you use a Russian-English dictionary to look for cognates.
And to start learning the Cyrillic alphabet I recommend you use online resources, such as learning online, joining a class, learning from YouTube videos, and many more
It’s important not to worry much about the fine details of grammar at first. You will learn it more naturally when you start using Russian. Remember that Russian children all learnt to speak Russian before they understood any grammar. Write the letters down. It has been shown that the very act of writing something helps you enter it into your memory. Practice spelling words phonetically using the Russian alphabet, it doesn’t even need to be Russian words that you are writing. Think about English-language words you know. Think about your name. How might you spell that in the Cyrillic alphabet to replicate the sounds? If you want to do this on your computer, you might want to use a free online Cyrillic keyboard.
Keep conjugating. Continuing to practice conjugating will not only make conjugating easier for you, but will also help you remember your new verb vocabulary. Practice pluralizing words and using them in sentences. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the easier it will be to pluralize in a conversation without having to think about it.
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