Wiktionary – a useful tool for studying Russian
Ever looked for a good translation, but google translate comes up with something that is obviously not correct? How about finding a word, but having no idea what case it is in? Perhaps it’s an exception, and you have no idea how it changes for each of the cases. If this is familiar, then the site Wiktionary can help.
Wiktionary is an online lexical database resembling Wikipedia. It is free to use, and providing that you have internet, you can find almost any word. It contains a huge collection of vocabulary across different languages, offering translations, word etymology, and other information. Try typing a Russian word in any case or tense into the search bar. It will show you the word, tell you which case or tense it is in, and show you the nominative version. For most words, there is a feature to listen to its pronunciation.
For verbs, it also tells you whether it is imperfective or perfective and its corresponding pair. Sometimes you can find example sentences too.
One of the best features are the tables for declensions and conjugations. For verbs, it gives a table showing how the verb is conjugated for all tenses it is relevant for, which is particularly useful for checking exceptions. The stress marks are also labelled so that you can improve your pronunciation.
Picking the correct language
However, be careful to check that the definition is given for a word in Russian. Many words are the same in other Slavic languages, but their case endings or verb conjugations may be slightly different, so check that it says Russian and not Bulgarian, Serbian or Ukrainian!
Although I think that the best way to learn Russian is through lessons 100% taught in Russian and without translations, sometimes it can be very useful for clarity to check a word. You can print off that table for the verbs or nouns you don’t remember so you don’t have to keep making the same little mistakes.
Lawrence Toye, currently studying at Liden & Denz Moscow