At first the Russian language seems very difficult to learn. It contains gender of nouns and adjectives, numbers, conjugations, six cases, and even those verbs of motion! Getting over the fence of learning Russian grammar may be not easy, in fact sometimes it may seem that you are a warrior, and grammar is the battlefield. But in the end you will get your well-deserved reward – you will speak Russian properly and clearly (sometimes better than some Russians!). Isn’t it great?


But on our way to victory we will meet some interesting obstacles made by your native language – mistakes that you make because you try to structure the sentence in Russian according to the rules of English.


Let’s look at some of these obstacles and try to overcome them!


Using если instead of ли in indirect speech


How would you translate this phrase into Russian?: “I don’t know if I can build a house”

The correct answer is: Я не знаю, могу ли я построить дом


Oh, it would be much easier if Russians used the word если as “whether” in this case!

But every language has its own rules, and the sentence Я не знаю, если я могу построить дом is incorrect.


How would you translate this sentence?: “If I build a house I will live there”? Yes, the answer is: Если я построю дом, то буду там жить. You use ЕСЛИ.


So, how do you know when you should use Если and when you should use Ли? It is very easy: if you can replace it with “whether”, use ЛИ. Don't forget that ЛИ goes after the verb (or other word that it is related to), not before.


Using the word тоже instead of также


"I like to play football. I like to play tennis too", is a correct phrase and a correct usage of "too" in English. "Oh, you like sports? I like sports too! My brother likes sports too!" This phrase will be correct as well. However in Russian, these "too" are translated differently.


Я люблю играть в футбол. ТАКЖЕ я люблю играть в теннис. We use ТАКЖЕ when we speak about one subject (я or ты or мой брат, etc). This subject can do different things! Playing tennis, eating ice cream, climbing the trees... As long as all of the actions of this subject are connected with the conjunction ТАКЖЕ or commas, but not ТОЖЕ!


О, ты любишь спорт? Я ТОЖЕ люблю спорт! И мой брат ТОЖЕ любит спорт! So, as you can see, we use ТОЖЕ when speaking about two or more subjects (я, ты, мой брат) who have the same thing in common (they like sports or they don't like sports, they are Russians or they are not, they are happy or they are not etc).


You can ask, is it correct to say О, ты любишь спорт? Я также люблю спорт. The answer is, yes, this is correct, but not common. We usually say ТОЖЕ in such cases.


There is another, more informal ways to say ТАКЖЕ (or А ТАКЖЕ). They are ещё and а ещё. Я люблю мороженое. А ещё я люблю лазить по деревьям.


Using the word путешествовать in sentences "travel to ..."


“I travelled to Russia last year!" is something you would say in English. However, Я путешествовал в Россию в прошлом году is incorrect.


You can say Я путешествую по миру (around the world), часто путешествую (travel frequently), путешествую только бизнес-классом (travel business-class only), путешествую вместе с дочерью (travel with my daughter), or just Я путешествую. Я люблю путешествовать (in general). But if you want to specify where exactly you want to travel, the verb путешествовать will not work.


You need to use the verb Ехать (ездить) or other verbs of motion. Я ездил в Россию в прошлом году would be correct!


Using “А ты?” as the answer to “Как дела?”


And for later... At last... Let me ask you, how are you? Как дела? If you answer "I'm fine, thanks, and you?” (У меня отлично, а у тебя?) I am glad that you're fine, and your grammar skills are fine too. But sometimes you may be confused...


Which of the dialogues below are correct?


1A) Как дела?

1B) Хорошо, спасибо! А у тебя? (or А твои?)


2A) Как дела?

2B) Хорошо, спасибо! А ты?


3A) Как ты?

3B) Хорошо, спасибо! А ты?


4A) Как ты?

4B) Хорошо, спасибо. А у тебя?


Numbers 1 and 3 are correct.


The question "Как дела?" ("How are things/deals?") is a short version of "Как у тебя дела?" or "Как твои дела?" ("How are things/deals with (by, of) you, How are your things/deals?". And your answer should be "У меня всё хорошо (or just Хорошо), спасибо. А У ТЕБЯ?" (“With (by, of) me all is good, thanks. And with (by, of) you?") or "Хорошо, спасибо. А ТВОИ?” (“Good, thanks. And yours?”).


But if the question is literally "How are you?" (“Как ты?”), the correct answer to it should be "Хорошо, спасибо, А ТЫ?" (“Good, thanks. And you?”).


Of course, these were just some small examples of the correct usage of answers to questions "Как дела?" and "Как ты?". For instance, to both of these questions you can answer "У меня всё хорошо! А у тебя?" (“With (by, of) me everything is good! And with (by, of) you?") So, these mistakes are definitely not serious but are quite common. Let's practice!


  • Привет! Как дела?
  • Привет! Хорошо, а у тебя?
  • Отлично! Я завтра еду в Россию! Я очень люблю путешествовать!
  • Я тоже! Ты только в Россию едешь?
  • Нет, ещё я поеду в Африку и Австралию! А также в Китай, Америку и Европу.
  • Настоящее кругосветное путешествие! Я тоже хочу путешествовать, как ты.
  • Да, я даже не знаю, могу ли я жить без путешествий!


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