Can learning Russian numbers be fun?

Russian numbers are not too complicated. Unlike the French, we don’t need to use (quatre-vingt-dix-huit) 4 20 10 and 8 just to say 98 :) However, learning numbers is one the most boring tasks which needs to be done to be able to communicate in Russia.

After all, bus number 12 will take you to a completely different place than bus number 20, and paying for taxi 500 rubles will be different from 50!

We don’t really attach emotions to digits and figures, so remembering them - is a hard work. Practise, drilling - but also particular exercises will be essential.

When me and my British husband weren’t married and walked a lot - we drilled them on our Moscow promenades. The ones he struggled with - he attached with the association - so called hook:

9 - девять - sounds like David (his uncle)

11 - одиннадцать - sounds like a dinner set

90 - девяносто - sounds like David no star ✡︎

500 - пятьсот - sounds like pits hot - our favourite :))))

Once we went on the Sapsan train and we were drilling the numbers out loud. At some point, a young man appealed to me with irritation: девушка! Could you please stop with your numbers?

Although we laughed at it a lot (and “rudeness” of Russian people, so surprising for Brits - you can read more about it here), Mark was so shocked with such a complaint, that he wanted to tell the guy the end of the book he was reading :))

Here I would like to share with you something that may help you to have fun with numbers: they are called цифровые стихи - digital poems. These are the poems, written with numbers but keeping the style of the most famous Russian poets. If you read the numbers in Russian, you can feel the individual poets’ unique rhythm:

Пушкин - Listen to me read it here.

17 30 48

140 10 01

126 138

140 3 501


2 46 38 1

116 14 20!

15 14 21

14 0 17


14 126 14

132 17 43...

16 42 511

704 83

My next blog will be devoted to the most common troubles in learning numbers (except for boredom).

And if you need a gentle “nudge” in learning numbers, or you want to know other useful language hacks that I use - please contact me :)


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