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How do I translate 'подъезд' into English? What are these? There are walls between separate pod'yezds inside so once you've walked into a certain pod'yezd you get access only to a specific section of the building, a specific set of apartments.

Misha lives in the second ______ of my apartment building.

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  • Does the word pod'yezd refer to the entrance or to the separated set-of-apartments as a whole? (Google Translate suggests "entrance.")
    – randomhead
    Nov 13, 2021 at 0:47
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    @randomhead it refers to the separate sections. I know that Google Translate, despite its improvements in the last decade, can't properly translate the word, that's why I asked it here. Nov 13, 2021 at 0:56
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    I don't know that English has such a word (though maybe someone will surprise me). When I was in college, we lived in buildings that were set up kind of like this, and we referred to each section as an "entryway" (even though that term is also used to refer specifically to the entrance). But I'm not sure this is a common way of referring to these sections.
    – cruthers
    Nov 13, 2021 at 2:20
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    @cruthers - I believe in the traditional Oxbridge college buildings they are called staircases. Nov 13, 2021 at 9:35
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    In the US, I have never encountered a building laid out quite like this, which may be related to why I don't have a good word for this. In a dormitory I might call them "towers". But in an apartment building, I would expect them all to be connected inside, or else be separate buildings entirely. (And then I would just say "I live in building [number, or some other identifier]".) Nov 14, 2021 at 7:31

9 Answers 9

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In England people would generally use the word staircase.

This is grammatically slightly different because you can't say "I live in the second staircase", you would have to say "I live in a flat off the second staircase".

A more general term would be section. "I live in the second section of the apartment block" does not convey the full meaning, but would be universally understood and is less cumbersome.

The Scottish term "close" suggested by @tkp would definitely be misunderstood in England, where close would mean a short road or cul-de-sac.

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    You can say living "ON the second staircase" or "on W staircase" or "on the second floor of the first staircase" or whatever. Nothing is super natural because obviously there's metonymy going on here, and the risk always arises that someone claims to literally believe you live on the stairs! But this is the right answer, and unless someone is being deliberately silly or annoying, they know what you mean. (BrE, England) Nov 15, 2021 at 9:36
  • I just wanted to mention that, in Spain, we also use "escalera" (literally "staircase") for this; the difference being that we do say "Vivo en la segunda escalera" ("I live in/on the second staircase"). It is perfectly understood that you don't actually live in the staircase but in one of the apartments accesible through it.
    – walen
    Nov 15, 2021 at 9:47
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In British English, in Scotland at least, I believe the word "close" can refer to exactly what you describe. It is an entrance to a multilevel building just like your picture or, more traditionally, to a tenement. It is pronounced with a soft "s", in the same way as when saying "close by" or "close at hand". So, when I was young, I lived in the third close in our street. (Actually, I'd have said "...up the third close..." but that is definitely a Scottish colloquialism.) and, just as you describe, entering a given close gave you access only to the homes in that particular section. To get to other homes, you had to exit that close, back onto the street, and then enter another close.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that this usage extends even throughout Britain, let alone to English overall. And even in Scotland, the same word can also mean a passageway through and not the communal entrance into a section of a building. But perhaps this can give you some leads to other options. In checking this before answering, I did come across terms like "vennel" and "pend" which might also help you in searching.

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    I don't think that would be understood by Sassenachs (English people, not Scots)
    – James K
    Nov 13, 2021 at 8:08
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    It's definitely regional: see Merriam-Webster for the multiple British definitions. As an American I've never heard the term (despite having lived in one).
    – MJD
    Nov 13, 2021 at 16:17
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I would suggest entranceway or entryway as suitable.

According to wikidiff.com, there is a small difference as nouns between entryway and entranceway.

"Entryway is an opening to a hallway allowing entry into a structure and entranceway is something that provides access to an entrance; an entryway".

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I don't believe there is a commonly used word for this specific arrangement in American English. If the separate units were single-family homes we would call them terraced houses (UK) or townhouses/rowhouses (US)—and it is true that in many cities such houses have been later subdivided so each house contains multiple apartments. But I don't think the term would be used to describe an apartment building that was designed as an apartment building from the start.

Two words that may be easily understood in context are:

block, noun
5. A roughly cuboid building.

tower, noun
5. Any very tall building or structure; skyscraper.
6. (figuratively) Any item, such as a computer case, that is usually higher than it is wide.

So if you said Misha lives in the second block of my apartment building or Misha lives in the second tower of my apartment building that would be understandable, especially if the person you're talking to is already familiar with the concept of apartment buildings being separated into non-connected units.

Incidentally, the generic word unit would probably not be a good choice because in some countries "unit" means a specific apartment, such as "Unit 201" (which might be in the second "block" or on the second floor). So it would be confusing if you used it to describe a group of apartments—though, again, it could work if the context was clear.


But in the absence of a single word (such as close as @tkp suggested would be understood in Scotland) you can always describe what you mean:

Misha lives in the second set of apartments of my apartment building.

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In the semantical sense "entrance" is the closest word to 'подъезд'.

User PCARR also mentioned "entryway" in his/her comments, which is similar.

There is no exact equivalent in English, because the word 'подъезд' was probably derived from the verb "подъезжать" (~ approach by car (example)).

I believe the problem is not with the word itself, but with the structure of the original sentence. I speak both languages and can see that the following sentence is constructed based on how we would say it in Russian.

"Misha lives in the second ______ of my apartment building."

In English we would most likely say something like this.

"Misha lives in my building, second entrance from the left (or middle entrance if there is only 3 of them).

Another thing to note is that at least in North America, most if not all buildings have only one entrance. Another entrance is usually understood as a backdoor for, say, delivery.

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    This is the correct answer. In particular this wording is used in taxi services.
    – Basilevs
    Nov 15, 2021 at 6:19
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As someone who worked in the construction industry, municipal building inspections and as a former architecture student in the US, I am not aware of any common used term to describe the part of the structure you are describing. I have never seen that part of the structure called out in building plans (blueprints) nor have I seen it specifically cited in building codes. Speaking to a peer, I would describe it as the 'section of the structure between firewalls or common-walls'.

However, in the US, if I were directing a person to the second section of the building I would say:

  • "Misha lives in apartment 200, accessed through the second breezeway from the south end."
  • "Misha lives in apartment 200, accessed through the second entrance from the south end."
  • "Misha lives in apartment 200, accessed through the second stairway from the south end."

Breezeway is usually in reference to open-aired stairways in apartment complexes but most Americans would understand this even if it is a closed stairway.

enter image description here

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I believe the word you're looking for is "foyer". This is usually an entrance to a set of apartments. Sometimes when multiple apartment buildings are linked, as the ones in the picture, they have multiple foyers.

If you were to give directions to Misha's place it would be: "In the second foyer, on the third floor, is Misha's place."

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In Russian, the "подъезд" (or how they say in Saint-Petersburg, "парадное"), can have two different meanings, depending on the context:

  1. It may mean "an entrance", i.e. the entryway into the building. It may be the entrance to any large building, not necessarily into multi-apartment residential complex (project). Usually, it is referred by the entrance's number, e.g.: "Take the entrance # 3 - Заходи в третий подъезд".
  2. It may also mean the apartments' block, e.g.: "My friend lives in the 2nd block of this building - Мой друг живет во втором подъезде этого дома". Please note that "подъезд" is never used as a part of an address - this is merely a convenient designator for the particular entrance.

As to the previous answers, the "unit" is an equivalent of an apartment ("квартира" in Russian).

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I don't know if there is an exact word translation but it may be "unit". I think if I was trying to convey the same concept you're saying in English there's 2 ways I could go:

"Misha lives [on the 3rd floor] in the 2nd unit of our building."

Or

"Misha lives in the 2nd building of our complex."

At least in America, I think would depend on how the sections are addressed. Here each of those would have it's own street number/address if it was an independent building. So then I'd use the building/complex form. If not (they have one street number address) then they'd be referred to as units (unit 1, unit 2) of that address. For example: 27 Main street, Unit 2, Apt 3 Sometown, USA

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    "Unit" can also mean the apartment itself. Your second example makes sense in context, but many people would find the first confusing.
    – MJD
    Nov 13, 2021 at 16:09
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    @MJD the point is it only works with context. I don't think we have a single word that denotes an attached "unit" within a "complex" of attached "bldgs" in one bldg structure.
    – JoelAZ
    Nov 13, 2021 at 16:19
  • Unit seems to be more like a Russian "корпус", rather than "подъезд". A single unit might have multiple "подъезд"s.
    – Ruslan
    Nov 15, 2021 at 8:20
  • @Ruslan As a non-speaker of Russian I took an outside swing here based on the context and the concept I felt OP was trying to convey, as an English speaker might, not really a word for word translation.
    – JoelAZ
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:36

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