Learn Russian

Targeted Lessons for Garfield Computers for the World Travelers


Lesson 1:
Russian Alphabet

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:
Do you speak English?

Lesson 4:


Grammar Quickstart

Grammar Quickstart

On this page, we'll cut to the chase. What are the most important things for you to know about Russian grammar to help you navigate the language when you're traveling?


Remember the definition from your English class? "A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing."


Many of them can be counted (e.g., one book, many books). Some cannot (e.g., money, water). If you can count them, they typically have both a singular (one) and plural (many) form. In English, it's pretty simple; we generally just add -s to the end of the singular noun, such as, book, books. There are some exceptions, such as church, churches and child, children.

Russian is similar, but, obviously, you don't just add -s to the end of a singular noun in Russian. For most nouns, it's ы (yeri). Sometimes it's и (usually based on predictable spelling rules), and for certain nouns, it's а. Here are some examples (singular - plural):

  • студент - студенты (student - students)
  • книга - книги  (book - books)
  • окно - окна (window - windows)


This brings in something that Russian has that English doesn't really have: gender. In Russian, all nouns have grammatical gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Generally:

  • Masculine nouns end in a consonant (like студент)
  • Feminine nouns end in (or ) (like книга or лаборатория)
  • Neuter nouns end in -о (or -е) (like окно or море)

So, you see, it doesn't have a lot to do with the "meaning" of the word determining the gender. Instead, focus on the form.


Like English, Russian uses nouns for subjects of sentences and objects of predicates and prepositions. However, in English, nouns don't change form based on how they're used in the sentence. In Russian, they do. If this happened in English, then we might find sentences like the following (see how book changes from sentence to sentence).

  • A book was in the store.
  • A student bought the booku.
  • A found a piece of paper in the booke.
  • He hit his friend with the bookom.

Russian keeps track of all the different syntactic relationships (called cases) that a noun can appear in. What that means is that you'll hear the same "word" in different forms depending on how it's used in a given sentence.

Without going into all the details, suffice it to say that Russian has six cases:

  • Nominative (generally for the subject of the sentence)
  • Accusative (generally for the object of the predicate or with verbs of motion)
  • Genitive (generally for showing possession or relationship -- like 's in English)
  • Prepositional or Locative (generally for location or after some prepositions)
  • Dative (generally when giving to someone or benefiting someone)
  • Instrumental (generally for showing how something was done or after "with")

Next installment soon...

йцукенгшщзхъ фывапролджэ ячсмитьбю..

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