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Russian Grammar

So, what exactly do you need to know about Russian Grammar? Well, the word 'grammar' can be defined simply as the rules which govern the structure of a language.

It covers everything from pronunciation, to sentence structure, to the history of the Russian language, and acceptable forms of the language when spoken and written.

Like any language, Russian Grammar has many rules, and also many exceptions. Don't be overawed - simply make a start, and keep referring back to the rules as your journey in Russian continues.

Overview of the Grammar Lessons

On this page, you will find summaries of the key sections of Russian grammar. Use the index below (or simply scroll down) to read the overview of each section, and then follow the links highlighted there for our detailed grammar tutorials. Each lesson has a print-friendly version so you can print the lessons and refer to them at your convenience. It is a good idea to build a study folder with all of the lessons to which you can add your own notes and additional study materials as your knowledge of Russian progresses.

1 - Rules of Pronunciation

2 - Russian Numbers

3 - Russian Pronouns

4 - Russian Nouns

5 - Russian Verbs

6 - Russian Cases

A Note About Sentence Structure

1. Rules of Pronunciation

It's important to get into the habit early on, of correct pronunciation. By now, you sould have seen our page on the Russian alphabet. If not, take the time now to go and print it off. This forms the basis of pronunciation for the whole language, showing you how the letters sound in their 'regular' state.

There are, however, some key changes in the pronunciation of some letters (or combination of letters) in certain circumstances. So, please follow the link to learn these vital rules about Russian pronunciation.

The information contained there will help you understand the phonetics (the explanation of how a word sounds) used throughout our website, and guide you to being able to correctly pronounce 99% of all Russian words.

(See also our guide to Russian phonetics used here at Russian-language-for-lovers.com).

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2. Russian Numbers

Our lessons on Russian Grammar start with an easy one - Numbers.

There's not many rules to learn here, simply to memorise the numbering system. Refer to the pronunciation guide first, as this will help you say the numbers correctly.

Keep in mind that there are 2 numbering systems (as in any language). First are the regular Russian numbers (otherwise known as cardinal numbers) which are used to count. And secondly are the Russian Ordinals which is the system used for the order of start/finish, and commonly used for days of the month. (First, second, third... etc.)

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3. Russian Pronouns

A pronoun is a word which is used to replace other nouns or pronouns for the purpose of simplifying a sentence and avoiding repitition.

In English, common examples of pronouns are "he/she", "me", "you", "they", "it", and many more.

See here for a comprehensive list of Russian pronouns and how to use them.

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4. Russian Nouns

A noun is a word used to name a thing. This "thing" could be a person, an animal, a place, an object, an imaginary object, or an abstract idea.

Russian nouns have a very important concept known as 'gender'. Basically, every noun is either masculine, feminine, or neuter. It is a concept common in many other languages, although not in English of course.

You need to know the gender of all nouns, in order to be able to form correct endings of words used to describe the noun. Luckily there are some easy rules to help you identify the gender of a noun.

See here for a detailed explanation on Russian nouns.

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5. Russian Verbs

One of the most important lessons in this Russian Grammar section is that of verbs. A verb is a word that describes action - it gives meaning to what is actually happening in the sentence. One of the most important ways to improve your Russian is to know as many verbs as possible, and how to use them. Now, follow this link to get into the fine detail about Russian Verbs.

When you have a good basic understanding of the general treatment of verbs, continue with the specific tutorials on:

(i) Russian Verbs of Motion

(ii) Russian Imperfective Verbs

(iii) Russian Perfective Verbs

Each page contains comprehensive lists of verbs for your reference. And be sure to use our list of the 100 most important Russian verbs.

(To understand the difference between Imperfective and Perfective verbs, see the detailed verbs section mentioned previously.)

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6. Russian Cases

One of the most difficult aspects of Russian Grammar for those of you who speak English as your first language will be that of 'Cases'. In a strange way, you should actually be very thankful for this tricky topic, because ultimately, it will make Russian even simpler to understand than English!

Ok, I know you don't believe me yet. And rightly so... just what is this 'Case' thing all about anyway?

In English there are very strict rules about word order in a sentence. Without it, how would you know who was doing what to whom?!

Well, in Russian (as in many other languages), word order isn't so important, because the cases do all the work for you. The cases determine the ending that a word will take, and this ending will in turn tell you who is doing what to whom!

Strap yourself in, and take a good dose of patience... here are the Russian cases.

Start with the overview in the previous link, and then, when you are ready to look in detail at each case, refer to them one by one here:

(i) Russian Nominative Case

(ii) Russian Genitive Case

(iii) Russian Dative Case

(iv) Russian Accusative Case

(v) Russian Instrumental Case

(vi) Russian Prepositional Case

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A Note about Russian Sentence Structure

Well, we finish our lessons on Russian Grammar with some good news! Now that you know the Russian Cases (or at least you will soon enough), you can forget all about sentence structure!

"I am learning the Russian language"
can now become...

... "I the Russian language am learning"...

or... "The Russian language I am learning"...

and maybe even... "I the Russian language learning am!"

Once you know the cases it will all make perfect sense to a Russian speaker. And that, my dear friend, is your ultimate goal.

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