August 16, 2009 | Russian

A Pair of Obliging Russian Verbs

User-friendly verbs that make life easier for English speakers.

One easy thing about Russian: the verb знать (pronounced znat) apparently works like “to know” in English. In other words, there aren’t two totally different verb equivalents for “to know,” as in languages like Spanish, where you have to decide whether you mean “to know” as in know a person (conocer) or “to know” as in know a fact (saber). The same in German, where you pick kennen for knowing a person and wissen for knowing a fact.

In addition, the Russian verb for “to work,” работать (pronounced ra BO tat), can apparently do double-duty just as in English, meaning both “to labor” and “to function properly.” In other languages, you often have to stop and pick between different verbs when you are translating “work” from English.

I am grateful for these small favors.

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