NL / First Phrases

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1. Whose bag is this?

2. We are late.

3. I got a wrong number.

4. Maksim and Diana.

In the episode "First Phrases" the focus is on

- how to greet people

- forms of address in formal and informal settings

- how to ask questions

- how to make a negative statement

- how to talk on the phone

Grammar notes

1) Russian has two forms of the second person singular: familiar you, ты, and formal you, вы. The personal pronoun выcan refer either to formal you (second person singular) or to ‘you all’ (second person plural). You can deduce the meaning through context. Use the familiar ты when addressing someone you know very well, such as a relative, a child, or a pet. Use the formal вы, to address a person whom you do not know well, an older person, and a government official. Friends and family members greet each other with a simple Привет’, ‘Здорово. Use Добрый день’, ‘Здравствуйте‘to greet people in a formal setting.

2) The possessive pronouns change according to the gender and agree with the noun to which they refer. There are three genders in Russian: masculine, feminine and neuter. This is not related to the human gender alone, but also depends on the noun endings in their nominative form. For example, my bag is моя сумка, your sister is твоя сестра, but my bags are мои сумки.

3) As opposed to English, in order to form a question in Russian, you don’t have to change the order of words. In the spoken language, it is intonation which distinguishes question from statement. Yes-No question as in Это ваша сумка? is pronounced with a sharp rise-fall on ВАША – like saying in English ‘Oh, this is your bag, is it? “, with a sharp rise and fall on ‘your’. This intonation pattern sounds surprised or indignant in English, but in Russian it is the normal way of asking such questions. Practice the intonation, making sure that your voice goes up and down on the stressed syllable of the word you are asking about. In a question with a question word the focus is usually on a question word, which is usually placed at the beginning of the sentence, as in Ты где была?, although the word order is not important as it is in English. Whereas the order of words in English question Where have you been? cannot be altered, in Russian one may ask, depending on the context or emphasis, either 'Где ты была?' 'Была ты где?' However, Russian word order, while being flexible, is not random. The guidance will be given to you later.

4) Generally, statements are pronounced with a falling pitch. To form a negative statement, add the particle не in front of the word that you are negating, as in Нет, это не моя сумка.