https://www.duolingo.com/cerez00

What is the hardest thing about learning Russian?

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I'm excited to learn about Russian after I'm done with German. I'm curious what is the most difficult thing about the language for English speakers so I know what to expect.

2 years ago

30 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Kangarooqueen
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I would say definitely the grammar. Believe it or not, despite the fact that Russian has SO many long words, the vocabulary building isn't so bad. Once you have an understanding for the prefixes, you realize that a lot of those long scary words are composed of smaller ones, and I often find that along with the context of the article/forum post/etc. that I am reading I can figure out the meaning of the word.

English is less fun in that sense...we like to park on driveways.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuoFaber
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I've been learning Russian for six months now, and the vocabulary building has started to feel a bit frustrating recently, I don't know why. It doesn't matter how many words I already know, there's always something that prevents me from understanding the meaning of a sentence - well, not always, but often. But perhaps I just need to be more patient, maybe when it comes to Russian six months are not that many :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aroboticist

Yes, we park on driveways and drive on parkways! ;)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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If you want help w/ English through knowing prefixes and through word building you should learn Latin, as that's where our long words originated. French and Greek come behind it rather distantly, second and third.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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People complain about the grammar. There will be no dramatic grammar surprises after attentive study of one Duolingo tree + a little outside enrichment (or two years of college classes, not that this is a relevant option for you, but it speaks to sort of a familiar "unit of measure") But that same Duo tree or those same courses will leave you with a vocabulary of only a couple thousand words: a fraction of what you need to read even children's books comfortably. And there are essentially no identifiable cognates to help.

I'm unfamiliar with learning Germanic languages, but compared to the burden of learning a Romance language (where you could reasonably start in on the classics, with a dictionary, obviously, after just a Duo tree: and people have done so), the challenge of Russian is the vocab.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
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This is true as well. I make mistakes all the time with aspect, but it's not normally an obstacle to communication. Vocabulary certainly is.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/daughterofAlbion
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Having studied German, I concur. It is not the unfamiliarity of the vocabulary per se, it is simply the sheer number of words required to achieve a minimal working vocabulary.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

The top three hardest things (ranked from hardest to least hardest) I'd say:

  1. Vocab.

  2. Paradigms and conjugations

  3. Imperfective and perfective verb pairs

Vocab is by the far the hardest. The difficulty learning of French or German is mitigated by the fact that French and German have so many cognates with English (shared words). Much smaller overlap.

I'm still convinced that each noun has a different paradigm and each verb a different conjugation. You can't predict the conjugation of a verb by the form of its infinitive.

To be fair, a good amount of the time to form a perfective verb you just add по but not always. How in the world are you supposed to know that Сказать is the perfective form of Говорить?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
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To your last question: the same way you know that "went" is the past form of "go". Initially it (obviously) was the past form of "wend".

This is called suppletion and is not unique to Russian or English. Few verbs do that, however (otherwise native speakers would have a hard time memorizing that stuff).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
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It's funny how different people react to stuff. I would put those in absolute reverse order.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MagnusBoiv
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For me the most difficult are pronunciation of hard and soft consonants, and grammatical cases.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aronald2

A bit of advice that I've realized is to pronounce the soft consonants with air moving along the sides of your tongue instead of over top/tip (and place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
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Perfective/imperfective aspect of verbs. I've been studying Russian for a while and I've got to the point where I'm fairly comfortable with cases, and even numbers don't hold too many terrors anymore, but aspect still gives me nightmares.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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100% agree. You would think that with so few forms to memorize it would be easier. Using verbs of motion is not exactly easy, either.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

I just use Идти all the time. Works for me. I don't plan to be a Russian language orator or a writer any time soon.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rappelke

I read a book on the Pacific Theater a while back in which the author used one English verb for everying: a ship moved, munitions were moved, troops moved, or were moved... and so on. Very impressive. Maybe the Russians should take note and save millions on avoiding the printing of unneeded textbook pages.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
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Yes, agreed. Aspect and verbs of motion are the most difficult things by far, IMO.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dave_34

Hardest part of learning Russian for me is the many different constructions they use for saying things, compared to European languages (e.g. I am thirsty = Мне хочется пить, literally - "To me it wants to drink"!). You often can't deduce or translate directly, as you would with, say, French or Spanish. Russian perhaps has more in common with German, with its different word-order to what English-speakers are used to, and the strong emphasis on cases.

Oh, and the other hard thing is trying to understand spoken Russian unless it is spoken really sloooowly. Even if I know all the words my brain cannot process all the syllables, endings, cases, subjects and objects quickly enough, before the speaker is on to the next sentence and I am left behind.

And that's after years of trying!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bookSeller8519

I don't think it's the most difficult, but one of the earliest challenges is the writing system - Cyrillic. It's not too hard to memorize, but definitely takes a bit of practice to get comfortable with. Once you memorize the characters, I recommend finding an online article or book where you can practice sight reading a few sentences every day until you stop having to mentally decipher every syllable. Also, there's some historical spellings that you have to watch out for. For example, его literately reads as "yeh-go", but is now pronounced "yeh-vo". But remember, it could be worse - you could be trying to learn Chinese!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xaghtaersis
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Those mega long verbs and perhaps certain cases. I am starting to get the cases though.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Evan513342

I tried to start, but I found learning the alphabet is definitely harder than I thought it would

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
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Practice reading, not just the alphabet. Working knowledge of the alphabet is enough to move on. Reading in a foreign language will be slower than you expect even if you do know the alphabet—the letters just don't arrange themselves into familiar patterns (e.g., "ichinichiichinichi").

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
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To add on to what Shady said (which I 100% agree with), I'd also strongly suggest handwriting the alphabet/words/etc. I've learned several different writing systems at this point, and writing things by hand is, IME, viscerally helpful to get my brain around it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jannelies1

For me, as someone who hasn't got the faintest idea about grammar - not even the grammar of my own language - this is the most difficult part. I simply don't understand grammar. I have no problem with vocabulary, however. I think it's funny I recognize so many words - although it is hard to make sentences if you don't understand the grammar. What I do is kind of how dyslectic people learn words: I am quite good in memorizing patterns in words. I learn languages by reading, reading, reading! I try and read everything, not only Duolingo. I've found some useful websites - mainly through all those nice people here at Duolingo and I try not to get too frustrated ;-). I always wanted to learn Russian and I'm very happy I found Duolingo. I'm planning to go to St. Petersburg next year and I will be happy to find my way and order food and so on. I see learning Russian as a way to train my brain after a long day of work ;-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bookSeller8519

Something that helped me when I was studying Latin in college was a series called "English Grammar for Students of ____". I know for a fact that there is a Russian version and since it looks like you're pretty committed, it might be worth a trip to Amazon.com. It breaks the whole subject down really well.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jannelies1

Thank you!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Marmelt

I'm having the same problem. All the grammar explanations are too technical for me to understand very well. So I only understand the grammar concepts where I was able to pick up the pattern and the reason for it. Some plain English explanations would be great. This grammar is starting to hurt.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aronald2

For me it's the grammar. It becomes comfortable with a little practice though. Before going through the Duolingo course I would read up on the different cases and be able to identity which case(s) a sentence is in. That'll save a lot of headaches later. Then when you can identity the case(s) of the sentence, get used to the grammar through examples. This knowledge will help you with other languages too.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jannelies1

Good idea. But like I said, I don't understand grammar. I have never even been able to understand the grammar of my own language. I simply cannot understand how to see in which case a sentence is. Furthermore, I wouldn't know what to do with it. So I can either keep trying and become very frustrated, or keep learning in my own way and be happy with it. After all, I managed to become and editor without knowing anything about grammar. I can also read and understand German very well, and I hold a degree in English. All without understanding grammar. So I hope that one day I will be able to learn just enough Russian for my purpose (go on a holiday). It's not that I want to read Russian literature in Russian ;-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MetroWestJP
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For me, it's been learning to touch-type in a different alphabet.

1 year ago
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