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  • Luke

For Students: Confusing words for Russian & Ukrainian speakers

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

I imagine most of you, like me are going crazy stuck indoors in these difficult times trying to entertain yourself in any possible way until hopefully soon life goes back to normal. Over the last month or so – back in the normal world – I started making a list of words Russian and Ukrainian speakers use when there is a more common alternative or more appropriate word. I’ve taken these words and put them head-to-head in 10 rounds just like in a fight, and just like we are fighting the coronavirus now….

Note: there are some other meanings to the words below, but I've limited them to the ones I often hear.

Round 1: Gossip vs Rumour

Gossip (v.n): This refers to people talking to each other about something that is unlikely to be true.

Examples: They are always gossiping / She loves to gossip.

Rumour(n): This is the result of one person telling someone, usually a group, about something that usually isn’t true.

Examples: It’s just a rumour. It won’t happen / There’s a rumour going around that… /

Russians / Ukrainians: The phrase you most likely will need is ‘It’s just a rumour’

Winner: Rumour

Round 2: Nervous vs Annoyed

Nervous (adj): a feeling of worry you get before something is about to happen.

Example: I always feel nervous in the waiting room at a job interview / I’m feeling nervous, I don’t know why It's our 3rd date / I never get nervous.

Annoy (v,adj): something that makes you a bit angry.

Example: He always talks about football. It’s so annoying / Why are you so annoyed?

Russian / Ukrainian: Be aware of the situation before you use nervous.

Winner: Annoyed

Round 3: Trauma v Injury

Trauma(n): a very formal medical word for injury.

Example: As we can see from the scan, he has a small trauma to his upper spine.

Injury(n,v,adj): when you hurt yourself by doing something. More commonly used as ‘injured’

Example: I can’t play football for two days because I injured my back at work.

Russian / Ukrainian: Unless you’re a doctor…. Stick to injury/injured.

Winner: Injury

Round 4: Sensitive v Sensible

Sensitive(adj): She is the sister whose emotions can be easily affected.

Example: I only said I didn’t like her dress and she started crying. Of course, she did, she is very sensitive.

Sensible: She is the sister who thinks about her actions before she does them.

Example: Give the responsibility to Sarah she is sensible / it’s not sensible to drink alcohol EVERYday.

Russians / Ukrainians: Get comfortable with them both and start using sensible more.

Winner: both

Round 5: Fun vs Funny

Fun(adj,n): this is the feeling of enjoyment.

Example: The film was so much fun. I would watch it again.

Funny(adj): this is when something makes us laugh.

Example: The film was so funny, I couldn’t stop laughing.

Russian / Ukrainian: Don’t be afraid to use fun. Not everything is funny 😉

Winner: Fun

Round 6: Episode v Series

Episode(n): 1 part of a series.

Example: I have watched 3 episodes already.

Series(n): A collection of episodes. The American word season is also very popular. It means the same.

Example: I don’t know what I’m going to watch after the last series of my favourite TV show.

Russians / Ukrainians: Be careful when you say you watched one series when you mean episode. It can change the whole context.

Winner: Episode

Round 7: Translation v Broadcast

Translation(v,n): Converting one language into another

Example: You’re smart enough. You don’t need one.

Broadcast(v,n): The transmission of TV channels and radio.

Example: They don’t broadcast BBC 1 in foreign countries / they don’t show the boxing on that channel

Russians / Ukrainians: Broadcast is still a rather former word, so I’d replace it simply with ‘show’ if they don’t ‘translate’ the channel or event in your country

Winner: Broadcast – although simply show is still best.

Round 8: Borrow v Lend vs Give

Remember borrow means it will go two-ways, to you, and then back. Give only goes one-way, so that piece of paper you need is going to be a give. It’s best to remember these set phrases

Could I borrow….

Could YOU lend me…

Could you give me….

I’m BORROWING something FROM someone

I’m LENDING something TO someone

Round 9: Look after vs Take care

Look after(PV): To monitor someone and make sure they are OK

Examples: I need to look after my kids / I’m looking after my friends’ dog while they are on holiday

Take care(PV): To provide someone with medical or financial help

Example: My grandma took care of me when my parents died / My sugar daddy takes care of my rent, so I don’t have to worry about paying it.

Russian / Ukrainians: More often than not we need look after because we often talk about monitoring someone or something.

Winner: Look after

Round 10: Lost vs Forgot

Lost(v): You don’t know where something is and can’t find it.

Example: I’ve lost my…. Do you know where it is? / I’ve lost his number.

Forgot(v): You know where something is but not have it when you are suppose to.

Example: You’ve forgotten your….

Russians / Ukrainians: Phrases to remember are ‘You’ve forgot your… in…” and to remember if someone drops something, and you see it fall to the ground, but they don’t, a simple ‘ You’ve dropped your…’ works perfectly

Winner: both

Bonus Round: Go shopping vs Do shopping

Go shopping: To buy everything that isn’t food

Example: I did to go shopping after work to buy a TV

Do shopping: To buy food

Example: I need to go and do the shopping after work because of the coronavirus

Cheers - English native speaking CELTA qualified teacher in Lviv and online. - English Speaking Club on Skype and Zoom - Skype and Zoom English Lessons with a Native Speaker! - Use it, don't lose it! Find a language partner today.

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