Mistakes in English frequently made by Russians

This document is a part of The Seagull Guide, a set of recommendations on studying foreign languages.


My name is Simon, and my real Russian name is Vsevolod. I will appreciate any additions to this list of common mistakes. Just email me.

The main page is located at www.simonf.com/lang/lang.html

This page was last modified on April 16, 2001


Contents of this page:

(x) shows the number of enries


Words same in Russian
but different in English (29)
Word order (8) Non-trivial translation
(idioms) (28)
Prepositions (16) No preposition in English (3) No preposition in Russian (9) Pronouns (10) Articles (3)
Verb tenses (9) Verbs in indefinite form (7) Adjectives / adverbs (1) Exceptions (1) Awkward sentences (1)

The story of this page (and where to find more examples).

Send me YOUR examples!!!


Words that are same in Russian but different in English

Russian source Translation Correct usage
( ) Please  
( "") You are welcome  
(
. )
Frontier  
( ) Border  
( ) Cause What is the cause of rain?
(, ) Reason You have a good reason for coming.
(,
)
Shade  
( ) Shadow  
( ) Place  
( ) Room Is there some more room in the bag?
() Seat Are there free seats in the bus?
() Paint  
() Dye  
() (. .) Hung  
() (. .) Hanged  
() Tear Tear a coat on a nail
() Tear up Tear up the letter
( ) Made of Tables are made of wood
( ) Made from Bread is made from wheat
(), Do  
(), Make  
() Win  
() Beat  
() To be drowned  
( ) To sink  
( ) Wounded  
( ) Injured  
( -) Convince  
( ) Persuade  
(, ) Bring  
(, ) Fetch  
( ) Learn He learns well
() Study He studies physics
Teach  
() Last  
( ) Latest Latest news
Good The news is not so good
Well I feel well
( ) Tall  
( ) High  
( ) Clean  
() Clear Clear water
( ) Like You do not look like your brother
( , ) As You do not play the game as I do
( ) Except There was nobody there except me
( ) Besides I have other cars besides this one.
Lie  
Lay  
Grow  
Grow up  
Steal  
Rob  
Rise  
Raise  
() Hire  
() Rent  
(, ) Appropriate,
Relevant
Your dress in not appropriate for the occasion
( ) Corresponding Each coat hangs on the corresponding peg
( ) Take an exam  
Pass an exam  
Fail an exam  
( ) Common They have a common goal
( ) General In general, this is how it works...
( ) Shared  

Word order

Wrong Correct Translation Notes
An old fridge there is in the room There is an old fridge in the room  
A lying on the floor mattress A mattress lying on the floor  
Put there my things Put my things there  
Use new details for proper work To ensure proper work, use
new parts.

 
The guests will be tomorrow here The guests will be here tomorrow The adverb of place must come first
Is the room enough large? Is the room large enough? ?  
The ordered goods have not arrived The goods ordered have not arrived  
The two first chapters The first two chapters  

Non-trivial translation (idioms)

Russian phrase Wrong translation Correct translation Notes
Visit(ing) card Business card  
( ) Hot wishes Best regards  
() Courses Course  
Do the following steps Go through the following steps  


He slept well and was better
the other day
He slept well and was better
the next day
 
I have much work I am very busy  
,
I will need an hour to do that It will take me an hour to do that  
I saw a strange dream I had a strange dream  
She always says the truth She always tells (speaks) the truth  
? Did you follow the game? Did you watch the game?  

The teacher put me a good grade The teacher gave me a good grade  
I am going to cut my hair I am going to have my hair cut  
This medicine makes miracles This medicine works miracles  
Today morning This morning  
1812 He born in 1812 He was born in 1812  
He is stronger that anybody He is stronger than anybody else  
The unfortunate was shot dead The unfortunate man was shot dead BUT this is allowed for plural: "the poor envy the rich"
- I have only two-three friends I have only two or three friends  
Better go home You had better go home  
, It is dirty; throw it It is dirty; throw it away  
I do not think I do not think so  
I have now left football I have now given up football  
He does not care for his money He does not take care of his money  

Many people lost their life at sea Many people lost their lives at sea  
I feel myself good I am feeling fine Never, NEVER use the wrong variant. Ask your American friends why.
( , ) Take off one's clothes Take off one's coat  
() Right triangle Equilateral triangle Right-angled triangle -

Prepositions

Wrong Correct Translation Notes
I'll come about May 20th I'll come around May 20th 20  
Your call in the embassy Your call to the embassy  
In this moment At the moment ,  
Accuse for theft Accuse of theft  
Consist from sand Consist of sand  
Covered by snow Covered with snow  
Cure (die) from an illness Cure (die) of an illness ()  
Depend from him Depend on him  
I spend much time for my work I spend much time on my work  
I am going to England
for learning English
I am going to England
to learn English
 
They played football
under the rain
They played football in the rain  
I bought a book at 5 dollars I bought a book for 5 dollars 5 "For" is used with an actual sum
I cannot buy it for such a price I cannot buy it at such a price "At" is used if no sum is given
I have other cars except this I have other cars besides this ,
 
He has been ill from last Friday He has been ill since last Friday  
I will start doing it after a week I will start doing it in a week  

No preposition in English

Wrong Correct Translation
To call at his number To call his number
Enter into a room Enter a room
Leave from England Leave England

No preposition in Russian

Wrong Correct Translation
Many bytes information Many bytes of information
Graduate a school Graduate from a school
He came and asked my book He came and asked for my book
She explained me the matter She explained the matter to me ,
They were listening music They were listening to the music
He has not replied me yet He has not replied to me yet
They are searching money They are searching for money
Think a number Think of a number
I will wait you I will wait for you

Pronouns

Wrong Correct Translation Notes
After it I will leave After that I will leave  
ny your help Any help from you  
I'm not so rich how I wish I'm not as rich as I wish ,  
I have a brother which
studies at school
I have a brother who
studies at school
,
 
I know all what he said I know everything (that) he said ,  
Who of the two guys
is taller?
Which of the two guys
is taller?
?  
You can pick any of these TWO books You can pick either of these TWO books
Use "either" if there are only
two objects
Both of them did not go swimming Neither of them went swimming "Both" changes to "neither"
in a negative sentence
John has not come also John has not come either "Also" changes to "either"
in a negative sentence
How do you call this in English? What do you call this in English?
-?
 

Articles

Wrong Correct Translation
Half glass of milk Half a glass of milk
I play piano I play the piano
I will go to theater I will go to the theater

Verb tenses

Wrong Correct Translation
I'll like to eat I'd like to eat
Did you went to school
yesterday?
Did you go to school
yesterday?
?
He asked me what I am doing He asked me what I was doing ,
She said that she will come
tomorrow
She said that she would come
tomorrow
,
You ought to come yesterday You ought to have come yesterday
You should have come yesterday
You had to come yesterday
I am in this school two years I have been in this school for two years
The train left before I arrived The train had left before I arrived ,
I will see you when I will come back I will see you when I come back ,
I would wish to know Sanskrit better I wish (that) I knew Sanskrit better

Verbs in indefinite form

Wrong Correct Translation
He thinks to go to England He thinks of going to England
She insisted to go to London She insisted on going to London ,
The rain prevented me to go The rain prevented me from going
She is used to get up early She is used to getting up early
Have you finished to speak? Have you finished speaking? ?
This movie is worth to see This movie is worth seeing
It's no use to cry It's no use crying

Adjectives / adverbs

Wrong Correct Translation
As usually, he left his pen at home As usual, he left his pen at home ,

Exceptions

Wrong Correct Translation
Most good Best

Correct but awkward sentences

Awkward Better Translation
I have a cheerful mood I am in a cheerful mood

The idea for this page as well as the first few examples belong to John Spashko. Some other examples were gathered from my everyday experience, but the majority was taken from the following book:

" ". "", 1995 .

This book contains 600 examples and some exercises that help to memorize the rules. I have selected only those that I think are MOST typical for Russians, that is, when direct (word-by-word) translation leads into big trouble.

Also, I express my thanks to the following people who sent their examples and corrections: Sergei Panchernikov Oleg Kontsevoi Vitaly Cooperman Serezha D _Dima Botin - www.mccme.ru Rosalind Potapov Eric Szmyt Mark Mitchell Nina Rabkina Victoria Astrova Irina Drob Yuri Shvetsov

http://www.simonf.com/lang/mistakes_russian_win.html

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