Notes from Schaum’s Russian Grammar: Adjectives and Adverbs

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Finally, after ambitiously lugging this Russian textbook halfway across the world… more than once 😳… I’ve almost finished it. Just a short chapter (declension of numbers/dates/times, how delightful) and 60 pages of verb stats to go! 😄

Having reached this point, I can tell you this: It’s a great textbook and it can really help you understand all the mechanics of Russian grammar. There is SO MUCH INFO here that I don’t think it’s possible to work through the chapters quickly. It’s overwhelming but in a good way. After finishing a chapter, I go back and mine the same chapter for Anki phrases, then go back again and write a chapter summary on this blog. Speaking of which, here’s a short recap of Russian Adjectives & Adverbs…


Overly-complicated explanations = 1 (well, make that one explanation that I remembered to highlight)
  1. “A sentence with a negative adverb of this type requires a finite verb form preceded by the negative particle не, which results in a construction with a ‘double negative’.” Say what?

Grammar terms that may actually be real grammar terms but come on! [this] = 3
  1. The simple superlative
  2. Relational adjective
  3. Personal sentence

Useful things learned = 7
  1. There is a difference between Это прекрасный город and Это город прекрасный. It’s the same as in English—This is a wonderful city vs This city is wonderful— but I’d never stopped to think about it.
  2. Lots of new short-form adjectives like полон (full) , смешон (funny) and добр (kind). They look strange to me, so familiar but almost unrecognizable. This is the first time I’ve ever studied this kind of adjectives.
  3. Several adjectives have slightly different meanings in the short form. Я занят, I’m busy right now vs я занятой, I’m a busy person, for example. Now I finally understand why жив and живой are not quite the same thing!
  4. Huge revelation: MISSING NOUNS explain why certain adjectives are used as nouns. I asked many people but no one could ever explain why парикмахерская and булочная have adjectives endings. Answer: there’s an implied лавка (shop) that follows the adjective! The full version is булочная лавка, кондитерская лавка, пивная лавка.
  5. The above rule also applies to the words животное (существо), насекомое (существо), шампанское (вино), морожное (молоко), наличные (деньги), чаевые (деньги), ванная (комната), прошлое (время). The list goes on. Mind blown.
  6. Медвежний угол = God-forsaken place. What does a bear have to do with this?? A depressing and desolate place tends to have bears?

I should probably go through this chapter again in a year or two. A lot of it was puzzling, like when to use каков and how to (ugh) make a possessive adjective out of people’s names. But even fumbling through those sections, I still picked up a ton of useful info about Russian adjectives and adverbs. Schaum’s Outlines never disappoints. 🙂 Have you used any of their textbooks?

2 Responses

  1. David Emerling
    | Reply

    I’m always confused with how adjectives behave, especially after numbers. For instance:

    1. “Two pencils” = “Два карандаша”, карандаш is in the genitive singular even though there are more than one of them. A quirk in Russian grammar that has always befuddled me. (The plural of карандаш is карандаши)

    2. “I do not have a broken pencil” = “У меня нет сломанного карандаша”, now we have an adjective that has to agree with the case/number of the noun. The genitive case is used because of the negation – another quirky Russian thing. карандаш is in the genitive singular form. There is on only one pencil. OK, that all seems to make sense.

    “I have two broken pencils” = “У меня два сломанных карандаша”, despite no negation, карандаш has to be in the genitive because there are two of them. But now the adjective is in the genitive PLURAL form whereas the noun remains in the genitive SINGULAR.

    “I do not have two broken pencils” = “У меня нет двух сломанных карандашей”

    Head exploding!

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Great examples! 😱😱😱 That is madness, David. Madness! I think the rule should be nominative case only after numbers. That sounds like a much safer world to live in. 😁

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