"Я знаю русский язык." and "Я говорю русский язык." is as I have understood it equal in meaning (please, correct me if I am wrong).

Today my tutor told me that: "Я говорю русский язык." is the preferred phrase to use.

I would prefer to use: "Я знаю русский язык" that is if they are equal in meaning. Let me know what you think and if there is a difference between these two.

  • 1
    "Я говорю русский язык." == "I speak, English language". Just sounds so wrong
    – rsavchenko
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 21:23
  • 4
    "Я говорю русский язык" is totally ungrammatical
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 7:07

2 Answers 2


Your tutor is wrong. The second option sounds incorrectly.
Correct options are:

  1. Я владею русским (языком).
  2. Я говорю по-русски.
  3. Я знаю русский (язык).
  4. Я говорю на русском (языке).

IMO: The first is the preferable one. The last is the worst.

As @Matt and @user907860 mentioned in comment, Я говорю has two meanings:

I speak
[Now] I'm speaking

So options 2 and 4 can have another meaning in some circustances.

  • 1
    Which one is preferred the one with "знаю" or "говорю"? Is there a distinction between those two or are they absolutely equal in meaning?
    – Ева
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 20:03
  • 2
    I believe, the difference is the same as for English "to know" and "to speak". But their meanings in this context are the same.
    – Dmitry
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 20:07
  • 4
    Я говорю по-русски. is most natural imo
    – rsavchenko
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 21:23
  • 1
    The last is the worst Not really. It just means the slightly different thing: "Я говорю на русском" = "[Now] I'm speaking Russian".
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 7:57
  • 1
    the second item also has the meaning of I'm speaking Russian. From the edited version of the answer the OP can construe that only "the last has also another meaning", which is not true.
    – d.k
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 18:26

"Я говорю русский язык" is absolutely incorrect. You should say

Я говорю по-русски


Я знаю русский язык

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