Угол, часть вторая

November 14th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian word Угол means ‘corner’ or ‘angle’. It declines like so:

Preоб угле
в углу
на углу

The word угол can have a different meaning, depending on the context it is used in. For example, in geometry it can be used when talking about an angle of a triangle or some other geometrical figure. It can also be used when giving directions and talking about street or building corners. However, the word Угол was used in a very unique context by a forward of Tula's soccer team "Arsenal", who said that the he received the ball «на угол головы», which means: “on the corner of his head.” Apparently some people’s heads have corners...

Don comments: For a discussion of the multiple prepositional forms, see the previous entry on угол.

Держать язык за зубами

November 13th, 2014 — posted by Natasha

The Russian phrase «держать язык за зубами» can be translated into English as 'to hold one's tongue' or 'to keep one's mouth shut'. Only the imperfective form of the verb держать is used in conveying this phrase, it conjugates like so:

Infinitive держать
Past держал
Present держу
Future буду держать
будешь держать
будет держать
будем держать
будете держать
будут держать
Imperative держи(те)

Here are some examples:

-Не говори моей жене, что я слушаю Джастина Бибера в машине!
-Я буду держать язык за зубами.
-Don't tell my wife that I listen to Justin Bieber in the car!
-I'll keep my mouth shut.
Когда она его спросила, выглядит ли она толстой, он держал язык за зубами. He kept his mouth shut when she asked him whether or not she looked fat.
Ничего не говорите! Держите язык за зубами! Don't say anything! Keep your mouth shut!
Я надеюсь, что она будет держать язык за зубами, когда милиционер спросит о её друзьях. I hope she keeps her mouth shut when the cop asks her about her friends.


November 12th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian word Звонок means ‘bell’, ‘ring’, ‘call’ or ‘buzzer’. It declines like so:

  Sg Pl
Nom звонок звонки
Acc звонок звонки
Gen звонка звонков
Pre звонке звонках
Dat звонку звонкам
Ins звонком звонками

The word звонок can have a different meaning, depending on the context it is used in. For example, a door bell and a phone call are both translated as звонок. Also, there is an event called “последний звонок” (“last bell/buzz”), which is a celebration for high school students that are graduating. It is similar to american graduation ceremony and takes place between the last day of classes and the beginning of final exams. During the celebration, a small bell is rung quite often. It symbolizes a buzzer that sounds at the beginning and at the end of classes, letting the students know that a class period just started or ended.

Последний звонок прозвенел. The last bell has rung.
Его разбудил звонок в дверь.

He was awakened by the doorbell.

Ему был разрешен один телефонный звонок. He was allowed one phone call.


November 11th, 2014 — posted by Janell

When people get a set of keys they normally attach it to something to put it with whether it was a lanyard or it is a key chain. The little decoration attached to a key chain is a ‘fob’ in English, which is known as брелок in Russian. According to most standard dictionaries this is how this word declines:


У него нет брелка. He does not have a key fob.
Мне не нравятся брелки. I don’t like fob.
Что ты делаешь с брелками? What do you do with key fobs?
Я узнала о брелках от друзей. I learned about key fobs from friends.

Those are the little charms or trinkets that a person can use to accessorize their keys and help keep a better track of them. There are ones for both ones for men and women. Guys normally choose ones such as bottle openers or more masculine ones where as girls have more options such as teddy bears, butterflies, or hearts. Personally I have cartoon characters. There are also ones that you can use to show support for things such as the support ribbons or national ones. Holidays have their own key chains or ones from movies. They make good gifts for little kids or friends. My friend for one Christmas got our group of friends all matching ones.There are two declensions of брелок because there is the formal form and the colloquial form.

Don comments: The word брелок is actually undergoing a shift in Russian. Originally the word was borrowed from French breloque, and in the sense of a pendant or decoration that hangs from a bracelet or pocket watch, it always declined like this:


Nowadays almost no one has a pocket watch, much less one with a decoration, so the word is very commonly used to mean a fob on a key chain. In that sense the declension that Janell mentioned is much more common. There is a nice discussion of the issue at rg.ru (mirror). My own advice at this stage would be to use the new declension in conversation, and the old version in professional writing.


November 10th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian word Сила means ‘strength’, ‘force’ or ‘power’. It declines like so:


The word Сила is used quite often in Russia since it can be used in many contexts. For example, there is a popular saying in Russia: «Сила есть - ума не надо», which means roughly, “If you have strength, you don’t need a brain.” It is usually used sarcastically when describing somebody big and stupid, or when somebody tries to achieve something by using brute force. A good example of that is Mike Tyson joining the Union of Russian Writers. Even though he is a legendary boxer known for the power of his knockouts, some people find this absurd and think that he does not deserve to be on the same . His membership was officially announced October 27th, 2014, when his memoir book “Undisputed Truth” was presented in Moscow. He is by far not the most intelligent guy, but his strength and commitment to what he does best got him here.

Here are a few sample sentences:

Сила в знаниях. Power is in knowledge.
У каждого своя сила. Each has their own strength.
Он бежал изо всех сил. He ran as fast as he could.
У моей машины триста лошадиных сил My car has three hundred horsepower.
Он обладал великой силой воли. He had great will power.