Schaum’s Russian Grammar: numbers, dates, and time

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I went back and forth on this chapter.

Ignore it?

Do it?

Actual footage of my brain contemplating Russian numbers and their declensions…

It seems like I gave up ages ago on the complicated world of Russian numbers, dates, and times. Somewhere I read that even Russian news anchors make mistakes when declining such things. If that’s true, what chance does a lowly language learner have?

But in the end, I did the whole chapter. If nothing else, I figured it would be exposure therapy. A couple of times (fractions + declining large numbers and nouns) I just copied the answers from the answer key. That counts for something, right?

Last page of the chapter!!!


Useful stuff from this chapter

Russian has 2 words for zero: нуль (temperature) and ноль (phone numbers, scores, time). More on that topic in the comments here.

Одни can mean only (nothing but…). Some recent headlines that use this construction: В Белый дом идут одни старики = Only the old/experienced go to the White House (this probably references the famous Soviet film В бой идут одни «старики») and «Вокруг меня одни предатели» = I’m surrounded but nothing but traitors.

During rush hour = в час пик or в часы пик (when you mean multiple hours, like 5-7 PM or AM and PM, for example.)

Did you know that playing cards have TOTALLY different names in Russian? The 4 suits are called Червы, Бубны, Трефы, and Пики. Someone created a great explanation of these words here.

To talk about which bus/trolley to take, you can use nouns from cardinal numbers 🙄🙄🙄 like on the #8 (bus/trolley) = на восьмёрке. But could I just stick with the easier автобус номер восемь please??

Also somewhat frightening: words like обеими and четырьмястами. (I don’t like the instrumental case, I guess.)

I have a very old version of this textbook. It lists the exchange rate as 10 rubles to $1 US and talks about the price of CDs.

Remember: 1 = рубль / 2, 3, 4 = рубля / 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 = рублей. Probably need to get this as a tattoo!

As usual, there were ridiculously complicated grammar terms sprinkled throughout the chapter like “the oblique case” and “adjectival nouns”. This made some of the paragraphs craaazy. Take this, for example… [best professor voice] “Adjectival nouns after 2, 3, and 4, like regular adjectives, are in the genitive plural (due to an implicit masculine head noun) or nominative plural (with implicit feminine head noun). In fractions, however, an ordinal adjective after 2, 3, and 4 is in the genitive plural, even though it is modifying the implied feminine noun часть.”

Helpful sentences for talking about age in Russian:

  • She’s about fifty. = Ей лет пятьдесят.
  • He’s going on eight. = Ему идёт восьмой год.
  • At that time she was going on ten. = Ей тогда шёл десятый год.

It was also really useful to have so many examples of vague times/ages. For example, compare:

  • в три часа = at three o’clock VS часа в три = at about three o’clock.
  • через пять лет = in five years VS лет через пять = in about five years

But telling time in Russian…. ughhhhhhh. It’s not very intuitive. В половине второго is 1:30 PM, not 2:30 PM. I’ve been running into a lot of time expressions lately with doctor appointments and I always have to break it down to make sure I’ve got it right: “В половине второго? Это значить один тридцать, да?” Also, how can в шестом часу mean after five / between five and six? It sounds like it should mean “in the sixth hour”, so after six o’clock.

Other important things to remember:

  • When telling time, use a period, not a colon! For example, 11:15 AM = 11.15.
  • When talking about your birthday, switch the month and day (if you’re American😂). For example, April 7, 1994 is 7/4/1994, not 4/7/1994. If you’re not careful, you can suddenly end up a few months older or younger than you actually are.


Now on to the last and final chapter: Russian verbs!

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