58 Common Russian Phrases To Survive Your First Conversation With A Native
by Olly Richards
Let’s say that you're learning Russian and are planning to take your first trip through a Russian speaking country.
Maybe you’re heading off to Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan or Russia. With more than 250 million Russian-speakers throughout East Europe, Central Asia, and around the world, it’s going to be pretty useful to know some of the most common phrases and expressions in Russian.
So is this article, you're going to learn some of the most essential Russian phrases to know for travelling. While English is the global language of trade and travel, it can only take you so far. So having these essentials of Russian will help make sure that you’ll have an even better time no matter where you visit.
So, enjoy this cheat sheet with the most common and most useful Russian phrases for travelling!
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Common Russian Phrases: The Bare Essentials
Let's start with some of the absolute essentials with a few things that you’ll hear and need to say every day. These include saying hello, responding to simple questions, and asking for the toilet.
How To Say Hello In Russian
#1 Здравствуйте (Hello (formal))
#2 Привет (Hello (less formal))
#3 Доброе утро (Good morning)
#4 Добрый день (Good day/good afternoon)
#5 Добрый вечер (Good evening)
Other Russian Keywords
#6 Да (Yes)
#7 Нет (No)
#8 где туалет? (Where is the toilet?)
Being Polite In Russian
Russian-speakers often take politeness and polite speech as a sign of good character. These should be some of the first words you memorise to charm your Russian hosts.
#9 Пожалуйста (Please)
#10 Спасибо (Thank you)
#11 Спасибо большое (Thank you very much)
#12 Спасибо за…. (Thank you for the….)
#13 Пожалуйста (You’re welcome)
#14 Не за что (You're welcome (less formal))
#15 Извините (Excuse me (getting attention or begging pardon))
#16 Простите (Excuse me (begging pardon))
#17 Простите (I'm sorry)
Russian Introductions And Basic Conversation
Naturally, you’ll have lots of questions for your Russian speaking friends. And asking people about themselves is a great way to learn and connect to another person. So get the conversation going with some essential phrases to introduce yourself and ask about others in Russian.
#18 Очень приятно (Nice to meet you)
#19 Меня зовут … (My name is … .)
#20 Как вас зовут? (What is your name?)
#21 Откуда вы? (Where are you from?)
#22 Я из ….. (I'm from….)
#23 Сколько вам лет? (How old are you?)
#24 Мне … лет. (I’m… years old)
And below you'll find a few words to ask a bit more about your new friend. Keep in mind, though, if you’re from an English speaking country, you might use the phrase ‘how are you?’ without expecting much in response. However, it’s not the same in Russian!
If you ask someone как дела, you are inviting them to give an honest answer that may be longer and be more frank than you expected. When people respond, things are a bit different too. Although saying you’re “well” in English is quite common, it’s much more common for Russian speakers to say нормально as a neutral answer.
#25 Как дела? (How are you? (literally ‘how are things’))
#26 Хорошо (Good, well)
#27 Не хорошо (Not good, not well)
#28 Нормально (Fine)
#29 Плохо. (Bad(ly))
#30 Не плохо (Not bad)
Communication Issues In Russian
If you’re travelling, you’re eventually going to run into some communication errors. Whether you’re at the train station or your favourite bar, you’ll need to express that you need more information or that you need it again.
#31 Я не говорю по-русски (I don’t speak Russian)
#32 Вы говорите по-английски? (Do you speak English?)
#33 Здесь кто-то говорит по-английски? (Is there someone here who speaks English?)
#34 Я не понимаю (I don't understand)
#35 Я не знаю (I don't know)
#36 Я не услышал/а (I didn't hear you (m/f))
#37 Повторите, пожалуйста. (Can you repeat that?)
It’s worth noting Russian has two ways of addressing someone – ты and вы. The ты form is for people you’re close with while the вы form is more formal and usually used with strangers. All these phrases are in the вы form for your benefit. If someone wants to be less formal with you, they will let you know.
Functional Questions In Russian
Going further you’re going to have some more questions. You should commit the basic question words to memory quickly because it’s always handy to be able to ask about the world around you whether it’s the cost of something or when the train leaves.
#38 Что (What)
#39 Что это такое? (What is this?)
#40 Это. (This thing)
#41 Это …. (This is a ….)
#42 Почему? (Why?)
#43 Кто? (Who?)
#44 Как добраться до … ? (How do I get to…?)
#45 Где ….? (Where is the…?)
#46 где находится…? (Where is the…?)
#47 Когда? (When?)
#48 Сколько времени? (At what time?)
#49 Который час? (At what time?)
#50 Сколько стоит ? (How much is it?)
#51 Как сказать…? (How do I say….?)
#52 Как это называется? (What is this called? How is this named?)
Saying Goodbye In Russian
Of course, all good things must come to an end. There’s a range of ways to say farewell depending on the situation. Whether you’ll see someone in the next hour or the next morning, be sure to use the right word.