August 28th, 2013 — posted by Janell

Watercolor is Акварель in Russian.The word both means the watercolor paints and an actual watercolor painting. The word theoretically has a plural, but really it's mostly used in the singular.


У меня есть акварель. I have watercolors.
Он рисует акварелью. He paints with watercolors.
Научи меня писать акварелью. Teach me how to paint with watercolors.
У неё нет акварели. She doesn’t have watercolors.

Акваарель may come from the French word ‘aquarelle.’ Watercolor is a medium of art in the form of painting such as oil painting, charcoal, markers or colored pencils. One of the traits of watercolor is that it appears more transparent than marker or regular paint because it is “relatively pure with less fillers obscuring the color”. There are many different techniques for water-coloring from how you use the paints to how you lay them on the paper and what you do with the paper. Wet on Wet refers to the act of wetting the paper itself and then laying down the watercolor instead of working on a dry surface. Usually the surface used for water color has to be thicker to stand some of the rougher techniques used in watercolor.

As with many forms of art, watercolor can be used in therapy for patients as a way to express their selves if they feel they cannot with words alone, or a way to relieve stress in a positive way. For more information on watercolor such as its history or usage here is where I found most of my information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watercolor_painting.


August 26th, 2013 — posted by Don

The Russian word for ‘street’ is улица, which has got to be related somehow to улитка ‘snail,’ but I haven't figured out a way to connect them in an engaging fashion. It is declined like this.


Both Russian streets and American streets can be named after people. So in the US you can have Washington Street or Lincoln Street Street. In Russian when you name a street after someone, the name goes in the genitive case and comes after the word улица. You don't normally capitalize улица, except of course at the beginning of the sentence.

Где улица Баумана? Where is Bauman street?
Поверните налево на улице Пушкина. Turn left on Pushkin Street.
Как доехать до улицы Михаила Миля? How do you get to Mikahil Mil street?

Note that when you translate the street into English, the name must be transliterated from the nominative form, not the genitive form.

Many Russian last names resemble adjectives in form, like Достоевский or Толстой. They must decline like adjectives.

Как пройти к улице Достоевского? How do you get to Dostoevski Street?
Улица Толстого сегодня закрыта. Tolstoy Street is closed today.

Now, what if the name of the street isn't a person's name, say, something like Trade Union Street or Kremlin Street? Then there are a couple of ways to go about it. The first way is to turn the noun into an adjective and put it in front of the noun; of course, the adjective agrees with the noun in gender, number and case.

Где Профсоюзная улица? Where is Trade Union Street?
Геологический музей находится на Кремлёвской улице. The geology museum is located on Kremlin Street.

(BTW, I currently really like the map at zurbarzar.ru, and I also love the program 2гис for both maps and linking with reviews.)

Sometimes the adjective will come after the noun, and it will still agree with the noun.

— Где улица Москвовская?
— Что за дурацкий вопрос. Вы на улице Московской и стоите!
“Where is Moscow Street?”
“What a stupid question. You’re standing on Moscow Street!”

I seem to notice a tendency on internet maps to put the «ул.» in front of the adjective; Google maps seems to have made that editorial decision. However in speech the Russians seem to accept the adjective either before or after the noun... at least I haven't been corrected so far.


August 21st, 2013 — posted by Janell

The word искусство means art. It declines like this:


Мне нравится искусство. I like art.
В искусстве нет больше ничего оригиналього. There is no original art anymore.
Полюбуйся искусством. Enjoy the art.
Он рассказал о своем искусстве. He talked about his artwork.

Art can be the representation of the imagination, expression of the emotion, or recording or a memory, that is usually tangible visual or audial. There are many styles of art from drawings, sculptures, photography to dancing and music. All of these are expressions of the artists that they want to share in their own way. Art has a plethora of genres, from realism and surrealism to geographical art or abstract. Art has many different eras: Renaissance, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary and Modern. Art varies in style from country to region down to the individual. Art can help distress a person or simply let them positively express their creativity.

In 1757 Ivan Shuvalov created the Russian Academy of Arts then known as the Academy of the three noble arts. The focus was on neoclassical styles and prepared its students for furthering their education in European schools. As of 1947 the head office is in Moscow. One of the most recognized art traditions that come from Russia are the Matryoshka dolls. Those are also referred to as Russian nested dolls. They are the small wooden dolls that open from the middle horizontally which have inside of most of them are a smaller doll until they get to the smallest one. Vasily Zvyozdochkin carved the first Russian Matryoshka set in 1890 from a design by Sergey Malyutin.


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.