What are the most notorious things for which Russian is known as one of the hardest to learn?

  • 2
    It probably depends a lot on your native language.
    – A-K
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 2:24
  • 4
    Obviously, especially if your native language is Russian Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 2:40
  • 4
    Possibly, comma placement.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 4:09
  • 1
    I guess aspect and the missing article, since Germanic and Romance languages (at least those I know) don't have aspect but articles.
    – Em1
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 7:07
  • 1) Case. 2) Aspect. 3) Pretty much everything else in the language. (I keep a running list -- in my head -- of topics that are not hard in Russian. I have come up with only a few. "Alphabet" is one. "Order of alphabet" is another. Many times I have been tempted to add "word order," but that is actually really hard.) Udachi!
    – SAH
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 19:02

5 Answers 5

  1. Alphabet. It's not Latin, people spend a week or so to only remember that P is not [p], but [r].

  2. Aspect. It is formed irregularly, it has tons of minor meanings, and the exact interpretation depends on certain properties of the verb meaning. And it also depends on prefixes.

  3. Inflection. You have to learn large paradigms only to be able to say a short sentence.

  4. Rich derivation. You can form many words just by adding suffixes.

  5. Word order. It is not free, as some people say, but it encodes the information structure of the sentence.

  6. Phonology. Quality of vowels changes depending on the stress in the word (which is also not always fixed), voiced consonants become voiceless depending on the following consonant or on the position in the word.

Finally, Russian is not as hard to learn as Welsh or Hungarian. But not many people want to learn these languages (for some reason), and that may be another reason why they focus on Russian and say it's hard. It probably wouldn't be so hard in comparison =)

  • could you please clarify the point about spoken vs. written?
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 10:10
  • I've added an example.
    – Olga
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 10:22
  • are you sure it's specific to Russian?
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 10:26
  • 1
    Maybe not, maybe spoken French is also different from written French. But it's still one of the things why Russian may be considered hard.
    – Olga
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 10:31
  • sure, but it's in no way is specific to Russian. Actually it's just whether you pay attention to your discourse or not. There are people who actually write like in your first example (especially in IM or twits or whatever) and there are people who don't ever talk this, not to mention writing. If the language structure allows comprehending an ungrammar sentence at all, there will always be people abusing grammar.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 11:00

If you mean the difficulties for a native Russian speaker, they are as follows:

  • Comma placement rules

  • Whether participle не- is written together with the following word or not.

  • Whether н is double in suffixes (choice between нн and н).

  • Some people experience troubles in choice between -тся and -ться although this is not a problem for myself.

  1. Inflections, especially the cases and verb conjugations. Also the number and gender.
  2. Pronunciation of certain sounds non-existent in languages like English. That includes the vowel sound of Ы [ɨ], all palatalized consonants, and rolling the Р [r]. Also, the chains of consonants as in "*вздр*огнуть".
  3. Stress in words. It's mostly unpredictable in Russian and you'll have to refer to your dictionary a lot.
  • Actually I find the two most difficult...I mean that you must force yourself to pronounce properly to be ы and ль ... rolling Р is not (for me.. .ever a problem. . I'm a native English speaker but not American. .. I noticed for some reason most Americans have problems when two constants are together.they want to say them as separate words... can't think of any examples offhand but I think some people know what I'm talking about )
    – ycomp
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 2:30

You can easily yandex it up yourslef, as follows:

  1. go to yandex.ru, which is better than google for Russian searches
  2. Search "типичные ошибки в русском языке у американцев"

Wikipedia says" According to Yandex marketing, one of its biggest advantages for Russian-language users is ability to recognize the Russian inflection in search queries


7 падежей. В других языках нет такого количества падежей и даже представления о том, что они могут существовать.

And as we can see many foreigners don't even use them. They only use one case for speaking.

  • 4
    Finnish cases rock even more.
    – Olga
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 13:07
  • In addition, example on typical using of russian language by vietnamese in Russia: "Мне пожалуйста вон тот большой ваза". Correct variant: "Мне пожалуйста вон ту большую вазу"
    – Rustam
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 13:24
  • 1
    Many languages have the same or greater amount of cases.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 12:53
  • падежы сложны, но в других языках бывает и поболее.
    – shabunc
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 5:19

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