Learn Russian grammar
Russian grammar is both simple and complex–as any other language. We value the opportunity to assist as you advance in learning Russian.
Before we begin grammar we invite you to also visit these resources as you study:
The Cyrillic alphabet learning tools are on this page.
The Russian numbers are essential.
The very best language resources to assist your Russian studies.
It would be impossible to cover the entire scope of Russian grammar here so we’ll post some helpful tips from time to time and then point you to the best resources (many of them are free!) so that you can expand your abilities at your individual pace as needed.
Сажать/посадить: to seat, plant, imprison, put
In English, I don’t have much occasion to use the verb “to seat.” In fact, I think the last time I used it was a year or so ago: “Even though we made a reservation, the maitre d’ didn’t seat us right away.”
On the other hand, in Russian I seat things all the time. That is, I use the verb pair сажать/посадить almost every day.
First of all, you use сажать/посадить when you are putting someone in a sitting position. Он посадил меня на диван и стал рассказывать о том, что случилось. (He seated me on the couch and began to tell me what happened.) Or: Я посадила ребенка к себе на колени и стала читать ему книгу. (I put the child on my lap and began to read him a book.)
And since you sit on airplanes, trains, cars and other forms of transport, you are “seated” when you board them. Hence the word посадка (boarding) and посадочный талон (boarding pass) and the announcements you hear at the airport: Идёт посадка на рейс … (Boarding flight number … ).
That’s what passengers do. But planes also “sit” or are “seated” — that is, they land: Самолёт садился далеко из терминала (The plane put down far from the terminal). Пилот посадил самолёт на Гудзон (The pilot landed the plane on the Hudson). And so when посадка is used to describe planes and not passengers, it means a landing: Боинг совершил аварийную посадку (The Boeing made an emergency landing).
Read the entire article at this link.
After Ш, Щ, Ж, Ч, Ц, don’t write O if it’s unstressed; instead write e.
This rule applies when forming plural nouns. After these consonants: г х ч ш ж щ k you make a noun plural by changing the ending letter to и (instead of ы). Example: juice сок becomes соки juices.
After Ш, Щ, Ж, Ч, don’t write Я or Ю; instead use А or У.
Feminine nouns: These end in either -а or -я. This is easy to remember as they have that “ah” sound at the end.
Neuter nouns: -о or -е. If there are any foreign cognates, for example меню, then the word is most likely neuter as well.
One last thing before we move onto the nominative is that if the noun is ending in ь, then it is either masculine or feminine.
For both masculine and feminine nouns: Add an -i sound at the end. As Randy says, we’ll look into morphology a little later.
Neuter nouns: These need an -a sound at the end. Again, we’ll learn the specific ending when we get into morphology.
Ты – You (informal)
Он (m)/ Она (f)/ Оно (n) – he / she / it
Вы – you (polite/ plural)
Мы – we
Они – they
Masculine adjectives have an -iy sound as their ending.Feminine has an -aya sound.
Neuter end in either -ое or -ее
Plurals have an -iye sound
1- Masculine, (мужской род)
2- Feminine (женской род)
3- Neuter (средний род).
Look at the ending in the nominative (dictionary) case to tell the gender of a noun. The nominative case is the default case for words.
Masculine nouns end with a consonants or with й.
Feminine nouns end with а, я, or ия.
Neuter nouns end in е, о, or with ие.
As with any language there are exceptions so we’ll help with few of the more common ones.
- A few masculine nouns end in a or я; these are usually associated with male names or titles. You’ll see this with мужчи́на (man,) дя́дя́ (uncle,) де́душка (grandfather,) and this is very common with shortened nicknames of masculine names. Think of Sasha, Dima and others like Воло́дя, Бо́ря. These decline like feminine nouns.
- Neuter nouns ending in о or и are often borrowed from foreign languages. Examples include кинo, ко́фe, кафe, and and такси. These borrowed words do not decline.
- There are a handful of neuter nouns that end with я. These include вре́мя (time), зна́мя (banner), и́мя (first name,) се́мя (seed) and те́мя (crown.)
- There are a few nouns that can be either masculine or feminine. These few all end with which end in the soft sign, ь.
Russian has 10 paired vowels. In other words there are 5 vowel sounds but expressed in pairs, depending on whether the word needs a hard vowel sound or a soft vowel sound.
So, how easy are they to learn? Very, because you have to learn only the 5 hard vowels and since they’re paired you simply add the English “y” sound to the beginning of each to form the pair.
Here is how it works:
э (eh) is a hard vowel. Add y and we have e (ye).
ы (euh) is a very hard sound. It is paired with и (e). Okay, that is the only one you don’t add the y to on the front.
у (oo) is hard and we soften it by adding the y sound to make ю (like “you”).
o (oh) is a hard vowel and we make it soft by again adding the y sound which makes ё (yo).
Making Nouns Plural:
For nouns, add ы to the end of the words which end with a consonant. These are masculine nouns. Example: билет ticket becomes билеты tickets.
Nouns ending with a are feminine so to make it plural you drop the a and add ы instead. Example: зима winter becomes зимы winters.
Nouns ending with the soft sign (ь) or with я are feminine and so you drop those letters and change the ending to и for plurals. Example: melon дыня
becomes дыни melons.
Neuter nouns end either in o or with e. The o is changed to a and a noun ending in e is changed to я to make it plural. Examples: Regarding o, wine вино becomes вина wines. Regarding e (hard as so few nouns end with e), платье is a dress and more than one dress becomes платья.
There are exceptions. This exception is called the 7 Letter Rule:
After these consonants: г х ч ш ж щ k you make a noun plural by changing the ending letter to и (instead of ы). Example: juice сок becomes соки juices.
There there are exceptions with words that don’t change. Cafe is one example as it is кафе with either.