Construction “I had” / Конструкция “У меня был”

If you want to use the construction “У меня есть …” in the past tense, you should put the verb “есть” (to be) into the past tense. Here are some examples,

  • У меня был урок – I had a lesson
  • У меня была встреча – I had a meeting
  • У меня было совещание – I had a business meeting
  • У меня были проблемы – I had problems

Pay attention that the verb “быть” depends on the gender of the object. “Урок” is a masculine gender noun, we say “был урок”, and “встреча” is a feminine noun – we say “была встреча”. Basically we say, “meeting was near me”, so this is why the verb depends on the logical object.

Construction “I have” / Конструкция “У меня есть”

In Russian when we want to say that we have something we use a special construction, which literally can be translated as “there is something near me”. For example,

  • У меня есть дом – I have a house (There is a house near me)
  • У меня есть машина – I have a car
  • У тебя есть собака – You have a dog (you informal)
  • У вас есть ручка? – Do you have a pen? (you formal)

So first you say “у” then name a person who has, and then use the word “есть“.

русский как иностранный

Pay attention that there is “н” added to pronouns starting with a vowel (него, неё, них).

  • У него есть семья – He has a family
  • У неё есть друзья – She has friends.
  • У них есть – книга – They have a book.

And if we are talking about events (abstract nouns we cannot touch, like “lesson”, “date” etc.), we skip the word “есть”.

  • У меня урок – I have a lesson
  • У нас проблемы – We have problems

If you want to say that you don’t have something, you should say “У меня нет …”. One of the common mistakes I hear foreigners make when they speak Russian is, “У меня не есть”. Forget it and never say it. Say, “У меня нет”. For example,

  • У меня нет фото – I don’t have a photo.
  • У Диего нет кофе – Diego doesn’t have coffee.

Accusative case. Direction / Винительный падеж. Направление

The accusative case is used not only with direct objects (more about it here) but also with destinations. Destination is a place to which someone or something is going or being sent. It is usually used with verbs of motion like “идти” (to go on foot) or “ехать” (to go by transport).

где и куда. разница

And one of common mistakes foreigners make, they use the prepositional case with the destination. Remember, the prepositional case (the ending -e) is used for location, when the person is already there, not when they are on their way. For the destination is used the accusative case, Which means masculine, neuter or plural nouns are not changed. But feminine nouns have the endings / . So this is why we say,

  • Это Москва. Я живу в Москве. Я еду в Москву. – This is Moscow. I live in Moscow. I go to Moscow.
  • Это Китай. Я живу в Китае. Я еду в Китай. – This is China.I live in China. I go to China.
  • Это аптека. Я сейчас в аптеке. Я иду в аптеку. – This is a pharmacy. I am in the pharmacy. I’m walking to the pharmacy.

It is important to remember two question words:

  • где? – where? (location) – prepositional case
  • куда? – whereto? (direction) – accusative case

Asking these questions you always know what case of two to use.

Word “this” / Слово “это”

“This” in Russian is “Это”.

  • Это хорошо! – This is good!
  • Кто это? – Who is this?
  • Что это? – What is this?

It can be masculine (этот), feminine (эта), neuter (это) or plural (эти).

  • Этот человек работает тут – This person works here
  • Эта девушка говорит по-английски – This girl speaks English.
  • Это блюдо очень вкусное – This dish is very delicious.
  • Эти люди – очень милые – These people are very nice.

If there is a short sentence answering the question “Who is this?” or “What is this?” with no verb, there should be using the only neuter form of this word (это), and it doesn’t matter the gender of the following noun. For example,

  • Это мой друг – This is my friend.
  • Это моя жена – This is my wife
  • Это мои дети – These are my children.


Pronouns in the dative case / Местоимения в дательном падеже

Dative pronouns or pronouns in the dative case are used when we have preposition “to” before a pronoun in English.

  • мне – to me
  • тебе –  to you (singular informal)
  • ему  to him
  • ей – to her
  • ему – to it
  • нам – to us
  • вам – to you (plural or formal)
  • им – to hem

We use the dative pronouns in 4 situations:

1. When there is an addressee (the person who is receiving something).

  • Скажи мне – Say it to me.
  • Я дал ему информацию – I gave the information to him.
  • Я отправил ей имейл – I sent an email to her.

2. When we want to say that we need something with the words “нужно ” or “надо“.

  • Мне нужно работать – I need to work (Basically we say “it is necessary to me”, not “I need”)
  • Тебе  нужно это? – Do you need this?
  • Нам надо делать это – We need to do it.

3.     With the verb “нравиться” which means “to like”.

  • Мне нравится это – I like it. (Basically we say “it is pleasing to me”, not “I like”)
  • Тебе нравится это? – Do you like this?

4.   When we are talking about age.

  • Мне 26 лет. – I am 26 years old. (Basically we say “it is 26 years to me”, not “l am 26”)
  • Ему 80 лет. – He is 80 years old.
  • Ей 15 лет. – She is 15 years old.


Learn common phrases

Here I would like to offer you a very effective way to learn Russian. You can download the cards below. One side of the card has the phrase in Russian with transcription (the explanation how it sounds for English speakers) and the other side has the translation into English. You need to print cards out. Make sure that you placed the paper correctly in the printer, because otherwise you don’t get the translation of a phrase on the other side.  You can also download mp3 files, where I recorded these phrases. So you can download them into your computer, phone or CD and practice new phrases hearing and repeating. When you learn them you can test yourself by reading the English side and saying the Russian translation. Next week download more cards. After few months you will see the real progress. I hope this way of learning will really help you to learn.

  1. Common phrases – 1.    _____________    audio-1
  2. Common phrases – 2.    ______________  audio-2
  3. Common phrases – 3.     ______________ audio-3