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For Students: Confusing words for Russian & Ukrainian speakers round 2

Updated: Mar 21

Back again for another bout of rounds between two words that can often be misused or misunderstood by Russian and Ukrainian speakers when they speak English. If you haven't already, you can see the first fight off here.

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Round 1: Carpet vs Rug

Carpet: This is a piece of material that covers the WHOLE floor.

Examples: The floor is warmer with a carpet.

Rug: This is a piece of material that is usually made from the same material as a carpet, but only covers PART of the floor.

Examples: I need a nice rug for the middle of my room.

Russians / Ukrainians: Almost everyone I know here in Ukraine has a wooden floor with rugs, not carpets. Actually, I've never been in a flat in Ukraine where there was a carpet.

Winner: Rug

Round 2: Sport v Exercise / workout

Sport: This is usually a team or individual game like tennis, football, volleyball.

Example: I like to watch and play sport.

Exercise/workout: This is the action you do to burn calories like running, dancing, or going to the gym.

Example: I don't like sport, but I am keen on exercising.

Russians/Ukrainians: This is a word choice that can cause confusion. If you 'go to the gym' you workout - exercise. If you 'do sport' then the person you're speaking to will most likely think you play tennis or something.

Winner: Exercise / Workout - though the phrase ' go to the gym' is often more appropriate

Round 3: People v Persons

People: The plural of person.

Persons: The plural of persons.

Russians / Ukrainians: You will probably never ever need to use persons in your entire life. Always remember 1 person 2 people because the only time we really need persons in the plural is mostly for extremely formal and legal conversations or documents.

Winner: People

Round 4: Email v Letter

Email: This is an electronic letter. We often send and receive them everyday at work.

Letter: This is not electronic. This is written on some paper.

Russians / Ukrainians: This again can cause confusion in communication. Only use letter if you actually got a physical letter.

Winner: Email

Round 5: Take/have an exam v Pass an exam

Take/Have an exam: This is what we do. We have to take/have an exam and hope we do well enough to PASS.

Example: Tomorrow I have an English exam. I'm a bit worried I might not pass.

Pass an exam: This is when you have been successful. We take/have exams and if we are successful we PASS and if we are not, we FAIL

Russians / Ukrainians: You guys will often say 'pass' an exam when meaning take/have an exam. It can communicate arrogance thinking you have PASSED the exam before taking it. Note: Russian and Ukrainian speakers will often also say 'write' an exam. In the UK only exam designers write an exam. I don't know about North America.

Winner: Take/Have an exam.

Round 6: Make v Prepare

Make: This is something that doesn't involved too much time. You make breakfast, dinner, or a cake.

Example: I need to make my lunch for work the evening before because I don't have time in the morning.

Prepare: This involves a long process. You wedding day, you have to prepare everything for the big day. It isn't a quick process. If you are cooking for 20 people.... this also isn't a quick process and you would need to prepare for it.

Example: I am preparing to welcome 100 guests into my hotel this weekend.

Russians / Ukrainians: Get in the habit of replacing prepare with make because few of us actually prepare for anything.... apart for you teachers, preparing your lesson plans ;)

Winner: Make

Round 7: Bus station v Bus stop v Coach station

Bus station: This is big, and this is where all the busses go at the end of the day. Some, start their route here.

Bus stop: This is what you see on the side of the road. They are small STOPS that a bus makes during its route.

Coach station: This looks like a bus station, but it has coaches - big busses - that are going long distances to other cities or countries.

Russians / Ukrainians: Choosing the right one can really influence a conversation, so make sure which one to use.

Winner: all of them depending on the context

Round 8: Live v Stay

Stay: When you are somewhere for a short period of time.

Example: We stayed there for a month. It was really interesting.

Live: When you are somewhere for a longer period of time. I'd stay minimum 6 months.

Example: I lived and worked in Moscow in 2011

Russians / Ukrainians: When talking about your travels and trips, hello STAY.

Winner: Stay

Round 9: Save v Collect (money)

Save money: When you have a plan, like to visit a new country or to buy something, you need to SAVE.

Example: I am saving so I can buy a new computer.

Collect money: This is when you ask people for money for a special reason, especially charity.

Example: We are collecting money in the office to buy John a present.

Russians / Ukrainians: Unless you are doing something for charity, you are saving (up) for a reason to enjoy yourself.

Winner: Save

Cheers - English native speaker and 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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