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Swadesh List for Slavic Languages - compare Russian with other Slavic languages
Learning new words is a big part of learning Russian. The more words you know the better you will be able to understand Russian conversations and written texts. It will also give you an advantage when expressing your ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings. Ideally, you should focus on learning the essential vocabulary and increase it continuosly during your Russian studies. Our vocabulary lists and lessons have been created exactly with this purpose in mind--to help you learn new Russian words and terms for a variety of situations that you will encounter every day.
Whether you are a beginning or continuing learner of Russian our frequency lists will help you with learning and remembering most common words in Russian. Frequency lists show most widely used words from modern fiction, newspapers, science and political texts and provide an opportunity to focus on Russian vocabulary that is essential in most situations. And whenever you need to find a word on a specific topic, such as animals, food and drink, numbers and counting, family matters, days of the week, or months and seasons our topical lists of words will have everything you may need to name that person, object, place or phenomenon.
Russian belongs to the Slavic languages and doesn't share much vocabulary with the English language. Although most Russian words will be new to you as an English speaker, it is always a good idea to learn a few cognates--words that are almost identical in both Russian and English. However, be careful with so called false friends that are similar in pronunciation but have different meanings. For example, the Russian word "кабинет" is translated as "office" but sounds almost like the English word "cabinet" that has a different meaning.
One of the best ways to learn new words is use them in context. Whenever you encounter a new word that you want to remember try to use it in a sentence that has a meaning to you. If forming your own sentence seems challenging you can always refer to dictionaries and literature texts for examples of usage. We recommend to learn words in context as they occur in spoken speech and written language because knowing a word per se may be of little use when you actually try to use it in real-life conversation.
Another strategy to expand your Russian vocabulary is to take advantage of numerous suffixes, prefixes and word endings. Knowing them will allow you to form new words based on the ones you know already. For example, if you are familiar with the diminutive suffix "-ёнок" you can add it to the word "кот" (cat) and form a new word "котёнок" that means "kitten" or "a little cat". Learning common suffixes, prefixes and word endings alone will drastically increase your Russian vocabulary without daunting memorization.