Russian Lesson 1
Первый Урок

Russian Course
Chapters 1 2                  
Lessons 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11


Russian Lesson 1 introduces you to some basic Russian words and expressions which you can use immediately to interact with your Russian friends. These lessons have been adapted from Princeton University Russian Language Course which was available online for quite some time. It is one of the best materials for studying Russian on your own.

The English transcription in square brackets will provide you a very rough guide to the pronunciation until the entire Russian alphabet is presented. Do listen and repeat the recording until you have mastered them. In later lessons they will be dispensed with so that you can fully learn and practice Russian using cyrillic alphabets.

*The red vowels indicate that they or the syllables are emphasised or stressed when spoken. You will learn in later lessons that these vowels, especially 'o' and 'a' have significantly different sounds when they are not stressed.

Contents on this lesson:

Диалоги — Dialogues

Словарь — Russian Vocabulary

Грамматика — Russian Grammar

Диалоги — Dialogues

Диалог А: Привет! Как дела? — Hi! How's the going?

Click the play button to playback the recording. If you have QuickTime Pro, you can also download the recording to your computer by clicking on the downward triangle and choose Save As Source...

Speaker Line Russian Phrase English Translation
1 Миша, привет! Как дела?
[Misha, privet! Kak dela?]
Misha, hi! How's the going? (How are things?)
2 Хорошо. А у тебя?
[Khorosho. A u tebya?]
Good. And with you? (How about you?)
3 Так себе.
[Tak sebe.]
4 Извини, мне некогда. Пока.
[Izvini, mne nekogda. Poka.]
Sorry, I'm in a hurry. See you later.
5 Ну, ладно, до свидания. Нахал!
[Nu, ladno, do svidaniya. Nakhal!]
Well, OK, see you later. (Misha walks away) Jerk!


Диалог Б: Что слышно? — What's up?

Speaker Line Russian Phrase English Translation
6 Нина, привет! Что слышно?
[Nina, privet! Chto slishno?]
Nina, hi! What's up?
7 Не спрашивай. А у тебя?
[Ne sprashivay. A u tebya?]
Don't ask. And with you?
8 Ничего.
Nothing. (Everything is pretty much OK.)
9 Извини, мне некогда. Пока.
[Izvini, mne nekogda. Paka.]
Sorry, I'm in a hurry. Later.
10 Ну ладно, до свидания. Нахалка!
[Nu, ladno, da svidaniya. Nakhalka!]
Well, all right, see you later. (Nina walks away) Jerk!


Словарь [slavar'] — Vocabulary

Line Russian Vocabulary Transliteration Translation Notes
1 привет privet hi (used only with friends and family)
1 Как дела? kak dela?
*two words, but only one stress
how's it going? how are things?
2 хорошо kharasho  good; well
2 а у тебя? a u tebya? and you? (lit. 'and by you?')
3 так себе tak sebe
2 words - 1 stress
so-so (this is somewhat negative)
4 извини izvini excuse (me); pardon (me); sorry
4 мне некогда mne nekogda I'm in a hurry; I have to run (lit. 'to me there is no time')
4 пока paka (see you) later
5 ну nu well...
5 ладно ladno OK, all right (sign of agreement)
5 до свидания da svidaniya
2 words - 1 stress
goodbye; see you later
5 нахал nakhal rude person who does not think of others; jerk (male)
6 что слышно? chto slishna? what's up?; what's new? (lit. what is audible)
7 не спрашивай ne sprashivay
2 words - 1 stress
don't ask
8 ничего nichevo nothing; not bad; OK
10 нахалка nakhalka female version of нахал

Грамматика — Grammar

*Numbers following words and phrases below refer to lines in the dialogues above.

1A. Introduction — Informal vs. Formal Forms of Address

привет! (1)

Вера uses привет hi, and informal greeting, with her friend Миша. Russian, like many languages, distinguishes between formal and informal forms of address. Saying привет to your professor would roughly be the same as saying Hey man, what's up?, (not too advisable). We will see an example of a formal form of address in Lesson 3. Until then, speak Russians only to your friends.

1Б. Russian Has No Verb To Be in the Present Tense

Как дела (1); что слышно (6)

Note that in Как дела?, the Russian equivalent of the question How's it going?, there is no verb, the sentence consists of just как = how and дела = things; matters. In Russian the present tense of the verb be (am, are, is) is not expressed. Some other examples:

audible? (What's new?)
a Jerk

This symbol, Ø, is used throuhout this course to indicate the absence of a word or ending.

This explains why you may hear a Russian speaking English say, "I teacher. My husband engineer."

1В. Russian to English: Fixed Expressions

Так себе (3); До свидания (5)

The dialogues and text in this book contain numerous fixed expressions. In some cases the meaning of the phrase can be predicted more or less from the sum of the parts, eg. до = until + свидания = meeting ( which is similar to the French au revoir). In other cases it is not simple to predict, eg. так = so; thus себе = to onself, but так себе means so-so, not great.

Below are expressions from the dialogues roughly in order of predictability of meaning.

Fixed Expressions
Predictable что + слышно?
what + audible
What's up?
" до + свидания
until + meeting
Somewhat predictable у + тебя?
by + you
with you?
" Мне + некогда
to me + there is no time
I'm is a hurry
Not predictable так + себе
so + self

Just be aware that learning Russian is not simply a matter of translating English words into Russian words and vice versa.

Actually, Russian is not that different from English, and in many cases a literal word for word translation will result in a grammatical sentence - but not always.


Notes on Chapter One


Within the next few lessons you will be presented with a fair amount of material to learn and absorb. But here are some things to bear in mind during this time:




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