What’s Russian learning without some proverbs and sayings? Knowing these will help you can speak more and express yourself better in Russian.
Russian is filled with a TON of them so feel free to browse through the many parts I post.
In part 4, you learn the next set of Russian proverbs with English translations and explanations.
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31. This is nothing compared with what is to come.
- Это ещё цвето́чки, а я́годки впереди́.
- Russian Pronunciation: Eto yesho tsvetochki, a yagodki vperedi.
- Literal Meaning: These are just flowers; berries will come soon.
This proverb has both – good and bad – connotations. And in fact, if used for bad, it’s quite ironic – as the phrase literally says “these are just the flowers” and that the “berries are ahead” – despite those being very non-threatening.
The best (or the worst) is yet to come!
32. Drinking tea is unlike chopping firewood.
- Чай пить — не дрова́ руби́ть.
- Russian Pronunciation: Chai pit’ – ne drova rubit’.
- Literal Meaning: Drinking tea is unlike chopping firewood.
This is the Russian version of comparing apples and oranges. Except, it’s focused more on actions rather than items or points. You can’t compare “drinking tea” to “chopping wood.”
33. Live with wolves, and you learn to howl.
- С волка́ми жить, по-во́лчьи выть.
- Russian Pronunciation: S volkami zhit’, po volchi vit’
- Literal Meaning: To live with wolves, you have to howl like a wolf.
The Russian version of “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” Except, wolves play a bigger role in Russian culture than Romans – hence wolves.
34. All roads lead to Rome.
- Все дороги ведут в Рим.
- Russian Pronunciation: Vse dorogi vedut v Rim.
- Literal Meaning: All roads lead to Rome.
Speaking of Rome, this proverb, however, seems fairly universal. And thus, this is the direct and literal translation. In general, this means – different methods of doing something will eventually lead to the same result.
35. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
- Без отдыха и конь не скачет.
- Russian Pronunciation: Bez otdiha, ee kon’ ne skachet.
- Literal Meaning: Without rest even the horse won’t gallop.
No Jack in Russian culture – but plenty of horses! And horses need rest before they can run again. As do you! So, when you’re done with this quick Russian lesson, please have a snack and a nap. Linguajunkie says you can!
36. So near and yet so far.
- Близо́к локото́к, да не уку́сишь.
- Russian Pronunciation: Blizok lokotok, da ne ukusish’.
- Literal Meaning: Your elbow is close, yet you can’t bite it.
Ever tried to lick your elbow? Go ahead, try it! How about biting it? Impossible, right? Well, the Russians knew that well in advance – hence this handy proverb. It’s intended meaning is – so near yet so far. Your elbow is so close… but so far.
37. All’s well that ends well
- Всё хорошо́, что хорошо́ конча́ется.
- Russian Pronunciation: Vsyo horosho, shto horosho konchaetsa.
- Literal Meaning: All is well that ends well.
It’s all about good endings and conclusions.
38. Where money speaks, the conscience is silent.
- Где говорят деньги, там молчит совесть.
- Russian Pronunciation: Gde govorit den’gi, tam mochit sovest.
- Literal Meaning: Where money speaks, the conscience is silent.
Wise proverb. And of course, it came from the past because nobody’s paying attention to this one nowadays. When money starts talking, all honor, values and conscience go out the window.
39. Eyes are the mirror of a heart.
- Глаза — зеркало души.
- Russian Pronunciation: Glaza — zerkalo dushi.
- Literal Meaning: Eyes are the mirror of a heart.
Fairly true. Unless you’re dealing with a skilled actor or a professional spy.
40. You never know what you can do till you try.
- Глаза́ боя́тся, а ру́ки де́лают.
- Russian Pronunciation: Glaza boyatsa, a ruki delayut.
- Literal Meaning: Eyes are afraid, but hands are doing the job.
- You never know what you can do till you try.
Typically, you’re afraid or say “no” to things that you think are scary or hard. Like learning Russian! The eyes can be a metaphor for the mind as well. However, it’s the hands (or actual effort) that do the job, not the eyes nor the dumb part of your brain that says “no”. Then, you realize that learning Russian isn’t so bad!
What do you think?
What’s your favorite proverb?
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– The Main Junkie