Novice Mid /A difficult test

Grammar Notes

1) Russian is an inflected language, which means that the endings of words change according to the grammar of the sentence. Nouns change their endings to indicate specific roles that they play in a sentence. Note that in English, the syntactic role of a noun is shown through the word order. In Russian, however, it is the endings that convey meaning. Word order is flexible, something that is just used for emphasis and subtle shades of meaning. This definitely takes some getting used to… Russian speakers can just throw the words out there any way they want, but the meaning of the sentence is still retained. So, for each noun and adjective you encounter in Russian, you must learn their particular pattern of endings, based on the noun’s gender, number, and the case required for the function of the noun in the sentence. The idea of case is something that English doesn’t have. The best way to think about a case is that it is a road map that tells you where things are going in a sentence and how they connect together. There are six cases in Russian: nominative, accusative, genitive, prepositional, dative, and instrumental. There are general uses for each one (dative for indirect objects, prepositional for location, etc.), but there are secondary and tertiary uses as well. And, because case is so important, you can’t swallow your endings while speaking Russian. You have to be thinking closely about it all the time. Verbs have also different endings depending on who is acting and on the tense. All this means that to a speaker of English, Russian seems to have a ‘lot of grammar’. To make the sets of endings more digestible, we shall take them in small doses.

2) No surprise that the verb ‘to be’ is omitted in the present tense ‘Это еще не конец семестра‘, but it is not permissible to omit it in the past and future tenses, e.g. Трудно было, правда?‘ or ‘А мне было трудно переводить.’ In impersonal constructions in the past and future tenses, the verb ‘быть‘ is used in the third person singular, respectively as in ‘было‘ (it was) and ‘будет‘ (it will be).