November 27th, 2014 — posted by Don

The other day I came across a story that included the following line:

Этой ночью кошка в надцатый раз нагадила под диван. Last night the cat pooped for the umpteenth time under the couch.

I had never encountered the word на́дцатый before, but instinct immediately told me it meant ‘umpteenth.’ Instincts always have to be double checked when you are dealing with a language not native to you, so I consulted a dictionary and found confirmation; and to my shock I also found out that there is a number ‘umpteen,’ which is на́дцать. That is very cool. These words are jocular, of course, not something you would write in a professional document or presentation, but everyone understands them. The noun form declines like this:


and the adjective form declines like a standard adjective:

Masc Neut Fem Pl
Nom на́дцатый на́дцатое на́дцатая на́дцатые
Acc * на́дцатую *
Gen на́дцатого на́дцатой на́дцатых
Pre на́дцатом
Dat на́дцатому на́дцатым
Ins на́дцатым на́дцатыми

Remember that these words are slightly humorous, so you will see them in informal contexts. Here are some theoretically possible sample sentences.

Тань, не поверишь, но вчера Серёга в надцатый раз пристал ко мне. Я больше терпеть не могла, так что пришлось просто отшить его. Tanya, you won't believe it, but yesterday Sergei hit on me for the umpteenth time. I couldn't take it any more so I
ended up having to get rid of him.
Ванька, я уже тебе надцать раз сказала, чтобы ты не забывал опускать сиденье унитаза! Если ещё раз забудешь, тебе будет плохо. Johnny, I've already told you umpteen times not to forget to put the toilet seat down! If you forget again, you'll be in big trouble.

Here's the whole story I mentioned before (source). Enjoy!

Этой ночью кошка в надцатый раз нагадила под диван. Last night the cat pooped for the umpteenth time under the couch.
Пришлось вставать и убирать. I had to get up and clean it.
Естественно, я не выспался: на завтрак пожарил себе йогурт; Of course, I didn't get enough sleep: at breakfast I ended up frying my yogurt.
на работе в сердцах разбил ксерокс, который отказывался работать — оказалось, это был сканер; At work in a fit of anger I broke a copy machine that didn't want to work; turned out it was a scanner.
вместо любовницы позвонил шефу и пять минут уговаривал его на интимную ночь с шампанским при свечах. I tried to call my girlfriend but accidentally called my boss and spent five minutes sweet-talking him into an intimate evening with champagne and candles.
Когда я сообразил, кому звоню, он уже почти согласился. By the time I had realized who I had called, he had practically agreed to come.
Пришел вечером домой и запер кошку в стиральной машине — I got home in the evening and shut the cat in the washing machine:
пусть сидит и думает над своим поведением. he needs to sit there a while and think about what he did.


November 26th, 2014 — posted by Don

The verb most often translated ‘can, could, be able’ in Russian is мочь/смочь. Let's look over it's conjugation:

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive мочь смочь
Past мог
Present могу
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future No imperfective future
for this particular verb.

Notice one quirk: it has no imperfective future form.

This verb is usually complemented by an infinitive phrase:

Ты можешь прочитать эту статью до завтра? Can you read this article by tomorrow?
Я не смогу прочитьать эту статью до завтра. I won't be able to read this article by tomorrow.
Когда она училась в Институте, она смогла поразить людей своим удивительным голосом. (source) When she was in college, she could amaze people with her astonishing voice.
— Я не могу избавиться от этих гнусных головных вшей. Я смазал свою голову речной грязью, как посоветовала бабушка, но никак не помогает.
— Речная грязь? Что за чушь? Купи себе шампунь «Педилин», он очень эффективен.
“I can't get rid of these nasty head lice. I smeared my head with river mud like Grandma told me, but it doesn't help.”
“River mud? That's ridiculous. Buy Pedilin shampoo. It works great.”


November 25th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian word Рыло means ‘snout’. It declines like so:


The word 'рыло' comes from the word 'рыть', which means 'to dig'. Since pigs always dig around in mud with their snout, it is called 'рыло'. However, the word is more often used when talking about ugly people's faces rather than pigs' snouts.

Here are a few sample sentences:

Его лицо было похоже на рыло. His face looked like a snout.
Свинья рыла землю рылом. The pig was digging the ground with its snout.
У свиньи на рыле была грязь. The pig had mud on its snout.
Кирка прокляла моряка, и его лицо превратилось в рыло свиньи. Circe cursed the sailor, and his face turned into a pig's snout.


November 21st, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian slang word Ништяк means ‘Cool’, 'Good', 'Alright' or ‘Awesome’, depending on the context it is used in. However, the word 'ништяки' stands for something like 'goods', whether talking about munchies or leftover food, candy, etc. It declines like so:


Here are a few sample sentences:

Настроение у Сергея стало улучшаться, он начинал верить, что все будет ништяк. Sergey's mood began to improve, he was starting to think that everything will be alright.
Эти семечки — ништяк! These sunflower seeds are awesome!.
— Как дела?
— Всё ништяк!
“How are you?”
“Everything is awesome!”
Ништяки остались? Are there any left-overs?

I found a great little internet meme that uses the word. It's probably confusing at first because a student might think that ваще is a misspelling of ваше, but that's not the case here. Here ваще is geek spelling for вообще ‘totally, completely,’ so in this picture the words mean “totally awesome!”



November 20th, 2014 — posted by Janell

The word сон in Russian can be translated as ‘dream’ or ‘sleep’. It declines as such:


Я видел тебя вчера во сне. I saw you last night in my dreams.
Мне не снятся сны. I don’t have dreams.
Я летала во сне. I flew in my dream.
Он рассказал о своих снах. He talked about his dreams.

Russians are great believers in the predictive power of dreams. Almost every woman has a со́нник ‘dream interpretation book’ by her bedside so that she can consult it first thing when she wakes up. Sometimes my friend Евгений's mother dreams about cats, which she always takes as a sign that something bad is going to happen him, especially that some friend might stab him in the back, and she warns him to be careful and think twice about anything he does that day.

Dreams played a huge role in the prophecies of Ванга, a Bulgarian woman who predicted the future. She is kind of like a Slavic Nostradamus, and every Russian knows about her. You can read about her here.