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Language is a construction set

I like this simile.

Do you know Lego sets? A lot of bricks which you can use to construct a house. Disassemble a house and make a man. Or a plane. Or a ship.

I believe that any language, Russian as well, is a construction set. You can play with it. Of course, to get a beautiful result, you need to combine “round and rectangular pieces” of grammar and words correctly. Well, every game has its rules, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t really matter, which level you are at. You can play this Lego-game even at the Beginner’s level, when you know a couple or two of constructions and several words. Even then you can say them

A) in a loud and clear manner
B) automatically (without taking much time to recall a word)
C) combining them in various sentences

Let us practice items B) and C) together:
Here is «Мне нравится» (I like) phrase.
After it we use either a noun in Nominative case or a verb in infinitive.

For example:
Мне нравится гулять (a verb) – I like walking.
Мне нравится парк (a noun) – I like a park.

Now we can add some other words (develop our idea)
Мне нравится этот парк. Мне нравится гулять здесь (I like this park. I like walking here)

Let us add «очень» (very much) – more emotions:
Мне очень нравится гулять здесь! (I like walking here very much)

Let’s add negative particle «не» - right before a word which we want to make negative:
Мне не очень нравится этот парк. Мне не очень нравится гулять здесь.
(I don’t really like this park (it’s so-so). I don’t really like walking here.

Мне не нравится гулять. – Note, the meaning has changed to “I don’t like walking here.”

Let us move «очень» to a different position:
Мне очень не нравится гулять.– The meaning has become quite different:
I don’t like walking very much (It is almost “I hate walking”).

Next let us add «но» conjunction:
Мне нравится гулять, но этот парк мне не очень нравится. Здесь мне не нравится гулять.
I like walking (in general), but I don’t really like this park. I don’t really like walking here.

We use only one phrase and 6-7 words, but express quite many different feelings and thoughts.

OK, let us add some time markers now (it is more complicated, but the range of variations also gets wider)

Мне нравится этот парк. Мне очень нравится гулять здесь утром и днём. Но мне не нравится гулять здесь вечером.
I like this park. I really like walking here in the morning and in the afternoon, but I don’t like walking here in the evening. (May be it is dangerous or something)

So, if you know even a very limited number of phrases and words, try a similar exercise.
You can write the words you know on the cards and then try to make up as many sentences as possible.
Start with short ones, than add new words that you learn.
You will see that you knowledge gives you more opportunities than you may have thought.

Such a practice will help you memorize words well enough to use them straight off, get used to the word order and express your ideas with the words that you already know.

By the way, whenever you learn a new word, don’t forget to build it into the whole construction set you have. Do not leave it aside, or it may get lost.

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