Traditionally (as far as I know), schools have 4 quarters in Russia, and so they're called "1-я четверть, 2-я четверть". If a school only has three terms, is it still correct to call them "четверть", or should you use "треть"? I've never heard of a third being used that way in Russian, but I have heard "полугодие" for half a year.

Basically, does "четверть" mean "term" or "semester" when applied to schools, regardless of how many terms the school year is divided into? And is using "треть" acceptable, or should it be avoided?


If an academic year is divided into 3 parts, each of them is called "триместр".
But historically "четверть" is also acceptable.

  • 3
    "Триместр" may be formally correct, but I've never heard it in any other context except related to pregnancy. Have you?
    – Headcrab
    2 days ago
  • 2
    @Headcrab, that really depends on your local school. Teachers and kids in my (that is, my daughter's) school use it every day. Though, I'm in no position of judging how common such schools are...
    – Igor G
    2 days ago
  • @IgorG I guess, my schools were too old school. To make sure, is that an ordinary plain "школа" in Russia, or is it some special school, or some fancy "лицей/гимназия" or whatever they like to call them these days?
    – Headcrab
    2 days ago
  • 1
    @Headcrab, I've just posted an answer and put a few links to school sites. Just some schools I remember. I would say they are plain and ordinary ones (save 1511). Are you aware of "электронный дневник" government project? I suspect "триместр" is used there too, but may be not for all schools.
    – Igor G
    2 days ago

Четверть means a quarter of anything. Четверть яблока (though in this case четвертинка would be more appropriate), четверть дня, четверть пути, etc. It means "term" in a school only when there are four terms, which is very standard in Russian secondary schools.

If there are three terms, you can't call them "четверть", the best word would be "триместр". However, this is very very very uncommon for Russian secondary schools to have three terms, so the term "триместр" is by far not as well-established and widely known as "четверть".

Three terms are more common for universities, not secondary schools (although even there three terms are very uncommon). The standard situation in universities is to have two terms called "семестр", and I guess that's why for three terms we use "триместр". I suppose that if three terms were more common in secondary schools than in universities, then probably they would have been called "треть", not "триместр".

(Also note that "семестр" and "полугодие" differ exactly in that the former is used in universities and the latter in secondary schools.)


If a school only has three terms, is it still correct to call them "четверть", or should you use "треть"?

I suppose you can call that "четверть". Older people will surely understand what you mean, and younger children are also familiar with this term. But I've never heard it called "треть".

Official term for 1/3 of a school year is "триместр", and as far as I can trust my ears, it is actually used in everyday school talks. Well, at least where I live.

Some random proofs from schools around my place: школа 1450, школа 814, школа 1511, школа 536.

Basically, does "четверть" mean "term" or "semester" when applied to schools

It always means exactly 1/4 of a school year. People may stretch its meaning to include 1/3 of a school year, but only because the word "триместр" is quite new and odd in this context. However, the trend is to use "триместр".

is using "треть" acceptable, or should it be avoided?

Should be avoided.

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