A quick guide to basic Russian lingo!

So, you’re in Russia? And you want to learn a bit of the local lingo? Here’s a very quick guide to the basics in Russian.

When meeting up with Russians, a handshake is an appropriate gesture when greeting or leaving. You might want to start with:

Hello/Hi Привет [pri-v’et]

Good morning Доброе утро [dob-r-je ut-r]

Good afternoon Добрый день [dob-ryj d’en’]

Good evening Добрый вечер [dob-ryj v’e-ch’er]

Your friendly Russian hosts may well wish you:

Welcome! Добро пожаловать! [db-ro p-zha-l^-vat’]

You’ve got past the greeting stage, what next?

How are things? Как дела? [kak d’e-la]

Good/OK Хорошо [kh-r-sho]

Excellent отлично [^t-lich’-no]

Pointing, gesturing and smiling will get you a long way, together with a few basic phrases:

Yes Да [da]

No Нет [n’et]

Maybe Может быть [mo-zhet byt’]

Please Пожалуйста [p^-zha-lus-ta]

Thank you Спасибо [spa-si-b^]

Thank you very much Большое спасибо [bl’-sho-je spa-si-b]

Excuse me Извините [iz-vi-ni-t’e]

Sorry Простите [pr^s-ti-t’e]

And if all else fails, and communication breaks down completely:

I don’t understand Я не понимаю [ja n’e p^-ni-ma-ju]

Do you speak English? Вы говорите по-английски? [vy g-v-ri-t’e p^-an-glis-ki]

I don’t speak Russian Я не говорю по-русски [ja n’e g-v-r’u p^-rus-ki]

All too soon it’s time to leave:

Bye Пока [p^-ka]

Goodbye До свидания [d^ svi-da-ni-ja]

Good night Спокойной ночи [sp-koj-nj no-chi]

Congratulations, you can now say a few basic Russian phrases. That wasn’t too tricky!

Feeling inspired to take it further? Why not download the Collins Russian Phrasebook e-book to take your language learning to the next level? Go on, what is there to lose!

Other Articles

15 words & phrases to get the Eurovision party started

Are you ready for Eurovision? An annual celebration of music, culture and questionable fashion choices, the Eurovision Song Contest is a live broadcast international song competition in which members of the European Broadcasting Union – plus Australia! –  compete each year. Since its establishment in 1956,… Read More

The Coronation: God Save King Charles!

As mentioned in my coronation post earlier this week, the coronation ceremony is hallowed by time. Edgar was the earliest English king to be crowned, at Bath Abbey in 973; Robert the Bruce was hastily crowned King of Scots at Scone (rhymes with ‘spoon’) in 1306… Read More

The Coronation: God Save the King!

On 6 May 2023 Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor will be crowned King Charles III in a coronation ceremony dating back, if not to time immemorial, at least ten centuries. Just to be absolutely clear, Charles is of course already King, for the Crown knows no… Read More