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Keys for Writers, Second Edition
Ann Raimes
ESL Tip Sheet 7: Russian

Spoken in countries of the former Soviet Union.

The written language
  • Uses the Cyrillic alphabet with many letters deceptively similar to letters used in the Latin alphabet.
  • Commas set off a dependent clause: *He knows, that we are right. 47.
Sentence structure and word order
  • Word order not necessarily Subject-Verb-Object, but can be Object-Verb-Subject: *Good grades received every student in the class. 62b.
  • Long descriptive elements precede a noun: *A nine-meter high impressive monument to Lenin. 46.
  • Russian has no equivalent of the English there is/there are structure: *I'm happy that a lot of people on the streets.
Nouns and pronouns
  • Some countable nouns are uncountable in English: *His hairs long. 60c.
  • The one form of the relative pronoun does not make the human/nonhuman distinction: *The people which arrived . . . 46a.
  • No distinction between this/these and that/those. 44d.
Verbs and verbals
  • Be as a linking verb can be omitted, especially in present tense: *India more religious than America. 38c; 41c; 61a.
  • It is is implied: *For them very hard to live in a city. 64f.
  • No forms equivalent to the English perfect or progressive tense aspects: *He admitted that he lost. *She said she already deposited the money. *When I walked in, she slept. 41d.
  • No auxiliary verbs, such as do, will, have: *When she left? 41c.
  • No inflections for third person singular: *My father live there. 43.
  • Sequence of tenses not observed: *He told me that he wants to emigrate. 41d, 41h.
  • Passive voice not equivalent to English and more restricted in use: *The room is cleaning. 42a.
  • No object + infinitive structure: *I want that they try harder. 61e.
Adjectives and adverbs
  • Comparisons are not a direct translation: *She is more tall than he. 45h.
  • Russian has no articles: *Boris student. 60.

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