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101 Core Russian Words — The Most Commonly Used Words in Russian


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Ready to make a major breakthrough in understanding Russian words?

Yes, you read that right. Even with a limited vocabulary in the language, you can understand a significant amount of what you hear and read… as long as you choose the right words!

If you’re looking to reach fluency in another language fast, learning the core Russian words will help you learn more quickly. The core 100 words in a language, based on word frequency, can make up a significant portion of what you hear or read.

This is great news!

You Can Understand 50% of Russian by Learning 101 Core Russian Words

Why do these words have such a big impact on your comprehension? The words on this list are used extremely often — you’ll see them pop up all over in your learning.

One thing to note is that the words on this list are all going to be in nominative form. Russian is a bit tricky because it has cases. This means that depending on the context of a word, it’ll look a little bit different because it takes a different case. These aren’t really the “dictionary” form of these words though, so this is something to be aware of. These words are frequent but won’t always look the same. But this is more about grammar, so we won’t worry about this for now.

One more thing you should know about this list of words is that because it’s a word frequency list, some of the words here might be surprising. It isn’t a typical word list you’d find for beginner learners, like one with Russian greetings or Russian travel phrases. But knowing the words on this list will always help you keep ahead of the curve.

The 8 Core Russian Pronouns

Russian pronouns are essential. You’ll hear or read each of these words frequently in Russian.

  • я – “I”
  • ты – “you”
  • он – “he”
  • она – “she”
  • мы – “we”
  • вы – “you” (formal, plural)
  • они – “they”
  • это/этот – “that, this, it”

The 2 Most Common Russian Numbers

Numbers pop up in a lot of different contexts, and there are two that made it into the top 100 most common words in Russian. They are:

  • ​​один – “one, some, alone”
  • два – “two”

The 6 Most Common Russian Possessive, Reflexive, and Other Pronouns

Russian really makes use of pronouns. You’ll see them or hear them everywhere. You already learned the core Russian pronouns, but here are a few more possessive pronouns and personal pronouns in the language.

  • себя – “myself, himself, herself”
  • мой – “my, mine”
  • наш – “our, ours”
  • свой – “my, our, your”
  • сам – “myself, yourself”
  • что – “what, which, that”

The 23 Core Russian Nouns

Which nouns should you learn in Russian? Possibly some of the nouns on this list, but let’s be honest. Your very own personal frequency list of Russian words might look a little different than what’s below.

We definitely recommend taking time to create your own script, listing out and including words you often say, so you can memorize them.

Until then, here are some of the most common Russian nouns that will be useful to you along the way.

  • весь – “all, everything”
  • человек – “man, person”
  • такой – “such, so, some”
  • год – “year”
  • время – “time, season”
  • рука – “hand, arm”
  • самый – “most, the very, the same”
  • который – “which, who, that”
  • какой – “what, which, how”
  • кто – “who, that, some”
  • другой – “other, another, different”
  • дело – “business, affair, matter”
  • раз – “time, once, since”
  • глаз – “eye”
  • жизнь – “life”
  • день – “day”
  • ничто – “nothing”
  • голова – “head, mind, brains”
  • друг – “friend”
  • дом – “house, home”
  • слово – “word”
  • место – “place; seat”
  • лицо – “face; person”

The 13 Core Russian Verbs

You might be surprised to find that only 13 verbs made it into the top 100 for Russian. That’s because you can get by saying quite a bit with just a few verbs — in almost any language.

It’s especially the case in Russian. While the first verb on the list is “to be”, Russian doesn’t actually really use “to be” in the present tense except in rare cases. For example, я студе́нт means “I am a student” but literally translates as “I student”.

That said, it’s still good to know how to say “to be” in Russian as well as these other verbs.

  • быть – “to be”
  • сказать – “to say, to speak”
  • мочь – “to be able”
  • говорить – “to say, to tell, to speak”
  • знать – “to know, be aware”
  • стать – “to become, begin, come”
  • есть – “to eat, to be”
  • хотеть – “to want, like”
  • видеть – “to see”
  • идти – “to go, come”
  • стоять – “to stand, be, stand up”
  • думать – “to think; believe”
  • спросить – “to ask”

The 17 Core Russian Adjectives and Adverbs

Here are the most common Russian adjectives and adverbs. Learn these words to add a little more flair to your Russian.

  • не – “not”
  • тот – “that”
  • так – “so, thus, then”
  • ещё – “still, yet”
  • только – “only, merely, but”
  • когда – “when, while, as”
  • уже – “already, by now”
  • большой – “big, large, important”
  • где – “where”
  • там – “there, then”
  • первый – “first, front, former”
  • тут – “here, now, then”
  • потом – “afterwards, then”
  • очень – “very”
  • теперь – “now, nowadays”
  • тоже – “also, as well, too”
  • здесь – “here”

The 30 Core Russian Conjunctions, Connectors, and Prepositions

This is the longest list of the post. Prepositions, in particular, are very frequently used in Russian, so it’s always helpful to know them and learn how to use them in your sentences.

There are, of course, others that are not included on this list, but these are the most common and will certainly get you started. One to note here is можно which is incredibly useful. It can be used to express that one can do something, to agree to something, and so much more.

  • и – “and, though”
  • в – “in, at”
  • ​​что – “what, that, why”
  • с – “with, and, from, of”
  • а – “while, and, but”
  • как – “how, what, as, like”
  • к – “to, for, by”
  • ​​за – “behind, over, at, after”
  • же – “and, as for, but, same”
  • от – “from, of, for”
  • о – “of, about, against”
  • для – “for, to”
  • вот – “here, there, this is, that's”
  • до – “to, up to, about, before”
  • или – “or”
  • если – “if”
  • ни – “not a, not, neither… nor”
  • ну – “now, right, well, come on”
  • под – “under, for, towards, to”
  • чтобы – “that, in order that”
  • чем – “than; instead of”
  • во – “in, at; super, exactly”
  • со – “with”
  • ли – “whether, if”
  • при – “attached to, in the presence of, by, about”
  • надо – “over, above, ought to”
  • без – “without”
  • можно – “one can”
  • после – “after, afterward”
  • через – “through, across”

2 More Important Words to Know in Russian

There are two more words that are in the top 100 of the most frequently used words in Russian and they’re very important to know. Can you guess what they might be? If you guessed “yes” and “no”, you were right!

Here’s how to say these two words in Russian:

  • да – “yes, but”
  • нет – “no, not, but”

Strengthen Your Russian Core with the Most Common Russian Words

Now that you know the 101 key Russian words to help you get started, you can start applying them with Russian language exchange partners or by diving into lots of great Russian video and podcasts. Or, you could try taking the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge to level up your Russian in 90 days.

You could even add more variety to your speech by learning about Russian slang!

There are many directions you can go from here with your Russian. And now that you know your core words, you’re ready to choose your own adventure and get started. If you’re looking for other resources to check out, we recommend starting with these Russian resources.

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Shannon Kennedy

Language Encourager, Fluent in Months

Shannon is Head Coach for the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge. She is currently based in Southern California where she performs as a professional musician. Her passions are cooking, reading, traveling and sharing her adventures in language learning.

Speaks: English, French, Mandarin, Russian, Croatian, Japanese

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