Tricky Russian words

with 5 Comments

Last year I shared a list of words that sound alike in Russian, like образование education and обрезание = circumcision. (Yes, that still trips me up!) Since then, I’ve come across the opposite phenomenon: words that don’t sound anything alike but seem to have the same meaning.

For example, I was translating a business address this week and saw something like this: д.18, эт.2, пом.1, ком.85.

Okay, д.= дом, building and эт. = этаж, floor. But what’s the difference between пом. (помещение) and ком. (комната)? I was stuck.

Native speakers, can you help me out- what’s the difference between these word pairs? Is it just a matter of nuance?

  1. помещение vs. комната (room?)
  2. тучи vs облака (clouds? I think this is “regular clouds” vs “storm clouds”, right?)
  3. хозтовары vs промтовары (household goods?)
  4. нежность vs умиление (tenderness?)
  5. гавкать vs лаять (to bark?)


Спасибо! 🙂

5 Responses

  1. Lyttenburgh
    | Reply

    “• помещение vs. комната (room?)”

    Room is smaller. Say, an entire “wing” on the same floor could be considered one “помещение”. E.g. – a newspaper rents several rooms in the same “wing”. These rooms housing individual cabinets, briefing room, kitchen etc. are in the same “помещение”.

    “тучи vs облаки”

    Here it is “облака”, not “облаки”. “Тучи” are dark rainclouds, while “облака” are the white ones with no intent to rain on you.

    “хозтовары vs промтовары”

    Хозяйственные товары – i.e. general everyday items (non-consumables) useful for your “хозяйство”, like furniture, frying pans, brooms, soap etc.

    Промышленные товары – more general category, which encompasses “хозтовары”, but covers all non-consumables (i.e. including clothing and boots). Literally – industrial goods.

    “нежность vs умиление”

    “Нежность” is active “tenderness” expressed at someone. Like you can touch someone “tenderly/нежно”. “Умиление” is a reaction expressed at someone/something (like cats, children and everything makes you say “Ahwwww! How cute!”)

    “гавкать vs лаять”

    There is also “тяфкать” ;). I don’t know about other languages (in different languages animals “speak” differently) but Russian dog is supposed to say “гав-гав!”, that’s why “гавкать”.

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Those are some awesome explanations, Lyttenburgh. Thank you very much! 🙂 I wonder if those final verbs can be categorized by the size of the dog, like big dogs always гавкать and little dogs тяфкать. By the way, Crazy Russian Dad has a cool video about the animal sounds in Russian vs. English- have you seen it?

      • Lyttenburgh

        Yes, I know about “Crazy Russian Dad” YTube channel. Haven’t watch any vidoes on it in a while, cuz I’m not its target auditory.

  2. Юля
    | Reply

    As for the first one, I would also add that “помещение” is a more technical (and generic) word. It can be small, like “комната”, as well as “комната” may be rather spacious (then it is called “зал”). In fact, the word “КОМНАТА” is defined by means of “ПОМЕЩЕНИЕ”: “отдельное ПОМЕЩЕНИЕ в доме или квартире, отгороженное стенами или перегородками” or “ПОМЕЩЕНИЕ специального назначения на предприятии, в учреждении и т.п.”. So “комната” is a hyponym of “помещение”.

    When we talk about an apartment, “комнаты” are usually the rooms where one can live or stay, as opposed to an entrance-hall or a bathroom. However, what we call “ванная” is also “комната”, as its complete name is “ванная КОМНАТА”.
    A “комната” normally have a specific function: жилая комната (living room), комната матери и ребёнка (baby-changing room), комната для переодевания (changing room for staff in a hospital, factory, etc.), комната смеха (hall of distorting mirrors), etc.

    Some dictionary examples for “помещение”:
    – жилое помещение (living quarters / housing accommodation),
    – производственные помещения (industrial premises),
    – помещение для скота (housing for livestock)…

    Any room / space where you can PLACE (“поместить”) something is “помещение” (“placement”).
    And as any “комната” is also a “помещение”, there are obviously more “помещений”, than “комнат”.

    Hope it makes sense (:

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Wow, I never realized that ванная is short for ванная комната. I noticed it was in adjective form, but hadn’t actually connected it to its noun. Yulia, you are the perfect resource for vocab questions. 🙂 I always look forward to new posts from you. Your explanations here are great! Thanks for diving deep into помещение!

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