A Beginner’s Guide for self learning Russian

There are too many free Russian on-line recourses, aren’t there? But your progress in learning will be slow until you don’t know the correct sequence of learning. The guide will help you to achieve your learning goals in a shortest way. It will also help you to avoid the most common mistakes.
The grammar sequence is based on the Russian textbook Поехали. It is very logical, quick and practically proven. The course of Poehali allows you to start speaking Russian on the most common topics in about 80-120 hours of learning with a teacher. Can you learn quicker without a teacher?

Don’t have time to read now? Click Here to download article in pdf 

Table of Contents

  1. Learn how to read and write in Russian
  2. The sequense to learn Russian Grammar
  3. Prepositional case
  4. Past tense of verbs
  5. Accusative case
  6. International verbs with the suffix ова/ева
  7. Speaking practice
  8. Genitive case
  9. Learn the difference between «есть» и «иметь»
  10. Verbs of motion without prefixes
  11. Aspects of verbs
  12. Dative case
  13. Imperative mood
  14. Instrumental case
  15. Verbs of motion with prefixes


  1. Learn how to read and write in Russian.

    Back to contents

    In Russian we read like we write. But there are some letters that probably are not familiar to you. Advice: don’t use Latin transcription. It will slow the process of learning.

А Е К М О Т – letters that are consistent with Latin alphabet
Р В Н – your “false” friends. You will meet these letters in Latin alphabet, but they sound absolutely different in Russian
Б Ф Э – probably you are unfamiliar with these letters unless you are Greek.
Ч Ш Ж Щ – sibilant consonants
Й Я Ю Е – iotated vowels

The list of international words will help you to achieve your learning goals quicker:

Коме́та, студе́нтка, инжене́р, тури́ст, журна́л, актри́са, рестора́н, дире́ктор, пробле́ма, капита́н, такси́ст, музыка́нт, компью́тер, телефо́н, био́лог, профе́ссор, секрета́рь

Though in Russian we read like we write, the stress is not fixed and may fall on any part of a word. It is usually not shown in the texts. Be careful with stress it may change the meaning. View some examples.

  1. The sequence to learn Russian Grammar

Back to contents

You will not need much time to learn how to read in Russian. Teachers usually estimate it as 2 academic hours. And then welcome to the most exciting part of learning Russian – the Russian Grammar!

You have to get used that:
– The words change their endings. There are 6 cases in the Russian language.
– Words order is flexible (but not random)
“Джека убил Джон” means “John killed Jack” even though John is at the end. Sometimes it’s a surprise even for the fluent speakers of Russian.
The sequence you learn cases and verbs:

Case – Verbs – Case – Verbs – Case – Verbs

The sequence to learn cases:

  1. Prepositional (Препозитив)
    The simplest. It will allow you to speak on the most frequently discussed topic in the world: «Ты где?» (Where are you?) Speaking about location.
  2. Accusative (Аккузатив)
    to speak about the object of action
  3. Genitive (Генитив)
    The most frequently used Russian case. If you want to learn 1 case instead of 6 – learn Genitive and you will 30%-40% speak correct Russian
  4. Dative (Датив)
    To speak about interpersonal relationships
  5. Instrumental (Инструменталис)
    is a decoration of speech, quite difficult forms

Nominative (Номинатив) is also a dictionary case, so it is not included in a sequence.

  1. Prepositional case

    Back to contents

    Learn the main question of the prepositional case:
    The endings of most nouns in the prepositional case change to Е like in a question Где
    What to learn:

    1. how the endings change in the prepositional case
    2. how to use the prepositions в/на

  1. Past tense of verbs

    Back to contents

    After the prepositional case learn the past tense of the verbs related to location and travelling
    бы́ть – был (была, было, бы́ли)
    де́лать – де́лал (де́лала, де́лали, де́лало, де́лали)

  1. Accusative case

Back to contents

КУдА? Where to?

кУдА? (accusative)гдЕ? (prepositional)
В МосквуВ Москве
In most words ending А we change the ending А to У like in АккУзативThe endings of most nouns change to Е like in a question Где

  1. International verbs with suffixes ова/ева

    Back to contents

    Learn the international verbs with the suffix ова/ева. We use the Accusative case after these verbs.
    Плани́ровать, Инсталли́ровать, Финанси́ровать, Контроли́ровать, Организова́ть, Инвести́ровать, Регули́ровать, Танцева́ть, Целова́ть

  1. Speaking practice

    Back to contents

    After learning this you are ready to speak Russian on a basic level. For example:
    – Ты был в Новосибирске?
    – Да, я был в Новосибирске.
    – Ты работал?
    – Нет. Я был там как турист.
    – Что ты делал?
    – Я был в бане, в театре, в музее, на реке Обь. Я купался в Обском море и загорал.
    Schedule a 30 minutes lesson with a native speaker for only 5$ on this stage. Register through the link below and find me in the list of your friends.

  2. Genitive case

    Back to contents

    We often need to speak about something that we don’t have. This is why the Genitive case is so frequently used.

    У профе́ссора университе́та нет автома́та Кала́шникова.

Be careful with the past tense.
У меня был чемодан. У меня не было чемодана.
When we speak about something we didn’t have in the past, we use the verb «быть» in a neuter gender: не было
Now that we know prepositional, accusative and genitive, we can speak correctly about directions

Accusative, Genitive and Prepositional cases in directions

Say correctly where are you from. Use the correct preposition and the correct case.

Tell correctly where are you from

  1. Learn the difference between «есть» и «иметь»

    Back to contents

    In Russian we use the construction «У меня есть…» when we say about something that we have and «У меня нет…» speaking about something we don’t have.

This is a common mistake of European language speakers that they try to use the accusative case after «есть». «Есть» is not the same as «иметь» (to have). We use the nominative after есть and the accusative after «иметь»

У меня́ есть вдохнове́ние (nominative)

У меня́ нет вдохнове́ния (genitive)

Я ищу тёплую шапку (accus). У вас есть тёплая шапка (nominative)

  1. Verbs of motion without prefixes

    Back to contents

    Идти – Ходить
    Ехать – Ездить
    Learn what they mean and how to use them.

  2. Aspects of verbs

    Back to contents

    Learn about perfective and imperfective aspects of verbs.
    Imperfective – refers to the process
    Perfective to the result.

Important advice for any levels: to sound more Russian use more perfective aspect in the future tense and more imperfective aspect in the past tense.
Learn aspects of verbs
Discuss this topic with a teacher on italki 
  1. The Dative case

    Back to contents

    1. Learn how to say about what you feel with a dative case
      Мне хорошо́
      Мне пло́хо
      It’s not the same as
      Я хоро́ший.
      Я плохо́й.
    2. Don’t use the preposition в/на when you speak about who you visited. It is very common and embarrassing mistake. Use the preposition “к” Я ходи́л к Марье Ивановне на урок. I’ve been to Maria Ivanovna’s lesson.

  1. Imperative mood

    Back to contents

    Very important because very frequently used
    Don’t forget that Imperfective aspect is used for a polite request and perfective – for a command. If you use incorrect command form when meeting a Russian guest you may be understood incorrectly. Your guest will think that you are very rude. See the examples.
    Polite way to meet a Russian guest

  2. Instrumental case

    Back to contents

    Learn when to use the preposition “c” and when not to use
    Я пишу ручкой (instrument) – Я гуляю с подругой (with a girlfriend)

  3. Verbs of motion with prefixes


    Back to contentsPrefixes in the verbs of motion

Идти (one direction) – Ходить (multi directional) ––> Войти (perf.) – Входить (imperfect.)
Ехать (one direction)  – Ездить (multi directional) ––> Въехать (perf.) – Въезжать (imperfect.)


Any questions? Join Russons Facebook group and ask.