August 7, 2009 | Russian

A Grammar Blow

An unexpected grammar complication arises.

I got some really bad news about Russian today: most verbs have two infinitives. That explains a lot. I have been having dictionary troubles with verbs, not understanding why I am being given multiple similar translations when I look up a single simple English verb. And I have also been confused trying to figure out why VocabuLearn verbs often sound similar but not identical to verbs I’ve learned through Pimsleur.

On the other hand, I continue to be amazed by how many cognates there are. With all these cognates, Russian sometimes feels like (a) English and (b) cheating.

Around 4:30 this afternoon, exhausted, I got into bed with my headphones and Pimsleur. I started lesson 20, halfheartedly answering questions, and then woke up some time later in the middle of lesson 21, then answered a few more questions, then woke up in lesson 22. I finished that and went ahead with 23, at which point Brandt came in to find me still doing Pimsleur. He was amused. I was in bed for about two hours and felt much better when I got out of it than when I got into it.

Comments (1)

Katherine • Posted on Tue, May 18, 2010 - 5:54 pm EST

Russian verbs having two infinitives can be really complicated.  It is best to memorize the pairs of infinitives together early on.  It will just save you from some confusion.  It is harder to have to memorize two new verbs instead of one, but you get used to it after a while and there are lots of patterns you eventually get used to.

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