After Г, К, Х, Ж, Ч, Ш, Щ, you always use И
Basically, и comes after a soft consonants (which are indicated by either a soft sign ь or the vowels я, ё, ю, и and е) and ы comes after hard consonants (which are indicated by the perceding vowel, i.e. а, о, у, ы and э).
Never use ы after the velar consonants г, к, х or the hushes ж, ш, ч, щ; use the vowel и instead. This is called the 7-letter rule.
If you don’t know what palatalization is, it means that the consonant is produced with the body of your tongue pressed against the hard pallate (http://goo.gl/grwypl). This is very important in Russian since the language uses it to differentiate between words.
Try to here the difference between:
·угол ‘corner’ http://goo.gl/5CBXCq and уголь ‘coal’ http://goo.gl/2yJauB. ·(он/оно/она) ест ‘(he/it/she) eats’ ·the б in быть ‘to be’ http://goo.gl/rlDvGQ and бить ‘to beat’ http://goo.gl/vk4D87. ·шест ‘pole’ http://goo.gl/YGqViM and шесть ‘six. http://goo.gl/7MIfyo.
Just ask if you have any questions!
And also use и if the noun ends with a soft sign in singular, eg жизнь -> жизни. If you're up for it, it's worth reading up on Russian hard and soft consonants.
Is there a particular way emphasis or otherwise you would differentiate "where are offices" (in the area) and "where are the offices" (I.e. the particular offices your looking for)?
Most of the time context takes care of that. However, if you feel pressed to emphasise "the", you can simply use "эти" - "these".
Officer - офицер (plural - офицеры);
Official - официальное лицо (literally - official face).