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Similarities Between Russian and English Grammar

For those looking to get started in the Russian language, it can help to learn a bit about their grammar. Russian grammar is based on the case system. Long ago, English used to have a case system as well, but -- except for a few remnants -- we've greatly simplified our grammar over the centuries. So, what is a case system? This is when the ends of words change depending on how they're being used in a sentence. Take the Russian word "mashina", which means "car." Now look how it changes, depending on the context:

This is my mashina....a brand new BMW.


I want that mashinu!


I walked towards the mashinyeh and looked at the license plate.


That car collector has six mashin in his garage!

I used to play with toy mashinami as a boy.

They were sitting in their mashinax when the tornado came.

...and so on. See how the end of the word "mashina" changes? This can be the csause of a lot of frustration in beginning students. "Why does it have to be like this? Why can't the word just be the same every time?"

But English does this too. Imagine you're writing each of the following sentences, and are referring to yourself each time. What would you put in each blank?

__ am very hungry. Let's go eat.

Did you send __ an email? _ didn't get it.

To see if there's a problem with my email server, __ sent ______ an email from my other account.

So, did you use "I" and "Me"  and "Myself"?  Why? Why didn't you always just refer to yourself as "I"? (Suddenly, Russian grammar doesn't seem so crazy, does it.)

English uses cases, too, but a lot less frequently. The reason we sometimes use "I" versus "Me" versus "Myself" depends on context. If you are doing the action, you need to be in the nominative form, which in this case is "I".  If you are the indirect object, you need to use the form "me." And so on.

The rules can be complex, but we didn't learn them by memorizing rules. We learned them by listening to native speakers use the right form in thousands of sentences. The name for this style of grammar absorption is called "Pattern Recognition" and it's the ideal way to learn foreign grammar as well.

So don't let the complexities of Russian grammar get you down. FInd a course that teaches with pattern recognition, and you'll absorb the grammar as easily as you did in English.

 

More on Russian cases here

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 December 2010 05:48 )