What do Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak, Catherine the Great, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Yuri Gagarin, Peter the Great have in common?  If your answer is: their mother language. You are right! They all spoke Russian!

Spoken by the tsars and by well-known artists, Russian is one of the six official languages of the UN and one of the major world languages, accompanying English and Chinese, being spoken by approximately 300 million people, astronauts to be included here. 😊 It belongs to the Slavic languages’ family and it’s very similar to Ukrainian and Belarus languages, making up the eastern branch of the Slavic family of languages.

If one wants to start down the road to learning Russian, the first stop is the alphabet! Unlike the Romance languages to the west, the Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet which probably translates into more letters that you are used to, to be precise:  33 letters; 10 vowels, 21 consonants, and 2 that have no sound. It can be written in capitals, lowercase, and Cyrillic cursive. Interestingly, the vowel indicates whether the preceding consonant is hard or soft.

So, if one of your 2021 objectives is to learn Russian fast, memorizing the alphabet is an ideal jumping-off point. If your objective is to visit Moscow as well, knowing the alphabet will definitely help you when ordering food. As, пицца is not an exotic food, but a tasty and well-deserved pizza! Bon appetit! — Приятного аппетита!

The Russian language grammar has a reputation for being tricky. One very helpful tip is to pay attention to it from the very beginning.

There are 6 different cases in Russian language, meaning that the ending of the word varies according to their syntactical function in the sentence. Word order is, therefore, highly flexible.

In term of tenses, Russian has three tenses: past, present, and future. The past and the future tenses have two aspects each: perfective and imperfective. However, you can only “be “ in the past or the future, never in the present. So much for “carpe diem”. 😊 Leaving the joke aside, one of the unique traits of this beautiful language lays in this particular trait: The verb “to be” (быть) exists, but it’s never used in the present tense. Rather, it’s only found in past- and future-tense constructions.

We won’t get into any more details, except for one: In Russian, where the emphasis falls on the word is crucial. For example, я плачу – with emphasis on the second syllable – means “I’m paying”. However, я плáчу – with emphasis on the first syllable – means “I’m crying”. Depending on the bill, have your pick!

We can’t conclude without giving you the following information. Russian names consist of a first name, a family name, and a patronymic name, which is the father’s name plus the ending -ovich/evich for a son and -ovna/evna for a daughter. So, if a father named Mikhail has a son and a daughter, his son’s patronymic name will be Mikhailovich and his daughter’s will be Mikhailova.

And one more last thing.  If you ever feel like saying “ I love you” in Russian “Я люблю́ вас (ya lyublyú vas)” ,  the phrase “yellow-blue bus” will almost take you there ! 😊