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Difference between the words «звать» and «называться»

Hello, dear student!

Today we are going to consider the difference between such interesting words as «звать» [zvat’] and «называться» [nazyvat’sya]. They belong to a long list of the words which cause confusion and perplexity for Russian-speaking learners. Let’s start with the word «звать».

We use this word, when we want to ask somebody’s name, for example:

Как зовут твою сестру? [Kak zavut tvayu sistru?] - What's your sister's name?

We also use the word «звать», when it plays the role of infinitive, i.e. non-finite verb form, for example:

Звать на помощь [Zvat' na pomashh'] - To ask for help

Звать кого-то по имени [Zvat' kavota pa imini] - To call somebody by name

The verb «звать» is infinitive in those 2 examples. In the first example we address to a person in order to specify his or her sister’s name.

Now let’s consider usage cases of the verb «называться»:

Как называется Ваш город? [Kak nazyvaitsa Vash gorad?] - What's the name of your city/town?

Как по-русски называется этот предмет? [Kak pa-ruski nazyvaitsa ehtat pridmet?] - What's the name of this object in Russian?

Улица на которой я нахожусь, называется Тверская [Ulitsa na katoray ya nakhazhus', nazyvaetsa Tvirskaya] - The street, where I am now, is Tverskaya/ or we call Tverskaya street.

In these examples we can see, the word «называется» is used in different situations.

1 and 3 examples – when we want to specify the information about the name of a place, city, street, district, museum or any other inanimate object.

In the example 2 we specify name of an object in any language, in our case it is – in Russian (в русском языке [v ruskam yazyke/ "по-русски" [pa-ruski])

I write several sentences for your practice, fill the gaps with appropriate word – «звать» or «называться»:

Мой друг, которого ... Майкл, живет в Москве [Moy druk, katorava...Maykl, zhivyot v Maskve] – My friend, whose name is Michael, lives in Moscow.

Площадь, на которой находится памятник, ... "Площадь Революции" [Ploshchad’, na katoray nachoditsya pamyatnik,... “Ploshchad’ Rivolyutsii] – The square, where the monument is located, is called «Ploshchad’ Revolutsii].

Как ... страна, откуда Вы родом? [Kak...strana, atkuda ty rodam?] – What is the name of the country, where you are from?

Меня... Марина. [Minya...Marina] – My name is Marina.

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Translation (ru-en)
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