Forming questions in Russian
The audio for the lesson is available at the bottom of the screen under the blue button.
In the previous lesson, we have learned how to compose the negative sentences. Today we will learn how to ask questions in Russian.
Forming a question from a statement in Russian language is very easy, you don’t even need to change anything in the sentence structure:
– in writing, just add a question mark at the end of the sentence;
– when speaking, change the intonation (raise the tone toward the end of the sentence).
Listen to the audio (at the bottom of the screen under the blue button) and repeat after it.
Э́то пи́во? Нет, э́то сок.
[é-ta peé-va? nyet, é-ta sok]
Is this beer? No, this is juice.
Э́то твоя́ кни́га? Нет, э́то не моя́ кни́га, э́то его́ кни́га.
[é-ta tva-yá kneé-ga? nyet, é-ta nye ma-yá kneé-ga, é-ta ye-vó kneé-ga]
Is this your book? No, this is not my book, this is his book.
Хо́чешь есть? Да, я хочу́ есть.
[hó-cheesh yest’? da, ya ha-chú yest’]
Do you want to eat? Yes, I want to eat.
Ты говори́шь по-ру́сски? Да, я говорю́ по-ру́сски.
[ty ga-va-réesh pa rús-kee? da, ya ga-va-ryú pa rús-kee]
Do you speak Russian? Yes, I speak Russian.
Хоти́те ко́фе? Да, спаси́бо, с удово́льствием.
[ha-tée-tye kó-fye? da, spa-sée-ba, s u-da-vól’st-vee-yem]
Do you want some coffee? Yes, thank you, with pleasure.
Notice that in many sentences the personal pronouns are omitted as the form of the verb already tells us who is the subject of the sentence.
In the following lessons we will learn more ways to ask question in Russian.
More lessons on questions in Russian
- 026: Forming questions in Russian
- 027: Questions: who? what? where?
- 066: Questions: куда? откуда? чей? какой? который?
- 097: How much? How many? When? How?
- 112: How many? How much? in Russian
- 136: Ask ‘what size, color, length and so on is something?’
- 142: Who and what in Russian — Interrogative Pronouns: кто, что
- 144: Russian interrogative pronoun КАКОЙ
- 151: Russian interrogative pronoun ЧЕЙ (whose?)
More lessons on the Russian grammar constructions
- 016: «There is» and «there are», «here» and «there» in Russian
- 025: Forming negation in Russian
- 026: Forming questions in Russian
- 036: How to say ‘I have’ in Russian
- 056: How to say ‘I like’ in Russian
- 057: Russian verb ‘нравиться’ — Examples of use
- 092: Double negation in Russian
- 152: Можно and нельзя [(not) allowed/possible]
- 153: Need, have to, must, should in Russian
- 154: Можно, нельзя, надо, должен, пора in the Past and Future tense
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Easy Pace Learning
Lessons and exercises
Asking for and giving directions English vocabulary
Ask for and give directions English lesson
In this English lesson you will how to ask for directions and how to give directions to someone who as asked you.
Asking for and giving directions
Asking for directions to go somewhere.
Where is the chemist?
Can you give me directions to the nearest bus stop?
How do you get to the train station?
Where can I find the nearest bakery?
How do I get to park?
Is there a supermarket near here?
Is there a sports shop around here?
Can you tell me how to get to library from here?
What’s the best way to get to the computer store from here?
What’s the quickest way to get to the music store from here?
What’s the easiest way to get to the nearest Mc donalds from here?
Asking for and giving directions with examples
Excuse me sir. Is there a bank around here ?
Yes, there is one right across the street next to Library.
Can you give me directions to the petrol station?
Of course I will, just follow this road until you come to the main road. Turn right and then continue for about 100 metres. You will see the petrol station on the left.
Can you tell me how to get to the London br >?
Am sorry I cant help as am not from around here.
Where’s the nearest bus station?
It’s on the corner of Oxford Street and Mayfair Lane. Next to the train station.
How do you get to the mall?
You have to go straight along this road for about 200 metres. Turn right when you see Apple street. carry on straight ahead till you see a Tesco supermarket. The mall is opposite the supermarket.
Is there a bank near here?
Yes, there is one in Orange Street. Orange Street is the third road on your right.
Excuse me sir. Could you please tell me where I can find the nearest chemist?
Yes, there is one next to the Bakery. Go back the way you came. Turn right after you go past the bank and there is one on your left next to the hospital.
Asking for and giving directions vocabulary
It is on the left
It is on the right
It is straight on
at the end of Oxford street
on the corner of James road
at the end of Stanley Street
Behind the Petrol station
in front of the Mall
just around the corner from here
Landmarks you can use when giving directions
When giving directions you will often use landmarks as a way of giving directions.
Excuse me sir. Is there a bank around here ? Yes, there is one right across the street next to Library .
14 perfect Russian words you need in your life
You might have been learning Russian for some time, or maybe you just started. You probably know that each language has a set of words that are depend «impossible to translate» or that have no equivalent in our mother tongues.
Whether it’s actually true or not is up for debate, but what we can definitely agree on is that the existence of these words testifies to a certain sentiment present in the language they come from and offers an interesting insight into the culture that needs them. Below are 14 Russian words we think you need to enrich your understanding of Russian culture.
Unique Russian words
почемучка: (n) one who asks too many questions
Often used by parents as a term of endearment, ‘pochemuchka’ is a unique Russian word that denotes a curious kid who wants to know everything in the world and keeps asking ‘why?’ (‘почему?’).
Before you become a pochemuchka, learn the Art of Asking
_переподвыподверт: (n) sth. done in a complex, incomprehensible way
The word ‘perepodvypodvert’ kind of embodies itself, as it has four prefixes including one that repeats itself twice.
недоперепил: (v) under-over-drunk
To say that someone ‘nedoperepil’ is to say that they drank more than they should have, but less than they could have.
тоска: (n) ache of soul, longing with nothing to long for
Vladimir Nabokov, the famous Russian-American author of ‘Lolita,’ put it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of ‘toska.’ At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
Learn to navigate your mind and The Untethered Soul
_пошлость: (n) sth. banal, vulgar and low minded _
In Anton Chekhov’s short story A Lady With a Dog, the heroine cries out after sex that she has become a ‘poshlost’’ woman. “This one word encompasses triviality, vulgarity, sexual promiscuity, and a lack of spirituality,” Harvard professor Svetlana Boym explains in Common Places: Everyday Life in Russia.
капель: (n) sunny day when water starts dripping from icicles
Same root as ‘kaplya’ (drop), this word points to the start of spring and is therefore a very happy word that puts you in a good mood.
дача: (n) summer house
The word ‘dacha’ does not just mean a secondary residence, but implies the whole distinctive lifestyle: The Russian tea time, banya, fishing, singing over a crackling bonfire.
глазомер: (n) ability to measure without any instruments
A combination of ‘eye’ and ‘measurement,’ someone with a good ‘glazomer’ can estimate weight and distances without making use of any tools other than his or her eyes.
экранизация: (n) screen adaptation
Literally ‘screenization,’ this word denotes a film based on a book, theatre, song or other work of art.
пороша: (n) fresh powdery snow that fell at night
A pristine layer of snow that fell on a windless night or towards the evening, untouched outside of the occasional footprints of birds and beasts.
попутчик: (n) stranger you connect to on a trip
Unlike a travel companion you’ve known before, a ‘poputchik’ is a complete stranger who happens to travel in the same direction and share your coupe on a train. You are free to open up completely to your best friend pro tempore, because you know that the person will get off at a far away stop, never to be seen again, taking your secrets safely with them. . unless you become lifelong friends from thereon!
заводила: (n) so. who often starts up something
Someone is said to be a ‘zavodila’ if they can motivate everyone around them to do something, without blackmail or aggression, but through pure goodwill, confidence and by setting an example. A ‘zavodila’ can incite both positive and negative behaviour.
Learn about the ultimate nation of zavodilas, the Start-Up Nation
бытие: (n) higher state of being
The root of the word is ‘to be’ or ‘to exist’, but the meaning goes far beyond mere existence, into the realm of hyperconscious and objective state of mind or reality._
авось: (n) blind trust in sheer luck
If it has a chance of succeeding, I’ll count on it and go forward. A word ingrained into Russian mentality, and one behind the many crazy Russian exploits on YouTube. From here also comes ‘авоська’ (avos’ka), the string shopping bag immensely popular in the Soviet Union, and to this day: “‘avos’ I’ll come across something to put in it.”
To Learn more awesome Russian words and how LinguaLift has incorporated them into our Language Learning Program, check out our Home Page at Lingualift
UX-focused CEO | Co-Founder of LinguaLift | Edtech consultant at Edulift Consulting.
Time Is Fluid In Russia
A friend called me last week and asked, why is it impossible to set up a meeting with Russians far in advance and be sure that the meeting takes place as agreed. He also asked why there is always a need to re-confirm a meeting an evening before. I thought that it has something to do with how Russians perceive time and it is a great topic to investigate.
I have found a lot of answers in a fantastic book “What Mean?: Where Russians Go Wrong in English” by Lynn Visson, read other articles on the topic and added my personal observations. Here is how Russians perceive time and how our perceptions are reflected in the language:
Time is Flu >
Profile of Time, Dali. Nobody presented fluid time better than Dali in his paintings and sculptures
As Lynn Visson writes, the concept of time in Russia is much more elastic and fluid than in the U.S. There are several reasons for that.
The famous American anthropologist Edward Hall described cultures as monochronic or fixed time and polychronic or fluid time. US, UK and most European cultures are monochronic – in these cultures time is perceived as a frame for behavior, deadlines are respected and punctuality is an important trait.
Russian culture (as well as Latin American and some Mediterranean cultures) is polychronic, which means that people like to have flexible plans and value long-tem relationships. Change of plans often comes with a request from a relative or a friend to do something for him or her. Requests from friends or relatives are more important than business agreements.
However, Russians do not like to plan far in advance even meetings with friends. The only exception is New Year vacation plans with friends and only because people know that waiting until last-minute may lead to no tickets or high prices. If you call a friend and offer to meet tomorrow or the day after tomorrow – high chances that they will find time to meet with you. But try calling a friend and offering to meet 2 weeks from now – he or she will say “Sure!”, but may postpone the meeting last-minute, although they will usually tell you why. That last part is interesting in itself. It is considered not polite to just say “I would not be able to meet with you tomorrow, because I already have other plans”. A Russian person will give a detailed explanation, why he or she cannot meet – she has to take a child to the doctor or her boss told her to stay late in the office to finish a project or he must collect a relative from the airport. There is a cultural need to justify why your plans have changed. However in general planning a meeting with a friend or even a business meeting 2-3 weeks in advance is very uncommon. How can I know what I will be doing on that day 3 weeks from now?
The reason why we do not plan far in future is related to our fatalistic view of the world. We have a saying “A person plans, but God has other plans for him”. We believe that our future depends on many external factors, which are beyond our control. People do not like to make long-term plans, because “a bad eye” could interfere and cancel those plans. Another popular Russian saying is “Devil sits on your right shoulder and does not sleep”. That means – do not reveal your plans and ambitions, be modest, wait until the time comes and then your plans may come true. Russians are superstitious!
Finally – we just do not have a habit to use planners – either in a digital or in a paper form. People, who work in multinational companies do have outlook calendars for business meetings, but even they usually do not add hairdressers appointments or lunches with friends to the calendar. Most Russians just have the calendar of the current week in their heads and “save the date” concept is unknown. And human brain is not a computer, so confirming a meeting a night before is useful.
Do you remember the time when phones looked like that? And you had to be at home to make or receive a call?
We often say “we will call each other” (“созвонимся”). Usually that is to re-confirm the meeting. “We will call each other” is a concept that foreigners do not understand. For foreigners it is not clear, who is supposed to call whom and when. However in Russia it is very uncommon to set up a specific time for a call (unless a person works in a multinational company and sets up a conference call with a colleague from abroad). Usually a person will just say – “Sure, call me tomorrow”. You are supposed to call and ask if that is a right time to speak. Most often a person will talk to you even if she has guests in the house or the conversation is not convenient for him for some other reason. A lot of Russians will not answer the phone if they really cannot talk (are at a meeting) rather than answer the phone and tell you they are busy. There is also no direct Russian equivalent for the phrase “I’ll get back to you”. Recently people, working in multinational companies started saying “я вернусь к вам», which sounds really weird, more like “I’ll be back to you”.
What are the benefits of being polychronic? Polychronic cultures are more natural with multitasking. For example, you can ask a busy salesperson in a store a question while she is busy with another customer. In Russia – a salesperson will always reply and will not be annoyed. In most European countries doing that would be a nuisance for a salesperson.
Punctuality in Russia
Punctuality is not the strongest side of Russians
For monochronic cultures, time is sacred, being late is considered rude and deadlines are fixed. In polychronic cultures the man is more important than time and deadlines are flexible. Being late is perceived as abusive in American culture and is not a “sin” in Russian culture. Edward Hall wrote that “if people are late for meetings it may be because they are polychronic, not because they are disrespectful or lazy”.
In modern Russia though business people try not to be late to the meetings. And if they are running late, the most typical apology is that they are stuck in traffic (which may be true, given the traffic situation in big cities).
It is very uncommon to meet at 6:45, unless it is a meeting at a theater and the play starts at 7 pm. In all other cases it would be a round number or a half-past. To some extent that is understandable – Moscow is a huge city and traffic is terrible, so it may be not possible to calculate the exact time for your commute.
Some more observations. We do not have am and pm in Russian language. The day is not divided by noon. Usually the day is divided in either two chunks – before and after lunch (and typically lunch is from 1 pm to 2 pm). Or the day is divided in 4 chunks: morning (any time before noon), day time – all the time when it is a natural light outside, evening – 6 pm – 11pm, and night – after 11pm-midnight. Since we do not use am and pm, we use military time a lot. So, when texting a friend we may write either “let’s meet at 18:00” or “let’s meet at 6 in the evening”. Any Russian is comfortable with military time.
When it comes to dates – it is culturally acceptable for a woman to be late. Russian men acknowledge the hard work woman puts in getting ready to go out. If it is a date, woman is even expected to be late, “that will give the admirer some time to think about her”. To say more – a Russian girl would feel very uncomfortable if she arrives to a date earlier than her admirer.
If you are having a dinner party in Moscow – be prepared that most of your guests might be half an hour or even an hour late. In the US if you are invited to a dinner at 7 pm, you are expected to be there at 7:15-7:30 the latest. In Russia you are not expected to arrive earlier than 7:15, 7:30-8 pm is a norm, any time after 8pm will be considered late unless you have a good excuse. It is actually considered impolite to arrive 10 min earlier than the time or even at the exact time. The hosts may be not ready yet. And very often, when you arrive to a Russian house, the hosts will still be cooking dinner for an hour or more from the time they specified in their invitation. For them time is also fluid. They planned to have everything ready by 7 pm, but did not calculate time correctly and still have some cooking to do.
I have noticed how different cultures treat time when I studied abroad and had classmates from all over the world. We lived in the same building in Chicago and had a nice lounge at the roof for our parties. If a party was conducted by our American, European or Japanese friends – everything was ready by the time in invitation, if it was a Russian party – hosts would probably be there on time, but preparations would still be in process. If it was an Argentinian party – you could show up an hour later and the hosts may still not be there (although later they would totally make up for that with the great food and fun atmosphere)
A Sense of Urgency
A sense of urgency is another variable, related to time. Lynn Visson writes about a different meaning of a “minute” in the US and in Russia. In Russia in a minute means “soon”, in 10-15 minutes, in the US it usually literally mean “in a minute”. Maria Lebedko writes in her article “Time Perception across Russian and American Cultures”, that Russians often answer the question “When am I supposed to do this?” with the word “Yesterday”, meaning that the task in question is very urgent.
But in general nothing is super urgent in our world. And deadlines are treated as “soft deadlines”. Most people try to meet deadlines, but if the external forces prevent that, shifting deadlines is considered ok.
I wonder if that starts when people are doing their undergrad. Russian students always spend nights before exams studying. Of course students all over the world do procrastinate, but in Russia the entire education system is built so that it encourages procrastination. You do not have many (hardly any) deliverables during the semester, you are supposed to be a responsible adult, absorb the knowledge and do your homework and study on your own. And then – boom. Final grade 100% depends on the result of your exam. So exam session twice a year turns into long sleepless nights. Similar attitude later applies to the work projects.
Cost of Time in Russia
My American friends would be really surprised to know that Russians have no idea how much they make in one hour. We just never think about that. Unless we are paid per hour, which is rather uncommon, we never divide our salary by the number of work hours. We also do not have a minimum per hour wage in Russia. We have a minimum per month salary. Maybe because of that we rarely think in terms “time is money”.
When we consider hiring a cleaning lady, we usually make a decision based on how much we hate cleaning and other household chores and how that weights against an inconvenience of having a stranger in the house, rather than the difference between a cleaning lady salary and our salary (and that if she does the cleaning, we would be able to work during these hours and make more money).
Status and Time
We have a popular saying “boss is never late, his arrival is delayed” (not exact translation, but close). In Russia subordinates are always expected to be on time, but boss is on his/her own schedule. And bosses often use and abuse that and show up late to work or not show up to work at all. That reflects their status.
I wonder if expensive watches are status symbols because of the same logic. Most Russian businessmen and government officials have exorbitantly expensive watches. If you followed the news recently, you might have read about the $600K watch of Putin’s press secretary. You are a boss, you can afford a really expensive watch AND be the master of your time.
If you are working with Russians – try to break a project is several deliverables with defined deadlines to make sure that the project is done on time. If you have plans with your Russian friends – the easiest thing to do is to plan meetings for the current week. And if you plan far in advance, call us the day before to re-confim the meeting. Knowing about the cultural differences of the perception of time may not lift the frustration, but at least would explain your counterparts behavior.
Please share with me and my readers how you perceive time! Is it linear or cyclic? Do you think more about the past or the future? Do you ever imagine a year as a circle? And if you do – is summer or winter on top of that circle? And, finally – read Einstein’s dreams – an amazing collection of fictional stories about time by Alan Lightman. Imagine what the world would be like if time was still or went backwards or was a spiral with this book.
Understanding and Asking Time in Russian
In this lesson, you will learn specifically how to ask time in Russian, either time of the day, how long the time will go, and another way to talk about time. Before you come here you can learn the basic about time from ordinal number, genitive case, how to tell time, and time expression in Russian.
Conversation 1 :
At The Train Station
• Антон : Вы знаете, который час?
‘Vy znaete, kotoryj chas?’
(Do you know what time it is?)
• Виктор : Без двадцати минут девять.
‘Bez dvadcati minut devjat’.’
• Антон : Простите?
• Виктор : Восемь сорок.
• Антон : О, спасибо, вы знаете, когда прибудет последний поезд?
‘O, spasibo, vy znaete, kogda pribudet poslednij poezd?’
(Oh, thank you, do you know when the last train will arrive?)
• Виктор : Я думаю, это было через час.
‘Ja dumaju, jeto bylo cherez chas.’
(I think it was in an hour.)
• Антон : Я рад это слышать, я думал, что пять минут назад был последний поезд.
‘Ja rad eto slyshat’, ja dumal, chto pjat’ minut nazad byl poslednij poezd.’
(I’m glad to hear that, I thought the last train was five minutes ago.)
• Виктор : Нет, не было, потому что, если это последний поезд, офицер скажет нам немедленно
‘Net, ne bylo, potomu chto, esli jeto poslednij poezd, oficer skazhet nam nemedlenno’
(No, it wasn’t, because if this is the last train, the officer will tell us immediately.)
At The Airport
Максим : Привет, куда ты хочешь пойти?
‘Privet, kuda ty hochesh’ pojti?’
(Hi, where you want to go?)
Дмитрий : Я хочу поехать в Таиланд, а ты?
‘Ja hochu poehat’ v Tailand, a ty?’
(I want to go to Thailand, and you?)
Максим : Я собираюсь лететь во Францию, почему ты едешь в Таиланд?
‘Ja sobirajus’ letet’ vo Franciju, pochemu ty edesh’ v Tailand?’
(I’m gonna fly to France, why are you going to Thailand?)
Дмитрий :Месяц назад я уже был во Вьетнаме, и я чувствую себя влюбленным в Азию, поэтому я вернулся, что насчет вас?
‘Mesjac nazad ja uzhe byl vo V’etname, i ja chuvstvuju sebja vljublennym v Aziju, pojetomu ja vernulsja, chto naschet vas?’
(A month ago I already visited Vietnam and I feel in love with Asia so I came back, what about you?)
Максим : Моя мама находится во Франции год назад, поэтому я хотел навестить ее.
‘Moja mama nahoditsja vo Frantsii god nazad, pojetomu ja hotel navestit’ ee.’
(My mother is staying in France since a year ago that is why I wanted to visit her.)
Дмитрий :Как долго вы будете оставаться во Франции?
‘Kak dolgo vy budete ostavat’sja vo Francii?’
(How long you will be stay in France?)
Максим : Через десять дней только, ты?
‘Cherez desjat’ dnej tol’ko, ty?’
(In ten days only, you?)
Дмитрий :Я остаюсь в Азии через три недели, перемещаясь из Таиланда, Сингапура, Малайзии, Индонезии.
‘Ja ostajus’ v Azii cherez tri nedeli, peremeshhajas’ iz Tailanda, Singapura, Malajzii, Indonezii.’
(I’m staying in Asia in three weeks moving around from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia.)
Максим : Какое веселое путешествие!
‘Kakoe veseloe puteshestvie! ‘
(What a fun journey!)
Дмитрий : Да, тебе тоже стоит посетить Азию.
‘Da, tebe tozhe stoit posetit’ Aziju.’
(Yeah, you should visit Asia too.)
Максим : Ну, может, когда-нибудь, в любом случае во сколько у тебя рейс?
‘Nu, mozhet, kogda-nibud’,v ljubom sluchae vo skol’ko u tebja rejs?’
(Well, maybe someday, anyway what time is your flight?)
Дмитрий : Мой рейс через два часа, a ты?
‘Moj rejs cherez dva chasa, a ty?’
(My flight is in two hours, and you?)
Максим : Мой через сорок минут, до свидания!
‘Moj cherez sorok minut, do svidanija!’
(Mine in forty minutes, goodbye then!)
Дмитрий : До свидания, счастливого полета!
‘Do svidanija, schastlivogo poleta!’
(Good bye, have a safe flight!)
|Тогда||Togda||Then (at that time)|
|Прямо сейчас||Prjamo sejchas||Straight away|
|Пять минут назад||Pjat’ minut nazad||Five minutes ago|
|Полчаса назад||Polchasa nazad||Half an hour ago|
|Час назад||Chas nazad||An hour ago|
|Неделю назад||Nedelju nazad||A week ago|
|Две недели назад||Dve nedeli nazad||Two weeks ago|
|Месяц назад||Mesjac nazad||A month ago|
|Год назад||God nazad||A year ago|
|Давным-давно||Davnym-davno||A long time ago|
|Через десять минут||Cherez desjat’ minut||In ten minutes’ time|
|Через час||Cherez chas||In an hour’s time|
|Через неделю||Cherez nedelju||In a week’s time|
|Через десять дней||Cherez desjat’ dnej||In ten days’ time|
|Через три недели||Cherez tri nedeli||in three weeks’ time|
|Через два месяца||Cherez dva mesjaca||in two months’ time|
Pratice your speaking ability with conversation is one of the most fun way to learn Russian, you can ask your friend to join and pratice with you. Above, two conversation are given in two different situation so you can really adopted it in your daily conversation.