What Other Languages Can You Understand If You Know Russian? (2023)

What Other Languages Can You Understand If You Know Russian? (1)
(Video) 184. Is Russian a popular language? | What languages do Russians understand? | Russian dialects

Let’s be honest: Russian is a hard language to learn. A native English speaker needs to spend approximately 1,100 hours, practicing and working with a tutor, to achieve fluency in Russian. But once you’ve achieved fluency, what other languages will you be able to understand?

(Video) Slavic languages | Are they similar and can you learn all of them?

Slavic Languages and the Similarities Between Them

Russian belongs to the East Slavic branch of the Slavic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. If you speak Russian, it will be easier for you to understand other Slavic languages, which include Ukrainian, Belorussian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Slovene.

Ukrainian and Belarusian are the closest languages, as together with Russian they form the East Slavic group of languages. These three languages have an 86% lexical similarity; that is, they share 86% of the same words.

(Video) Learning Slavic Languages | Differences in Russian and Ukrainian

If you can speak Russian fluently, you will be able to understand 77% of Polish words, while Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, and Slovene have a 74% similarity to Russian in terms of vocabulary, which decreases to 71% for Serbian.

Spoken Versus Written Language

In most cases it will be easier for you to understand the written languages, because pronunciation can differ very much. But remember that some words may look and sound similar yet denote different things in different languages. For instance, although the Czech word “pozor” and the Russian word “позор” (pozor) resemble each other, in Czech the word means “attention,” while in Russian it means “shame.”

(Video) How Different Are Russian and Ukrainian???

Nevertheless, you’ll be able to guess the meaning of words in other Slavic languages if you speak Russian very well. In Croatia, people say “dobro,” which means good or well; “Добро” (dobro) in Russian means “goodness.” So, if you know the context, you can easily understand what people are saying.

Now you have one more good reason to learn Russian: improving your understanding of 10 other languages. Work with us to unlock the world of Slavic languages.

(Video) Russian is the Easiest Language to Read


What languages are easiest for Russians to learn? ›

In terms of understanding, the easiest language is Bulgarian. As you can see from the following lexical distance map (closeness in terms of shared words), Bulgarian is the closest language to Russian.

Can you understand Ukrainian if you speak Russian? ›

Conversations often combine both languages, and some people even speak a Spanglish-type mashup called Surzhyk. Russian and Ukrainian are closely related but not enough for speakers to fully understand each other.

Can Polish and Russian understand each other? ›

Is Russian and Polish Mutually Intelligible? Russian is East Slavonic and Polish is West Slavonic. While the two share a similar grammar system and some vocabulary words, Polish and Russian aren't mutually intelligible.

Is Croatian language similar to Russian? ›

But as they are both Slavic languages, Croatian and Russian share a number of similarities both in vocabulary as well as in grammar. However as a South Slavic language, Croatian is closer to other South Slavic languages such as Serbian, than it is to Russian.

Which language is closest to Russian? ›

From the point of view of spoken language, its closest relatives are Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Rusyn, the other three languages in the East Slavic branch.

What is the hardest Slavic language to learn? ›

Czech and Polish are often considered the most difficult Slavic languages to learn for English speakers. That's mainly due to their complex grammatical structure and difficult pronunciation.

Is Ukrainian closer to Polish or Russian? ›

From a grammatical and morphological perspective, Ukrainian is closer to Russian: they both have East Slavic roots. However, in terms of vocabulary Ukrainian is closer to Polish, from which it has borrowed a large number of words.

Can Serbians and Russians understand each other? ›

Many people also ask if the Serbs can understand the Russians or Poles, or other Slavs. The answer is yes, to a certain degree. If we speak slowly, we will probably recognize and understand many words. We will survive in a Slavic country, we'll easily get and transmit important information.

Can Bulgarians and Russians understand each other? ›

Although we had different native languages, we were able to understand each other almost without any difficulty. Source: Generally, communication between the Bulgarian and Russian people happens with astonishing ease. Clearly, these are Slavic languages and they share a common origin.

What is the easiest Slavic language to learn? ›

If you're looking for the easiest Slavic language to learn, we would suggest Bulgarian with the lack of grammatical cases. The most beautiful Slavic language is Czech in our opinion, although this choice is, of course, very subjective.

What is the most useful Slavic language? ›

Of these, Russian is by far the most widely used. It is the native language of Russia and the first language for more than 160 million speakers. It was widely used throughout the Soviet Union and is still spoken in several Eastern European countries.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

And The Easiest Language To Learn Is…
  1. Norwegian. This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language to learn for English speakers. ...
  2. Swedish. ...
  3. Spanish. ...
  4. Dutch. ...
  5. Portuguese. ...
  6. Indonesian. ...
  7. Italian. ...
  8. French.
Nov 9, 2021

What languages are mutually intelligible with Russian? ›

Russian is partially mutually intelligible with Ukrainian, Rusyn and Belarusian. Russian has 85% intelligibility with Rusyn (which has a small number of speakers in Central and Eastern Europe). Russian is also 85% mutually intelligible with Belarusian and Ukrainian in writing.

How close is Ukrainian language to Russian? ›

So how similar are Ukrainian and Russian? They share about 62% lexical similarity. What many people don't know is that Ukrainian has a higher lexical similarity with Polish, Slovak and Belarusian, than it does with Russian – especially with Belarusian.

What other languages can Russians speak? ›

Languages of Russia
Memorial in Vyborg in Russian, German, Swedish and Finnish.
Semi-officialThirty-five languages
MinorityDozens of languages of the Indo-European, Northeast Caucasian, Northwest Caucasian, Uralic, Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic and Paleosiberian language families
3 more rows

What do Russians call Russia? ›

In Russian, the current name of the country, Россия (Rossiya ), comes from the Byzantine Greek name for Rus', Ρωσσία (Rossía) – spelled Ρωσία (Rosía pronounced [roˈsia]) in Modern Greek.

How long does it take to be fluent in Russian? ›

The Foreign Service Institute of the United States has determined that it takes about 1100 hours of study to reach fluency in Russian. If you're willing to study 3 hours every day, it could take you a year to reach that level.

Is Czech easy if you know Russian? ›

Russian belongs to the East Slavic branch of the Slavic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. If you speak Russian, it will be easier for you to understand other Slavic languages, which include Ukrainian, Belorussian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Slovene.

What is the closest language to Slavic? ›

Russian and Polish are both Slavic languages. Due to the same roots, they sound similar and also have many words that are common in both linguistics. When it comes to the written form, Russian is written by using the Cyrillic alphabet whereas Polish is written using the Latin alphabet.

Can most Ukrainians understand Russian? ›

According to the latest survey, as of March 2022, 78% of Ukrainians considered the Ukrainian language their native, while 20% named Russian. Around 30% of people speak both Russian and Ukrainian at home — they can understand both languages and use them interchangeably also in different spheres of life.

What language is most similar to English? ›

Which Languages Are The Closest To English?
  • Closest Language: Scots. The closest language to English is arguably Scots. ...
  • Closest (Definitely Distinct) Language: Frisian. ...
  • Closest Major Language: Dutch. ...
  • Close Language: German. ...
  • Close Language: Norwegian. ...
  • Close Language: French.
Aug 28, 2019

Is it difficult to learn Russian? ›

Russian is allegedly one of the most complex languages to learn; its Cyrillic alphabet is enough to scare you away. In fact, the Foreign Service Institute classifies it as a category-four language. But don't let that intimidate you. Learning the Russian language is far from impossible.

Can you speak Russian in Bulgaria? ›

Around 23% of the population of Bulgaria speak Russian.

What language is closest to Polish? ›

The closest relatives of Polish are the Elbe and Baltic Sea Lechitic dialects (Polabian and Pomeranian varieties). All of them, except Kashubian, are extinct. The precursor to modern Polish is the Old Polish language.

Do Croatians understand Russian? ›

I'm a Croatian and don't understand Russian at all (or very little). Maybe some greetings and phrases are similar, but that's about it. Russians also use the Cyrilic alphabet, and most Croatians can't read it. On the other hand, Russians can read the Latin alphabet.

Which countries can understand Russian? ›

Russian is the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and it's considered an unofficial lingua franca in Ukraine and many former Soviet countries. These include Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Can Russians and Czech understand each other? ›

Czech and Russian are not mutually intelligible. That being said, it's certainly easier to learn Russian as a Czech speaker (and vice versa) due to similar grammar structures and vocabulary.

Are Russians Slavic? ›

The Russians (Russian: русские, romanized: russkie) are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Eastern Europe, who share a common Russian ancestry, culture, and history.

Is Russian harder to learn than Polish? ›

Grammatically, Russian is not as difficult as Polish but pretty darn close. Polish has seven cases, while Russian has six. Also, Russians omit the verb “to be” in the present tense, which can throw beginners for a loop when they try to form basic sentences.

How close are Russian and Polish? ›

Polish and Russian are often considered very similar. They are both Slavic languages and they both belong to the Indo-European languages family. Without a doubt, these languages have a lot in common and they may sound very similar to someone who doesn't speak either.

What are the 5 Slavic languages? ›

Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures.
What are the Slavic Languages?
  • Russian,
  • Ukrainian,
  • Polish,
  • Czech, and.
  • Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian.

Is Russian or Ukrainian easier to learn? ›

The Ukrainian language is easier to learn than Russian, as Russian has more complex grammar. Learning Ukrainian also makes it easier to learn other Eastern European languages, as it is closer to Czech, Slovak, and Polish. Whereas, if you learn Russian, you can understand fewer languages naturally.

What is the easiest Eastern European language to learn? ›


Similar to Latin, it's the easiest language in Eastern Europe. Romanian, the closest living language to Latin, is often described as the easiest Romance language for English speakers to learn.

What country speaks Old Slavic? ›

From their homeland in east-central Europe (Poland or Ukraine), the Slavic languages have spread to the territory of the Balkans (Bulgarian; Macedonian; Slovene; and Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, and Montenegrin [sometimes grouped together as Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian]), central Europe (Czech and Slovak), ...

Can you learn a language while sleeping? ›

Not a lot, unfortunately. As Jennifer Ackerman notes in her splendid 2007 book Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream, learning a language while sleeping “is probably impossible, [and] attempts to teach slumbering adult subjects vocabulary of foreign languages or lists of items have failed miserably.”

What are the 5 easiest languages? ›

5 easy languages to learn
  • English. It's the most widely spoken language in the world, making practice possible. ...
  • French. French has over 100 million native speakers and is – as the official language in 28 countries – spoken on almost every continent. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • Swahili.
Feb 29, 2016

What is the least popular language to learn? ›

Ongota. Also known as Shanqilla, Birelle, Birale and Ifa, Ongota is a language spoken in southwestern Ethiopia. The 2012 report of UNESCO said that there are only 12 individuals who speak the language.

What language has the same alphabet as Russian? ›

It is currently used exclusively or as one of several alphabets for more than 50 languages, notably Belarusian, Bulgarian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Montenegrin (spoken in Montenegro; also called Serbian), Russian, Serbian, Tajik (a dialect of Persian), Turkmen, Ukrainian, and Uzbek.

Are Russian and Greek languages related? ›

Russian has an alphabet quite similar to the Greek. This was intentional. Saints Methodius and Cyril used Greek as a basis to develop a written form of the Slavic languages, in order to facilitate the translation of religious texts. But Russian does not have Greek roots.

What two languages are the most mutually intelligible? ›

Danish and Swedish are the most mutually comprehensible, but German and Dutch are also mutually intelligible. English is the most widely understood language of all the Germanic languages studied, but the British have the most trouble understanding other languages.

How do Ukrainians say hello? ›

[dobryden'] – Hello! (shorten form of “добрий день”) This greeting is the most common and the most universal. You may use it in many situations: in a shop, in a railway station, at work…

What language is most similar to Ukrainian? ›

It's a Slavic language, which means it's related to languages such as Russian, Czech, and Polish. This is a huge language family with lots of linguistic diversity, so modern Ukrainian shares some commonalities with its closest relatives, Russian and Belorussian, and fewer with its more distant cousins (like Czech).

Is Polish and Ukrainian similar? ›

However, in fact, in some aspects, Ukrainian is more similar to Slovak or Polish (from the West group) than to the Russian language. Anyway, there are many similarities between Ukrainian and Russian languages, as the two nations have been connected politically and geographically for centuries.

What language did Jesus speak? ›

Most religious scholars and historians agree with Pope Francis that the historical Jesus principally spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic. Through trade, invasions and conquest, the Aramaic language had spread far afield by the 7th century B.C., and would become the lingua franca in much of the Middle East.

What is sweetest language in the world? ›

According to a UNESCO survey, Bengali has been classified as the sweetest language in the world. As a language, Bengali is widely spoken all over India, including Assam and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The sweetest language in the world is also recognized in the Constitution of India.

What is the 1 hardest language? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

What languages do Russian students learn? ›

English in Russian schools
  • Students can choose from different language such as German, French and Spanish.
  • Among the other foreign languages taught in Russia, English is the most widely chosen language by Russian students (Kruglyi stol 2007 cited in Proshina 2010).

What are the 3 most spoken languages in Russia? ›

Of all the languages of Russia, Russian, the most widely spoken language, is the only official language at the national level.
  • English (80% out of all foreign language speakers or 11% of the population; 30% to some degree.
  • German (16%)
  • French (4%)
  • Turkic (2%)

Is learning Russian worth it? ›

Since Russian is a global language with so many speakers, learning the language could be a great step for anyone's career. With many Russian-speaking nations experiencing economic upswings, knowing the language could be the key to striking the ideal business deal.

Is there any value to learning Russian? ›

Learning Russian can help you understand useful concepts for studying other languages. It will also help you understand your own language better! Taking on the task of learning Russian will profoundly change how you perceive language and understand the world around you.

Is learning Russian harder than Spanish? ›

Russian is more difficult, in that the grammar is more complex, although verb tenses in Spanish are no piece of cake, and there other tricky elements. It is also true that having to read in a less familiar alphabet also makes the language more difficult, and more tiring to read.

What is most useful language to learn? ›

The 7 Best Languages To Learn
  1. Spanish. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin, and not a surprise at the top of languages to learn. ...
  2. German. ...
  3. Arabic. ...
  4. Mandarin. ...
  5. Portuguese. ...
  6. Russian. ...
  7. French.
Oct 19, 2022

What is the simplest language? ›

Riau Indonesian is different from most other languages in how simple it is. There are no endings of any substance, no tones, no articles, and no word order. There is only a little bit of indicating things in time.

What is the easiest foreign language to take? ›

Easiest (about 600 hours of study)

Of these, Spanish and Italian are the easiest for native English speakers to learn, followed by Portuguese and finally French.

Which language has easiest grammar? ›

Languages with Simple Grammar Rules
  1. 1) Esperanto. It is the widely-spoken artificial language in the world. ...
  2. 2) Mandarin Chinese. You did not see this one coming, right? ...
  3. 3) Malay. ...
  4. 4) Afrikaans. ...
  5. 5) French. ...
  6. 6) Haitian Creole. ...
  7. 7) Tagalog. ...
  8. 8) Spanish.

What second language do Russians speak? ›

With over 4.2 million native speakers, Tatar takes the crown as the second most common language in Russia. The history of the language has its roots in the days of the Golden Horde, when the mighty Mongols invaded Rus, leaving a significant mark on the cultural and political history of modern Russia.

Is Russian one of the hardest languages? ›

Russian is widely believed to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. This is mostly true, if you have no knowledge of other Slavic languages (e.g. Bulgarian or Czech). The grammar rules in Russian are very complex and have numerous exceptions.


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