"Here are our lakes."
Translation:Вот наши озёра.
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Вот has a finger-point feel to it, and/or the end of a search. You emerge from the Metro and spot the store you were looking for and you say "Вот магазин!" Whereas здесь is explanatory: if your Muscovite friend asks you on the phone where you are, you'd say, "Здесь, в Москве!"
Вот is also much more idiomatic. In conversation it can convey "exactly!" kinda like "órale" can in Mexican Spanish. In those cases, you can draw it out and it's really fun to say. Friend: "Petersburg is just way better than Moscow." You: "Вооот."
these are the two i can't tell apart.
вот translation: here, there, THIS IS, THAT IS, there is /////// это translation: it, it is, THIS IS, THAT IS, these are
because they mean the exact same thing in english. we just say 'this is' and talk about both the location and the thing.
in russian, i have to bisect this thinking into two streams of thought. вот is more about me waving my hands at a location that something may be in (emphasis on location), while это is more about me waving my hands at the thing itself (while ignoring location)
sometimes words don't translate, so you need just put on your grammar cap and accept it for what it is. when you read 'здесь' think of the word 'present' instead of 'here'. that word translates pretty well on the 1-to-1 level.