Understanding Spoken Russian – Learn Russian Ep. 18

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* NOTE *

All phrases intended for translating/listening practice have been deleted.

Welcome to Ep18. Let’s start with a brief conversation. Along with trying to get the gist of what they’re saying, try to listen for words that end with an “и” sound. Ready?

Где мама и папа?

Они пошли в магазин. (door opens) О! Вот они. Привет мама, привет папа. Что купили?

Мы купили игрушки.

Let’s listen again…This time, try to translate after each line.

Где мама и папа?

Where are mom and dad?

Они пошли в магазин.

We heard the word магазин, which is a store. In fact, we heard в магазин…so they must be going there. After all, if they were in the store, it’d be в магазине right? Anyway…

(door opens) О! Вот они.

Oh, There they are.

I get into this in great detail in Russian Accelerator, but вот doesn’t actually mean “there”…

What it is is a way of calling attention to someone or something. But the word I want to focus on today is that word они. Вот они…I’m calling your attention to….they.

Or that earlier phrase: Они пошли в магазин… they headed off to the store.

Let’s keep going…

Привет мама, привет папа. Что купили?

Hi mom, hi dad. What did you buy?

Мы купили игрушки.

We bought toys.

So….I asked you to keep an ear out for И sounds. Let me point them out…

Они пошли

Вот они.

Что купили?

Мы купили игрушки.

What does it signify? Well, that’s the topic of today’s lesson. Let’s try this…How would you say:

He bought a laptop. <—- In Russian, they say ‘notebook’ (ноутбук)

Он купил ноутбук.

She bought an i-Phone.

Она купила ай-фон.

They bought a printer.

Они купили принтер.

Let’s try another round…He bought corn.

Он купил кукурузу.

She bought pelmeni (little Russian raviolis).

Она купила пельмени.

They bought wine.

Они купили вино.

Look….more rhyming. She bought….она купила….THEY bought…ОнИ купилИ

Let’s try a different verb. How would you say…He worked in Rome.

Он работал в Риме.

She worked in Paris.

Она работала в Париже.

Now ask: Where did they work?

Где они работали?

There’s our И … И rhyme again. Где они работали?

Another one: He tried the pelmeni.

Он попробовал пельмени.

She tried the corn.

Она попробовала кукурузу.

Now ask: What did they try…or sample?

Что они попробовали?

As that sinks in, let’s review the core material from the last episode. Our speakers are going to say who they were speaking with. I’d like you to say the person’s name in its most basic form. Ready?

– – –

Good job.

Alright, back to our main topic…Try to say: They read (and finished reading) my book.

Они прочитали мою книгу.

They watched (and finished watching) your video.

Они посмотрели твоё видео.

They gave me your rucksack.

Они дали мне твой рюкзак.

This one’s a little tougher. They wanted to buy for me a saxophone.

Они хотели купить мне…саксофон. / … барабан. / … гитару. /

Try that again. They wanted to buy for me a drum. One more,…change drum to guitar

But wait…Who buys just one drum? Who even says, “I play the drum?” Right? “I play the drums…”

Listen to this phrase: I love the drums.

Я люблю барабаны.

Our ‘ee’ sound is back. Listen again: drum…drums




watermelon…watermelons (remember that from the Hoho Panda cartoon?)


Remember how, at the very start of today’s lesson, I had you keep an ear out for those ‘и’ sounds.

First we concentrated on words like они…and….купили

But it was there at the end, too. The parents bought TOYS…plural…and that word ended with an ‘И

Listen: toy….toys


That ‘ee’ sound at the end of words often—but certainly not always—indicates more than one. In fancy grammar terms? It indicates plurality. Think about it. THEY is more than one person, right?

Они. So it has an ‘ee’ sound at the end.

It’s a bit like saying, the ‘s’ sound at the end of English words often—but certainly not always—indicates more than one. book…books. drum….drums

Imagine this scenario. My kids are sorting through a pile of books in the playroom. When Andrei tries to take one from Sophia’s pile, Sophia hunches over her books and says simply: They are mine.

Они мои.

Then Andrei looks at William, who doesn’t seem to have collected any books. Andrei asks him…

Уильям, где твои?

William, where are yours?

Your turn. Imagine you’re divvying up a bag of potato chips. With just two words, say:

They… are yours.

Они твои.

Next…try to translate what the speaker is saying…

Где мои…чипсы? / …пельмени? / …конфеты? /

Where are my chips? Where are my pelmeni–raviolis? Where are my candies?

Где твои…барабаны? / …джинсы? / …документы? /

Where are your drums? Where are your jeans? Where are your documents?

If you’re getting all these, you’re doing great.

<< (tip of the day) >>

Today’s tip is just four words: You. Can. Do. This. You can become conversational in Russian. You know how I know? Because you’re still here. You’ve made it through eighteen of these podcasts, full of some very complex material, high speed audio clips, long Russian Immersion sections…and you are still here. That is an awesome display of will power on your part. And to quote Andy Dufresne, from Shawshank Redemption: If you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further.

Because with all you’ve put in, what’s a few more months of learning? I’ve had students finish my Accelerator course in four months. But even if it takes you six, that’s nothing. Six months are going to pass in any case. And at the end, imagine being conversational in Russian. Think of the opportunities that would give you. Think of the value of adding that to your resume:

Additional Skills: Speaks Russian.

You’ve made it this far. I know you can do this. And I look forward to helping you get there.

<< END TIP >>

Alright, time for our Russian Immersion.

– – –

Alright, for our final exam, I’m going to prompt you to say almost all of that conversation we just heard. I realize there are words we don’t know. That’s ok….I’ll give those to you. Let’s do it…

Say: Hi, Neal.

Tell me: These drums are yours? use…эти for ‘these’

Yes. They’re mine.

Then she says: Значит, ты умеешь играть на барабанах?

Literally: That means, you know how to play the drums?

Then she adds: I didn’t know.

He answers: I play not very well…

Играю не очень хорошо…

but I love to play

но люблю играть.

She commands him: Play!




She says: Почему бы и нет?

That translates as: Why not?

Да ладно. …Ok, fine.

The word for ‘sticks’ is палочки…of course ending with our plural ‘и’…So with two words, tell her:

Give the sticks.

Дай палочки.

На….she says, as she hand them to Neal.

He asks: А какую песню тебе играть?

So, which song for you to play?

Say: I don’t know. How you want. meaning: Play whatever you want to.

Не знаю. Как хочешь.



She must’ve made a weird expression, because he stops and says:

You what, don’t know Led Zeppelin?

Ты что, не знаешь Лед Зе́ппелин?

Don t know John Bonham.

Не знаешь Джона Бонэма?

Did you put those ‘a’s at the end…because John Bonham is a person…we need our cool, animate accusative ending.

She asks: Who?


Oh, gosh…

О боже…

Alright. I hope you enjoyed that one. And I hope you did well. I’ll see you in Ep 19…