Today we are going to talk about everyday Russian phrases that can help you to express more of your attitudes toward certain situations. Let's call them “Cats and Dogs phrases”. The below vocabulary is useful when expressing feelings and attitudes. It will enrich your speech to become livelier.


But before we start to explore these new words and phrases, let me give you a few tips on how to memorise them.



Step 1


We all want to have the ability to express our emotions in a language with not just simple words such as, “good-bad” or “like-dislike”. Instead, we want to be able to express the different grades of our emotions. The flip side to this, when learning a new language, it is not so easy to remember hundreds or thousands phrasal verbs, proverbs etc. So the first thing we can do is group new words together. To make the first step easier, you can find somebody to help you: like me, or also try ready-to-use vocabularies like Memrise. The next steps require a conscientious effort directly from you.



Step 2


Try to look back to your own unique life experiences and describe them with the new words that you’ve learned. Try to recall yourself or your friends and relatives by using words that you’ve learned. Of course, utilize the new words you learned in various contexts.



Step 3


Try the phrases that you are about to learn in real life. Translate them to your native language and use it. It could sound a bit weird but let me tell you something. One of the main hitches in using new phrasal verbs or proverbs is that they don’t sound natural to us. When you are consumed with feelings, your brain works hard to translate directly from your native language to Russian.


Sometimes your brain will feel stuck, as if paused, trying to find the equivalent native word of the Russian word (or phrases) you are speaking. So what you can do to overcome this difficulty is to make the new words sound more familiar to you through daily usage. For example, if you use “I am tired like a dog”, meaning that you are extremely exhausted, it will be easy to remember to appropriate the Russian phrase in the same situation. I hope this tip made sense.



Step 4


The last thing is to practice new words by making short dialogues, or composing make belief situations. Practice the words in just two to three sentences that will help you to understand the possible context of those words. Be creative, add some humour, and that's it.


Now let's look at the “Cats and Dogs words” that Russians use in everyday situations. Be sure to check and see if these phrases are still up-to-date.



Doggy phrases:


Устал как собака — tired like a dog. To express when you are exhausted, tired after a long day of hard work.


  • Что с тобой? Выглядишь не очень.
  • Устал как собака, всю ночь писал статью в журнал.


  • Are you OK? You don't so look good.
  • I am tired like a dog. I have been writing the article all night long.



Щенячья преданность в глазах — puppy devotion or puppy eyes. To express when somebody looks with adoration.


  • Нет, он никогда не предаст ее. У него такая щенячья преданность в глазах!
  • No, he could never betray her. There's puppy love in his eyes!



В такую погоду хороший хозяин и собаку не выгонит — a good man won't let the dog outside in such a weather. There is similar proverb in meaning in English: It is not fit outside for man or beast.


  • Ну что, поедем на дачу?
  • Да ты что! В такую погоду хороший хозяин и собаку не выгонит!


  • So, are we going to the country house?
  • No way! A good man won't let the dog outside in such a weather!



Заживает, как на собаке — healed like a dog's body. This means to be able to heal quickly, easily, by itself (naturally) without any particular care or treatment.


  • О, да у тебя рана!
  • Ерунда! Заживет, как на собаке.


  • Oh, you have a wound!
  • Never mind! It will heal quickly enough like a dog’s body.



Catty phrases:


Смотреть как кот на сметану — look like a cat on a cream. This means to show desire or passion. This phrase is used normally in a humorous demeanor.


  • Тебе положить еще пельменей? Смотришь на них, как кот на сметану!
  • Would you like some more meat dumplings? You look at them like a cat on a cream!



Как кот наплакал — like cat tears. This means you have very few of something or almost nothing to speak of.


  • Не, я не могу с тобой в кино на этой неделе. У меня денег — кот наплакал.
  • No, I can't go to the cinema with you this week. I have money left like cat tears.



Кошачья грация — cat-like grace. This means a person moves with grace and fluidity.


  • Смотри, как она двигается. Прямо с кошачьей грацией!
  • Look how does she move? With a catlike grace!



I hope you have enjoyed reading and learning the phrases above. I hope you can be brave enough to try and use at least one or two of them immediately! If you do, I am sure your Russian friends will be pleasantly surprised to see how emotionally expressive you are.


Hero image by Krista Mangulsone (CC0 1.0