Russian (русский язык) is a language belonging to the East Slavic group of the Indo-European language family. Over 280 million speakers use it, and about 145 million of them consider it their mother tongue. It is the official language of the Russian Federation and one of the official languages in a number of former Soviet Central Asia republics.
Despite some loss of influence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the importance of the Russian language has not diminished from a scientific, cultural or geopolitical point of view.
Russian uses a version of the Cyrillic alphabet which consists of 33 letters. With a few exceptions, the spelling is phonological: the Russian language is generally written as it is pronounced, taking into account certain predictable phonetic changes. The current spelling is the result of the great reform of 1918 and the codification of 1956.
Russian is an inflectional language. Russian declension has currently only six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental and prepositional. There are three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and two numbers (singular, plural). The Russian conjugation system distinguishes only three simple tenses – the present, the past and the future and four moods – indicative, imperative, gerund and participle. Like most Slavic languages, Russian has no articles. The definite or indefinite character of a noun is indirectly indicated by its position in relation to the verb.
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