With nine different time zones and listed as the world’s largest country by landmass, many people’s curiosity leads them to a Russian vacation. The vast landscape and unique culture consistently draws travelers in for an adventure, despite the unique language barrier.
The Russian alphabet looks quite odd to most people, but with a little help learning the local lingo, you can travel like a pro. Travelers who have a few Russian key phrases written down or memorized are more likely going to experience an easier time navigating, conversing, and connecting to the land, culture, and people.
Learning Russian in modern times is easier because of the development of language apps, websites, and games. However, this foreign language is still one of the hardest to learn because of the unique characters in the Russian alphabet.
Our article is designed to help you learn basic and need-to-know Russian words and phrases, so you don’t feel lost in a foreign land. With the words spelled out using the Russian and English alphabet, you can use our guide as your survival kit to getting around Russia. The guide can also help you develop your skills, so you can converse and connect to the local people.
Countries that speak Russian:
- Russia – official language
- Several others
Pronouns are identifying words that are used in all languages to talk about yourself or others. One of the first parts of the Russian language that travelers need to learn are the pronouns. Not only will knowing the pronouns help you get around, they can also help you demonstrate your respect to the local people because you will be correctly identifying them as a person.
With clear lines of communication, travelers will feel more comfortable as they venture around Russia. While it can be difficult to learn how to pronounce Russian pronouns, they are essential for all travelers who want to converse and connect with the locals.
- I, Me — Я (Ya)
- You — Вы (Vy)
- He, Him — Он (On)
- She, Her — Онa (Ona)
- They, Them — Они (Oni)
In new settings and places, travelers are often eager to ask questions as curiosity gets the better of them. However, it is important that you learn the question words in Russian, so that you can clearly communicate your wants or needs. These question words are also helpful whenever you need to ask for assistance, directions, or information.
- Who? — Воз? (Voz)
- What? — Цто? (Shto)
- When? — Kогда? (Kogda)
- Where? — Где? (Gdye)
- Why? — Поцему? (Pochemu)
- How? — Как? (Kak)
Respect goes a long way and many people will appreciate travelers more if they attempt to learn the local language. Greetings in Russian can be helpful for travelers who are interacting with the local people. By greeting people in their own language, you can demonstrate not only your respect for their culture, but also show that you are interested in Russia and the local people.
- Hello — Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte)
- Good morning — Доброе утро (Dobroye utro)
- Good afternoon — Добрый день (Dobryy den)
- Good evening — Добрый вечер (Dobryy vecher)
- Nice to meet you — Рад встрече (Rad vstreche)
- Nice to see you — Рад вас видеть (Rad vas videt’)
- Welcome — Добро пожаловать (Dobro pozhalovat’)
- What is your name? — Как вас зовут? (Kak vas zovut)
- My name is… — Меня зовут (Menya zovut)
After you’ve completed greeting someone or finished a conversation, it is polite to say farewell. You shouldn’t walk away without properly ending your conversation. These common phrases are all appropriate ways to say goodbye or end a conversation.
- Goodbye — Прощай (Proshchay)
- See you later — Увидимся (Uvidimsya)
- See you soon — До скорой встречи (Do skoroy vstrechi)
- See you tomorrow — До завтра (Do zavtra)
- Have a good day — Хорошего дня (Khoroshego dnya)
- Take care — Береги себя (Beregi sebya)
Small Talk — Feelings
Sometimes you want to say more than hello or goodbye. Small talk is a great way to engage in a conversation with a local, while using beginner vocabulary. These common phrases can assist you in asking how a person is doing or what they are doing.
- How are you? — Как поживаешь? (Kak pozhivayesh’)
- How are you? — Как твои дела? (Kak tvoi dela)
- What’s up? — Что происходит? (Chto proiskhodit)
- I am fine, how are you? — Я в порядке, как ты? (Ya v poryadke, kak ty)
- Good, and you? — Хорошо, а вы? (Khorosho, a vy)
Small Talk — More Reponses
The conversation may turn towards you and someone may ask how you are doing. Travelers need to know how to respond appropriately. These phrases can be used to communicate to others about how you are feeling. You can also add a “thank you” to the end of each phrase to be more polite.
- I am very well. — Я очень хорошо (Ya ochen’ khorosho)
- I am so-so. — Я так себе (Ya tak sebe)
- I am a little tired. — Я немного устал (Ya nemnogo ustal)
- I am sick. — Я болею (Ya boleyu)
Whether you are having a conversation or asking a question, manners are important. These courtesy words are a great way to show your respect to the locals and your appreciation for being able to visit their country. These words are also just commonly used to be polite to others.
- Please — Пожалуйста (Pozhaluysta)
- Thank you — Спасибо (Spasibo)
- Thank you very much — большое спасибо (Bol’shoye spasibo)
- You’re welcome — Пожалуйста (Pozhaluysta)
- I am sorry — Я прошу прощения (Ya proshu proshcheniya)
- Excuse me — Прошу прощения (Proshu proshcheniya)
- Mister — Мистер (Mister)
- Misses — Промахов (Promakhov)
- Miss — Скучать (Skuchat’)
These are the common phrases that are most often encountered by travelers in a foreign country. Some of these phrases can help you ask a question, while others can be used to answer a question. Travelers can also use some of these phrases to ask for assistance.
- How old are you? — Сколько тебе лет? (Skol’ko tebe let)
- Where are you from? (Informal) — Откуда ты? (Otkuda ty)
- I am from… — Я из… (Ya iz)
- What time is it? — Который сейчас час? (Kotoryy seychas chas)
- How much does this cost? — Сколько это стоит? (Skol’ko eto stoit)
- Who are you? — Кто ты? (Kto ty)
- What is this? — Что это? (Chto eto)
- Do you understand? — Вы понимаете? (Vy ponimayete)
- Do you speak English? — Ты говоришь по-английски? (Ty govorish’ po-angliyski)
- Where is the bathroom? — Гае здесь ванная комната? (Gde zdes’ van naya komnata)
- I need help. — Мне нужна помощь. (Mne nuzhna pomoshch’)
- Enjoy your meal — Приятного аппетита (Priyatnogo appetita)
- Cheers — Ура (Ura); За здоровье – Za Zdarovje (Nah zda-rovh-yeh)
- Well done — Отлично сработано (Otlichno srabotano)
- Don’t worry — Не волнуйся (Ne volnuysya)
Common and Useful Words
These common and useful words are a good way to expand your vocabulary. Most of these words are also essential for communicating with others and they can help you express in one simple word, your response to questions or statements.
- Yes — Да (Da)
- No — Нет (Net)
- Of course — Конечно (Konechno)
- Always — Всегда (Vsegda)
- Sometimes — Иногда (Inogda)
- Maybe — Может быть (Mozhet byt’)
- Never — Никогда (Nikogda)
- Left — Лето (Levo)
- Right — Право (Pravo)
- Stop — Стоп (Stop)
- Hotel — Отель (Otel’)
- Taxi — Такси (Taksi)
- Food — Еда (Yeda)
- Water — Вода (Voda)
- Check or bill — Проверьте (Prover’te)
Color coding or labeling is frequently used by locals and travelers as a simple way to communicate between each other. Travelers can ask for a product or directions and base the description of objects around color. Locals may also use color when giving directions because it is an easy way to describe how to get around using the appearance of a building or landmark.
- Red — Красный (Krasnyy)
- Orange — апельсин (Apel’sin)
- Yellow — Желтый (Zheltyy)
- Green — Зеленый (Zelenyy)
- Blue — Синий (Siniy)
- Purple — Фиолетовый (Fioletovyy)
- Pink — Розовый (Rozovyy)
- Black — Черный (Chernyy)
- White — Белый (Belyy)
- Grey — Серый (Seryy)
- Brown — Коричневый (Korichnevyy)
Days of the Week
Most travelers also rely on a schedule and reservations for the duration of their trip. Learning the days of the week can be useful for travelers to ensure that they are correctly managing their schedule.
- Day — День (Den’)
- Week — Неделя (Nedelya)
- Monday — Понедельник (Ponedel’nik)
- Tuesday — Вторник (Vtornik)
- Wednesday — Среда (Sreda)
- Thursday — Четверг (Chetverg)
- Friday — Пятница (Pyatbitsa)
- Saturday — Суббота (Subbota)
- Sunday — Воскресенье (Voskresen’ye)
We’ve listed most of the basic words and phrases that beginners need to know in Russian, but here are a few more that you may hear on your travels.
- Okay — Ладно (Ladno)
- Come here — Подойди сюда (Podoydi syuda)
- My love — Моя любовь (Moya lyubov’)
- I love you — Я люблю тебя (Ya lyublyu tebya)
- What are you doing? — Что делаешь? (Chto delayesh’)
- Very good — Очень хорошо (Ochen’ khorosho)
Practice Makes Perfect
Russian is a difficult language to learn and while you won’t become fluent in a day, travelers can easily learn key words and phrases that will make getting around easier. Language barriers shouldn’t stop you from traveling and with a little practice, you can conquer beginner Russian and travel like a pro.
Practice makes perfect and learning to speak without fear is important. Mistakes are not a bad thing and most locals will gently correct you with your pronunciation or assist you with proper grammar. With our guide, you’ll be well on your way to learning Russian, so you can focus more on connecting with new people and less on the challenges of a new language.