Full Episode Audio
Exercises Only Audio
* NOTE *
All phrases intended for translating/listening practice have been deleted.
Welcome to Episode 7 of Understanding Spoken Russian. To start with today, Alex is going to ask me a question. Listen?
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Depending on where you’re at in your studies, you might’ve understood all of that, or almost none of it. Either way, in today’s episode we’re going to discover a key pattern in there and put it to work for us. The sound I want to extract from that for now—the sound I want slipping deep into your subconscious—is: жив
As that reverberates through your mind, let’s do some review. In these complex phrases, can you spot who did what to whom?
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What was that little word we started the lesson with? жив. Let’s see if we can get it from context.
In every action movie, there’s a scene where the hero gets badly hurt. His buddy pushes away the rubble, finds the guy, and asks him:
Тони! Ты ещё жив?
What do you think he asked him? Tony, are you still alive? So жив translates as “alive” or “living.”
It’s not all that common on its own, but it’s the root of one of the most common verbs in conversational Russian. Let’s listen again to the opening conversation, and translate as we go.
Марк, где ты живёшь? – Mark, where do you live?
Я живу в Киеве. – I live in Kiev.
Полина, где ты живёшь? – Polina, where do you live?
Я живу в Донецке. – I live in Donetsk.
А ты, Алексей? Где ты живёшь? – And you, Alex? Where do you live?
Я живу в Москве. – I live in Moscow.
So, я живу translates as “I live.”
ты живёшь translates as “You live.”
Those are our new words for this lesson. We’ll work with them in a second, but here’s an important sidenote. In Russian, as in many languages, depending on who you’re speaking to there are different words you use to say the same thing. There are two categories that we put people in:
Is the person someone you can speak friendly with, like a friend or family member?
Or…Is it a person you need to speak politely with, like your boss, or any adult you don’t know.
We’ll cover this in detail a bit later in the series, but the main point is that the same exact thought will be expressed two different ways. For ex:
Let’s say I’m talking with my buddy: “Yo, dude what’s up? Hey, I wanted to ask..Где ты живёшь?”
That was informal speech.
Now I’m with my boss, who’s also bilingual. “Ahem, hello sir….I was wanting to ask: Где Вы живёте?” That’s the same exact question: “Where do you live?” But with different words.
Another ex: To a friend who’s just gotten a new job, you might ask: “Where do you work?”
Где ты работаешь?
To a stranger on a train, you’d ask that same question like this: Где Вы работаете?
Just know that for today, we’ll be speaking informally, as if to friends. Try to say…
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And now try it with wherever you live. If you’re not sure how to pronounce your city in Russian, or whether you’re getting the ending right—because there are exceptions to that “yeh” ending—just go to the website, UnderstandingSpokenRussian.com and leave a comment at the bottom of Episode 7.
So, in this first exercise, all I want you to do is tell me if the person is speaking in the present tense, or the past. If you can translate, great, but if not..just past or present. Ready?
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Let’s add another verb into the mix. видишь
Imagine you’re searching for your suitcase. Finally your roomate spots it and he says…
Эй, видишь? Твой чемодан на балконе.
Or he’s looking for his бумажник…
Где мой бумажник?
Видишь? Он на столе.
Видишь? they ask, pointing. Do you see? ВИД-ишь…has our core word from Episode 5: вид
But now we’re hearing it in the present tense. Listen to him say, Yes, I see.
She would say it the same way…
It’s only the past tense where the gender of the subject is reflected. Last one: смотришь
You walk into the living room and your roomate Vadim is watching TV. The commercials are running, so you ask him…
Вадим, что ты смотришь?
Whenever I’m outside with my kids when they’re playing, they always want to know…
Папа, ты смотришь?
Dad, are you watching?
So let’s do that same exercise from before, but include these other verbs…seeing and watching. Again, translate if you can, but otherwise just say: past or present.
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Я работаю. Я живу. Я смотрю. Я вижу.
When speaking in the present tense—about where they work,or where they live—a Russian speaker starts with “ya” (Я) and then uses a verb ending in an ‘U’ sound. It might be “У or Ю” but the ‘u’ sound is always there. There are so few exceptions to this, it’s scarcely worth noting.
Ты работаешь. Ты живёшь. Ты смотришь. Ты видишь.
Similarly, when speaking in the present tense about where you work, where you live, and so on—a Russian speaker starts with Ты and then uses a verb ending in an ‘ish’ sound. It might be ИШ ЕШ ЁШ but the “sh” sound is always there. Again, this is when “you” is a friend or a kid.
So all I want to do here is spot these patterns. Just tell me if it’s you or I doing the action. And we’ll mix in some unfamiliar verbs. Ready?
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In this next exercise, pretend you are the person speaking. He’ll start by saying his name. Literally: Me they-call Anton. Then he’ll talk a bit about himself. Just listen…
NOTE: The episode’s Russian Immersion section has also been deleted from this transcript. Again, this is because the entire focus of this course is listening and understanding. People don’t (yet) come with subtitles.
That one had some new words in it. What do you think this means?
Ты читаешь журнал.
You are reading a magazine.
Ты читаешь книгу.
You are reading a book.
Remember читал from Episode 5? Я прочитал рецепт…I read the recipe…
So these are the present tense forms of that verb, “to read.”. Listen again…
I’m reading a funny email
Я читаю смешной имейл.
Or simpler. Just: I am reading.
Are you reading my blog?
Ты читаешь мой блог?
Try to translate these…
<< tip of the day>>
Even in a course like this, where the entire focus is on listening and getting the gist of what native speakers are saying, it’s still a good idea to do interactive exercises…the way we just did. I like it because it forces you to kind of sit straight and listen closely. Which is why we’ll be doing more of that in future lessons.
The tip here is, if you’re using this course in conjunction with some other resource—you have to choose carefully. I remember back when I was first getting started in Russian, I looked for that kind of interactive listening stuff online and it was so frustrating. Because even when they spoke slowly, they weren’t using the vocab I’d learned. It made feel like I wasnt making progress. So what I did, believe it or not, was hire native speakers in my area—this was in Mesa, Arizona—and had them make up simple but realistic dialogs like that…and I recorded them. I basically created my own course material. That’s when my progress in Russian really started to accelerate…because the exercises were at just the right level.
Which is why I added what I call my ‘Russian Immersion’ podcast to my online, Russian Accelerator course. There, each podcast episode uses only the vocabulary you’ve learned up to that point. So you’re suddenly having these long exchanges all in Russian and without that frustration of feeling lost. Like I said, if you’re supplementing, choose your resources carefully.
So, let’s try one more interactive listening exercise. Again, just answer ДА or НЕТ…
Bonus question here. Even if you dont understand, see if you can answer…
Где я сижу?
Ты сидишь на диване.
Any guess on what that means? Ты сидишь на диване.
You’re sitting on the couch.
Next, let’s listen to some clips from Russian TV. Again, I’ll use that show, the Thundermans, about a family of superheros. This first snippet starts with “Конечно, милая,”…”of course, sweety.”
Then what does the mother say?
That was of course ridicuously fast. See if you can spot the two verbs. One in the present tense, then one in the past….
She said: Конечно, милая. Я читаю твой блог. Видела мои комменты?
Of course, dear. I read your blog. Did you see my comments?
In this next one do you hear a Я verb or a Ты verb?
Сейчас ты получишь…Now you’re gonna get it…Lit: Now you will receive
This next one starts with the word Ты…Which is the informal you. Is the mother speaking in the past tense or present?
Ты использовала свои супер-силы перед подругами…past
Again..past tense or present?
Как видишь… с этим мы и разбираемся
As you see, we’re figuring this out…как видишь….present
Quick break, and then our final exam….
We dont know all the words, but can you translate the gist of these phrases?
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Alright, great job, guys. If you’re starting to feel more confident and feel ready to try a conversational course along with this, I hope you’ll check out my Russian Made Easy podcast.
And in the meantime, I’ll see you in the next lesson.