Learn Russian from the beginning!
Lesson Six

Shopping in Russia

You will learn

  • more about making purchases
  • how to select what you want
  • to ask for medicine in a pharmacy
  • a few useful phrases to use in line and
    more about shops and markets in Russia

Before you begin

From now on the dialogues and notes will be only in the Cyrillic script. You will probably need to go more slowly at first, and do read over the first five russian lessons if some of the letters seem unfamiliar. It is well worth the time!

Remember that Russian spelling does not always reflect pronunciation. This won't be a problem if you listen carefully to the dialogues and particularly to Andrei's advice.

The beginning of this theme is in the previous lesson 5.

Study guide

Dialogues 1, 2: listen without the book
Dialogues 1, 2: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 3-5: listen without the book
Dialogues 3-5: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 6, 7: listen without the book
Dialogues 6, 7: 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. Tamara wants to buy a 'matryoshka' doll, but the price deters her

Tamara Скажите, пожалуйста, у вас есть матрёшки?
Assistant У нас есть, но они очень дорогие.
Tamara А сколько стоит матрёшка?
Assistant Сто двадцать рублей.
Tamara Ой, это очень дорого. А у вас есть что-нибудь подешевле?
Assistant Есть. У нас есть платки.

они they

матрёшки (singular: матрёшка) traditional wooden dolls which open up to reveal another doll, and then another...

они очень дорогие they're very expensive. You will find an explanation of adjectives and their endings in the grammar section.

сто двадцать 120. Three-digit numbers are also formed by simply adding the different parts.

это очень дорого that is very expensive. If you want to say that it's not very expensive, just use не:
это не (очень) дорого

у вас есть что-нибудь подешевле? do you have anything cheaper? Что-нибудь means 'anything'. If you wanted something smaller, you would ask for что-нибудь поменьше, and something larger, что-нибудь побольше.

платки scarves (singular: платок). Here are a few other items of clothing you might be interested in:

блузка blouse юбка skirt платье dress
галстук tie брюки trousers (pants) рубашка shirt

2. So can she see the scarves?

Tamara Платки? А покажите, пожалуйста.
Assistant А вам какого цвета нужно?
Tamara Покажите, какие у вас есть.
Assistant У нас есть синие и розовые.
Tamara Хорошо. Сколько стоит розовый платок?
Assistant Розовый стоит два семьдесят.
Tamara Два семьдесят. Хорошо, я куплю розовый платок.
Assistant Тогда пройдите в кассу и заплатите.
Tamara Хорошо, спасибо.

хорошо good, all right
тогда пройдите в кассу и заплатите then go to the cashier and pay

покажите, пожалуйста show (me) please. This request is especially useful since in most shops in Russia goods are behind the counter.

вам какого цвета нужно? what color would you like? (lit. do you need?). Here are the colors mentioned in the dialogue and a few others:

розовый pink белый white
синий dark blue чёрный black
красный red зелёный green

Another question you will often be asked is вам какого размера нужно? what size do you need? If you're not sure of the precise size, you can approximate with one of the following:

большой big средний average маленький small

Покажите, какие у вас есть show (me) the ones you've got. Without the first word this could have been a question:
какие у вас есть? what ones do you have?

я куплю... I will buy...

Practice what you have learned

Read the following statements about some shoppers' purchases, then listen to your recording and find the one incorrect detail in each.

I. Nina doesn't want to pay 35 rubles for a blouse so she decides to buy a scarf for 7 rubles.
II. Victor thinks that 6.70 is a reasonable price for a tie and asks to see the blue ones.
III. Yura thinks that he can afford 125 rubles for a pair of trousers and asks the shop assistant to show him some black ones.

2. You are in Moscow buying a present for a woman friend. Good friend though she is, you can't afford to spend too much. Listen to Andrei's prompts.

A well-known music shop in Moscow


3. Anna Sergeevna sees a woman selling flowers outside the subway.

Anna Sergeevna Скажите, почём цветы?
Woman Два семьдесят букет. Из семи веточек роз. Розы свежие, красивые, душистые.
Anna Sergeevna Свежие?
Woman Душистые, свежие.
Anna Sergeevna Пожалуйста, мне один. Нет, нет, другой... вот этот, вот этот.
Woman Пожалуйста. Пожалуйста.
Anna Sergeevna Пожалуйста.
Woman Так, прошу вас.
Anna Sergeevna Эти деньги ваши.
Woman Пожалуйста.
Anna Sergeevna Спасибо.
Woman Пожалуйста. Счастливо!

из семи веточек роз with seven roses
так прошу вас something like 'if you please'
счастливо! a friendly way of saying 'goodbye'

почём цветы? how much are your flowers? Почём...? is a colloquial equivalent of сколько стоит...? Its uses are more limited.

два семьдесят букет 2.70 a bouquet. Very often flowers and other products are sold by the piece штука. A single rose for two rubles seventy would be два семьдесят штука.

розы свежие, красивые, душистые fresh, beautiful, fragrant roses - she does want to sell them after all! All the words after розы are adjectives in the plural (see the grammar section).

пожалуйста, мне один one please. The word for a rose - роза - is feminine. Therefore if Anna Sergeevna had wanted one rose, she would have said мне одну.

другой, вот этот... the other one, yes that one... This combination of pointing and giving directions is probably as efficient a way as any of indicating what you want! Anna Sergeevna uses другой 'the other' and этот 'that one' because she is referring to a masculine noun. If it were one rose or any other feminine noun, she would say: другую, вот эту.

эти деньги ваши this is your money. The word for 'money' - деньги - is plural in Russian.

4. Masha is looking for the end of a long line.

Masha Простите, кто последний?
Person in line Наверное, я.
Masha Спасибо, я за вами.

наверное probably, I suppose

кто последний? who's last? You always use this masculine form even if there are only women in the line!

я за вами I'm behind you

5. Masha doesn't want to lose her place.

Masha Я отойду на минутку. Вы скажете, что я за вами занимала?
Person in line Пожалуйста.
Masha Спасибо.

я отойду на минутку I'm going away for a moment

вы скажете, что я за вами занимала? Will you say that I'm behind you? There is a whole culture about standing in line. People establish their position, and go off for a while — often to join another line!

Practice what you have learned

3. Volodya is looking for flowers to take to a friend. Prices are high so he has to shop around. How much do each vendor's flowers cost?

I. цветы
II. розы
III. цветы

4. Walking down the Arbat, Volodya and Tanya pass a number of people loudly advertising their wares. Which adjectives refer (according to their sellers!) to each thing?

I. матрёшки
(а) душистые (b) синие
(с) русские (d) традиционные
(e) свежие (f) недорогие
II. розы
III. платки


6. Misha is looking for something to drink.

Misha Скажите, у вас есть минеральная вода?
Salesperson Минеральной воды нет.
Misha А что есть?
Salesperson Есть сок.
Misha А, ну, будьте любезны, тогда сока.
Salesperson Пожалуйста, в кассу шестьдесят пять копеек.
сок fruit juice будьте любезны please, be so kind
ну well тогда then

минеральная вода mineral water. Misha is told that there isn't any: минеральной воды нет. Нет means 'there isn't/aren’t', and the endings of the words have changed. This always happens after нет. The case is called the genitive. If there were no fruit juice сок (a masculine noun) or milk молоко (neuter noun), Misha would be told: сока нет, молока нет. Don't worry at this stage if you can't remember the endings. Do, however, notice those endings you see here, and be prepared for a word sounding rather different from the form you would find in your dictionary.

сока some juice. Misha has changed the ending here (also genitive) to indicate 'some juice'. He could also have said сок.

в кассу шестьдесят копеек 65 kopecks to the cashier (платите is understood)

7. In the pharmacy.

Vladimir У вас есть что-нибудь от насморка?
Pharmacist Ментоловое масло, четыре копейки.
Vladimir От головной боли?
Pharmacist Только аспирин, шесть копеек.
Vladimir Анальгина нет?
Pharmacist Анальгина пока нет.
Vladimir Сколько это стоит всё?
Pharmacist Десять копеек. В кассу, пожалуйста.
Vladimir В кассу. Спасибо.
Pharmacist Пожалуйста.

ментоловое масло menthol oil
аспирин aspirin
пока нет not at the moment

у вас есть что-нибудь от насморка? do you have anything for a cold? You may also want to know how to ask for the following:
что-нибудь от головной боли for a headache
что-нибудь от кашля for a cough

четыре копейки
шесть копеек
Like all nouns копейка and рубль have different endings depending on the number. Use the following table as reference.

(это стоит) одну копейку
2-4 копейки
5, 6... копеек
один рубль
2-4 рубля
5, 6... рублей

анальгина нет? is there no analgin (a popular painkiller)? The noun is анальгин when it is not followed by нет.

Practice what you have learned

5. On your recording you will accompany Alla on a shopping expedition. It is not especially successful - very few of the items on her list are available. Can you find the ones which are?

минеральная вола


6. Below are pictures of three people all feeling ill, but in different ways. Listen to the recording and see what the pharmacist is able to offer each of them.

You will need to know the word микстура 'cough mixture'.


A chemist's on Arbat. In this street, popular with tourists, street traders often display their goods on the outside of shop windows.

Key words and phrases

To use  
это очень дорого
у вас есть что-нибудь...
от насморка?
от головной боли?
от кашля?
that's very expensive
do you have anything...
for a head cold?
for a headache?
for a cough?
я куплю розовый платок
розовый, -ая, -ое
синий, -яя, -ее
красный, -ая, -ое
белый, -ая, -ое
чёрный, -ая, -ое
зелёный, -ая, -ое
большой, -ая, -ое
средний, -яя, -ее
маленький, -ая, -ое
to buy
I will buy a pink scarf
dark blue
average, medium
покажите, какие у вас есть
какой, -ая, -ое
дорогой,-ая, -ое
свежий, -ая, -ее
красивый, -ая, -ое
другой, -ая, -ое
кто последний?
я за вами
айте) мне один
(дайте) мне одну
show (me) the ones that you've got
(the) other
who's last?
I'm behind you
give me one (masculine noun)
give me one (feminine noun)
To understand  
вам какого цвета нужно? what color would you like?
вам какого paзмера нужно? what size would you like?
Магазин сувениров
White label: Souvenirs (Shop)


An adjective describes a person or a thing. In lesson 1 we mentioned that any word describing a noun has to 'agree' with it, that is, have the same number and gender. In the dictionary you will find an adjective written thus:

розовый, -ая, -oe pink

This tells you the endings for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns in the singular. So:

розовый платок a pink scarf
розовая юбка a pink skirt
розовое платье a pink dress

There will sometimes be differences in spelling or pronunciation, but the entry will show you that, for example:

синий, -яя, -ее dark blue

If the noun is in the plural, there is another ending to learn, but at least only one! Whatever the gender the adjective will end in -ые (sometimes spelled -ие):

розовые платки pink scarves
дорогие матрёшки expensive matryoshka dolls
синие платья dark blue dresses

You may have guessed that if a noun has different endings depending on its function in a sentence, so too will adjectives describing it.

You will have most use for the accusative case (the object of a verb). And best of all, normally only the feminine endings change! In the second dialogue you heard Tamara say that she would buy the pink scarf:

Я куплю розовый платок

Similarly, nothing would have changed if she had wanted a pink dress:

Я куплю розовое платье

But for the feminine noun:

Я куплю розовую юбку

Before you try the next exercise, we would repeat once again that endings are something you may aim to master in the long term but if you don't remember them at present, it won't matter!

7. In the following shop dialogues, the endings of the adjectives have been left out. Can you fill them in?

I. - У вас есть розов платки?
- Нет, но у нас есть чёрн, красн и зелён платки.
- Хорошо, я куплю зелён платок.
II. - А у вас есть чёрн юбки?
- Нет, но у нас есть коричнев, красн и розов юбки.
- Дайте, пожалуйста, красн юбку.
III. - У вас есть красн вино?
- Нет, но у нас есть бел вино.
- Хорошо, я куплю бел вино.

Read and understand

8. A group of tourists dropped into the 'Beryozka' shop in their hotel. Beside their names you will find written down what they were looking for. Read the advertisement below and then write down which of the tourists were completely satisfied, and which only partially.

Tom looking for an English tie, can’t spend a lot
Louis wants an expensive French wine
Lesya wants a pretty scarf, Ukrainian or Byelorussian
Roy looking for a typically Russian toy for his child
Ann wants a black skirt, preferably of Italian make
Hans wants a bottle of Russian vodka, doesn't want to pay a fortune


У нас есть


I. Tom
II. Louis
III. Lesya
IV. Roy
V. Ann
VI. Hans

9. On the left-hand side you will see signs from various shops in Moscow. On your right is a box with items Tamara intends to buy. It would of course be much more efficient to have the items next to the name of the shop...

I. аптека (pharmacy)
(а) платья (b) марки (с) масло
(d) ментоловое масло (е) молоко
(f) открытки (g) анальгин
(h) платки (i) матрёшки
II. гастроном (grocery store)
III. универмаг (department store)
IV. почта (post office)

Did you know

One way of avoiding the time-consuming system (which is already in the past...) described in the previous lesson is to shop at the market. If, that is, you can afford it. Perhaps the reason you seldom stand in line at a market is that the prices are very high. Markets have always been expensive. People from collective farms, allowed to grow produce on a small piece of land, would bring it to the city to sell. They brought small amounts and so charged a lot.

At the time of writing, government stores were empty enough to drive many to shop at the market, and prices had reached record levels.

None the less, even if you don't buy anything, markets are a colorful and interesting sight. The availablity of fruit and vegetables depends to a large degree on the time of the year, though many come from Georgia and Azerbaijan, where the climate is milder. Meat is generally also on sale, and sometimes even handmade items of clothing.

As in markets the world over, you don't need to accept the first price quoted - you know enough Russian to haggle! You can also normally try the fruit, salted cucumbers etc. before buying them (indeed some try this instead of buying!).

As well as market traders, you also find people selling produce - at the same kind of prices - outside subway stations.

Toward the end of the 1980s there was a noticeable easing in the restrictions on private trading. As a result, many new kiosks have opened, selling handmade items. Western goods and anything which the average person can't find in the shops. Prices, however, are often exorbitant and frequently provoke resentment.

Кто последний?

Your turn to speak

10. In these exercises you will be inquiring about and purchasing things in a pharmacy. You'll need to use the following phrases:

у вас есть что-нибудь от насморка / от головной боли?
у вас нет анальгина?
я куплю...