August 19th, 2013 — posted by Don

The verb ставить/поставить means ‘to put,’ and specifically it means to put something somewhere in a vertical position. It conjugates like this:

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive ставить поставить
Past ставил
Present ставлю
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду ставить
будешь ставить
будет ставить
будем ставить
будете ставить
будут ставить
Imperative ставь(те) поставь(те)

The item you move is the direct object of the verb. But what about the place where you put the item? That is actually a bit complicated. If you are putting an item on a flat surface, then use на + accusative.

Игорь поставил бутылку на стол. Igor put the bottle on the table.
Вера поставила будильник на полку. Vera put the alarm clock on the shelf.

If you are putting something into another relatively small item, then use в + accusative.

Мы поставили джем в холодильник. We put the jam in the refrigerator.
Я рассеянно поставил чашку чая в шкаф. I absent-mindedly put a cup of tea in the cupboard.

However, if you are putting something in a room of your apartment, though, use в + prepositional. (Кухня is a на word, so for it you can use на + prepositional as well.)

Мы поставили новый диван в гостиной. We put the new couch in the living room.
Я поставлю новую кровать в спальне сына. I’ll put the new bed in my son’s room.
Мы поставим новую стиральную машину в ванной. We will put the new washing machine in the bathroom.
Поставь холодильник на кухне. Put the refrigerator in the kitchen.

Шоколадная картошка

July 18th, 2012 — posted by Don

You probably know that chocolate is шоколад in Russian and that potato is картошка. So what if you wanted to say ‘chocolate potato’? In English you simply put the two nouns together in a row. In Russian you can't normally put two nouns together like that and have the first one modify the second. Instead you have to put the first one into adjective form. The adjective from шоколад is шоколадный, so chocolate potato comes out шоколадная картошка.

Now if you are an American, you are probably asking yourself, “Why the heck would I want to say ‘chocolate potato’ in English, much less in Russian?” Oh, my poor ignorant American friend. You need to go to Russia and try the pastry they call шоколадная картошка. You will think you have died and gone to heaven. I encountered my first ones the other day. It was in a little convenience store.

“Are those chocolate?” I asked.

“They are mumble mumble potato mumble,” she replied.

Potato, huh? They kind of look like yeti testicles covered in brown bread crumbs, but what the hell, I'll give 'em a try.

Home. I chomp. OMG! These are a chocolate potato candy! I swoon, I can't stop salivating.

Я съел десять штук шоколадных картошек. I ate ten chocolate potatoes.
Дайте, пожалуйста, шоколадную картошку, три штуки. Chocolate potatoes, please, three of them.
— Не ешь шоколадную картошку, а то у тебя будут прыщики.
— Это полнейший бред. Шоколад лечит прыщики.
“Don't eat any chocolate potatoes or you'll get pimples.”
“That's complete bunk. Chocolate cures pimples.”
— Из чего делают шоколадную картошку?
— Из яиц, сахара, шоколадного печенья, масла, молока и какао.
“How do you make chocolate potatoes?”
“With eggs, sugar, chocolate cookies, butter, milk and cocoa powder.”

It turns out that they have no potato in them at all, so in fact they are not chocolate potato candy. They are just deliriously delicious pastries.


July 17th, 2012 — posted by Don

Here's a picture of my stove here in Казань.

It's a gаs stove. A gas stove is a good stove. An electric stove is a bad stove. You can NOT properly warm a tortilla on an electric stove. Oh sure, you can sort of warm it up, but it just isn't the same. I'm an Arizona boy, and I can tell you this for sure. Of course, I'm in Russia and there aren't any tortillas here. But a gas stove is still a good stove. But before today I didn't know the word for a stove's burner, which is конфорка. It's fairly regular and has the fill vowel you would expect in a word ending in -ка.


Very often people pronounce the word комфорка, though it's considered a mistake. Myself, I don't consider it a mistake since the word was borrowed from Dutch komfoor. Still, you mustn't spell it that way.

Я включил переднюю левую конфорку и поставил на неё кастрюлю. I turned on the front left burner and set a pot there.
На задней левой конфорке стояла сковородка с котлетами. A frying pan with meat patties was on the back left burner.
Включи конфорку и поставь чайник. Turn on the burner and put the tea kettle on.
Когда я зажёг конфорку, из неё пошло такое пламя, что у меня обгорели брови. When I turned on the stove, a flame shot out of the burner and I burned my eyebrows.
Выключи конфорку. Turn the burner off.
Turn off the burner.

Следовать (часть первая)

July 16th, 2012 — posted by Don

One of the verbs that means ‘to follow’ in Russian is

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive следовать последовать
Past следовал
Present следую
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду следовать
будешь следовать
будет следовать
будем следовать
будете следовать
будут следовать
Imperative следуй(те) последуй(те)

In English the verb takes a direct object. In Russian it requires a prepositional phrase of за + instrumental.

За зимой следует весна. Spring follows winter.
В комнату вошла Ира, и за ней сразу последовал её пятилетний сын. Ira walked into the room, and she was immediately followed by her five-year old son.
Мой младший брат всюду следует за мной. My little brother follows me around everywhere.
Первыми в космосе побывали русские, а за ними последовали и американцы. The Russians were the first in space, and they were followed by the Americans.


July 13th, 2012 — posted by Don

The word огород means a chunk of land near your house where you grow vegetables, in other words a vegetable garden, although in English we usually just say garden. It might also have berries and apples, but it's essential to have either vegetables or greens. It's a perfectly regular 1st declension noun.


Omigosh, but the Russians love their gardens. If they have a дача, then in the summer months they get out of town and raise as much food as they possibly can. If you'd like to see some pictures of a real Russian garden, take a look here.

— Где Даня?
— Он поливает огород.
“Where is Danny?”
“He is watering the garden.”
Флюра привезла мне огурцы и кабачки из своего огорода. Flura brought me cucumbers and squash from her garden.
За нашим огородом есть речка, на которую мы ходим ловить рыбу. Behind our garden is a stream where we go fishing.
— Что ты делал сегодня утром?
— Я полол сорняки в огороде.
“What did you do this morning?”
“I pulled weeds in the garden.”