When traveling, it is always a good thing to know a few words in the local language as it shows respect and interest in the local culture. In Russia, it may also be a necessity, as many do not speak English, which means that you can encounter communication challenges. In this blog post I will teach you 15 Russian phrases that are useful when travelling in Russia.
Why it’s a good idea to know a few Russian phrases?
While many Russians speak English, you will probably encounter many Russians who do not speak any English at all. Knowing a few useful Russian words and phrases can help you save time and minimuze frustrating situations of misunderstandings.
First of all, it can open up new doors and new acquaintances when knowing a handful of Russian phrases. If you only speak English, you will be limited to communicate with people in hotels, restaurants and other tourist destinations that are made for international visitors. These places are more likely to have English speaking staff. And yes, I write ‘more likely’, as it is not a certainty in Russia. I have experienced staff who worked at the information desk at international airports that did not speak English.
Besides being practical and useful, it can also help you to get to know locals and thus gain a better insight into Russian culture.
Even if you meet russians who speak English well, knowing a few Russian phrases and words will show respect and interest in the russian culture. It will make people happy and they will most likely make a greater effort in speaking English and helping you out.
Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte) means “hello” and is a more formal way of saying hello than just Привет (Privet). For such a simple word, the pronunciation can be a little scary for beginners. After listening to it a couple of times and getting used to saying it quickly, it’s not that hard at all.
When you enter stores, restaurants, taxis and hotels you will probably be greeted with Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte), where you can greet the person again using the same word.
2. Меня зовут…
Меня зовут… (Menya zovut…) means “My name is …”. Add your name at the end of the sentence to introduce yourself in Russian. Меня зовут Адиль (Menya zovut Adil) “My name is Adil”.
3. Доброе утро, Добрый день, Добрый вечер
Доброе утро (Dobroye utro) means “Good morning”
Добрый день (Dobryy den’) means “Good day”
Добрый вечер (Dobryy vecher) means “Good evening”
Извините (Izvinite) means “Sorry” or “Excuse me” and is used if you bump into someone or want to catch someone’s attention.
Спасибо (Spasibo) means “Thank you”.
6. Вы говорите по-английски?
Вы говорите по-английски? (Vy govorite po-angliyski) is the formal way to ask if a person can speak English. The sentence is translated to “Do you speak English?”
Using formality in language is very important in Russia and it is used when speaking to older people, authorities, people you respect and strangers.
7. Я не понимаю
Я не понимаю (Ya ne ponimayu) means “I do not understand” and is a good expression to use when there is something you would like repeated or explained in another way.
8. До свидания
До свидания (Do svidaniya) means “goodbye” and is a more formal way of saying “goodbye” than just Пока (Poka).
When you leave shops, restaurants, taxis and hotels you can use the term До свидания (Do svidaniya).
Restaurants and stores
9. У вас есть меню на английском?
У вас есть меню на английском? (U vas yest’ menyu na angliyskom?) means “Do you have a menu card in English?” and can save you from translating every word from a Russian menu or if you are not in the mood to just close your eyes and pick something random from the menu card.
Read about which 10 Russian dishes you have to taste!
10. Дайте мне, пожалуйста…
Дайте мне, пожалуйста… (Dayte mne, pozhaluysta) is translated to “Please Give Me …”. It is used when you order something in a restaurant or ask for something in a store. Add what you would like to have at the end of the sentence, for example. ‘Pelmeni’.
You can also just point at what you’d like at the end of the sentence if you can not remember the word.
11. Счёт, пожалуйста
Счёт, пожалуйста (Schot, pozhaluysta) means “Can I have the bill, please”. When you ask for the bill you can easily spend 10-15 minutes waiting before you actually get the bill and another 5-10 minutes before you can actually pay the bill. In Russia, when you get the bill, the waiters will go away so you have the opportunity to look through the bill. Depending on the place, the waiter will come back again after some time or you will have to call him/her yourself when you are ready to pay the bill.
12. Сколько это стоит?
Сколько это стоит? (Skol’ko eto stoit?) means “How much does it cost?”
13. Где туалет?
Где туалет? (Gde tualet) means “Where is the toilet?”
Где…? (Gde…?) means “Where…”. When you add a place or the name of a place at the end of the sentence, you ask where something is. It could, for example. be Где кремль? (Gde Kreml ‘), which means “Where is the Kremlin?”
Below I have listed a number of useful things that you could end up looking for.
…метро (metro) means “Metro”
…аэропорт (aeroport) means “Airport”
…гостиница (gostinitsa) means “Hotel”
…ресторан (restoran) means “Restaurant”
15. Один билет, пожалуйста
Один билет, пожалуйста (Odin bilet, pozhaluysta) means “One ticket, please”.
Do you have any questions on these useful russian phrases? Comments? Ideas for other topics/guides for my next blog post?
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