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Spencer Burris

President/Lead Developer at the Quaternion Institute. Math student, programmer, and guitarist.

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[Part 3] Learning Russian: Another Change of Plans

Calendar icon October 28, 2020

Clock icon 2 min read

Folder icon #russian #grammar #book #lessons in language

The Russian Lessons Website

I haven’t completed most of’s lessons but the beginning few ignore grammar quite a bit, which I’ve found to actually be pretty disorienting. It has been confusing when many roots of words are familiar but it isn’t clear why they are different and when they change. The site recommends Nicholas Brown’s “The New Penguin Russian Course”, so I purchased a used copy.

The New Penguin Russian Course

The first 2-3 chapters were mostly review, though I did learn a few things such as the pronounciation of the hard and soft marks. I have found the book to be very well written. Its chapters are brief and it does a good job of maintaining sight of the big picture while including details usually ommitted elsewhere. The author gives good advice as to where the reader should spend their effort. There are tips on places to cut corners that Russian speakers likely won’t notice, if you are in a hurry.

Grammatical Gender

I’ve learned to use personal pronouns such as он (he), она (she), оно (“it”, for nouns). I’ve begun to understand how to tell what grammatical gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) nouns have. Conjugation of verbs in the present tense reminds me of Spanish. Like Spanish, there is a familiar and formal pronoun for “you”. The words for “we”, “you (fam.)”, and “you (formal)” have some resemblance to Esperanto.


I can ask questions about where things are, what something is, and whether someone speaks Russian. At this point, I can only really answer yes or no questions.