When I was studying foreign languages, my teachers kept saying that learning proverbs is essential – both for understanding native speakers and their puns and for sounding natural when speaking. If you can use a Russian proverb appropriately, there's a good chance your local friends will be surprised and delighted. Let’s take a look at some of the wise words that all Russians keep in mind.

According to Russian proverbs, you should

  • get into the basket if you call yourself a mushroom (“назва́лся гру́здем — полеза́й в ку́зов” – nazvalsya gruzdem — polezay v kuzov, which means that if you make a claim, you should be ready to prove it), 

as well as

  • be patient, Cossack, and you’ll become the commander (“терпи́, каза́к, атама́ном бу́дешь” – terpi kazak, atamanom budesh, as in “no pain, no gain”).

While doing so, don’t be scared, for

  • even if the eyes are afraid, the hands do the job (“глаза́ боя́тся, а ру́ки де́лают” – glaza boyatsa, a ruki delayut, meaning that you can handle anything).

At the same time, you definitely shouldn’t

  • go to another monastery with your own charter (“в чужо́й монасты́рь со свои́м уста́вом не хо́дят” – v chuzhoy monastyr' so svoim ustavom ne khodyat, as in “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”) 


  • make an elephant out of a fly (“не делай из мухи слонa” – ne delai iz mukhi slona, which is equivalent to “don't make a mountain out of a molehill”).

However, know that

  • you can’t spoil your porridge with butter (“ка́шу ма́слом не испо́ртишь” – kashu maslom ne isportish

because you obviously can’t ruin a good thing with another good thing. If you somehow manage to, remember that it’s only your first attempt, and

  • the first pancake is always a blob (“пе́рвый блин всегда́ ко́мом” – pervyy blin vsegda komom).


  • all’s well that ends well (“всё хорошо́, что хорошо́ конча́ется” – vsyo khorosho, chto khorosho konchayetsa).

All you have to do is keep trying, as

  • you can’t pull a fish out of a pond without some effort (“без труда́ не вы́тащишь и ры́бку из пруда́” – bez truda ne vytaschish y rybku iz pruda). 

Although if you’re tired, don’t hesitate to relax for a while, because

  • work is not a wolf, it won’t run away to the forest (“работа не волк – в лес не убежит” – rabota ne volk – v les ne ubezhit).

Don’t give up, and one day

  • a celebration will be on your street, too (“бу́дет и на на́шей у́лице пра́здник” – budet i na nashey ulitse prazdnik, meaning that one day we’ll be lucky too).


  • your tongue will take you as far as Kiev (“язы́к до Кие́ва доведёт” – yazyk do Kieva dovedyot),

so don’t be afraid to ask for information and keep studying. As they say, 

  • live for a century — learn for a century (“век живи́ — век учи́сь” – vek zhivi — vek uchis').

You can find some more fun sayings here.