The Big Secret: It’s a Different Game

Russian is a different language with a different alphabet and different rules, just as pinochle and poker are different card games with different sets of cards and different rules.

When you move from pinochle to poker, you find some new cards (2 through 8). You find some familiar looking cards (9 through Ace). Some of the familiar cards work the same in both games—Ace is high—while other familiar cards are used differently - in pinochle a 10 outranks a Queen; in poker the Queen outranks a 10. If you try to use pinochle rules when playing poker, you are not going to win!

When put in terms of card games, this is obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people try to apply their knowledge of the English alphabet when they’re learning Russian. Don’t fall into that trap!

It’s a Different Game

Some Russian letters will be completely new. Some Russian letters will look like English ones, and they may even sound alike, but be not deceived—it’s a pure coincidence. If you try to use the English rules on Russian letters, you can’t win, because...

It’s a Different Game

For example, the rules of English say that the word “yes” signifies agreement. If you’ve watched any spy movies, though, you know that Russians use a different rule: signifies agreement. (Click the speaker to hear the word.)

Now click the right arrow to see how that word is written.