by Don  

American students always pick up the Russian word класс right away because of the English word class which overlaps the Russian word in some meanings. And then immediately they try to say “I'm going to class” with the words «Я иду в класс». WRONG!!! Класс does NOT mean a class that you attend. It means the room in which a class is held. And specifically it means a classroom in a grade school or high school, not a university. Thus you could say «В класс вошла учительница» “The teacher entered the classroom.” But you can't use the word to say “I'm going to class” when you are a college student.

Класс actually has a plethora of meanings. It can mean class in the sense of first- or second-class accomodations:

Из Нью-Йорка мы летели в Хельсинки первым классом. From New York we flew to Helsinki first class.

The word can also mean the first years of school for a child:

В этом году Коля ходит в первый класс. This year Nikolai is going to first grade.
Настя уже в третьем классе. Anastasiya is already in third grade.

The word can also be used in dividing social strata:

Рабочий класс всегда угнетала аристократия. The aristocracy has always oppressed the working class.

So how then do we say that we are going to a class? In Russian you have several slightly more specific options that are normally used. First off, if you are talking a grade school class, or a high school class, or a class outside the standard educational system, you can use the word урок lesson, which can include practical lessons like singing or playing an instrument:

Ксения идёт на урок пения. Ksenia is going to a singing lesson.
Глеб идёт на урок гитары. Gleb is going to guitar class.
Надя идёт на урок шахмат. Nadezhda is going to a chess lesson.

If you are going to a class generically, and it's an academic adult class, and you don't need to specify the subject, then you can use the neuter plural word занятия. This is the most common way for a college or university student to say “I'm going to class”:

— Куда ты идёшь?
— Я иду на занятия.
“Where are you going?”
“I'm going to class.” (lit., “to classes)

If you are going to a seminar or lecture class, then you can use those words, either specifying the subject or not:

— Где Игорь?
— Он пошёл на семинар.
“Where is Igor?”
“He has gone to class.”
— Где Альбина?
— Она пошла на семинар по политологии.
“Where is Albina?”
“She has gone to a poli-sci class.”
— Куда Вы идёте?
— Я иду на лекцию.
“Where are you going?”
“I'm going to class.”
— Куда Вы идёте?
— Я иду на лекцию по астрономии.
“Where are you going?”
“I'm going to astronomy class.”


Comment from: alla [Visitor]

Don, the word “klass” is overused now by younger speakers to mean great, wonderful, cool, etc. ..The younger speakers use different work now - прикольно mean great, wonderful, cool

06/16/09 @ 05:33
Comment from: Edgar [Visitor]

Don, the word “klass” is overused now by younger speakers to mean great, wonderful, cool, etc. At least I’ve heard it a lot on Russian TV (the laugh track filled “Happy Together” (Shastlivi bmeste). That show is tasteless, by the way, and is based on the American sit-com “Married with Children.”

06/08/09 @ 17:40

Form is loading...