Мочь/смочь

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
могла
могло
могли
смог
смогла
смогло
смогли
Present могу
можешь
может
можем
можете
могут
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future No imperfective future
for this particular verb.
смогу
сможешь
сможет
сможем
сможете
смогут

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.”

Рыло

November 25th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

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

SgPl
Nomрылорыла
Accрылорыла
Genрыларыл
Preрылерылах
Datрылурылам
Insрыломрылами

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.

Ништяк/Ништяки

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:

SgPl
Nomништякништяки
Accништякништяки
Genништякаништяков
Preништякеништяках
Datништякуништякам
Insништякомништяками

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!”

Ништяк/Ништяки

Сон

November 20th, 2014 — posted by Janell

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

SgPl
Nomсонсны
Accсон
Genснаснов
Preснеснах
Datснуснам
Insсномснами

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.

Сон

Коса

November 19th, 2014 — posted by Evgeny

The Russian word Коса means ‘scythe’ or ‘braid’. It declines like so:

SgPl
Nomкосакосы
Accкосукосы
Genкосыкос
Preкосекосах
Datкосекосам
Insкосойкосами

The word Коса has two very different meanings - 'scythe' and 'braid'. Both have a lot to do with Russian culture. The agricultural tool scythe has been used by Russian peasants centuries ago and is still used today in some villages to mow wheat, grass and anything else that needs to be mowed. When it comes to a braid, it has been known as a traditional Russian female hairstyle for just as long. Russian women would grow their hair out and braid it. The longer the braid, the prettier the hair was considered. I think that it is has been the most popular hairstyle for quite some time because of it's simplicity and practicality.

Here are a few sample sentences:

Ее коса была такой длинной, что почти касалась пола. Her braid was so long, that it almost touched the floor.
У смерти в руках была коса. Death had a scythe in its hands.
Он косил траву косой. He was mowing grass with a scythe.
У моей подруги две длинные косы. My girlfriend has two long braids.
Косари стояли с косами в руках. The mowers stood with scythes in their hands.

As far as braids go, the most famous коса in recent history was the one worn by Юлия Тимошенко, the Ukrainian politician who was at the forefront of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Here you can see her picture. She was not just a model of Slavic beauty, but a political force to be reckoned with. I strongly recommend the Wikipedia link to her biography and the discussion of the Orange Revolution.