October 7th, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian word вишня means 'cherry'. It declines like so:


Photo credit: Spurzem at de.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.0-d], from Wikimedia Commons

In English we usually discuss cherries in the plural, but in Russia one usually discusses them with a singular noun that indicates a mass of berries, so in the following examples you will notice that the English plural always corresponds to a Russian singular.

— Ты любишь вишню?
— А кто её не любит??
“Do you like cherries?”
“Who doesn’t??”
— Сколько вишни ты купила?
— Полтора кило.
“How many kilos of cherries did you buy?”
“A kilo and a half.”
Фу, вишня протухла! Yuck, the cherries have gone bad.
— Что ты делаешь?
— Варю компот из вишни.
— Правда? Я обожаю вишнёвый компот!
“What are you doing?”
“I’m making fresh cherry punch.”
“Really? I love cherry punch!”

In the last example we saw two ways of saying ‘cherry punch.’ The first way used a noun followed by a prepositional phrase: компот из вишни. The second turns the word вишня into the adjective вишнёвый, thus we get «вишнёвый компот».

Interestingly enough, the New Russians were known for sometimes wearing maroon-colored suits with lots of gold chains. To describe those suits the Russians often used the phrase вишнёвый костюм ‘a maroon-colored suit.’ For instance, you might hear something like this:

— Что у тебя с лицом?
— Меня вчера избил какой-то «новый русский» в вишнёвом костюме и золотых цепях.
— А я думал что «новые русские» остались в девяностых, но, судя по твоему описанию, это был типичный новый русский.
“What happened to your face?”
“I got beat up by some New Russian in a maroon-suit and a bunch of gold chains.”
“I had thought that the New Russians were a 90s thing, but judging by your description, that was a typical New Russian.”

By the way, if you would like a little introduction to the generaly style of the New Russians, I recommended this page and this page.

Don's addition: Those suits were often called малиновые костюмы ‘raspberry-colored suits’ as well.

Который, часть первая

October 6th, 2014 — posted by Don

The word can be translated as who, whom, whose, that or which, depending on the context. Grammatically we call it a relative pronoun. In first- and second-year Russian the use of который seems quite complex, but after a year or two of practice, you look book and think, “Why did I ever think that it was difficult?” Because the use of the word is complex for beginning students of Russian, we will break up the discussion of the word over several days. Here are its endings.

* copies nom. if inan.; copies gen. if anim.

The rule for using который is this:

  • Который takes its number, gender and animacy from the noun it refers to in the main clause; and
  • Который takes its case according to the grammatical rule it plays in its own clause.

Let's take a look at a sentence that means, “I know a woman who lives in Tula.”

Notice that который takes its gender and number from the word it refers to in the other clause, but that it has a different case from девушку. That's because который always takes its case from the grammatical role (in this case, the subject) that it fills in its own clause. Let's take a look at a few more sample sentences.

Я знаю парня, который покупает новую машину каждый год. I know a guy who buys a new car every year.
Мы поговорили о девушке, которая была здесь вчера вечером. We chatted about the girl who was here yesterday evening.
Чьи это деньги, которые лежат на подоконнике? Whose money is that which is lying on the windowsill?
Кто выпил вино, которое было в холодильнике? Who drank the wine that was in the refrigerator?


October 3rd, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian word морж means 'walrus'. It declines like so:

  Sg Pl
Nom морж моржи
Acc моржа моржей
Gen моржа моржей
Pre морже моржах
Dat моржу моржам
Ins моржом моржах


Here are a few sample sentences:

С такими усами он был похож на моржа. He looked like a walrus with that moustache.
Я видел большого моржа во время своей поездки в Арктику. I saw a big walrus on my trip to the Arctic.
В Центральном парке стоял морж в цилиндре и с моноклем. A walrus wearing a top hat and monocle was in Central Park.
Я — морж. I am the walrus.


October 2nd, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian verb pair худеть/похудеть means 'to lose weight'. It conjugates like so:

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive худеть похудеть
Past худел
Present худею
No such thing
as perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду худеть
будешь худеть
будет худеть
будем худеть
будете худеть
будут худеть
Imperative худей(те) похудей(те)

Here are some examples:

Ты отлично выглядишь! Ты похудела? You look great! Did you lose weight?
Я хочу похудеть. I want to lose weight.
Он каждый день тренировался с Ричардом Симмонсом и от этого похудел. He exercised with Richard Simmons every day and lost weight.


October 1st, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian word пчела means 'bee'. It is end-stressed in the singular and root stressed in the plural. It declines like so:

By Emran Kassim via Wikimedia Commons

Russia actually has an abundance of bees. Just a little while ago Russia sent some of their bees over to America to help revive the dwindling bee population. These Russian honeybees are really helping to boost bee populations around the world along with Italian honeybees.

Here are some example sentences:

У меня пчела в волосах! There's a bee in my hair!
Достань соты из улья, но осторожно, а то пчёлы ужалят. Get the honeycomb out of the beehive, but be careful or the bees will sting you.
У меня аллергия на пчёл. I'm allergic to bees.
Когда его ужалила пчела, он опух, как воздушный шар. When the bee stung him, he swelled up like a balloon.