Немно́го о языке́ 4.5 Кафе́ «Идеа́льная ча́шка»

Select Commands

The episodes in Уро́к 4 have introduced you to several command forms in Russian.  These words will help you manage and direct conversations and actions in Russian, and so learn them as phrases for the time being.  Command forms to people we address in вы (one person formally or two or more people) will end in –те.  The command form to someone we address in ты will be the same, without the –те ending.

Formal/Plural Informal Meaning
Скажи́те Скажи́ Say, tell
Расскажи́те Расскажи́ Tell (at length), tell a story
Дава́йте Дава́й Let’s (do it)

Упражне́ние 1

Pick the phrase and level of formality for the situation.

Now practice saying the correct phrases aloud. Practice saying them until you can say them smoothly and quickly.

Отку́да?  Я из …

When you want to find out where (what city, what state, what country) a person is from, you can ask the question Отку́да?  To answer this question one most often uses the preposition из plus the genitive case of the city, state, or country.

Упражне́ние 2

Вы зна́ете, отку́да э́ти поли́тики?

Past Tense of Verbs

In this episode of the story you have encountered several examples of Russian verbs in the past tense.  The formation of the past tense in Russian is much less complicated than in many commonly taught European languages. 

To form the past tense of a verb, start with the infinitive form, remove the final –ть, and add л.

After adding –л, make gender and number agreement with the subject: adding ø if the subject of the verb is masculine, add –а if the subject is feminine, add –о if the subject is neuter, or add –и if the subject is plural.

Упражне́ние 3

Listen to the statements below and decide whether the speaker is referring to a present or past time event.

Past Tense: Implications of Gender Agreements

Because the subjects я and ты can refer to either male or female persons, the verb forms that go with these pronouns will be either masculine or feminine depending on the gender of the person.

The subject вы, however, always has plural verb forms in the past tense, even if you are speaking to one person.

Упражне́ние 4

Indicate whether Amanda or Tony wrote the sentence.

Упражне́ние 5. Listening activity.


Tony is listening to Зо́я Степа́новна talk on the phone to her grandson Макс and granddaughter На́стя. They are passing the phone back and forth to each other. Listen to the questions and decide whom Зо́я Степа́новна must be talking to. 

Past Tense Forms of Verbs with the Particle –ся

In this episode you have seen how the past tense of the verb учи́ться is formed. The subjects and the related verb forms have been highlighted in purple.

To make the past tense of a ся verb, break the infinitive down into parts:

The form ends in: –[ending]
Masculine: –лся
Feminine: –лась
Neuter: –лось
Plural: –лись

More About the Accusative Case – Animacy

In Уро́к 3 when you first met the accusative case in its use as direct object, you saw contexts where the direct objects were primarily things, i.e., inanimate objects.

Мы чита́ем журна́л.

Мы слу́шаем ру́сскую пе́сню.

Мы зна́ем но́вые слова́.

We are reading a magazine.

We are listening to a song.

We know the new words.

You saw some examples of people as direct objects, but only with nouns whose dictionary forms end in –а/-я.  This group typically consists of feminine nouns and some masculine nouns for male people (па́па, дя́дя, де́душка, Ди́ма, Же́ня).  They have accusative forms in –у / -ю.

Мы лю́бим ма́му.

Мы лю́бим па́пу.

Вы зна́ете Ната́лью Миха́йловну?

Вы зна́ете Ди́му?

We love mom.

We love dad.

Do you know Natalya Mikhailovna?

Do you know Dima?

Now we expand your knowledge of the accusative case to include other types of singular nouns that refer to people and living beings. In some circumstances Russian will treat nouns differently depending on whether the word belongs to the category of animate nouns (a wide range of words that refer to people and animals) or to the category of inanimate nouns (non-living objects, abstract concepts, and plants, etc.).

Who/What is Animate?

Animate nouns include words for:

Упражне́ние 6

Indicate whether the given nouns are animate or inanimate.

Endings for Animate Masculine Nouns

When an animate singular noun has a dictionary form that ends like a typical masculine noun (i.e., it ends with a consonant or –ь), its accusative form is the same as its genitive case form.  Adjectives agreeing with masculine animate nouns in the accusative will also take the same form as the genitive case.

Моего́ отца́ зову́т Ро́берт.

Ста́ршего бра́та зову́т Э́ндрю.

Вы зна́ете но́вого студе́нта?

Мы зна́ем Дени́са Гу́рина.

My father’s name is Robert.

My older brother’s name is Andrew.

Do you know the new student?

We know Denis Gurin.

The equivalency of the animate accusative singular = genitive singular works only for singular nouns that have the masculine ending type. 

Упражне́ние 7

Listen to the following sentences. Each contains a reference to either Дени́с Гу́рин or Мара́т Абду́лов. For each sentence decide whether Дени́с or Мара́т is the doer of the action (the subject in nominative case) or the recipients of the action (the direct object in the accusative case). Since Russian word order can vary, rely on the noun endings on the names to help you differentiate their roles. Then indicate whether the information in the sentence is most likely true, given what you know about the story.

Implications. Last Names and Endings

Back in Уро́к 1 you learned that most Russian last names have a form that applies to a male, and another form that applies to a female.  When we ask whether you know these two people, the endings on their names will change to the accusative case.

Compare the case forms below:

Вот Дени́с Гу́рин.

Вот Ли́за Гу́рина.

Вы зна́ете Дени́са Гу́рина?

Вы зна́ете Ли́зу Гу́рину?

Упражне́ние 8

Imagine that the neighbors were discussing the two Gurin children by last name only.  Using the noun forms, check whether they are referring to Liza or to Denis.

Apparent mismatches

Also in Уро́ки 1 and 2 you learned that some masculine nouns that refer to male people (па́па, дя́дя, де́душка, мужчи́на) can end in –а/-я. When we put adjectives with such nouns, the adjectives agree with the underlying masculine gender of the people referred to. This can create the impression of a mismatch between these nouns and the adjectives that modify them. Look at the sentences below.

When naming these family members with the зову́т construction, we will need to put the person named into the accusative case. This means that masculine nouns that end in –а will take accusative endings like feminine nouns.  The adjectives, in contrast, will have masculine endings since they modify the masculine nouns.

Consider the forms for naming various male members of your family:

Accusative + зову́т … Comments
Моего́ па́пу зову́т Джордж.

па́па, дя́дя, де́душка takes the –у/-ю ending in the accusative. But because these words refer to male people, the adjectives have animate accusative endings –ого/-его.

На́шего дя́дю зову́т Ю́ра.
На́шего де́душку зову́т Влади́мир.