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written by
Arie Helderman

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The first thing that baffles everyone who’s ever picked up a basic list of Russian words, is how to say “hello” in Russian…

Здравствуйте – zdravstvuyte

How can something so basic, have four consonants following each other?

It’s like the language version of military training. It’s meant to test your willpower, reserve, endurance, and only allow those who really want to finish the program. And it’s just the start!

The program here, of course, means learning how to speak Russian.

If you can make peace with the fact that the answer to a simple question, ‘how do you say “hello” in Russian?’, isn’t as easy as you’d expect it to be, you’ve passed the first trial.

But for those who aren’t ready yet, it’s a good idea to look into 15 alternative Russian greetings.

Curious? Let’s find out what these basic Russian phrases are!

Russian Greetings

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a greeting as a salutation at meeting. Just like in English, you can say the following Russian greetings whenever you meet a Russian person.

Be aware: the Russian language has a high level of politeness. So some greetings are better used for your close friends, where others are only good in specific (formal) situations.

Don’t worry though. After every greeting I’ll quickly discuss what it means (literal meaning & English equivalent) and in which situations you can use it.

1. “Hi” in Russian – Привет (privyet)

After trying to pronounce the tongue twister здравствуйте, you’d do better and switch to this simple way of saying “hi” in Russian. It’s easy to say and chances are you’ll get it right on your first or second try.

Even though it’s officially considered an informal way of saying hello, you can get away with in many cases. For example, saying “hi” to friends, family, or even casual acquaintances. If you’re unsure though, I recommend you only say it to those that you’d otherwise address with the informal “you” (ты).

*The great thing about being a foreigner in Russia, is that you have much more leeway with getting the formality (or anything, really) right. As people know it’s not your native language, they’re quick to forgive little mistakes. *

When I’m in Russia, I basically make привет my default greeting. Unless I’m in the following situations:

  • Officials such as police, customs officers or security guards
  • Elderly people
  • Anyone who’s doing their job (waiters, store clerks, taxi drivers, etc.)
  • Or if I’m in a bigger group and am unsure what the formality level is

In any of those cases, you’re better of doing some mouth gymnastics and saying….

2. “Hello” in Russian – Здравствуйте (zdravstvuyte)

Look, the first thing that you absolutely must know before even trying to pronounce this greeting is that *virtually every Russian person skips the first ‘в’ and softens the ‘c’ to more of a ‘z’ sound. *So instead of four consonants, you actually only have to pronounce three.

This makes it a lot easier (still not easy though!).

Try saying it: Zdraztvuytye

How did that go? Better, right? Good. Don’t worry about perfect pronunciation at this point. Just know that it will get better over time, as you improve your ability to say multiple consonants right after each other.

As far as the use is concerned, it’s a great greeting to use in every situation where you’d otherwise use the formal “you” (Вы) in Russian.

Здравствуйте is the formal command of the verb здравствовать – which means “to live long”. So when you say здравствуйте, you command them to live well and long. Over time the meaning has switched to only hello, but it’s nice to know where it comes from as few foreigners will know this.

Still find it hard to pronounce? Then you’ll love the next greeting.

3. An Informal “Hello” in Russian – Здрасте (Zdraste)

Sometimes I get the feeling that even Russians find здравствуйте a little over the top and too long for a regular greeting.

That’s why you’ll often hear the shortened version of it: Здрасте.

If you’d repeat Здравствуйте 20 times as fast as you can, you quickly notice that you drop the вы in the middle of it. And you’re left with an even shorter (and way easier on the tongue) way of saying “hello”.

As far as the usage and formality is concerned, I’d say it’s somewhere in between здравствуйте and привет. You often hear this greeting when someone says “hi” to a small group of people (five or so), and still wants to say hello to each individual.

4. A More Affectionate “Hi” in Russian – Приветик (privyetik)

If you’ve been learning Russian for a while, you’ll know that you can ‘cutify’ almost every word by adding a suffix. One of them is “ик”, and it works well to add to привет. You can hear kids saying this, or sometimes an adult to kids.

I don’t really recommend foreigners to use this mini version of привет, since it’s tough to get its usage right. Saying it to adults can get you some weird looks. So if you’re going the informal route, just stick to the tried and true привет.

5. A Russified “Hello” – Алло / Алё / Элло (Allo / Alyo / Ello)

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise, as I’m sure you’ve heard Russians speak English before, right? You simply take the English “hello” and say it with a Russian accent.

The catch?

If you try to say this as a foreigner, 80% chance it will look as if you’re making fun of the Russian accent.

So don’t say this.

6. “Hey” in Russian – Здорого (Zdorovo)

This is another trap in the land of Russian greetings (don’t worry, we’ll get to more safe words starting in a moment). When pronouncing this informal greeting, be sure to put the stress on the second o. When the stress is on the first o, it means “nice” or “well done”. So keep this in mind to avoid weird situations, where someone tells you “nice, good job”, and you respond by saying “hi”.

7. “Good Morning” in Russian – Доброе утро (dobroye utro)

We’re back in safe territory. “Good morning” in Russian literally means “kind morning”. The Russian word for morning (утро), is neuter gender, so the adjective should also be in the neuter form.

It’s easy to recognize this, as every word that ends in “е” or “о” is neuter. And the adjective takes these two letters to form the ending. If you want to learn more about this, you can check out this guide to Russian noun genders. As “good day” and “good evening” also follow this adjective plus noun combination.

As you’d expect, you can say доброе утро, every time when it’s morning, or when you just woke up.

  • Russian culture tip: if you’re a guy, then it’s custom to shake hands in the morning with other guys. So remember this if you’re staying over at someone's place.
  • Russian culture tip 2: never ever shake hands over a doorway. This is considered a bad omen in Russia.

8. “Good Day” in Russian – Добрый день (dobriy den)

Again, this literally means “kind day”. You can say this approximately from 12pm until 6pm. The word for day (день) is masculine, so the adjective should follow suit.

9. “Good evening” in Russian – Добрый вечер (dobriy vecher)

Nothing new here. It literally means “kind evening”. You can use it after 6pm.

10. “Goodnight” in Russian – Доброй ночи (dobroy nochi)

I was doubting whether to include this here, as it’s not really a Russian greeting. Just like in English, “goodnight” in Russian is more often used to wish someone a good night of sleep. Even if you’d meet someone late at night, you’re better off saying добрый вечер (“good evening”).

Also notice that Доброй ночи, is not in the nominative case, as with the previous three greetings. This is because often when you’re wishing something to someone, you put the thing you wish in the genitive case.

11. “Welcome” in Russian – Добро пожаловать (dobro pozhalovat’)

If you’ve ever been to Russia, you’ve seen this every time you enter a city, region or village. It’s a formal way of saying “welcome”, but you can use it in any informal situation as well. Literally, it means something along the lines of “kind staying”. So you wish someone a kind stay, you can say these words.

12. “Welcome” (After a Long Journey)- С приездом (S priyezdom)

You probably don’t need to say this, but do expect to hear it said to you. Even though it’s best translated as “welcome”, it’s literally a form of congratulations and means “[congratulations] with arrival”. Приезд is used here in the instrumental case, as the preposition is “с” (with), which always triggers this case.

13. “Welcome” (After a Flight) – С прилётом (S prilyotom)

This expression is the same as “С приездом”, but it’s used if you arrive by plane, as прилёт means flight arrival.

14. Military “Hello” in Russian – Здравия желаю (Zdraviya zhelayu)

This is the military way of saying “hello” in Russian. You won’t need to say this as a foreigner, but it’s good to know. If you know someone really well, you could even say it as a joke to them.

15. “Hello” (After a Long Absence) – Сколько лет, сколько зим! (Skol’ko let, skol’ko zim!)

This greeting is likely the last one that a Russian person would expect from a foreigner. If you haven’t seen someone for a very long time, you can say “how many summers, how many winters”, to signify how many years it has since you’ve last seen each other.

As you can probably tell, this is an informal greeting!

What’s Your Favourite Russian Greeting?

So how about you? Have you traveled to Russia before and noticed some specific greetings not on this list?

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Arie Helderman

Language Blogger

Arie Helderman started learning Russian four years ago and shares which strategies and tips have worked for him at Learn the Russian Language.

Speaks: Dutch, English, Russian

View all posts by Arie Helderman

FAQs

How do you say hello in a Russian accent? ›

If you were answering the phone the most common greeting is a Leo.

What is my name is in Russia? ›

The most popular way to say "my name is" in Russian is меня зовут (meNYA zaVOOT).

How do you say hello in Russian Zdravstvuyte? ›

Hello in Russian – Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte)

How do Russians greet? ›

People give the appropriate formal greeting depending on what time of day it is: “Dobroe utro” (Good morning), “Dobriy den” (Good afternoon) or “Dobriy vecher” (Good evening). A more casual greeting is “Privet” (Hi).

Is GRU Russian? ›

"GRU" is the English version of the Russian acronym ГРУ, which means Main Intelligence Directorate. The GRU is Russia's largest foreign intelligence agency. In 1997 it had six times as many agents in foreign countries as the SVR (The SVR is the successor to the KGB's foreign operations directorate).

How do you do a fake Russian accent? ›

How to Do a Russian Accent | Accent Training - YouTube

What is the most popular girl name in Russia? ›

For girls, the most common Russian names are as follows.
...
What are common Russian names?
  • Anna – Анна. ...
  • Elizabeth – Елизавета. ...
  • Victoria – Виктория. ...
  • Daria – Дарья, Дария. ...
  • Polina – Полина. ...
  • Varvara – Варвара. ...
  • Alice – Алиса.

How do you say my in Russian? ›

How to Say "My Name Is" in Russian | Russian Language - YouTube

Is Russian hard to learn? ›

Russian is widely believed to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. This is mostly true, if you have no knowledge of other Slavic languages (e.g. Bulgarian or Czech). The grammar rules in Russian are very complex and have numerous exceptions.

How do Russians answer phone? ›

Алё (alyo)—“Hello.” This is another way to say Алло (allo) when you answer the phone in Russian, if you're going for a less formal approach. A lot of people use both of them. Але (ale)—“Hello.” This is also an option to answer a phone call. It's used mostly by young people who want to look original.

What does КУ mean? ›

English translation: a word from a made-up language on planet Kindzadza
Russian term or phrase:ку
English translation:a word from a made-up language on planet Kindzadza
Entered by:Judith Hehir
28 Dec 2009

Do Russians pray? ›

Most people who identify with Russian Orthodox Christianity do not practise it formally. However, church attendance is not the most accurate reflection of observance. While only 5.4% of Orthodox Russians claim to attend church services weekly, 27.9% say they pray outside of religious services every day.

Do Russians like gifts? ›

Generally speaking, Russians take pleasure in giving and receiving gifts. Be sure to bring an assortment of gifts, so that you will always have something appropriate to give. Cheaper gifts do not have to be wrapped, while more expensive ones should be.

What does thumbs up mean in Russia? ›

That innocent "thumbs up"? In Greece, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and several other places, it actually means "up yours."

Who is GRU's dad? ›

What's GRU's full name? ›

Felonius Gru (or simply Gru) is the son of Marlena Gru and the late Robert Gru, and is the main protagonist of the Despicable Me franchise. He is a former supervillain and is the husband of AVL agent Lucy Wilde. He has three adopted daughters Margo, Edith, and Agnes.

What is GRU's last name? ›

Gru (Despicable Me)
Gru
Full nameFelonius Gru
WeaponFreeze Ray
SpouseLucy Wilde
ChildrenMargo Edith Agnes
5 more rows

What is the easiest accent to learn? ›

Option 1: the American accent

The most popular English accent of them all. Spread around the world by American cinema, music, television and more than 350 million North Americans (including Canadians, eh), this is the easiest accent for most people to understand, whether native speakers or non-native speakers.

How do Polish people sound? ›

How to Do a Polish Accent | Accent Training - YouTube

How long will it take to learn Russian? ›

The Foreign Service Institute of the United States has determined that it takes about 1100 hours of study to reach fluency in Russian. If you're willing to study 3 hours every day, it could take you a year to reach that level.

What's the rarest girl name? ›

The name Alora has never been popular in the U.S. and 2017 was the first year that the name appeared on the Top 1,000 list. With very few people naming their babies Alora, it is the rarest girl name in the United States.

What is the prettiest Russian girl name? ›

Top Russian Girls Names
  • Sofia. Sofia is a name that enjoys popularity across the world, and is a firm favourite in Russia. ...
  • Anastasia. Anastasia is one of the prettiest Russian girl names and means 'resurrection. ...
  • Maria. ...
  • Anya. ...
  • Alina. ...
  • Ekaterina. ...
  • Alyona. ...
  • Inessa.

What is a unique female name? ›

If you would like a name with a pretty sound, these unique girl names surely fit the bill.
  • Annalise. A combination of the name Anna and Lise, this name is simple, pretty, and unique.
  • Brigitta. ...
  • Charmaine. ...
  • Constance. ...
  • Geneviève. ...
  • Larisa. ...
  • Lorelei. ...
  • Lucinda.
10 Feb 2022

How is e pronounced in Russian? ›

Let's learn how to read it. The Russian letter "э" is pronounced [e] like in the word "edit". But be careful, remember that the Russian letter "e" is pronounced [ye] like in "yellow". You have already learnt that "и" has a sound [i], similar to "three" or "free".

What does Moy mean in Russian? ›

мой ► Meaning: my, mine. Pronunciation: [moy] Part of speech: pronoun (this word is same as the imperative form of the verb "мыть" - to wash)

How do you say good in Russian? ›

How to say "Good" in Russian - YouTube

What is the longest last name? ›

Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff Sr. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

What is the most common last name in the world? ›

The most common surname in the world is Wang—a patronymic Chinese name that means “king” in Mandarin. Around 76 million people in the world bear the name, with the next most common being the Indian surname Devi, which 69 million people share.

What is hardest language to learn? ›

1. Mandarin Chinese. Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is challenging for a number of reasons.

Is Russian easier than Japanese? ›

After reading through all the differences, Russian probably comes across as the easier language to learn. And it is! For native English speakers, Russian is categorized as taking 44 weeks to learn (or 1,100 hours), while Japanese takes 88 weeks (2,200 hours).

Is English the hardest language to learn? ›

The English language is widely regarded as one of the most difficult to master. Because of its unpredictable spelling and challenging to learn grammar, it is challenging for both learners and native speakers.

What do Indians say when they answer the phone? ›

The proper way to answer a phone call is to say one's last name, and follow it with “guten tag,” which is “hello.” Tamil is a major language in southern India. Phones there are answered with “Sollunga,” roughly “tell me.” If you were in the Netherlands, you'd answer “Met,” and then say your first name.

What do French people say when they answer the phone? ›

"Allo" is the phrase typically used when answering the phone in French.

How do you greet a woman in Russian? ›

Learn Russian - How to Greet People in Russian - YouTube

What does Kuku mean in Russian? ›

ку-ку́ • (ku-kú) m anim or f anim (indeclinable) (colloquial, derogatory) an insane person synonyms ▲ Synonyms: псих (psix), ненорма́льный (nenormálʹnyj)

What is the biggest religion in the world? ›

Of the world's major religions, Christianity is the largest, with more than two billion followers. Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and is approximately 2,000 years old.

What religion spread the fastest? ›

Studies in the 21st century suggest that, in terms of percentage and worldwide spread, Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.
...
Contents
  • 1.6 Hinduism.
  • 1.7 Islam. 1.7.1 Modern growth. ...
  • 1.8 Judaism.
  • 1.9 Baháʼí Faith.
  • 1.10 Nonreligious.
  • 1.11 Sikhism.
  • 1.12 Wicca.
  • 1.13 Zoroastrianism.

Which religion is growing fast in Russia? ›

Sunni Islam was the religion of 2,400,000 Muslims in Russia, accounting for 1.6 percent of the total population.

Is it rude to whistle in Russia? ›

Whistling indoors in Russia is considered bad luck and will lead to financial problems — or so superstition has it. Better to avoid those annoying but catchy tunes on your way home then.

Do and don'ts in Russia? ›

11 Things Tourists Should Never Do While Visiting Russia
  • Don't wear your shoes inside. ...
  • Don't whistle indoors. ...
  • Don't leave empty bottles on the table. ...
  • Don't smile all the time. ...
  • Don't sit by the corner of the table. ...
  • Don't shake hands with gloves on. ...
  • Don't shake hands over a threshold. ...
  • Always take part in toasts.

Do Russians kiss each other on the cheeks? ›

Cheek kiss.

There's a well-known Russian greeting tradition: the triple cheek-kiss. It's usually common between close relatives. Sometimes, it's shortened to two kisses. One cheek kiss is often used by girls to greet friends, or even close female coworkers.

What is the meaning of 👌? ›

The OK gesture or OK sign or ring gesture (symbol/emoji: "👌") is performed by connecting the thumb and index into a circle, and holding the other fingers straight or relaxed away from the palm. Commonly used by divers, it signifies "I am OK" or "Are you OK?" when underwater.

What gestures are rude in Russia? ›

Hugs, backslapping, kisses on the cheeks and other expansive gestures are common among friends or acquaintances and between members of the same sex. Russians stand close when talking. Putting your thumb through your index and middle fingers or making the "OK" sign are considered very rude gestures in Russia.

Can you smile in Russia? ›

If you smile at a stranger in Russia, he/she can smile back, but it can already mean an invitation to come and talk. Russians take smiling as a sign that the person cares about them. To smile at a stranger can raise the question:” Do we know each other?”

How do you pronounce Privyet? ›

How to say privet in Russian | Russian greetings - privet - YouTube

What is Dosvedanya? ›

The most common expression for goodbye in Russian is До свидания (Dasvidaniya). However, there are several other ways to say goodbye in Russian, including very formal and informal expressions.

What does КУ mean? ›

Nowadays, it may be used by old people. Ку! (Ku!) —“Hi” from the film “Кин-дза-дза!” (kin-dza-dza). This is usually used by people who have watched this film.

What is privet Russian? ›

Privet in Russian means hi / hey / hello. It is the most common Russian informal greeting. In Cyrillic it's written приве́т. Privet is an informal way to say hello and should be used only with friends, relatives or people younger than you.

What is Paka in Russian? ›

Пока (Paka) - “Bye” in Russian

This is the most common way of quickly saying “bye” in Russian. Just like in English, you can also say Пока twice, as in Пока Пока, to say “bye-bye”. Пока literally means 'while'.

How do we pronounce you d? ›

How to Pronounce YOU'D (CORRECTLY) - YouTube

What is the meaning of Kak dela? ›

"="How do you do?" Phrase can be used in greeting as a courtesy phrase. Usually Russian ask “kak dela?” only when they want a real answer.

Do Russians say goodbye? ›

How to say GOODBYE in Russian – Russian phrases part 2 - YouTube

What does mamushka mean in Russian? ›

The word Mamushka means mommy, mom, mother; The mother is the central figure that from the dawn of time has passed down generation to generation the culinary culture of her country or region.

How do you respond to spasibo? ›

The Most Common Reply

A universal answer to “Spasibo” is “Пожалуйста!” (Pozhaluysta!). This word has four syllables when written, but as the stress falls on the second one, the remaining two lose their full vowels in speech: Po-zhA-lsta!

What is the meaning of пока? ›

Explanation: пока: 1. for the time being, for the time present, meanwhile. а пока - or the moment, for now, for the present.

What does Dobra mean in Russian? ›

adj (weather, building, clothes) серый (сер) , унылый (уныл)

What does Dobre mean in Russian? ›

Interjection. добре́ • (dobré) OK, all right.

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