For Students: Confusing words for Russian & Ukrainian speakers
Updated: Apr 17
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’
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
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.
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
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
British English native speaker and CELTA qualified teacher in Lviv, Ukraine
Online English Skype and Zoom lessons with a British native speaker.