Survival Russian

  Russian an Introduction Russian is the largest native language in Europe, with 144 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Russian is the eighth most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers and the seventh by total number of speakers. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. I. Russian formulas of politeness

Здравствуйте! Hello! (formal greeting)
До свидания! Goodbye! (formal and informal)
Привет! Hi! (informal greeting)
Покa ! Bye-bye! (informal farewell)
Спасибо Thank you (formal and informal)
Извините Excuse me/Sorry (formal)
Извини Excuse me/Sorry (informal)
Polite and familiar forms of address in Russian
The Russian language has respectful and familiar forms of address to other people. The polite form is used in formal situations or if you are you talking to someone you don’t know very well. Russian familiar form is generally used among friends and relatives. In this course, we mainly use polite phrases for formal situations. However, in some cases, we will introduce familiar expressions which will be marked as “informal” in brackets. Notice also that certain formulas of politeness (e.g. до свидания ‘goodbye’ and спасибо ‘thank you’) can be used both for formal and informal situations.

II. Greetings and farewells

Здравствуйте! Hello!
Привет! Hi! (informal)
Доброе утро! Good morning! (formal and informal)
Добрый день! Good afternoon! (formal and informal)
Добрый вечер! Good evening! (formal and informal)
Всего хорошего! All the best!
Удачи! Good luck! (formal and informal)
До свидания! Goodbye! (formal and informal)
Пока! Bye-bye!

Russian Family Words

Here are the words Russians commonly use to refer to members of their family:
  • Матьmother
  • Отецfather
  • Мамаmum
  • Папаdad
  • Сестраsister
  • Братbrother
  • Дочьdaughter
  • Сынson
  • бабушкаgrandmother
  • Дедушкаgrandfather
  • Женаwife
  • Мужhusband
  • Тётяauntie
  • Дядяuncle
  • Родителиparents
  • Детиchildren
  • Внучкаgranddaughter
  • Внукgrandson
  • Семьяfamily
Just like English, in Russian there are two ways to refer to your mother and father. For example we use the words mum and dad. Most commonly Russians use the words Mama and Papa to refer to their parents.

Basic Russian phrases

Quite often you want to tell people how many brothers and sisters you have. Here are some Russian phrases you could use.
  • У меня есть сестраI have a sister.
  • У меня есть братI have a brother.
  • У тебя есть дети?Do you have children?.
  • У меня есть сын и дочьI have a son and a daughter.
  • У меня нет детейI don’t have any children.
Possessive Pronouns: In order to talk about your family you normally need to use possessive pronouns. You should always choose the possessive pronoun that matches the gender of the item it owns.
  • Мой (m), Моя (f), Моё (n), Мои (pl) – my
  • Твой (m), Твоя (f), Твоё (n), Твои (pl) – your
  • Его (m n) (“yevo”), Её (f) – his, her
  • Наш (m), Наша (f), Наше (n), Наши (pl) – our
  • Ваш (m), Ваша (f), Ваше (n), Ваши (pl) – your
  • Их their
Now you will be able to combine Russian words and phrases that your learnt in earlier lessons to talk about your family. Here are some Russian phrases and sentences you could say with words you already know.
  • Моя мама любит музыкуMy mother loves music
  • Моя сестра читает газетуMy sister is reading a newspaper
  • Мой брат любит спортMy brother loves sport
  • Твой брат любит спортYour brother loves sport
  • Наш брат любит спортOur brother loves sport
  • Меня зовут Аннаmy name is Anna
  • Её зовут Аннаher name is Anna
  • Его зовут Иванhis name is Ivan.

This is…

The Russian word Это means ‘this is’. Here is how you can use it with some possessive pronouns.
  • Это мой домThis is my house
  • Это моя квартираThis is my apartment
  • Это твоя квартира?Is this your apartment?

Common greetings

Let us have a look at some of the most common greetings in Russian.
  • Доброе утроgood morning
  • Добрый деньgood afternoon
  • Добрый вечерgood evening
  • Спокойной ночиgoodnight (when going to bed)
Russian Personal Pronouns

Singular personal pronouns.

1st person 2nd person 3rd person (masc.) 3rd person (fem.) 3rd person (neut.).
English I, Me You He, Him She, Her It
Nominative Case Я Ты Он Она Оно
Accusative Case Меня Тебя Его Её Его
Genitive Case Меня Тебя Его Её Его
Dative Case Мне Тебе Ему Ей Ему
Instrumental Case Мной Тобой Им Ей Им
Prepositional Case Мне Тебе Нём Ней Нём
Plural personal pronouns.
1st person 2nd person 3rd person
English We, Us You They, Them
Nominative Case Мы Вы Они
Accusative Case Нас Вас Их
Genitive Case Нас Вас Их
Dative Case Нам Вам Им
Instrumental Case Нами Вами Ими
Prepositional Case Нас Вас Них
Note 1: Pronouns that start with vowels may be proceeded by the letter “н” when used with prepositions. Note 2: Его is pronounced “yevo”.

Russian Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns indicate who something belongs to. They may replace a person’s name in the sentence, “Ivan’s Book”. Words like “My, Your, Our, His, Her” in English. Please note that the genders indicated in the following tables refer to the gender of the noun that these pronouns modify. (ie the noun owned). For example in the phrase “My book”, you would use the 1st person (my) and feminise gender (book is feminine) (Моя). Don’t confuse this with the pronouns “his” and “her” (Его and Её).

Please and Thank-You.

The two most important words you will learn in Russian are please and thank-you. You can just add these to any sentence to make it more polite.

Спасибо (“spa-see-ba”) – Thank-You

Пожалуйста (“pa-zhal-sta”) – Please (and You’re Welcome)

The word Пожалуйста is also used to mean “You’re Welcome”, after somebody says thank-you. You should always say this after someone thanks you. Пожалуйста is pronounced a little different than it is written, you can basically forget the “уй”.

Yes and No.

Two other very important Russian words are “Yes” and “No”.

Да (“da”) – Yes

Нет (“nyet”) – No

Saying Hello.

When you are in Russia and you meet somebody, the first thing you will want to do is to say “hello”. There are two forms of this word.

Здравствуйте (“zdra-stvooy-tye”) – Hello (Formal)

Привет (“pree-vyet”) – Hi (Informal)

Здравствуйте may be a little difficult for you to pronounce at first, but it is the most common Russian greeting so you should try to practice it. Привет is also commonly used with friends. However, keep in mind that Привет is informal (much like “hi” in English), and should only be used with friends. If somebody says Привет to you, then it is normally safe to proceed in the friendly tone.

Introducing Yourself.

In order to introduce yourself, you may need the following phrases.
  • Меня зовут … (“men-ya za-voot”) – My name is …
  • Как вас зовут? (“kak vas za-voot”) – What is your name?
  • Очень приятно (“och-en pree-yat-na”) – Pleased to meet you.
Note: The above 3 phrases are grammatically unusual. You should just learn the whole phrase, not the individual words.

How are you?

The most natural way to ask someone how they are in Russian is to ask: “how are things?”

Как дела?How are things?

Хорошо спасибоGood/Well thank-you


Saying Good-Bye.

There are also two words for saying good-bye.

До свидания (“da-svee-da-nee-ye”) – Good-bye. (The до is pronounced as if it is part of the next word)

Пока (“pa-ka”) – Bye (Informal, slang)

You should generally use до свидания, which is appropriate in formal or informal situations. You may also hear people say Пока, but we suggest you only use it with friends.

Asking about languages

When you are speaking Russian you should ask questions in a different tone. The tone of your voice should rise if you are asking a question. If you are making a statement your tone will naturally fall.
  • Вы говорите по-английски?Do you (formal) speak English?
  • Вы говорите по-русски?Do you (formal) speak Russian?
  • Я говорю по-английскиI speak English
  • Я говорю по-русскиI speak Russian
  • Я понимаюI understand
  • Я не понимаюI don’t understand
The ending of the verb говорю (speak) changes depending on who the subject is.
English Russian
Hello Привет – Privet
Good evening Добрый вечер – Dobryj večer
Goodbye пока – poka
See you later До скорого – Do skorogo
Yes Да – Da
No Нет – Net
Excuse me! Пожалуйста – Požalujsta
Thanks Спасибо – Spasibo
Thanks a lot Большое спасибо ! – Bolšoe spasibo !
Thank you for your help Спасибо за вашу помощь – Spasibo za vašu pomoŝ
Don’t mention it Прошу вас – Prošu vas
Ok Ладно – Ladno
How much is it? Скажите пожалуйста, сколько это стоит? – Skažite požalujsta, skolko èto stoit?
Sorry! Извините – Izvinite
I don’t understand Я не понимаю – Ja ne ponimaju
I get it Понятно – Ponjatno
I don’t know Я не знаю – Ja ne znaju
Forbidden Запрещено – Zapreŝeno
Excuse me, where are the toilets? Скажите пожалуйста где туалет? – Skažite požalujsta gde tualet?
Happy New Year! С новым годом! – S novym godom!
Happy birthday! С днём рождения! – S dnëm roždenija!
Happy holiday! С праздником! – S prazdnikom!
Congratulations! Поздравляю! – Pozdravljaju!
Looking for Someone:
English Russian
Excuse me, is Sarah here? Вы не скажете, Сара здесь? – Vy ne skažete, Sara zdes?
Yes, she’s here Да, она здесь – Da, ona zdes
She’s out Она ушла – Ona ušla
You can call her on her mobile phone Не смогли бы вы позвонить ей по сотовому? – Ne smogli by vy pozvonit ej po sotovomu?
Do you know where I could find her? Вы не скажете где я могу её найти? – Vy ne skažete gde ja mogu eë najti?
She is at work Она на работе – Ona na rabote
She is at home Она у себя – Ona u sebja
Excuse me, is Julien here? Вы не скажете Жюльен здесь? – Vy ne skažete Žjulen zdes?
Yes, he’s here Да, он здесь – Da, on zdes
He’s out Он ушёл – On ušël
Do you know where I could find him? Вы не скажете где я могу его найти? – Vy ne skažete gde ja mogu ego najti?
You can call him on his mobile phone Не могли бы вы позвонить ему по сотовому? – Ne mogli by vy pozvonit emu po sotovomu?
He is at work Он на работе – On na rabote
He is at home Он у себя – On u sebja
English Russian
The restaurant Ресторан – Restoran
Would you like to eat? Ты хочешь есть? – Ty hočeš est?
Yes, with pleasure Да, хочу – Da, hoču
To eat Есть – Est
Where can we eat? Где мы можем поесть? – Gde my možem poest?
Where can we have lunch? Где мы можем пообедать? – Gde my možem poobedat?
Dinner Поужинать – Použinat
Breakfast Позавтракать – Pozavtrakat
Excuse me! Пожалуйста – Požalujsta
The menu, please Меню, пожалуйста – Menju, požalujsta
Here is the menu Пожалуйста, меню – Požalujsta, menju
What do you prefer to eat? Meat or fish? Что ты предпочитаешь: мясо или рыбу? – Čto ty predpočitaeš: mjaso ili rybu?
With rice С рисом – S risom
With pasta С макаронами – S makaronami
Potatoes Картошка – Kartoška
Vegetables Овощи – Ovoŝi
Scrambled eggs – fried eggs – or a boiled egg Яичница болтунья; глазунья; яйцо в смятку – Jaičnica boltunja; glazunja; jajco v smjatku
Bread Хлеб – Hleb
Butter Сливочное масло – Slivočnoe maslo
Salad Салат – Salat
Dessert Десерт – Desert
Fruit Фрукты – Frukty
Can I have a knife, please? Извините, у вас есть нож? – Izvinite, u vas est nož?
Yes, I’ll bring it to you right away Да, я вам его сейчас принесу – Da, ja vam ego sejčas prinesu
a knife Нож – Nož
a fork Вилка – Vilka
a spoon Ложка – Ložka
Is it a warm dish? Это горячее блюдо? – Èto gorjačee bljudo?
Yes, very hot also! Да, и очень острое – Da, i očen ostroe
Warm Горячее – Gorjačee
Cold Холодное – Holodnoe
Hot Острое – Ostroe
I’ll have fish Я хочу взять рыбу – Ja hoču vzjat rybu
Me too Я тоже – Ja tože
Hotel Reservation:
Я хочу забронировать номер. [yah khah-CHOO zah-brah-NEE-rah-vaht’ NOH-myehr] I want to make a reservation for the room.
Сколько стоит номер? [SKOHL’-kah STOH-eet NOH-myehr] How much is the room?
Можно посмотреть номер? [MOHZH-nah pahs-mah-TRYEHT’ NOH-myehr] May I see the room?
Я хочу подняться в номер. [yah kha-CHOO pahd-NYAH-tsah VNOH-myehr] I want to go up to the room.
Я хочу поменять номер. [yah khah-CHOO pah-mee-NYAHT’ NOH-myehr] I’d like to change the room.
When making your arrangements, the hotel management may be using the following phrases to greet you and make sure that everything is the way you want it.
Я слушаю вас. [yah SLOO-sha-yoo vahs] May I help you? (lit: I listen to you.)
Одну минуту. [ahd-NOO mee-NOO-too] One moment.
Какой номер вы хотите? [kah-KOI NOH-myehr vi khah-TEE-tyeh] What room would you like?
Вас устраивает такой номер? [vahs oo-STRAH-ee-vah-eht tah-KOI NOH-myehr] Does this room suit you?
Now that you’ve chosen your room and it’s time to do the paperwork, the hotel management might ask:
Заполните бланк. [zah-POHL-nee-tyeh blahnk] Fill in the blank.
Повторите, пожалуйста, своё имя. [pahf-tah-REE-tyhe pah-ZHAH-loos-tah svah-YO EE-myah] Could you repeat your name, please?
Once the reservations are complete, you may expect the following closing phrases from the front desk.
Мы будем рады видеть вас. [mi BOO-dyehm RAH-di VEE-dyeht’ vahs] We’re looking forward to seeing you.
Всего доброго! [vsee-VOH DOHB-rah-vah] Good luck!
Asking Whose:
1. – Чей это карандаш? – Это мой карандаш.


     –  Whose pencil is this?     –  This is my pencil.
2. – Чья это книга? – Это моя книга.


     –  Whose book is this? –  This is my book.
3. – Чьё это письмо? – Это моё письмо.


     –  Whose letter is this? –  This is my letter.
4. – Чьи это книги? – Это мои книги.


     –  Whose books are these? –  These are my books.
The Possessive Pronouns его, её, их.
1. – Чей это карандаш? – Это его карандаш.

     –  Whose pencil is this?     –  This is his pencil.
2. – Чья это книга? – Это его книга.
     –  Whose book is this? –  This is his book.
3. – Чьё это письмо? – Это его письмо.
     –  Whose letter is this? –  This is his letter.
4. – Чьи это книги? – Это его книги.

*Note the pronunciation of его – [йиво]!

     –  Whose books are these? –  These are his books.

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