Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lesson 23 - Nouns and Gender

Today we'll talk about nouns and genders. Keep in mind that we are going to look only at singular nouns in nominative case (more on the 6 noun cases later).

As you know, a noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, event or idea. All Russian nouns are divided into 3 genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. It's important to know the gender of a noun, since it needs to agree with other parts of speech. Let me give you an example: красивая девушка (a pretty girl) is correct, while красивый девушка is not. Ending -ый of the adjective красивый denotes masculine gender.

Learning gender rules is not an easy process. Many times you will be able to determine the gender of a noun simply by using your biology knowledge. Ex.: мальчик (masculine), девочка (feminine), etc. But most of the time noun gender is random and unchangeable. Gender rules MUST be memorized. However, the secret is simple: the ending of a noun determines its gender. After learning a few rules you'll be able to instantly recognize whether nouns are masculine, feminine or neuter.

Here's a Russian Noun Genders table for your convenience.(Click the table for an enlarged view)


*Every Russian noun has a gender (masculine, feminine or neuter)
*Every adjective or verb must agree with the gender of a Russian noun (and pronoun)
*Most masculine nouns end in a consonant, as well as -ь or -й
*Feminine nouns usually end in -а, as well as -я, -ия, and -ь
*Most neuter nouns end in -о or -е, but can also take endings like -ие, and -[м]я
*A handful of Russian nouns appear to be feminine by their endings, are in fact masculine. Commit them to memory!


It's been a while since I added a Russian song to my podcast. So many of you requested this feature back! I promise to add one when I get a chance to obtain license-free Russian music. May 9th is the Victory Day in Russia. (День Победы). To mark this day I am including a well-known song from the Soviet era called «В землянке» - "In the Dugout" performed by Михаил Гулько.

Here are the lyrics of the song and its translation.

В землянке
Музыка: К.Листов Слова: А.Сурков

Бьется в тесной печурке огонь,
На поленьях смола, как слеза.
И поет мне в землянке гармонь
Про улыбку твою и глаза.

Про тебя мне шептали кусты
В белоснежных полях под Москвой.
Я хочу, чтобы слышала ты,
Как тоскует мой голос живой.

Ты сейчас далеко, далеко,
Между нами снега и снега.
До тебя мне дойти не легко,
А до смерти - четыре шага.

Пой, гармоника, вьюге назло,
Заплутавшее счастье зови.
Мне в холодной землянке тепло
От моей негасимой любви.

В землянке
in English:

The fire beats in the tiny hearth,
Resin shines on the wood like a tear,
An accordion sings about love,
And your eyes and your smile reappear.

The trees have whispered of you to me,
In the snow-white plains of Moscow,
Oh, my love, if it only could be,
If you heard me here singing alone.

You are far, far away at this hour.
Snows between us and winter's hard breath.
To rejoin you is not in my power,
Though just four steps divide me from death.

Sing, accordion, mocking the storm,
Call back joy, drive off sorrow and doubt.
In the cold of the dogout I 'm warm
For the fire of our love won't go out.


In closing, I'd like to thank Bethany for her lovely greeting that I started today's lesson with. To the rest of my listeners: you are welcome to send in your greetings in Russian. Don't forget to visit speakrussian.blogspot.com for some lagniappe* (11 years in New Orleans have taken their toll:) . Send all your questions and comments to spoonfulofrussian@gmail.com

До свидания и всего хорошего, друзья!

* (Lagniappe derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, “the gift,” and ultimately from Quechua yapay, “to give more.” The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.”)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lesson 22 - Russian Cursive (Letters "Ш,Щ,ь,ъ,Ы,Э,Ю,Я")

'Привет', my old friends, and 'Здравствуйте', my new listeners! Welcome to Lesson 22 of 'A Spoonful of Russian with Natalia'. I am Natalia, your host and instructor. And today we are going to finish the Russian Cursive Letters series.

But before we start, I want to thank again all those of you who support this podcast by first of all, keeping subscribed, also by purchasing Rosetta Stone's software through the link on my site (that really helps), and via PayPal donations. There's another and rather fun way of supporting the show - by getting a little souvenir from my Cafepress. com store. Did you know that they have "A Spoonful of Russian" stamp now? And "A Spoonful of Russian" license plate? Since I enjoy cooking, my favorite is the apron. And what pet can live without "A Spoonful of Russian" T-shirt? The store's ID is speakrussian.

Oh, and a special THANK YOU goes to Norman, who surprised me with a new RODE PodCaster microphone. The sound quality has gone up since I started using it. Thanks, Norman, if you are listening:)

Now , for the lesson! Давайте начнём!

Friday, March 30, 2007


Today we are off to Louisiana. The next spoonful will come out soon after we return. Всего хорошего!


(added later: Don't want to keep you in the dark. We are back in NC. Stay tuned!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lesson 21 - Russian Cursive (Letters "У,Ф,Х,Ц,Ч")

Today you will learn how to write Russian Cursive letters "У,Ф,Х,Ц,Ч" .

(updated on November 25, 2009)

To answer Chris' question about forming a cursive 'ф' in the middle of a word I made a little demonstration vid.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lesson 20 - Russian Cursive (Letters "О,П,Р,С,Т")

8th of March - Women's Day .

It's Women's Day in Russia today, a holiday of spring and attention to women. It's one of most important holidays in Russia. The celebration is similar to a combination of Valentine's Day and Mother's Day in the West, but better. This is a national holiday and a day off. Several nations celebrate this, but only a few acknowledge it as an official, non-working holiday .

If you forgot to send a rose on Valentine's Day, it's only half the trouble. But if you forgot to send flowers to the special women in your life you are in a really big trouble!

On this day Russian men congratulate all women in their lives (mothers, wives, daughters, grandmothers, girl-friends, teachers) by presenting them with first spring flowers, candy and cards, and self-made short poems. My Dad always presented my Mom with red carnations early in the morning, while reading a poem specially-written for this occasion.

Every woman of any age is honoured on this day. Russian women are surrounded with flowers, poems, love and care. They are not allowed to do any work in house that day: men do all cooking, cleaning and take care of the children. The Women Day - 8th of March is the best holiday for Russian women of any age.

In other countries where the 8th of March is celebrated, it's usually a celebration of feminist and women's rights groups. But in Russia, where the life is different in many ways, the 8th of March is one of most favorite holidays for all Russian women, along with New Year and Christmas. For Russian Women the 8th of March "Women day" is a holiday of Love and Spring. One of my most favourable memories are of this Day:)

Letter 'О' is represented by word 'очки' (glasses)
Letter 'П' is represented by word 'паровоз' (steam engine)
Letter 'Р' is represented by word 'рыба' (fish)
Letter 'С' is represented by word 'сыр' (cheese)
Letter 'Т' is represented by word 'телефон' (telephone)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bad Cold Took me Down (Я простудилась).

Yes, I know, this bunny looks like he broke his leg, and the photo is not related to common cold. But he looks so cute:) Просто милашка!

Thank so much for checking up on me and asking for more 'spoonfuls' of Russian:) I got so many e-mails I decided to post on my blog. Next episode is coming out very soon, so stay tuned.....

I want to share a cold remedy that was sent to me by one of my listeners, Michelle.

"For that nasty cold:

Take "Emergen-C" vitamin C fizzy drink daily. I would also recommend making a morning smoothie with 30 grams of whey protein (I like the "biochem" brand) 1 packet of Emergen-C and a piece of fruit (I use a banana). You can add Echinacea or any other little tincture you like to the smoothie. (I make mine with a Gatorade base, for the electrolytes.)"

Спасибо, Michelle, and спасибо to all who wished me 'Выздоравливай'!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lesson 19 - Russian Cursive (Letters "Й,К,Л,М,Н")

Russian Cursive (Letters "Й,К,Л,М,Н")

Letter 'Й' is represented by word 'Йогурт' (Yogurt)
Letter 'К' is represented by word 'Кошка' (Cat)
Letter 'Л' is represented by word 'Лодка' (Boat)
Letter 'М' is represented by word 'Машина' (Car)
Letter 'Н' is represented by word 'Носки' (Socks)

Video Vocabulary #01

Video Vocabulary #1 - Common Greetings and Phrases. You can find a PDF file of the vocabulary in the DOWNLOADS section of the site.

p.s. Isn't the sound of that BALALAIKA great in the video?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lesson 18 - Russian Cursive (Letters "З,И")

Добрый день, мои дорогие слушатели ( Hello, my dear listeners)! Welcome to 'A Spoonful of Russian' , where we learn Russian one bite at a time. Добро пожаловать ( Welcome)!

(Samir's audio message)

I thank all the listeners who stuck with the show since the beginning and welcome the newcomers. I appreciate all the mail that you send my way. Questions, comments, suggestion and even criticism....I read them all and try to reply as time allows. We've covered a lot of ground already, and there's more to come!

And now, for the lesson.

(Please follow the video for this lesson. Just click on the title of the blog entry.)

Letter 'З' is represented by word 'Зонтик' (Umbrella)
Letter 'И' is represented by word 'Иголки' (Pins)
Letter 'Й' is represented by word 'Йод' (Iodine)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Help with iTunes for our Windows users?


So, from what I gather, since "A Spoonful of Russian" is classified as an audio podcast, the latest .mov files will show up as part of this podcast in iTunes, but not on your iPod. They will be synced with your iPod under 'VIDEOS -->MOVIES'.


Got an e-mail from one of the listeners needing help in transferring my .mov files to his iPod.

Quote: "Natalia: I’m sorry about being so much trouble; but am having a problem with the cursive lessons. I can’t get them to load to my iPod. I am hoping one of your other listeners will be able to assist me. Suggestions?


Dan's running Windows XP and has iTunes. If anyone could help, post a comment to this blog entry!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lesson 17 - Russian Cursive (Letters "Д,Е,Ё,Ж")

(Please follow the video for this lesson. Just click on the title of the blog entry.)

Добрый день, дорогие друзья! You are listening to and viewing 'A Spoonful of Russian' podcast, where we learn Russian 'one bite at a time'! I am your host, Natalia. Давайте начнём (Let us begin)!

First, I want to take just a few seconds to thank all those who contributed to this show either by donating through PayPal, purchasing products with 'Spoonful of Russian' logo at my cafepress.com store of going to russiantable.com online grocery store via the link on the right. Thanks to you I was able to purchase Snapz Pro X software that enabled me to record visual lessons for you, just like this one.

And now for our next Russian letters in cursive......


I'd like to ask my listeners to e-mail me short accounts of the reasons behind your interest in Russian language and culture. You can either shoot me an e-mail telling me why you love Russian or send me a short audio. If you want me to play it on the show, let me know.

Всего хорошего и до скорой встречи (All the best, and see you soon) !

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lesson 16 - Russian Cursive (Letters "Б,В,Г")

Today I'll show you how to write Б,В,Г in cursive.

(Please follow the video for this lesson. Just click on the title of the blog entry.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lesson 15 - Russian Cursive (Letter "А")

Today you will learn to write Russian cursive "А". I will include more than one letter in my future lessons.
Thanks to one of my listeners I was able to upload a "Russian Cursive Workbook" in the DOWNLOADS section on the right.

The Cyrillic alphabet was adopted by the Slavs in about the 9th century. Although it is named after St. Cyril (Constantine), it was not invented by St. Cyril. It is based on the system of Greek capital letters. If you know the Greek alphabet, many of the letters will be familiar to you.
The Cyrillic alphabet, with some modifications, is used by many nations in Europe and Asia, including Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Mongolia, to name only a few.

Few Americans write in cursive script anymore. All Russians write in cursive. You won't need to learn cursive to "get by" such as reading street signs or newspapers, and Russians will be able to read your notes if you print your letters. But you'll need to learn cursive to read Russians' handwriting. If you want to learn "good Russian" then learn to write in cursive. If you just want to "get by" on vacation you can skip this.

Russian cursive letters looks quite different from Russian printed letters. Some letters look like English cursive letters, but represent different letters. The bane of Russian cursive is the letters м т л и ш щ ц, which look almost identical.

Upper- and lower-case cursive letters look quite different. Thus Russians use three distinct alphabets: printed, upper-case cursive, and lower-case cursive.

In this example, each letter--upper and lower case--is followed by the same letter in Russian cursive. You will notice that in the block style, the only difference between the upper and lower case letters is the size. In the cursive style, certain letters distinguish between upper and lower case.

(Please follow the video for this lesson. Just click on the title of the blog entry.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Little survey (Небольшой Опрос)

How many of you, my dear listeners, would be interested in learning how to write in Russian cursive? Please, e-mail me.

Update: survey is closed