Blog 1. Да или нет?
Blog 2. Ты или вы?

1. Yes and no and да и нет
What could possibly be easier? You might think that yes and no are the easiest words to learn in a foreign language. But in Russian it is not quite that simple.

In Russian, да can mean "Yes, you are right" and нет can mean "No, you are wrong". This can lead to a misunderstanding for English speakers when a Russian asks a negative question.

See how it works in Ruslan 1 Lesson 2 dialogue 1:

Иван: Здесь нет метро?
Людмила: Да, нет метро. Вот стоянка такси, а там автобус.
Иван: Спасибо.

In English this would have been:
- There is no metro here?
- No, there isn't.
But a Russian would normally say:
- Yes, there isn't. ("Yes, you are right, there isn't.")

This isn't just a pedantic point, it can lead to all sorts of confusion and could even have led to the end of the civilised world as we know it. Imagine Khruschev and Kennedy in the Cuban crisis in October 1962 if they had tried to sort it out on the phone without interpreters:

Kennedy: You are not going to press your button are you?
Khruschev: Yes, ....

Nikita Sergeyevich was going to say "Yes, I am not", but it was too late, JFK had already pressed his button...

3 January 2018.

2. Ты или вы?
This can be difficult for English speaking learners of Russian as we mostly stopped using "thou" and "ye" many years ago. The best advice is to take the lead from your Russian friend or acquaintance, but this doesn't quite work if you are of different ages or status.

The flow chart below was produced by Tatiana Klimova for her excellent website and is reproduced here with a small adaptation. It was intended as a bit of fun, but is really very good.
For learners, the English version is below.

Back up to the Russian version.

17 January 2018