Are you planning a visit to Russia for the FIFA world cup or a city-break holiday this summer? If travelling to Russia is on your bucket list, then here are some of the most useful and common Russian phrases to help you juggle and “survive” in many real life situations. Remember that being polite is of fundamental importance in Russian-speaking countries if you want to start a conversation and make a good impression. With the following words and a dose of courtesy, you can “break the ice” and receive a friendly reply. These common Russian phrases and expressions are almost sure to come up in most everyday conversations, so we really recommend that you learn them.
N.B. Don’t forget to say these phrases with a warm smile on your face 😊
Besides the most well-known Russian words worldwide, such as Привет (Hello) and Спасибо (Thanks), here’s a collection of the most useful Russian phrases for everyday greetings. Let’s begin from the most common Russian phrases to start a conversation:
This is the most common way to begin a conversation with someone. Although it may seem harder to pronounce than a simple “Привет”, this common Russian word allows you to start a conversation in a more polite way. It literally means “Stay healthy!”, because the core of this word is здоровье, which is “health”. Здоровье is a very important word to know, especially if you are drinking and toasting with Russian people. Здравствуйте is extremely useful because it applies to every situation, every person, and every time.
If you want to be more specific about the time of day, keep in mind the following general expressions:
Доброе утро (Dòbroe ùtro) = Good morning.
Добрый день (Dòbryi den) = Good afternoon.
Добрый вечер (Dòbryi vècher) = Good evening.
After greeting in Russian, now it’s time to introduce yourself! In a Russian-speaking country it is always polite to say your name, because Russian speakers can be really sociable if they know a bit more about who you are.
So, take a breath and say:
Меня зовут (Menyà zovùt) + your name = (My name is…)
If you want to know about the name of the person you are talking with, just ask:
Как вас зовут? (Kak vas zovùt?) = What’s your name?
Now, to express that you are pleased to meet the person in front of you, you can just say:
Очень приятно! (Ochen’ priyàtno!) = It’s a real pleasure!
Once you have already broken the ice, keep your conversation going! You can simply ask how things are going by asking:
Как дела? (Kak delà?) = How are you?
If you manage to get to this point in the conversation, молодец! (Well done!). Now, you will probably hear “хорошо!” (good!), which can be used in many situations to express that you like something.
However, if it’s getting too complicated, here are some of the most useful Russian words to use!
Извините! (Izvinìte!) = Excuse me
Maybe the most important Russian word to learn. You can hear it in many contexts, especially when someone wants to tell you something politely. For example, you can say it whenever you involuntarily hit someone or if you want to have someone’s attention. Извините is the fundamental keyword to be polite, so keep it in mind!
Повторите, пожалуйста, медленнее (Povtorìte, pozhàluista, medlennee)= Can you repeat more slowly, please?
Russian may sound too fast if you are just beginning to learn some of the most important words. By saying these important Russian words, the person you are talking to will make sure that what he/she says is more understandable for you.
If at this point you are struggling to understand, we recommend you just be honest and say:
Я не понимаю (Ia ne ponimàiu) = I don’t understand
At this point, you can just ask if the person in front of you can speak English by asking:
Вы говорите по-английски? (Vy govorìte po-anglìiski?) = Do you speak English?
Now, hopefully, if the answer is yes, you can keep your conversation going. However, when you feel that your conversation is over or you run out of things to talk about, don’t forget to say: До свидания! (Goodbye!).
The best way to understand a culture is through its language. Russia is a large country and Russians are very proud of their culture, so they like to speak their language in their own country. This is not surprising considering they were never subjugated to English-speaking countries and the influence of English is less wide-spread than in other Northern European countries.
However, it is fun to speak some basics when you find yourself in a foreign country. By learning these few most common Russian phrases, you can feel more welcome and at your ease with Russian people.
So, leave your fears behind and practise some of the most common Russian phrases to start a conversation in a Russian-speaking country! Enjoy being greeted by a native speaker and explore how it sounds to exchange some words with a Russian native speaker. Who knows, maybe this little conversation may open the door to a life-long journey of learning Russian. You may just find yourself studying Russian in a Russian-speaking country. 😉 Visit our Facebook page to learn more!
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