Learn Russian from the beginning!
Lesson Thirteen

Giving more information about yourself

You will learn

  • to talk about how you spend your free time
  • to describe your daily routine
  • to describe the flat (apartment) you live in

and you will be given information about place names and the way they have changed

Study guide

Dialogues 1-3: listen without the book
Dialogues 1-3: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 4: listen without the book
Dialogues 4: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 5: listen without the book
Dialogues 5: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Study the Key words and phrases
Study the Grammar section carefully
Do the exercises in Read and understand
Read Did you know?
Do the exercises in Your turn to speak
Listen to all the dialogues once again straight through


1. Does Volodya take part in sports?

Maria Dmitrievna Володя, ты занимаешься спортом?
Volodya Да, очень люблю спорт.
Maria Dmitrievna А каким видом спорта ты занимаешься?
Volodya Плаванием.

плавание swimming

ты занимаешься спортом? do you take part in sports?
There are a number of verbs in Russian which are always followed by a certain case or ending. Заниматься 'to occupy oneself with' is followed by instrumental endings (the ones explained in lesson 4). Here is how the nouns change:
спорт —› я занимаюсь спортом I take part in sport
гимнастика —› вы занимаетесь гимнастикой you do gymnastics
цветоводство —› он занимается цветоводством he grows flowers
You will learn more about the -ся ending of this verb in the grammar section.

каким видом спорта ты занимаешься? what kind of sport do you engage in? The most common way of answering is with the verb играть в... 'to play...', i.e. я играю в футбол, в баскетбол...

2. Sasha takes part in sports too, when he has the time.

Tanya А чем ты занимаешься в свободное время?
Sasha У меня очень мало свободного времени. Я занимаюсь спортом, хожу один раз в неделю на бадминтон играть. Иногда вечером играю с ребёнком.
Tanya У тебя сын?
Sasha Да. Ему пять лет.
Tanya Озорной?
Sasha Да, очень. С ним очень весело.
Tanya А в театры ходишь?
Sasha Очень редко, потому что очень сложно купить билеты на хороший спектакль.
Tanya Жаль.
иногда sometimes редко rarely
ребёнок child (с ребёнком with a child) сложно complicated, difficult
озорной mischievous жаль that's a pity

чем ты занимаешься в свободное время? what do you do (lit. what do you occupy yourself with) in (your) free time?

у меня очень мало свободного времени I have very little free time. Мало 'little', like its opposite много, is followed by the genitive case.

один раз в неделю once a week. Twice a week would be два раза в неделю

ему пять лет he is five years old. Dative endings are used here too. However from two to four the noun for years is года. Thus:
у меня есть сын, ему два года
у меня есть дочка, ей три года

'I am 22 years old' would be мне двадцать два года

с ним очень весело it's fun with him. If he had a daughter, he would say: с ней with her.

очень сложно купить билеты на хороший спектакль it is very difficult to get tickets for a good production

3. How does Anna Ivanovna spend her free time?

Ira Анна Ивановна, скажите, пожалуйста, как вы проводите свободное время?
Anna Ivanovna В свободное время вечерами я занимаюсь чтением, смотрю телевизор и люблю вязать.
Ira А в выходные дни?
Anna Ivanovna Выходные дни я провожу на даче.
Ira Вы там отдыхаете?
Anna Ivanovna Я и отдыхаю, и занимаюсь цветоводством, занимаюсь клубникой и кустарниками.
Ira Вы там работаете, я чувствую.
Anna Ivanovna Нет, мы это называем активный отдых!
Ira Но вы, наверно, ходите за грибами?
Anna Ivanovna И по грибы ходим, да. Очень я люблю собирать опята.
Ira Очень интересно. Спасибо.

вечерами in the evenings
в выходные дни on days off
дача small cottage (see Did you know? in lesson 7)
цветоводство flower cultivation
клубника strawberries
кустарник bush
наверно (or sometimes наверное) probably, I suppose
опята (pl.) a type of mushroom, опёнок (sing.) agaric honey

как вы проводите свободное время? how do you spend your free time? There is no difference between this question and чем вы занимаетесь в свободное время?

я занимаюсь чтением. A less common way of saying я читаю I read.

я смотрю телевизор I watch television. The infinitive of this verb is смотреть.

вязать to knit. 'I knit' is я вяжу.

я чувствую I sense. Another common way of expressing an opinion is мне кажется it seems to me.

мы это называем активный отдых! we call it active recreation!

ходить за грибами to go mushroom-picking (a traditional Russian pastime!). Anna Ivanovna answers using a different, less common, preposition and ending по грибы.

собирать опята to collect a particular type of mushroom. Unless you have a specialist interest, it may be easier to say simply собирать грибы to collect mushrooms!

Practice what you have learned

1. Larisa is telling a colleague how she spends her time. Listen to their conversation, then mark the correct answers.

I. In the evenings Larisa likes to
  a) read
  b) watch television
  c) knit or read
II. She doesn't like to
  a) listen to music
  b) watch television
III. On Sundays she
  a) always plays tennis
  b) sometimes goes mushroom-picking
Наступает пора сбора грибов. Каждый мечтает вернуться из леса с полным лукошком, но далеко не всем известны заповедные грибные места.
Для москвичей, увлеченных «тихой охотой», московское городское объединение «Турист» организует выезды за город на специальных поездах «Грибник».
An advertisement

2. Inna, a sports instructor, stops a few people on the street and asks them some questions. Listen to their responses, and write under each picture what sport the person plays and how often.

New word: бассейн swimming pool





3. Your name is Syeva, and you have a wide range of interests. Andrei will guide you.


4. Tamara doesn't seem to have any free time

Tamara В моей семье четыре человека: муж, сын и бабушка. Я встаю очень рано, готовлю завтрак и бегу на работу. В обеденный перерыв на работе я хожу по магазинам. После работы я снова хожу по магазинам. Прихожу домой, готовлю ужин, кормлю всех, мою посуду, занимаюсь стиркой и поздно вечером ложусь спать.

бабушка grandmother
в обеденный перерыв in the lunch break
снова again
вставать (я встаю, вы встаёте) to get up
готовить (я готовлю, вы готовите) to prepare
мыть (я мою, вы моете) посуду to wash the dishes
заниматься стиркой to do the laundry
ложиться (я ложусь, вы ложитесь) спать to go to bed (lit. to lie down to sleep)

в моей семье четыре человека there are four people in my family. If Tamara had a daughter as well, she might say: двое детей two children. Similarly трое детей three children and четверо детей four children. For the moment you need only use these numbers with the word for 'children'. Some other members of a family:


я встаю очень рано I get up very early. 'Very late' is очень поздно.

бегу на работу I dash off to work. The verb бежать 'to run' is usually followed by в/на and the accusative case. A more neutral verb here would be идти 'to go', e.g.:
я иду на работу I go to work.

ходить по магазинам to go around the shops (in search of goods which are frequently unavailable). Ходить is used for motion in more than one direction.

после работы after work. После is always followed by the genitive case.

прихожу домой I come home. Домой means 'to home, homeward' and is used after verbs indicating movement. It should not be confused with дома 'at home'.

кормлю всех I feed everybody

Practice what you have learned

4. On your recording you will hear three people describing their families. Listen carefully, then find the picture which corresponds below.







5. Valya and her neighbor have quite different lifestyles. The descriptions they gave of their daily routine are given below, but they are all jumbled up. Listen to your recording and then write down who does what in the correct order.

I. Valya —› —› —› —› —› —›

II. Oleg —› —› —› —› —› —›



5. Aleksandr Aleksandrovich describes his home.

Мы живём в новом районе Москвы. Это довольно далеко от центра, но рядом метро. Живём мы в кооперативной квартире, которую купили 20 лет назад. В этой квартире мы живём втроём, с дочерью. Раньше у нас была государственная квартира, но нам очень хотелось купить собственную квартиру. Квартира у нас трёхкомнатная: гостиная, спальня и для дочери комната. Небольшая кухня. В гостиной стенка, где храним книги, посуду, журналы. Мы очень любим читать журналы. На стене большой ковёр и есть картины.

довольно fairly
рядом next door
втроём three together
раньше previously
собственный one's own
гостиная living room
хранить to keep
спальня bedroom
комната room
кухня kitchen
стена wall
ковёр carpet
картина picture

мы живём we live. The verb жить is rather irregular: я живу, ты живёшь, он/она живёт, мы живём, вы живёте, они живут. It does, however, conjugate normally in the past: он жил, она жила.

в новом районе Москвы in a new district of Moscow. Every time a noun changes in Russian so do any adjectives describing it.

в кооперативной квартире in a co-operative apartment

которую купили which we bought. Которую 'which' has an accusative ending since it is the direct object of купили.

20 лет назад 20 years ago. You will often also hear тому назад.

с дочерью with (our) daughter. The word дочь daughter has very irregular endings.

нам очень хотелось... another way of saying мы очень хотели... we very much wanted...

трёхкомнатная three-room. You might also want to say:
однокомнатная 'one-room' or двухкомнатная 'two-room'.

небольшая кухня a smallish kitchen

стенка a wall-unit including wardrobe, shelves, cupboards (cabinets) etc.

на стене большой ковёр hanging on the wall is a big carpet. Russian apartments are not normally carpeted, but it is very common to see a large Persian carpet decorating the wall.

Practice what you have learned

6. Listen to Vladimir Nikolaevich's description of his apartment and then spot the mistakes in the following notes.

I. They live in a new district, close to the center.
II. They have a cooperative apartment which they bought 13 years ago.
III. There are four people: husband, wife, son and grandmother.
IV. The apartment has three rooms.
V. They keep their clothes in a wall-unit in the bedroom.

7. Three people who are each hoping to exchange their own apartment for another one are looking through the advertisements in the Bulletin of the Apartment Exchange Office. Each finds one promising advertisement. Listen as they describe their present accommodation, and match each to the appropriate advertisement.

меняем (одну квартиру) на (другую квартиру)
we will exchange (one apartment) for (another apartment).

однокомнатную кооперативную квартиру в центре
однокомнатную кооперативную квартиру в новом районе Москвы.
двухкомнатную государственную квартиру недалеко от центра
двухкомнатную государственную квартиру в новом районе Москвы недалеко от школы.
одну двухкомнатную государственную квартиру в новом районе Москвы и одну однокомнатную государственную квартиру недалеко от центра
трёхкомнатную квартиру в старом районе Москвы недалеко от центра.

Key words and phrases

To use  
заниматься (я занимаюсь, вы занимаетесь) to occupy oneself with
заниматься спортом
(в) свободное время
(в) выходные дни
смотреть телевизор
проводить (время) на даче
ходить за грибами
собирать грибы
двое (трое, четверо) детей
to take part in sports
(in) free time
(on) days off
to watch television
to spend (time) at the dacha
to go mushroom-picking
to collect mushrooms
two (three, four) children
вставать (я встаю, вы встаёте)
to get up
ложиться спать (я ложусь спать, вы ложитесь спать) to go to bed
бежать (я бегу, вы бежите)... to run, dash...
идти (я иду, вы идёте)...
на работу
to go...
to work
ходить по магазинам
готовить (я готовлю, вы готовите)
to go around the shops
to prepare, to cook
новый/старый район
кооперативная квартира
государственная квартира
new/old district
cooperative apartment
state-owned apartment
one's own
однокомнатная/двухкомнатная/трёхкомнатная квартира one-room/two-room/three-room apartment
a room
a living room
To understand  
чем вы занимаетесь в свободное время? what do you do in your free time?
как вы проводите свободное время?/выходные дни? how do you spend your free time?/days off?


Verbs ending in -ся

The particle -ся is added to a verb to make it reflexive, i.e. to indicate that the subject is doing the action to himself or herself or when there is no object after the verb. Заниматься means 'to occupy oneself (with something)'. Занимать by itself means simply 'to occupy (a place, time etc.)'. You have seen other verbs ending in -ся. e.g.:

открываться to open
Магазин открывается в 9 часов. The shop opens at 9 o’clock.

There is no object in this sentence - the shop 'opens itself'! However, the shopkeeper would say:

Я открываю магазин в 9 часов. I open the shop at 9 o'clock.

Some other important verbs which change in this way are:

закрывать to close (something) закрываться to close
начинать to begin (something) начинаться to begin
кончать to end (something) кончаться to end
одевать to dress (somebody) одеваться to get dressed

Examples: Валя начинает работу в 8 часов и кончает (работу) в 4 часа.
Valya begins work at 8 o'clock and finishes (work) at 4.
В центре магазины закрываются поздно.
In the center of the city, shops close late.
Она всегда одевается легко.
She always dresses lightly.
Он одевает сына, и они идут в парк.
Не dresses his son and they go to the park.

There are other occasions when reflexive endings are used, but for the moment we suggest that you just try to remember the very common verbs mentioned here.

Endings: Do not be daunted by the new endings. The verb itself changes as you would expect (see grammar in lesson 9). To make it reflexive, you add -ся if the previous letter is a consonant or , and -сь if it is a vowel. For example:

я занимаюсь
ты занимаешься
он занимается

мы занимаемся
вы занимаетесь
они занимаются

The past also follows this pattern:

он занимался, она занималась, они занимались

8. Fill in the missing verb.

I. Ресторан в 11 часов. (открывать (ся))
II. Нина Алексеевна магазин утром. (открывать (ся))
III. Я работу в 9 часов. (начинать (ся))
IV. Фильм в 7.30. (начинать (ся))
V. В свободное время я спортом. (занимать (ся))
VI. Ковёр много места. (занимать (ся))
VII. Мы ужин очень поздно. (кончать (ся))
VIII. Спектакль в 7 часов, и в 10 часов. (начинать (ся), кончать (ся))

9. In this exercise sometimes the verb is missing, sometimes the noun.

I. Чем вы в свободное время? (заниматься)
II. Я занимаюсь и играю с ребёнком. (спорт)
III. Чем ты в выходные дни? (заниматься)
IV. Я занимаюсь на даче. (цветоводство)
V. После работы Тамара занимается (стирка)
VI. В свободное время мы спортом. (заниматься)

Read and understand

The handwritten script

Up till now we have introduced only printed Russian. However, Russians write rather than print, and since you will probably wish to correspond with friends you make, it is worth spending some time becoming familiar with the handwritten script. Here is the alphabet with both printed letters and handwritten:

The handwritten Russian script

Here are some common words, both printed and handwritten:

театр театр theater - russian handwritten word
ресторан ресторан restaurant - russian handwritten word
газета газета newspaper - russian handwritten word
журнал журнал magazine - russian handwritten word
кофе с молоком кофе с молоком coffee with milk - russian handwritten words

As you can see, some letters look quite different. Practise writing them and try forming whole words.

10. On retiring Natalya Aleksandrovna was given a card with the following signatures. Can you make out the names of her colleagues?

I. Оля Olya - russian handwritten name
II. Татьяна Васильевна Tatyana Vasilyevna - russian handwritten name
III. Игорь Igor' - russian handwritten name
IV. Сергей Михайлович Sergey Mikhailovich - russian handwritten name
V. Мария Юрьевна Maria Yuryevna - russian handwritten name
VI. Миша Misha - russian handwritten name
VII. Вера Павловна Vera Pavlovna - russian handwritten name
VIII. Катя Katya - russian handwritten name

11. A young student called Tonya was asked to write a letter to a friend’s brother who is studying Russian. Read her letter, then correct the mistakes in the statements below.

You will need to know: Жду ответа, 'waiting for your reply'.

I. Tonya lives with her parents and sister.
II. They have a state-owned apartment.
III. It is a three-room apartment.
IV. She likes to watch television and listen to music.
V. She plays badminton once a week.
VI. On the weekend she likes to go mushroom-picking or grow flowers.

Tonya asked some questions at the end of her letter. How would you answer them?


Did you know

What's in a name?

The question may seem well-worn, but to Russians it is of immediate importance. Changing names of places, institutions etc. has taken on symbolic, as well as practical, significance.

In the first decades after the revolution of 1917, a large number of cities, towns, villages, streets etc. were renamed. Usually they were named after some revolutionary figure or group. Most famous is, of course, the city which Peter the Great founded. As you have read in lesson 12, from 1703 to 1914 it was called St. Petersburg. Then, in 1914, to make it sound more 'Russian', it was renamed Petrograd, only to be changed again in 1924 to Leningrad, in honor of Vladimir Lenin, who had just died. In 1991 a referendum on the question of the city's name was held and a majority voted for the restoration of the first name St. Petersburg. While officially the name is Saint Petersburg, Russians normally call it simply 'Petersburg'.

Under Stalin, renaming took on absurd proportions as the dictator and his retinue named squares, streets, towns and mountains after themselves.

The problem here was that when these people fell from favor, the names had to be changed yet again. Those reading about the famous Battle of Stalingrad, the turning point in the Second World war, may have been bemused to find no trace of the city on maps. This is because after the denunciation of Stalin in 1956 it was renamed Volgograd.

Only the most notorious in Stalin's following received the ignominious fate of having their names erased from history. The names of others, such as Zhdanov, were retained until late into the 1980s.

This form of self-worship did not end with Stalin's reign. Brezhnev also used it both for himself and as a reward for 'his' people.

Since the 1980s and particularly following the demise of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) at the end of 1991, many old names have been restored. Kalinin is now Tver once more, Gor'ky is Nizhny-Novgorod.

In Moscow many of the main streets have also reverted to the old names: улица Горького is again Тверская, and проспект Маркса is Охотный Ряд. It must be added that some names never really changed as far as the people were concerned. While authorities called the square close to Red Square площадь 50-летия Октября (50th anniversary of October (revolution) square), Muscovites among themselves continued to use the old (and 'new'!) name Манежная.

All this means that asking may well be more efficient than trying to follow maps!

Your turn to speak

On a trip to Russia, you are introduced to a school teacher, Tatyana. Practice what you would say to her about your interests and pastimes, where you live, work etc. Once you have had a try, turn on the recording and listen to what she says about herself.

Useful phrases:

я (не) женат, (не) замужем I'm (not) married
у меня двое детей / нет детей I have two children / I don't have children
у меня есть сын/дочь (/дочка) I have a son/daughter
ему/ей два года / пять лет he/she is 2 years old / 5 years old
я живу / мы живём... I live / we live...
в двухкомнатной квартире in a two-room apartment
в государственной / собственной квартире in a state-owned / one's own apartment
я работаю в/на... I work in...
у меня мало/много свободного времени I have little/lots of free time
я занимаюсь спортом I take part in a sport
читать to read
смотреть телевизор to watch television
проводить свободное время... to spend free time...
выходные дни days off, the weekend
на даче in the vacation home
заниматься цветоводством to grow flowers
ходить за грибами to go mushroom-picking