Basic Phrases In Russian Every Traveler Should Learn

basic phrases in russian
| 4 min read

The Red Army Choir, the Red Square, vodka, beautiful women, and most importantly, its incomprehensible alphabet all make up Russia’s rich cultural heritage. Learn basic phrases in Russian to find out more about the interesting and unknown world of Russia! They are not that difficult to learn, and the Russian language is spoken by more than 260 million people around the world. You can discover a big part of Russian culture through its literature and language, and your trips to Russia will be completely transformed after you learn even just a bit of the Russian language, which will open up more options. A complex but creative language, learning these basic phrases in Russian will be absolutely useful to every traveler! Scroll down to check out the basic phrases in Russian

1. Simple conversational greetings

Source: Pexels
  1. Hello (formal): Здравствуйте (ZDRAstvuyte) Used with strangers, if there are people older than you, or with your boss, literal meaning is ‘be healthy’ in the imperative mood; Hello (informal): Привет (priVET) Used with your peers, colleagues that you know well, or relatives. These are two of the most frequently used words in the Russian language, without which it is impossible to get around Russia. Здравствуйте is a more formal version of привет, roughly equivalent to hello vs. hi in English. pronunciation:

  2. How are you: Как дела (kak deLA) Roughly translated as “How are things?”, also asked out of courtesy to keep the ball rolling

  3. Good morning: Доброе утро. (dObroye Utro) Best phrase to say in the morning, 6am-11.59am

  4. Good afternoon: Добрый день. (dObriy den’) Use it during the day, 12pm-6pm

  5. Good evening: Добрый вечер. (dObriy VEcher)

2. Ordering food

Food cart order (15360499583)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Billie Grace Ward used under CC BY 2.0
  1. Could I have the menu, please: Можно меню, пожалуйста (MOzhno meNU poZHAlusta) Said in a restaurant, to ask for the menu.

  2. A table for two, please: На двоих, пожалуйста (na dvoIH, poZHAlusta)

  3. I will have…:Я буду… (ya BUdu…)

  4. May I have a glass of… (water/wine/beer): Можно мне стакан… (вина/воды/пива) (MOzhno mne staKAN… [viNA/voDI/PIv])

  5. May I have the bill, please: Можно чек, пожалуйста (MOzhno chek, poZHAlusta) To ask for a bill in a restaurant politely.

Можно is generally used when asking questions, asking if “it is possible”

3. Asking for directions

backpack bag blur commuter
Source: Pexels
  1. Where is the metro: Где метро (gde meTRO) Most hotels, restaurants and tourist sites in Moscow will identify the nearest Metro station, as part of their typical visitor information. From the street level, you will usually be able to identify a Metro station by the large, red “M” displayed prominently near the entrance. From the street entrance, you will typically walk down one or two flights of steps into an underground corridor, especially so in the city center. To enter the Metro, you will need to use the doors with the blue entry signs. In fact, the Moscow Metro is also an important tourist attraction due to the beauty of some of the stations.

  2. Where is the bus? – Где автобус (gde avTObus)

  3. Is it far: Это далеко (eto daleKO)

  4. Go straight/Turn right/Turn left: Идите прямо (iDIte PRYAmo)/Поверните на право. (poverNIte na PRAvo)/ Поверните на лево. (poverNIte na LEvo) Useful phrases in the imperative mood that you may hear or want to use when receiving and giving directions. Fret not, it is not impolite to use the imperative form with people you don’t know!

  5. Stop here, please: Остановитесь здесь, пожалуйста. (ostanoVItes’ zdes’, poZHAlusta) This is a command, but is more polite than simply using the imperative “stop here”.

4. Shopping/ bargaining

five people standing against wall
Source: Pexels
  1. How much is it: Сколько стоит (skol’ko STOit) To find out the price, whether you are booking a hotel room or picking up some souvenirs for friends!

  2. Can I pay by credit card: Можно заплатить кредитной карточкой (MOzhno zaplaTIT’ kreDItnoi KARtochkoi)

  3. That’s too expensive: Это слишком дорого (Eta sleeshkam doraga) When something is overpriced.

  4. I’d like another color: Я хочу другой цвет (Ya khachoo droogoy tsvet)

  5. Do you have a larger/smaller size: Есть ли на размер больше/меньше (Est lee na razmer bol'she/men’‘she)

5. Medical emergencies

business care clinic
Source: Pexels
  1. Please, get me a doctor: Вызовите, пожалуйста, врача (Vizaveete pazhaloosta vracha)

  2. I’m not feeling well: Я плохо себя чувствую (Ya plokha seebya choostvooyoo) When you want to tell someone you feel sick, can be used when you have a headache, stomachache, a cold, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, or other health problems.

  3. I feel dizzy: У меня кружится голова (Oo meenya kroozhitsa galava)

  4. It hurts here: Здесь болит (Zdes’ baleet)

  5. I feel better (worse): Мне лучше (хуже) (Mne loochshe [khoozhe])

Before you go

When you’re traveling, it’s important to speak (or try to speak) a bit of the local language. As an avid tourist, it’s nice to soak in the atmosphere of the country you’re visiting, immersing in as many aspects of the local culture as we can. Some Russians don’t speak English, but you might still need their help, or even if someone speaks English, it is also more polite to at least attempt to speak a little Russian. By mastering the basics of polite conversation in Russian, you put yourself and the person you’re talking to at ease. Whatever your plans, these basic phrases will get you off to a great start and open new doors and opportunities as you prepare for your trip to Russia! Repeat these phrases often, or enlist a friend to engage in basic conversation practice to study the phrases before you go!

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