Ilya Frank. Russian in One’s Palm
Илья Франк. Русский на ладони

120 mini-dialogues

English translation by Olga Tyuleneva


Download the whole text (120 mini-dialodues) in .doc

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Foreword to the book Russian in One’s Palm
Anyone who wants to study a foreign language faces a question: How to remember all this? Or: How is it better to learn?
For example, you can make your own vocabulary and write down all new words with the translation. But, in practice, it is difficult to memorize words without context. With such a method of memorizing you will most probably, when meeting the word again, only remember that, yes, you've studied this word. But, unfortunately, it is not always possible to remember its meaning. Not to mention the fact that the knowledge of individual words does not help: you need to know how exactly Russian speakers speak, how they connect these words in this or that particular case.
In this book I combine the necessary amount of basic vocabulary in a series of mini-dialogues, five sentences each.
The dialogues are designed according to my method of reading (Ilya Frank’s Reading Method, visit ): a dialogue with inserted literal Russian translation and brief lexical comments comes first; then the same dialogue follows, untranslated.
It takes less than five minutes to memorize a dialogue.
The text is small but very rich in terms of utility and it just fits in one’s palm.
Such texts you ‘take’ like pills, it’s up to you to take them once a day, twice a day or more often.
Another plus is that by doing so you ‘feed’ the language: even if one day you do not study properly, but only ‘take’ one mini-dialogue, you are practicing nevertheless. It's not just these five sentences and a few new words, but the fact that the area of your brain responsible for languages, particularly for the Russian language, is worked. If you deal for a while with Russian, you implicitly activate words and expressions that are not in your specific, daily text. You will easily notice it yourself (if you pay attention): you study some words and phrases, and all of a sudden other words and phrases pop up.
As you ‘absorb’ new dialogues don’t forget to periodically revise or just listen to the old ones.
This handbook does not, of course, eliminate the necessity of using other textbooks, not to mention speaking practice. It will just help you to master the basic material.
Why does every dialogue consist of five sentences? The optimal number of phrases for a mini-dialogue was established empirically. On the one hand, this is still a dialogue, on the other hand, it can be learnt in one sitting.
Moreover, this is kind of a game: the author of the dialogues must meet the conditional pattern, keep the genre, and the reader can appreciate his art and enjoy the success (or sigh in case of failure, and, perhaps, forgive the author).
An example of how to work with each new dialogue:
1) Read the text with the translation.
2) Listen to the entire text.
3) Listen to the text, repeating each phrase during the pause.
4) Read the text (expressively!) by the ‘look-up’ method: that is, look at the phrase, then look away, and pronounce it quite loudly. Then, in the same mode, read the next sentence.
Good luck to you in mastering the Russian language!
Send your comments and remarks to Этот адрес электронной почты защищён от спам-ботов. У вас должен быть включен JavaScript для просмотра.
I will take them into account in the new publications of the following issues and other books in this series.




A: Как вас зов`ут (what’s your name: ‘how do they call you’; зватьнесов. = несовершенный вид = Imperfective Aspect)?

Б: Мен`я зовут Ив`ан Кузнец`ов (my name’s Ivan Kuznetsov: ‘they call me…’; the surname «Кузнецов» is the most common surname in Russia; it stems from the word «кузн`ец» — /black/smith).

A: Удив`ительно (fancy that: ‘astonishingly’; удив`ить — to astonish; диво — marvel, wonder)! Я т`оже Иван, и тоже Кузнецов (I /am/ also Ivan, and also Kuznetsov)!

Рад с в`ами познак`омиться (nice to meet you: ‘glad with you to meet’; verbs ending in -ся usually indicate that the subject is doing the action to/towards himself or herself, or reciprocally, these verbs are called reflexive)!

Б: Вза`имно (me too: ‘mutually’; взаимный — mutual).


A: Как вас зовут?

Б: Меня зовут Иван Кузнецов.

A: Удивительно! Я тоже Иван, и тоже Кузнецов!

Рад с вами познакомиться!

Б: Взаимно.






A: Как`ой у вас н`омер телеф`она (what’s your phone number: ‘what /is/ your number of the phone‘; телеф`он)?

Б: Ноль, од`ин, два, три, чет`ыре, пять (oh/zero, one, two, three, four, five)…

A: Шесть, семь, в`осемь, д`евять (six, seven, eight, nine)?

Б: Отк`уда вы это зн`аете (how do you know: ‘where /do/ you this know from’; знать)?

A: `Это же лог`ично (it makes perfect sense: ‘it /is/ after all logical: ‘logically’; же — intensifying particle)!


A: Какой у вас номер телефона?

Б: Ноль, один, два, три, четыре, пять…

A: Шесть, семь, восемь, девять?

Б: Откуда вы это знаете?

A: Это же логично!






A: Р`усский язык дов`ольно сл`ожный (the Russian language is rather difficult).

Б: Я так не д`умаю (I /do/ not think so; думать).

Русский `очень лёгкий (Russian /is/ very easy).

A: Кто вы по национ`альности (what’s your nationality = what is your ethnic nationality: ‘who /are/ you by nationality’; национ`альность)?

Б: Я русский (I /am/ Russian; the present tense of the verb ‘to be’ does not exist in the Russian language, it is understood from context; русский /муж.р. = мужской род — masculine gender/; русская /жен.р. = женский род — feminine gender/).


A: Русский язык довольно сложный.

Б: Я так не думаю.

Русский очень лёгкий.

A: Кто вы по национальности?

Б: Я русский.






A: Я сл`ышал, вы лет`ите в Пек`ин (I have heard: ‘I heard’ you're flying to Beijing; слышать /несов./; лет`еть /несов./ — unidirectional verb of motion)?

Вы `едете в командир`овку (are you going on: ‘in’ a business trip; `ехать /несов./ — to go; to ride; to drive /about movement in a specific direction, often on a specific occasion/ — unidirectional verb of motion)?

Б: Нет, я `еду посмотр`еть г`ород (no, I'm going to see the city; посмотреть /сов./, смотреть /несов./ — to talk about an action in general or a repeated action imperfective is used, but if we want to focus on one specific occasion or on the result perfective is used).

A: Вы говор`ите по-кит`айски (do you speak Chinese; говор`ить /несов./; Китай — China)?

Б: А что, р`азве кит`айцы не говор`ят по-р`усски (why: ‘and what‘, don’t the Chinese speak Russian; кит`аец — Chinese /man/, кита`янка — Chinese /woman/)?


A: Я слышал, вы летите в Пекин?

Вы едете в командировку?

Б: Нет, я еду посмотреть город.

A: Вы говорите по-китайски?

Б: А что, разве китайцы не говорят по-русски?






A: Как вас зов`ут (what’s your name: ‘how do they call you’)?

Б: Извин`ите, я заб`ыл (sorry, I have forgotten: ‘I forgot’; извин`ить /сов./; вин`а — fault; blame; guilt; забыть /сов./)

A: Вы смеётесь н`адо мной (/are/ you laughing at me; сме`яться /несов./; н`адо = над — preposition — at; over; above)?

Это невозм`ожно (it /is/ impossible; возм`ожно — possible)!

A: Прост`ите, повтор`ите ваш вопр`ос, пож`алуйста (I’m sorry, would you mind repeating your question: ‘forgive /me/, repeat your question, please’; простите /imperative mood/ от «прост`ить» /сов./; повторите /imperative mood/ от «повтор`ить» /сов./; второй — the second)…


A: Как вас зовут?

Б: Извините, я забыл.

A: Вы смеётесь надо мной?

Это невозможно!

A: Простите, повторите ваш вопрос, пожалуйста…






A: Что ты д`елаешь (what /are/ you doing; there are two forms of the pronoun ‘you’ /Singular/ in the Russian language: «ты» /informal ‘you’/ is used to address friends, family members, children, etc. and «Вы/вы» /formal ‘you’/ is used to address adults you meet for the first time, a superior, an older person /to show respect/; in addition «вы» is the plural ‘you’ and is used when addressing two or more people irrespective of their age or status)?

Б: Я кр`ашу заб`ор (I /am/ painting the fence; кр`асить /несов./).

A: Это интер`есно (/is/ it interesting: ‘interestingly’)?

Б: Ты х`очешь попр`обовать (/do/ you want to try; хот`еть /несов./)?

A: Нет, спас`ибо, в друг`ой раз (no, thank you, another time; «спасибо» = спаси вас/тебя Бог — God save you).



A: Что ты делаешь?

Б: Я крашу забор.

A: Это интересно?

Б: Ты хочешь попробовать?

A: Нет, спасибо, в другой раз.