Guide to Russian Words and Expressions that Cause Difficulties

Author: Rojavin, Marina and Allan Reid
This represents a qualitative step forward in the pedagogical process of teaching and learning a foreign language. It is based on a comparative semantic analysis of Russian synonyms, antonyms, related words, cognates, and everyday expressions as contrasted with their English equivalents and is centered on explaining the contents of these words. It helps in bridging the gap between studying Russian grammar and the specific use of particular words in discourse, especially in contrasting or similar pairs or sets. It is indispensable for familiarizing learners with the semantic meanings of words. It better facilitates the students’ ability to learn and gain proficiency in the practical use of the Russian language. Learners will appreciate the inclusion of important Russian linguistic and cultural elements.


“The Russian language is full of pitfalls for English speakers. Marina Rojavin and Allan Reid’s new study flags more than 500 of the most likely errors and shows how to avoid them. It provides English-speaking learners of Russian with a reference guide to those words which can easily cause difficulties and confusion and alerts students of Russian to potential mistakes that may be unintelligible or even embarrassing in Russian. This groundbreaking book is unique since it provides essential information in a completely new way, i.e. from the point of vocabulary semantics….Whether one is a translator, teacher, student, or a learner at any level, one will find that he or she communicates more effectively in Russian by using this valuable reference guide.” – (From the Preface) Serafina Gettys, PhD, Stanford University

“[This book] will be a godsend for students in their first few years of learning Russian, as well as for their teachers ... This book is valuable because the authors have isolated a few hundred of the things that make Russian hard and provided creative, original, accurate, and well conceived explanations for them ... This handbook is especially helpful in those cases where the speaker of Russian sees a more differentiated world than the speaker of English, an in order to learn how to speak Russian idiomatically, the English speaker must learn to distinguish among phenomena that seem identical…..In their treatment of these topics, Rojavin and Reid emphasize not theory but practice, providing examples from an array of situations that will seem realistic to the beginning student. Even a student who has read and assimilated a textbook analysis of these issues will benefit from another consideration of their use. In short, I heartily recommend this book to a wide range of students of Russian.” – Professor Gabriella Safran, Stanford University

“[This work] is, to my knowledge, the only learner’s dictionary of its kind ... a truly helpful auxiliary resource for beginning students of Russian and their instructors. And as a language instructor myself, let me add that I have not only found it pedagogically useful for my own presentation of a half-dozen topics in my second-year class this past semester; I can even admit to having learned a couple of things about word usage that had been hitherto unclear in my own 15+ years study and teaching of the language.” – Dr. Nicole Monnier, University of Missouri-Columbia

Table of Contents

About the Book
How to Use the Book
Symbols, Abbreviations, and Terminology
English-Russian Glossary
Russian Word index