Jim Kovpak wrote an article A Quick and Dirty Guide to Russian that frequently references 'Russian being an extremely hard language and even natives make mistakes speaking it', but never really builds up on that or gives any examples.

I've also heard that many Russian youth and some adults say "Христос воскрес!" instead of Христос воскресе! for Easter, but I don't feel like that counts because this is more so Church Slavonic influences of Russian and not mistakes in Russian proper.

I'm mostly interested in words which are not used anymore the way the dictionaries and style guides prescribe them to be used, like how in American English the pronunciation of Stephen as Steffen is now a commonality, even if proscribed; or saying 'vice-a-versa'.

  • I noticed this question is on hold for being too broad, but I haven't a clue on how to change it. Looks like I'll have to delete it probably? Admin help?
    – Judicaël
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 17:51
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    First of all, we discourage open list questions: for a question to be good for this site, it should have an "ideal" answer none should be able to add to, and this "ideal" answer should be short enough to fit into one post.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 4:02
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    Besides, what exactly is "mistake that became a part of the language"? To a person from early XX century that would be using пирожное as a countable noun; to one from early XIX that would be using наверное in the sense of "maybe"; to the author of The Tale of Igor's Campaign, the whole modern Russian would sound as one big mistake. The problem is, once it's a part of the language, it's not a mistake anymore.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 4:03
  • Oh okay, do you have any recommendations?
    – Judicaël
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 4:10
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    @Judicaël: I think you need to ask this the other way around: "are there some outdated prescriptive norms in Russian"? There are indeed some words (толика, гренок etc.) which no Russian in their sane mind uses the way the dictionary prescribes them to be used, and there are few enough of them to fit into one answer.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 8:45

3 Answers 3


Христос воскрес really is a borderline case since it's correct Russian.

As for actual "mistakes" — let's first establish what we consider a mistake. I'm going to disregard popular prescriptivist tics such as the crusade against одеть пальто (insisting on надеть пальто), and other examples that are considered jarring and "uncultured" on the questionable premise that everyday language is a thing that can and should be regulated. Let's limit ourselves with those cases where the speaker is clearly aiming for the formal/literary register while breaking some of its expected norms.

A lot of such mistakes have to do with misplaced stress, such as дóговор instead of договóр, and with oblique cases of large numerals: by far not all native speakers will get through тысячей семьюстами шестьюдесятью without stumbling or using the wrong ending somewhere.

Others are more specific:

  • Не instead of ни in "whatever/whoever/wherever" constructions. Since they sound the same except in one case, with the past tense of быть, this mostly only results in spelling mistakes, but you do also get что бы это нé было instead of что бы это ни было.

  • Lack of agreement of verbal adverb phrases with the subject of the main clause. Often exemplified with Проезжая мимо станции, с меня слетела шляпа (a shortened and slightly paraphrased quote from a story by Chekhov, where it's used deliberately for comedic effect.)

  • A duplicate бы somewhere down the line in a long subordinate clause that already began with чтобы.

  • Обоих/обоим where обеих/обеим is expected.

  • Similar to the previous item: using the forms двое, трое, etc. with female-only groups. (Not currently a prominent part of our gendered language debates that I'm aware of, but one can certainly expect calls for retiring this distinction at some point. For now, it's bad grammar.)

  • Genitive instead of dative with согласно "according to".

Just the ones I could think of off the top of my head; I don't also want to veer into what's no longer issues of pure grammar rather than style, such as people mixing up неприкасаемый and неприкосновенный, or arguing whether другая альтернатива is or isn't a tautology.

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    координально вместе кардинально, обои вместо обе, "в этой связи" и много много прочих. в общем, человека просто надо отправлять на форумы типа "лучше молчи", где такие ошибки собирают и над ними плачут/смеются
    – Arioch
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 10:37
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    Another example is wrong use of a comparative degree of adjectives: "мы стали более лучше одеваться".
    – Dmitriy
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 11:23
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    @arioch: when someone says координально and the dictionary has it as кардинально, it's the person who has it wrong. When someone says гренка and the dictionary has it as гренок, it's the dictionary that has it wrong.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 12:06

Some examples:
1. "Ложить" instead if "класть";
2. Wrong accentuation, e.g. "зво́нит/звони́т";
3. "Одеть" instead of "надеть";
4. "Хорошее кофе" instead of "хороший кофе" (indeed both forms are legal now);
5. "Ихний", "ейный" and similar nonexistent words;
6. "Сколько время" instead of "сколько времени".

  • also, I've heard that first it was correct to say "библиОтека", but saying "библиотЕка" was such a usual mistake that overtime it became standard pronunciation. And you forgot "-тся/-ться". Plus some natives can write something "ты будишь макароны?" indicating that "-ишь/-ешь" is also quite a common mistake
    – Alissa
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 10:13
  • IMHO question was about spoken language, so I made exampes of mistakes in speech. BTW, questions has been cheanged, so my answer is irrelevant now.
    – edo1
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 10:59

I'm mostly interested in words which are not used in the real language the way the dictionaries and style guides prescribe them to be used.

Oh, there are a lot of them, especially in journalism and in emerging areas which have a lot of loan words, e.g.:

  • нелицеприятный is used as unpleasant but means objective
  • усугубить is used as worsen but means intensify with no negative meaning
  • линейка is used as (model) line but means a ruler
  • эскпертиза is used as knowledge due to blending with its English counterpart
  • бизнесы is more often used in plural
  • So which of these dictionary meanings are outdated?
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 12:15
  • None are outdated. But in 'real language' their 'real' dictionary meaning (which are on the right in my examples) is rarely used because of lack of proper education. Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 14:57
  • I've clarified the question body a little bit. Basically we're looking for the terms which are not used anymore the way dictionaries tell us to use them. Are you saying линейка does not mean "ruler" in spoken Russian nowadays?
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 16:01
  • It is still used, of course. This is an important clarification. In this case with линейка, the word is used with a meaning not fixed in any dictionary. However, for нелицеприятный and усугубить my answer still holds, IMO; few people use them right. Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 17:18
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    I cannot agree about "нелицеприятный" and "усугубить". Meaning of these words has been changed. Dictionaries will be changed some time later.
    – edo1
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 22:59

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