Это, Этот, Эта, Это, and Эти: Expressing “This” in Russian

  • September 17, 2017

In this post we'll talk about how to say "this" in Russian. It's usually pretty straight forward, but there are a few exceptions that throw some people off. 

Saying "this is" or "these are"

Это ваш чемодан?

Is this your suitcase?

Это моя книга.

This is my book.

Это мое письмо.

This is my letter. 

Это мои книги.

These are my books.

You'll notice that in all these examples Это is used to point things out or introduce something. 

Also notice how Это doesn't change form. This is because we aren't directly modifying any nouns. In other words we aren't saying "These books are...", or "This letter is...". Instead we're simple saying "These are...(books)", or "This is...(a letter)".

When we translate these simple phrases to English the present tense of the verb "to be" is added: "These are by books". Remember that in Russian we don't usually use the present tense of the verb "to be". This concept wasn't explained to me when I first started learning the language and it was very confusing until someone pointed it out. 

Other useful phrases where we use Это include questions such as: 

Что это?

What is this?

Чья это книга?

Whose book is this?

Какая это книга?

What kind of book is this?

Your Heading Here

Этот студент говорит по-русски.

This student (male) speaks Russian.

Эта студентка говорит по-японски.

This student (female) speaks Japanese.

Это письмо очень интересно.

This letter is very interesting.

Эти книги очень интересные.

These books are very interesting.

In these examples ЭтотЭтаЭто, and Эти mean "this" or "these".  They do not mean "This is..." or "These are...". 

These words also modify the nouns they are in front of, so like adjectives and other modifiers they change form based on number, gender, and also case ( more on case in a latter post). 

A Closer Look:

Saying "this" and "that" in Russian

Final thoughts

There you have it! Now you'll have a great head start on saying things like "This is", or simple "This...". Try incorporating these words into your next Russian conversation! 

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