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June 25, 2020

Why Russian is Easy: NO ARTICLES

Summary: Russian may not be the easiest foreign language in the world, there are many things in Russian, that make it relatively easy to speak. The fact that there are literally 0 articles is one of them. While speaking you have more mental bandwidth free for thinking of words that actually convey a meaning, so your speech becomes more clear.

A quick search online, and you’re bombarded with articles and videos of why Russian is oh so super difficult. 

I disagree.

There are many small and large things that massively improve the odds of you speaking Russian VS any other popular foreign language (such as French, Spanish, Chinese etc).

Today I want to talk about the Russian articles, and why you should be jumping in your chair of joy.

NO ARTICLES!

That’s it. There are 0 articles in Russian. No the/a/le/la/el/de/der/het/een/ein etc.

So you don’t need to remember any of them.

You can just speak words, without needing to remember which little pesky useless word goes in front of it.

This free up a lot of mental bandwidth, that you can then use to choose words that actually matter in your speech.

Let’s take a random sentence in the English language.

Let’s take the previous sentence!

Now let’s remove the articles…

Let’s take random sentence in English language.

You still completely understand what it means, right?

And in English it’s actually easy. 

You say ‘the’ when you mean a specific object.

You say ‘a’ when there are more of them, and it’s more about the thing in general.

But many other foreign languages are a hell…

Dutch articles for example

I’m Dutch. And a big problem many foreigners here experience is the complete randomness of articles. We have 3: de, het, een. 

De/het correspond to the. Een corresponds to a.

It’s the same as in French basically, but with le and la.

Every noun either has de/het before it. But the rules why? No One really knows.

I understand everything based on my intuition. 

Foreigners don’t have that intuition. So for EVERY SINGLE NOUN THEY LEARN, THEY NEED TO LEARN AN ADDITIONAL WORD.

That’s horrible. 

And I can always pick out non-native speakers by their mistakes in articles.

You have less chances to make mistakes in Russian

Since you don’t need to think about the articles, you have less chances of making mistakes while speaking. 

Making mistakes is completely fine by the way. It’s just once you’re at a higher intermediate level, and your accent is okay, that people will start to stop believing you’re not Russian. Or at least that your mother wasn’t Russian.

And then it’s pretty fun to play along and see how long you can last without making mistakes.

And the fact that there are no articles make that much easier.

For Russians learning English it’s the other way around though.

They suddenly need to ensure they add articles. And it’s a lot more difficult to sometimes ADD articles to your speech, than it is to just completely forget them 😉

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Author: Ari Helderman


I started learning Russian seriously in January 2016, and haven't stopped since. I created this site to help other foreigners speak Russian. You can follow my progress in Russian on my YouTube channel Ари Говорит по-русски.

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