How to introduce yourself in Russian

When you meet new people you usually have to say something to represent an idea of who you are. Let's learn some basic phrases you can say when you meet someone new.

We normally begin with our name. In Russia, as in any other country, people want to know your name at first. You have to remember only two words:

Меня зовут (your name). [mee-nya zah-voot]

Literally this phrase means "they call me". We don't really use the construction "my name is", we have it too though - моё имя. However, I don't recommend that you use this phrase, because it doesn't sound natural in speeking. Just меня зовут will be enough for any situaion. The good point of using this construction is that you don't have to change your name in any way (no strange endings, etc.). You just put your name after these words. That's all you have to do.

Меня зовут Ольга. - My name is Olga.

Меня зовут Джон. - My name is John.
Меня зовут Александр. - My name is Alexander.
Меня зовут Наташа. - My name is Natasha.

Another important moment when you make an introduction is your age. It seems even easier to say your age in Russian, than your name, because we start with only one word - мне (the dative case of the pronoun "я" [I]). BUT there are two points which can make you angry when trying to say your age in Russian. First, our numerals are quite difficult to pronunce. Second, the phrase with wich you indicate your age has different words at the end of it - год, года or лет (years).

So, the general construction for telling your age looks like this:

Мне (number) лет/год(а). - I'm... years old.

So, which of them (лет, год or года) should I choose? There's a rule.

1) If you are 10, 20, 30 or any age that ends in zero, you use лет.

Мне 20 лет. - I'm 20 years old.
Мне 50 лет. - I'm 50 years old.
Also we use лет for numbers ending in 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. In other words, all the ages from 5 to 10 (including 10) and also ending in 5-9 and zero are used with the word лет.

Мне 18 лет. - I'm 18 years old.
Мне 25 лет. - I'm 25 years old.
2) If you are one year old, 21, 31, 41 and so on (any number with 1), you should use год. "Год" means "year" in Russian. Just one year. It will help you remember this rule.

Мне 41 год. - I'm 41 yers old.
Мне 61 год. - I'm 61 years old.
3) All the other numbers are used with года - 2, 3, 4, 22, 23, 24, 32, 33, 34, etc.

BUT: all the numbers from 11 to 20 are used with лет.

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 лет.

This rule is very important in the Russian language. This way you should talk about years in any situation.

Another important part of an introduction is telling what you do in your life. There are some variations of phrases:

Я врач (Я работаю врачом). - I'm a doctor (I work as a doctor).
Я учитель (Я работаю учителем в школе). - I'm a teacher (I work as a teacher at school).
Я домохозяйка. - I'm a housewife.
Я студент (at the university). - I'm a student.
Я учусь в школе. - I study at school.

Notice, that when we use the word студент, we mean only the student at the university, not at school.

Well, I think that's enough for the basic introduction in Russian. I'll tell you more about different ways to talk about yourself in Russian in the next lessons