Manners are a must everywhere you go. Russia included. The Russians are very warm people and a simple “hello” in Russian (from your end) may win their hearts forever. As a matter of fact, all foreigners regard your attempt to speak their language as a sign of respect towards their culture. You don’t need to know the language to perfection. Just some of the basics like “hello”, “good morning”, “please”, “thank you” or “yes” in Russian. Next time you go on an expedition to Siberia (do that – it’s a must), try the following Russian greetings and watch the magic happen!
1. How to say “hello” in Russian
The most common Russian greeting is used the same way we use “hello” in English. The same as our “hello”, the Russian hello can be used safely in all kinds of situations. But, like any other language, Russian also has its formal and informal rules.
Hello in Russian – Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte)
It’s a universal greeting formula and it can be used safely every time regardless of the person you are addressing. The root of the word goes back to the expression or phrase “to be healthy and well” so this is also a wish of good health.
Hi in Russian – Привет (Privyet)
This is a little more informal than “Здравствуйте” (Zdravstvuyte) and Russians use it to greet their friends. It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t use Привет (Privyet) when meeting – let’s say – Mr. Putin, the President of Russia.
Back to being realistic, when meeting your friend in Russia you can also say “Здравствуй” (Zdrastvui), which is a shorter and informal version for “Здравствуйте” (Zdravstvuyte). However, this is a singural form and can only be adressed to one person. Moving on, if you are interested in slang greetings you could use with your Russian friends, “Здорово” (Zdarova) is one of them, but it is only applicable between male friends so be careful with that.
Goodbye in Russian – До свидания (Do svidaniya)
This is the most common way to say “goodbye” in Russian. The same as “hello”, it can be used safely in all kinds of situations (formal or informal).
A shorter version to До свидания (Do svidaniya) is До встречи (Do vstrechi) – a formula you can use when saying goodbye to family and friends. This roughly translates to “see you”.
Have a good day in Russian – Ну тогда до свидания (Nu togda do svidaniya)
It’s a warmer formula for “goodbye”.
2. Russian greetings for certain moments of the day
Good morning in Russian – Доброе утро (Dobroye utro)
Good afternoon in Russian – Добрый день (Dobryy den)
Good evening in Russian – Добрый вечер (Dobryy vecher)
Good night in Russian – спокойной ночи (Spokoynoy nochi)
All four of these are safe to use in any kind of interaction (formal or informal).
3. Other basic Russian phrases that you should know
If you want to travel to Russia – or any other Eastern European Country for that matter – you should know that this is where you will meet very kind and passionate people. They will help you, they will guide you and they will even welcome you in their homes if the situation asks for it. So learn Russian if you want to, but babushka (grandmother) doesn’t care if you know it or not. She will feed you mountains of food anyway (like any dedicated grandmother). Learn how to say as much as yes in Russian (Да – Da) and she will be your babushka forever. And accept the food! Russian food cooked by the babushkas is some kind of ambrosia and it truly tastes like heaven!
Now let us go back to the point. Here’s a short pronunciation lesson for a basic conversation in Russian:
Hello! – Здравствуйте! (Zdravstvuyte!)
How are you? (or “how are things?”) – Как дела? (Kak dela?)
Very good. Thank you – Хорошо. Спасибо (Horosho. Spasibo.)
What is your name? – Как тебя зовут? (Kak tebya zovut?)
My name is Mondly. – Меня зовут Мандли. (Menya zovut Mondly.)
Nice to meet you. – Рада познакомиться. (Radа poznakomitsya.)
P.S.: If you want to say that the food is delicious, you say “Это вкусно!” (Eto vkusno!).
Bonus: “Excuse me”, “please” and “thank you” are all part of the definition of being polite in any language, so here’s how to apologize, say please or thank you in Russian:
Please. – Пожалуйста. (Pozhaluysta.)
Thank you. – Спасибо. (Spasibo.)
I’m sorry. – Прошу прощения. (Proshu proshcheniya.)
You’re welcome. – Не за что. (Ne za chto.)
Excuse me. – Извините. (Izvinite.)
No problem. – Без проблем. (Bez problem.)
Do you want to take a step further and achieve Russian fluency?