Learn Russian Pronunciation Podcast Ep. 19

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Welcome to episode 19 – our last new material before the final. Hopefully you’ve noticed that, as this course progressed, I tried to get you working on things that you’re likely to say. Again, this is why I veered away from mindless pronunciation drills and tongue twisters. With that goal of practicality firmly in mind, today we’ll be learning two new verbs.

Like in English, Russian verbs have an infinitive form, and then something called conjugations. Take the English verb “to be”—that’s the infinitive. The conjugations are: I am, You are, He is, and so on. So, talking only about the infinitive forms here, in Russian, almost all verbs end with a T and a soft-sign. Listen and repeat…

дать

играть

сказать

покупать

For comparison, let’s listen to those without the soft sign:

дат — играт — сказат – покупат

..and with the soft sign again…

Those all had an ‘a’ vowel before that T. Let’s hear some with an И as the final vowel.

говорить

купить

ездить

приготовить

All of those are useful, but today, let’s work with that last one. Here it is in context:

Even though the kids had cereal for breakfast, they still seemed to be hungry so I decided to приготвить some scrambled eggs.

…or this…

I’m a big fan of Italian food, so for my birthday, my wife got me a book called How to Приготовить the Perfect Lasagna.

Imagine you’re in your friend’s kitchen just before supper time. She straps on an apron and says:

Я хочу приготовить борщ.

How would you translate that?

I want to cook, or to prepare, borscht.

You try it. Say: I want to cook cabbage soup.

Я хочу приготовить щи.

I want to cook shishkabob.

Я хочу приготовить шашлык.

Getting back to the infinitive form of Russian verbs, let’s listen to some more.

смотреть

гулять

заснуть

видеть

Again, those are all very useful verbs, but it’s that last one I want to focus on: видеть

Can you get the meaning from context?

The other day I was reading a book to my little girl which explained our sense organs. We use our nose to smell, it explained. Our ears to hear, and our eyes to …видеть.

Fill in the blank: Someone who is deaf is unable to hear. Someone who’s blind is unable to…

Now here’s the thing about Russian verbs—and again, it’s something I cover in great detail in all my other courses—Russian verbs come in pairs. One version is used when talking about the action in general, or when emphasizing the process of it. Whereas the other version is used when you want to emphasize the result. That you finished doing whatever it was.

For ex: We use our eyes to see. That’s talking in general, about the process of seeing. So the verb видеть is the general version—what’s known as the “imperfective.” But take a phrase like this: We went to New York to see the Statue of Liberty. Here, all the focus is on the result. They saw it, and that’s that. And that version in Russian is увидеть. Almost the same as видеть but with the letter ‘у’ at the front. увидеть

So, with that in mind, can you translate the following sentence?

В Лондоне, я хочу увидеть Биг-Бен.

In London I want to see Big Ben.

You try it. Say: In London I want to see Westminster. (Wild guess on how Russians will pronounce that ‘W’)

В Лондоне, я хочу увидеть Вестминстер.

In New York I want to see Broadway.

В Нью Йорке, я хочу увидеть Бродвей.

In St. Petersburg, I want to see the Hermitage. (pronounced: Эрмитаж)

В Санкт-Петербурге, я хочу увидеть Эрмитаж.

Let’s try one more round of infinitives. In these, the final vowel will be an Ы. Listen and repeat…

быть

мыть

открыть

закрыть

Again, compare the difference…without the soft sign at the end: закрыт

…and with it: закрыть

Let’s do some review. Try to say: I want to prepare, or cook, soup.

Я хочу приготовить суп.

In Los Angeles I want to see Disneyland.

В Лос Анджелесе я хочу увидеть Дисенейленд.

And from the previous lesson:

Igor lives in Odessa.

Игорь живёт в Одессе.

Anastasia is traveling to Rome.

Анастасия едет в Рим.

One more round…

I want to cook ravioli.

Я хочу приготовить равиоли.

In Los Angeles I want to see Beverly Hills.

В Лос Анджелесе я хочу увидеть Беверли-Хиллз.

Veronika lives in Munich.

Вероника живёт в Мюнхене.

Robert is traveling to Stuttgart.

Роберт едет в Штутгарт.

I’m traveling to Liverpool.

Я еду в Ливерпуль.

Did you catch the soft-sign at the end? If you did you have a great ear. Alright, be sure to visit the site for the transcripts and exercises, and I’ll see you in the next episode… the final exam!

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