Учить, учиться, изучать

There are a lot of Russian verbs that can be translated into English as “to learn” or “to study”. Another difficulty is that the same Russian verb, depending on the context, can mean either “to teach” or “to learn”.

The main difference between these verbs is that:

  • учи́ть (both as “to teach” and “to learn”) and изуча́ть can be used with a direct object.
  • учи́ться is never followed by a direct object.



  1. учи́ться = OCCUPATION

Ты рабо́таешь и́ли у́чишься? – Do you work or study?

2. учи́ться + WHERE

Я хочу́ учи́ться в университе́те. – I want to study in the university.

3. учи́ться + HOW

Она у́чится хорошо́. – She studies well.

4. учи́ться + VERB (skill)

Он у́чится танцева́ть. – He is learning to dance.


учи́ть as “to learn”

In this case the direct object is a subject that you learn.

Я учу́ но́вые слова́. – I am learning new words.

Он у́чит геогра́фию. – He is learning geography.

Мы у́чим ру́сский язы́к. – We are learning the Russian language.


Exercise. Choose the correct answer


учи́ть as “to teach”

  1. учи́ть + WHOM (Accusative Case) – in this case the direct object is a person and/or a group of people

Я учу́ студе́нтов. – I teach students.

Она́ у́чит сы́на чита́ть. – She is teaching (her) son to read.

  1. учи́ть + WHAT (Dative case)

Он у́чит литерату́ре. – He teaches literature.

  1. учи́ть + WHOM + WHAT

Он у́чит её (Acc.) хи́мии (Dat.). – He teaches her chemistry.

Я учу́ иностра́нцев (Acc.) ру́сскому языку́ (Dat.). – I teach foreigners Russian language.



изуча́ть means “to learn” (the word is quite formal) or “to study (smth.)”

Unlike the verb “учи́ть” that is more colloquial, we tend to use the word “изуча́ть” when speaking about complicated subjects or regular studies.

Э́ти студе́нты изуча́ют фи́зику. – These students study physics.

Она́ изуча́ет францу́зскую грамма́тику. – She studies French grammar.

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