Learn Russian from the beginning!
Lesson Eight

Asking for and understanding directions

You will learn

  • to ask where places are
  • and how to get to them
  • to understand directions

and there will be some information and advice about public transportation

Before you begin

A word of advice: when a person gives you directions, it is unlikely that you you will understand every word. But remember, you don't need to! You want the gist, the crucial words which will tell you where to go.

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, 4: listen without the book
Dialogues 3, 4: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 5-7: listen without the book
Dialogues 5-7: 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. Lyena is looking for a post office.

Lyena Вы не скажете, где здесь почта?
Passerby Почта через дорогу.
Lyena Спасибо.
Passerby Пожалуйста.
здесь here, in the vicinity почта post office

Вы не скажете...? you couldn’t tell me... could you? Like вы не знаете...?, this is a way of mellowing a request for information.

через дорогу across the road. Some other common answers to listen for are (the embarrassing) почта рядом 'the post office is next door' and почта за углом 'the post office is around the corner'.

2. Ira wants to get to the Arbat.

Ira Девушки, извините, пожалуйста, вы не подскажете, как пройти на Арбат?
Young woman Прямо и через переход.
Ira А это долго?
Young woman Нет, где-то три минуты.
Ira Три минуты. А вы не скажете, там находится дом-музей Пушкина?
Young woman Да, это квартира пят... дом номер пятьдесят три.
Ira Пятьдесят три, да? Спасибо большое, извините.
Young woman Не за что.
Арбат a famous street in Moscow квартира apartment
переход passageway не за что don't mention it
там there: the opposite of здесь  
дом-музей Пушкина house-museum in which the poet Pushkin lived for a while

девушки girls. The age at which this word ceases to be appropriate would be difficult to fix. Извините, пожалуйста excuse me please, and a smile work just as well and will never offend!

вы не подскажете...? There's little difference between this question and вы не скажете...?

как пройти на Арбат? How do I get to Arbat? You can use как пройти...? in asking how to get anywhere on foot.
Everybody knows what Арбат is, but usually the place you are looking for will be called улица street, проспект avenue or площадь square. You might, for example, ask:

как пройти...
на улицу Достоевского?
на проспект Мира?
на площадь Пушкина?
(See also the grammar section)
How do I get...
to Dostoevsky street?
to 'Peace' avenue?
to Pushkin square?

прямо и через переход straight ahead and through the passageway. Other words you should listen out for are направо to the right and налево to the left. A series of instructions may be connected by потом next.

это долго? will it take long? A rough translation since Ira's question is telegraphic, omitting all but the key word. The woman replies in similar fashion:
где-то три минуты around three minutes.

там находится дом-музей Пушкина? is the Pushkin house-museum there? If the place you are looking for is a fair distance away, you can ask где находится...? where is... located?

квартира apartment. The woman begins to say apartment No. ... then corrects herself. It is in fact дом пятьдесят три house No. 53.

Practice what you have learned

1. Nina is still finding her way around in a new area. From her house she has been given directions to various places. On your recording you will hear these directions, but not the places! Follow the instructions each time, then see if you can complete the questions she asked.

I. Вы не скажете, где здесь
II. Вы не скажете, где здесь
III. Вы не скажете, где здесь
IV. Вы не скажете, где здесь

2. A tourist is given some directions and writes them down in translation. Unfortunately there is one mistake in each set of instructions. Listen to your recording, then correct his notes.

I. post office - straight ahead, then to the right; across the street from the Bolshoi Theater
II. department store - straight ahead and through the passageway; opposite the subway station
III. cafe - through the passageway is the Pushkin museum; the cafe is across the street


3. Which trolleybuses go to the Pushkin Museum?

Tanya Тамара, ты не знаешь, какой троллейбус идёт до музея Пушкина?
Tamara До музея Пушкина идёт троллейбус второй, тридцать первый и восемнадцатый. И ещё идёт автобус восьмой и пятьдесят пятый.

какой троллейбус идёт до музея Пушкина? which trolleybus goes to the Pushkin museum? You can find out about buses or trams by substituting for троллейбус the words автобус bus or трамвай tram.
If you wanted to know about trolleybuses to Red Square or Dostoevsky street, you would ask:
какой троллейбус идёт до Красной площади? / до улицы Достоевского? (More about these endings in the grammar section.)

Tanya can't remember this deluge of numbers either! You met the ordinal numbers up to 12th in the last lesson. Up to 20th they are also regular and easy to learn: тринадцать becomes тринадцатый, четырнадцать- четырнадцатый, etc. From 21st, it is only the last number which changes according to the noun, i.e.:
двадцать первый троллейбус
Don't forget that you probably won’t need to use these numbers, just to understand them.

4. Masha wants to get to Pushkin Square.

Masha Скажите, пожалуйста, а как мне отсюда проехать на Пушкинскую площадь?
Passerby Вам нужно ехать на метро до станции 'Пушкинская'.
Masha А это долго?
Passerby Нет, всего четыре остановки.
Masha Спасибо.
Passerby Пожалуйста.

отсюда from here
Пушкинская площадь / площадь Пушкина Pushkin square

как мне отсюда проехать на Пушкинскую площадь? how do I get to Pushkin Square from here? Since she knows that it is a long way, Masha has used the verb проехать to get somewhere by vehicle.

как мне пройти...? / как мне проехать...? are set questions when asking for directions. The pronoun мне is often omitted.

Вам нужно ехать на метро you need to go by subway.
Ехать is the most common verb for 'to go by vehicle'. 'I go by subway' is я еду на метро. You may also be told:

вам нужно ехать на автобусе
вам нужно ехать на троллейбусе
вам нужно ехать на трамвае
вам нужно ехать на поезде
You need to go by bus
You need to go by trolleybus
You need to go by tram
You need to go by train

до станции 'Пушкинская' to 'Pushkinskaya' station

всего четыре остановки only four stops

Practice what you have learned

3. Below are signs you may see on a city street. Look at the numbers of the bus, trolleybus or tram routes which go from each stop and then listen to the dialogues on your recording. Can you tell which stop you need to wait at to get to each place?


4, 11, 23

13, 35

(a) (b) (c)
I. Красная площадь
II. Арбат
III. Пушкинская площадь

4. On your recording you will hear a sightseer asking how to get to various famous places. He understood at the time, but later it was just a jumble of words. Listen, and see if you can find the necessary stations on the subway map below.

I. Кремль
II. музей Пушкина
III. Большой театр

This was the most up-to-date map available in early 1993, however many stations have new names and more are likely to be renamed (see Did you know?).


5. Misha is looking for Vagan'kov cemetery.

Misha Скажите, как мне проехать на Ваганьковское кладбище?
Passerby Вы хотите приехать к могиле Высоцкого?
Misha Да.
Passerby Тогда вам нужен двадцать третий трамвай.
Misha Спасибо.
Passerby Пожалуйста.
кладбище cemetery тогда then

Ваганьковское кладбище Vagan'kov cemetery. An old cemetery where the poet Esenin and the singer/bard Vysotsky are buried.

Вы хотите приехать к могиле Высоцкого? do you want to go to Vysotsky's grave? Since Vysotsky's death in 1980, this cemetery has been a place of pilgrimage for lovers of his songs and verse.

вам нужен двадцать третий трамвай you need a No. 23 tram. If the thing needed is a feminine noun, you will hear: вам нужна, and if it is neuter: вам нужно, e.g.:
вам нужна вторая остановка you need the second stop
вам нужно такси? do you need a taxi?

6. Where does he catch a No. 23?

Misha Скажите, пожалуйста, а где остановка двадцать третьего трамвая?
Passerby Вам нужно пройти прямо и ехать направо.
Misha Спасибо.
Passerby Пожалуйста.

где остановка двадцать третьего трамвая? where is the stop for the No. 23? The word for bus, trolleybus or tram stop is остановка, and both the noun and the number ('23rd') take genitive endings after it. In fact, there was nothing to stop Misha asking simply: а где остановка? Since he had just been told to take the No. 23. he wasn't going to be asking about any other stop!

вам нужно пройти прямо и ехать направо you need to go straight ahead then travel to the right

7. In the tram Misha battles his way to the exit.

Misha Извините, вы выходите на следующей?
Passenger Нет, не выхожу.
Misha Тогда разрешите пройти.

вы выходите на следующей? are you getting out at the next stop? People begin edging their way to the exit well before a train or bus stops and you will hear this question often. In reply you would say: да, я выхожу or нет, я не выхожу.

разрешите пройти allow me to pass. If you can't remember this, можно? may I? will achieve the same result.

Practice what you have learned

5. On your recording you will hear people asking for directions. Listen several times then tick the correct answer.

You will need the word телецентр 'television center'.

I. The man needs to travel
  a) by tram to the television center
  b) by trolleybus to the television center
II. The woman asks about
  a) the stop for a No. 22 bus
  b) the stop for a No. 25 trolleybus
  c) the stop for a No. 25 bus
III. The man is told that
  a) the No. 9 trolleybus stop is across the road
  b) the No. 10 bus is straight ahead

6. You are a tourist trying to get out of a bus.

Key words and phrases

To use  
вы не скажете, ...?
скажите, пожалуйста, ...
извините, пожалуйста, ...
где здесь...?
где находится...?
как пройти...
could you possibly tell me...?
tell me please...
excuse me please...
where in the vicinity is...?
where is... located?
how do I get (by foot)...
как проехать...
на Арбат?
на улицу Достоевского?
на Пушкинскую площадь?
how do I get (by vehicle)...
to the Arbat?
to Dostoevsky street?
to Pushkin square?
это долго? will that take long?
какой автобус идёт до...
музея Пушкина?
Красной площади?
улицы Достоевского?
which bus goes to...
Pushkin museum?
Red Square?
Dostoevsky street?
вы выходите на следующей?
я (не) выхожу
разрешите пройти
are you getting off at the next (stop)?
I'm (not) getting off
allow me to pass
To understand  
вам нужно пройти...
вам нужно ехать...
через дорогу
через переход
you need to go (by foot)...
you need to go (by vehicle)...
straight ahead
to the right
to the left
across the road
through the passageway
ехать на метро до станции
на автобусе
на троллейбусе
на трамвае
на поезде
to go by subway to the station
by bus
by trolleybus
by tram
by train
вам нужен третий трамвай
вам нужна вторая остановка
you need a No. 3 tram
you need the second stop
Ordinal numbers
(1 st - 12th are in lesson 7)
тринадцатый, -ая, -oe
четырнадцатый, -ая, -oe
пятнадцатый, -ая, -oe
шестнадцатый, -ая, -ое
семнадцатый, -ая, -ое
восемнадцатый, -ая, -ое
девятнадцатый, -ая, -ое
двадцатый, -ая, -ое
двадцать первый, -ая, -ое



Words such as to, through and from are called prepositions. As you would expect, they are particularly useful when asking for directions! You met quite a few in this lesson: в / на to, через through and до up to. Easy enough to learn, but unfortunately there are other changes. Each of these prepositions is said to 'take' a particular case, that is, it makes endings change in a particular way. Two cases are common when you are talking about going to places - the accusative case, used after в, на and через, and the genitive case used after до. In lesson 3, you saw that a feminine noun has a new ending if it is the object of the sentence (this is its accusative ending). It ends in exactly the same way after the preposition в or на meaning 'to, into' and after через meaning 'across'. For example, the word for street is улица: to ask how to get to Dostoevsky street, you would say:

Как пройти на улицу Достоевского?

Masculine and neuter nouns do not have different endings for the accusative.

One warning: в and на can mean 'to, into' if they come after a verb implying motion. However, they can also mean 'in, on', in which case the endings are different, i.e. Кремль в Москве 'the Kremlin is in Moscow' (see the grammar section in lesson 2). Certain other prepositions, like до, take the genitive case. Look at the following examples:

какой автобус идёт до Арбата?
какой автобус идёт до улицы Достоевского?

A masculine (or neuter) noun will simply add -a (sometimes spelled ). A feminine noun will end in (sometimes spelled ) after these prepositions.

7. A tourist visiting Belarus, Ukraine and Russia is asked by a Byelorussian border official which places he plans to see. He produces the following list of cities:

I. Минск III. Киев V. Москва
II. Одесса IV. Полтава VI. Петербург

Here is a script of what he could have said, but you will need to add the cities with the correct endings. (When talking about movement to a city, the preposition в is always used.)

(I) Я еду , потом (II) , потом (III) , потом (IV) , потом (V) , потом (VI)


8. You will be traveling by bus, so you will need to ask:

I. почта III. театр V. ресторан
II. магазин IV. аптека    

You will be travelling by bus, so you will need to ask:
какой автобус идёт...

I. до ? IV. до ?
II. до ? V. до ?
III. до ?    

Read and understand

9. Members of a tourist group in Moscow spurned the services of their guide, asking only for a map of the metro and instructions about how to find some famous places. They managed admirably! Follow their instructions and the map, and mark out the route they would have planned in order to take in all the places.

Moscow metro map
I. Большой театр — на метро до станции 'Театральная'
II. Кремль и Красная площадь — на метро до станции 'Китай-город'
III. Третьяковская галерея — на метро до станции 'Новокузнецкая'
IV. Данилов монастырь — на метро до станции 'Тульская'
V. Арбат — на метро до станции 'Арбатская' или 'Смоленская'
VI. Музей Л.Н. Толстого — на метро до станции 'Кропоткинская'
VII. Кинотеатр 'Россия' — на метро до станции 'Пушкинская'

10. Below are two types of tickets commonly used by Muscovites. On what forms of transportation can they use each ticket?

Проездной билет Москва




Did you know

Getting around in the city

For many years visitors to the Soviet Union were quietly discouraged from traveling around the city by themselves. Tourists were transported from one worthwhile 'sight' to another by coach, and rarely met Soviet people.

Fortunately the atmosphere has changed, and since public transport within cities is good, if crowded, we would recommend that you make your own way about. Especially now that you have learned to ask directions!

Some of the large cities have good subway systems, as well as trolleybuses, trams and buses. In the main cities you will also find маршрутные такси, minibuses carrying about 10 passengers which follow a fixed route (normally indicated on the side window). You can ask the driver to stop anywhere along the route (just give the name of the place with пожалуйста). Finding a taxi has become quite a problem unless you’re outside a hotel, where there are always those wanting to earn some foreign currency. You probably won’t need your Russian though - they seem to be able to negotiate their deals in any language! :)


There are special barriers on the subway which only let you through after you have put in your money. However, to use trolleybuses, tram or buses, you need талоны or, more colloquially, талончики. These small tickets are available from the conductor in a tram / bus / trolleybus - he (she) will come to you or for you :) . Those who use public transportation a great deal buy the more economical and convenient единый, a travel pass valid for one month.

By the way, despite inevitable tension and friction caused by overcrowding, it is unusual for children or elderly people to have to stand in public transportation.

Your turn to speak

You have just arrived in Moscow. You need to find out where the pharmacy is, how to get to Pushkin square, which trolleybuses go to Arbat and where the trolleybus stop is. You will be using the following phrases:

извините, пожалуйста, ...
скажите, пожалуйста,...
где здесь...?
как проехать в/на...?
какой троллейбус идёт до...?
а где остановка?