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Russian Proverbs: A Glimpse of Russian Wisdom

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“Better late than never.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

You’re constantly surrounded by proverbs, and you probably don’t pay much attention to them until you start learning a new language. This is where the fun begins: The meanings of foreign proverbs can be difficult to guess, you can’t usually translate them literally, and some of them don’t even have an equivalent. Yes, you’ll find a few Russian proverbs like this. But what if you look at them from another angle?

Have you ever wondered where proverbs come from? Many of them haven’t changed in centuries! They’ve been carrying wisdom from one generation to another, up until modern times. We use proverbs to console a beloved one, to give advice, or to cheer somebody up. Proverbs can be controversial, and some of them tackle the same issue from different (sometimes opposite!) angles. All in all, they reflect who we are and the values we stand for, and these values are different from one country to another.

Today, you have the chance to get a glimpse of Russian wisdom through Russian proverbs. These wise words will provide you with insight into the Russian attitude toward money and friendship, work and discipline, consolation and disapproval. You might not become enlightened right away, but I hope these proverbs get you curious to learn more about Russian people and culture.

A Woman Giving the Thumbs-up Sign

Хорошее начало — половина дела.
“Good beginning is half the battle.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Worldly Wisdom
  2. Studies and Work
  3. Taking Risks
  4. Discipline
  5. Money
  6. Friends & Family
  7. Sarcasm
  8. What’s Next?

1. Worldly Wisdom

♦︎ Before you jump at the opportunity to broaden your cultural horizons, my advice is to get familiar with the proverb, read the literal translation, then think about the meaning it might convey. Simply connecting the English proverb with its Russian equivalent won’t leave any trace in your memory. Give it a good guess first. Remember: “Easy come, easy go.”

RussianНет худа без добра.
(Net khuda bez dobra)
LiterallyThere’s no bad without the good.
Keep your chin up! Whatever trouble comes your way, don’t let it spoil your mood. Even the most difficult situation might have an advantage.

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

RussianПервый блин всегда комом. 
(Pervyy blin vsegda komom)
LiterallyThe first pancake is always lumpy.
Don’t get frustrated if you fail when trying something for the first time. It’s uncommon for one to succeed right away.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

RussianУтро вечера мудренее.
(Utro vechera mudreneye)
LiterallyThe morning is wiser than the evening.
When you’re struggling to come up with a solution, you should give your mind some rest. It might reward you with bright ideas afterward!

“Sleep on it!”

RussianСлово не воробей: вылетит — не поймаешь.
(Slovo ne vorobey: vyletit — ne poymayesh’)
LiterallyA word is not a sparrow: once it flies out, you won’t catch it.
You should be careful with what you say. Words can hurt.

“What’s said can’t be unsaid.”

RussianПоспешишь — людей насмешишь.
(Pospeshish’ — lyudey nasmeshish’)
LiterallyIf you rush things, you’ll just make others laugh.
It’s fine to take your time, one step at a time. Don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of saving time.

“Haste makes waste.”

RussianВ каждой шутке есть доля правды.
(V kazhdoy shutke est’ dolya pravdy)
LiterallyThere is a grain of truth in every joke.
It’s believed that we joke about what actually matters to us. Obviously, that’s not always the case, but sometimes people read too much into it.

“Many true words are spoken in jest.”

2. Studies and Work

Students and working professionals alike can gain something of value from these Russian proverbs about work and learning! 

RussianПовторение — мать учения.
(Povtoreniye — mat’ ucheniya)
LiterallyRepetition is the mother of learning.
When it comes to learning, one would have to be quite talented (or using mnemonics) to remember something on the first try. Don’t shy away from reviewing key vocabulary lists and grammar rules once in a while to brush up on them.

“Practice makes perfect.”

RussianКто не работает, тот не ест.
(Kto ne rabotayet, tot ne yest)
LiterallyHe who does not work, neither should he eat.
Diligence and hard work are encouraged—strongly enough to threaten you with starvation.

“One has to sing for his supper.”

RussianБез труда не вытащишь и рыбку из пруда.
(Bez truda ne vytashchish’ i rybku iz pruda)
LiterallyWithout effort, you can’t even pull a fish out of the pond.
Again, the message here is that you need to put in some effort to get a positive result.

“No pain, no gain.”

RussianРабота не волк, в лес не убежит. 
(Rabota ne volk, v les ne ubezhit)
LiterallyWork isn’t a wolf, it won’t run into the forest.
However, sometimes you can relax and not rush into action right away. Use this saying as an excuse. 

“Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

Now wait a minute… Isn’t that the opposite of what all those “go-achieve-it-all” books advise?

Habits for Highly Effective Language Learners


Russian Pancakes with Red Caviar

Russian pancakes with red caviar
Even if the first one was lumpy, practice makes perfect.

3. Taking Risks

Risk-taking is really two sides of the same coin. Here are some Russian proverbs and sayings on the topic that cover both sides of the story! 

If you feel adventurous

RussianКто не рискует, тот не пьет шампанского.
(Kto ne riskuyet, tot ne p’yot shampanskogo)
LiterallyThose who don’t take risks don’t drink champagne.
Some believe that this expression originated from car racing, where the rally winners were showered with champagne. Others claim the proverb dates back to the early champagne-making days when bottles would accidentally explode, so going down to pick one up in the cellar was a risky adventure. Anyway, whatever side you take, remember:

“Who dares wins.”

RussianНе попробуешь — не узнаешь.
(Ne poprobuyesh’ — ne uznayesh’)
LiterallyIf you don’t try, you’ll never find out.
This one is self-explanatory. You need to give it a chance to see if it’s going to work out.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

RussianПоживём – увидим. 
(Pozhivyom – uvidim)
LiterallyWe will live and then we will see.
No need to pretend to be Nostradamus and try to predict the future. Sometimes it’s better to patiently wait and see what happens next.

“Time will tell.”

Russian– Ни пуха ни пера. 
– К чёрту!


Ni pukha ni pera. 
K chertu!
Literally “Neither fluff, nor feather.”–
“(Go) to the devil!”
Use the first phrase to wish somebody luck. And to receive it, don’t forget to send the person to the devil. (That’s not really nice, if you think about it.)

The expression arose among hunters. “Fluff” and “feather” implied game and game birds respectively. Hence the superstition: If you wish somebody luck directly, the evil spirits would show up to deprive you of your hard-earned spoils. So, after bad-mouthing each other, the hunters could head to the forest with peace of mind. Nowadays, it’s used whenever you want to wish somebody luck, similar to “Break a leg.”

♦︎ It’s often truncated to just “Ни пуха.” But you should still respond with “К чёрту!”

If you are on the cautious side

RussianЛучше синица в руках, чем журавль в небе.
(Luchshe sinitsa v rukakh, chem zhuravl’ v nebe)
LiterallyA tomtit in your hands is better than a crane in the sky.
It’s preferable to have something small but certain than to risk losing everything by trying to get something better.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

RussianТише едешь — дальше будешь.
(Tishe yedesh’ — dal’she budesh’)
LiterallyDrive slower, and you will get further.
Slow down. Take a breath. Those who don’t rush will succeed. 

The proverb works well both figuratively and literally. Drive safely!

“Little by little, one travels far.”

RussianСемь раз отмерь, один отрежь.
(Sem’ raz otmer’, odin otrezh’)
LiterallyMeasure seven times before cutting once.
In Russian, we encourage you to think not twice, but seven times, before you take action. 

“Look before you leap.”

RussianЗа двумя зайцами погонишься — ни одного не поймаешь.
(Za dvumya zaytsami pogonish’sya — ni odnogo ne poymayesh’)
LiterallyIf you chase after two hares, you’ll end up not catching even one.
It’s better to focus on one thing instead of spreading yourself too thin.

“Grasp all, lose all.”

A Student Studying and Highlighting Something in a Textbook

Your friend is having an exam tomorrow. How would you wish him luck in Russian?

4. Discipline

Most of these are used by parents trying to adjust their kids’ behavior to “expected” standards. 

RussianЛюбопытной Варваре на базаре нос оторвали.
(Lyubopytnoy Varvare na bazare nos otorvali)
LiterallyNosy Barbara got her nose torn off at the market.
Don’t ask awkward questions. Don’t touch this. Don’t do that.

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

RussianМечтать не вредно.
(Mechtat’ ne vredno)
LiterallyDreaming won’t hurt.
Feel free to dream big, but—just so you know—you won’t get anything.

Parents typically use this phrase when their child acts up begging for a toy in the shop. It can also be used to sober up a friend and discourage them from fantasizing too much.

“Yeah, dream on!”

RussianХорошего понемножку.
(Khoroshego ponemnozhku)
LiterallyJust a bit is enough.
Know your limits and don’t expect much. 

“Enough is enough.”

RussianВ большой семье клювом не щёлкают.
(V bol’shoy sem’ye kyuvom ne shchelkayut)

also

Кто не успел, тот опоздал.
(Kto ne uspel, tot opozdal)
LiterallyYou don’t snap your beak in a big family.

also

Who’s late is late.
So basically, the “first come, first served” rule in action.

“You snooze, you lose.”

Phrases Your Parents Always Say


5. Money

Could you use a little advice in the financial department? Then study these Russian proverbs about money and gain some useful Russian insight on the matter. 

RussianСкупой платит дважды.
(Skupoy platit dvazhdy)
LiterallyThe stingy one pays twice.
Those who only chase low prices might end up buying something else instead. You usually get what you pay for. 

“Buy nice or buy twice.”

RussianКопейка рубль бережёт.
(Kopeyka rubl’ berezhet)
LiterallyA kopeck saves a ruble.
In order to save much, you shouldn’t neglect little.

“Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves.”

RussianКрасиво жить не запретишь.
(Krasivo zhit’ ne zapretish’)
LiterallyYou can’t forbid living well.
This one can be used ironically, in reference to people who live beyond their means—or with envy (and a glimmer of hope) when gossiping about the rich.

“Living well isn’t against the law.”

RussianСобака на сене лежит; сама не ест и другим не даёт.
(Sobaka na sene lezhit; sama ne yest i drugim ne dayot)
LiterallyA dog is lying on the hay: won’t eat it itself and won’t let others eat either.
This proverb expresses disapproval of people who only hold onto something so that the others can’t use it. Greedy and selfish rolled into one.

“Dog in the manger.”

Money-Related Expressions for Everyday Life


An Older Man on Vacation Holding a Fan of Money and a Cigar

Красиво жить не запретишь.

6. Friends & Family

Wherever you are in the world, relationships are an essential aspect of everyday life. That in mind, here are a few Russian proverbs about friendship and family.

RussianДруг познаётся в беде.
(Drug poznayotsya v bede)
LiterallyYou get to really know your friend when trouble comes.
A person who helps you during a difficult time is the person you can trust. 

“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

RussianНе имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.
(Ne imey sto rubley, a imey sto druzey)
LiterallyDon’t have a hundred rubles, rather have a hundred friends.
Friendship is more valuable than money. (Nobody said one excludes the other, though.)

“A friend at court is better than a penny in a purse.”

RussianВ гостях хорошо, а дома лучше.
(V gostyakh khorosho, a doma luchshe)
LiterallyIt’s good to be visiting, but it’s better at home.
If you feel relief coming back home and share the idea of “My house is my castle,” you know very well where this proverb comes from.

“There is no place like home.”

RussianС милым рай и в шалаше.
(S milym ray i v shalashe)
LiterallyIf you’re with your loved one, it’s a paradise even in a hut.
You can endure any trouble if you’re with your beloved one—even living in poor conditions.

“Love in the cottage.”

RussianМуж и жена — одна сатана.
(Muzh i zhena — odna satana)
LiterallyThe husband and the wife are the same demon.
This proverb refers to a couple with the same interests, aspirations, and ways of thinking and acting. I’d say you were lucky to find a person like that, but the proverb has a rather pejorative connotation.

“They are, indeed, of the same breed.”

Top 10 Quotes About Family

Top 10 Quotes About Friendship


7. Sarcasm

We’ve all said sarcastic things from time to time, no? Let’s conclude our list of Russian proverbs with some sarcastic sayings and phrases. 

RussianКогда рак на горе свистнет.
(Kogda rak na gore svistnet)
LiterallyWhen the crawfish whistles on the mountain.
When you hear this, rest assured: whatever you’ve been talking about is not going to happen. No crawfish have been detected whistling yet.

“When pigs fly.”

RussianЛюбовь зла, полюбишь и козла.
(Lyubov’ zla, polyubish’ i kozla)
LiterallyLove’s evil, you might even fall for a goat.
Interestingly, in Russian, we use the same word for both “male goat” and “jerk” (козёл). Anyway, falling for either of them is a dubious pleasure.

“Love is blind.”

RussianСила есть — ума не надо.
(Sila yest’ — uma ne nado)
LiterallyThe strong don’t need to be smart.
This phrase can be used to express your disapproval of people who prefer to solve problems with force, or those who thoughtlessly show their strength off.

“All brawn and no brains.”

RussianДо свадьбы заживёт.
(Do svad’by zazhivyot)
LiterallyIt will heal before your wedding.
You’ll often hear this said when you hurt yourself. It works best with kids; you might need to come up with something else if the person you’re trying to comfort is already married, though…

“You’ll be alright.”

RussianПлохому танцору яйца мешают.
(Plokhomu tantsoru yaytsa meshayut)
LiterallyPoor dancer is impeded by his own balls.
It’s always easier to blame circumstances or other people than to accept your failure. Well, when there’s nobody else to accuse, blame your body parts… (That’s dud advice, by the way.)

“A poor workman blames his tools.”

A Little Girl Who Skinned Her Knee

Kids being kids. How would you console her in Russian?

8. What’s Next?

Today you’ve discovered more than thirty Russian proverbs! There’s a saying for every possible situation in life, and what we’ve seen today was just the tip of the iceberg. Did you learn anything new about the way Russians treat friendship, family, and work? Which proverb caught your attention most of all? Let us know in the comments below!

Was it easy to guess the meaning of the proverbs without reading the translation right away? Many proverbs aren’t self-explanatory, and you might need some help interpreting them, especially when it comes to connotations. Our teachers on RussianPod101.com will help you dispel any doubts. With our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, you get personal one-on-one coaching with a tutor. Feel free to ask about a confusing proverb you’ve seen recently or any other language-related question. Tutors will be there for you if you decide to work on your Russian, as well: you’ll receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. Just give it a try!

Eager to learn more? This material will help you learn more about Russian culture:

Happy learning with RussianPod101!

About the author: Dzhuliia Shipina is a Russian linguist and a language teacher. For the past few years, she’s been traveling around the world and sharing her passion for languages with other inquiring minds. She invites you to explore the beauty of Russian and unravel its mysteries together.

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Moscow Travel Guide: The Top 10 Places to Visit in Moscow

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Moscow is a magnificent city, serving as both the Russian capital and the nation’s historical and cultural center. So, if you want to learn more about the biggest country in the world—and experience its grandeur yourself—then visiting Moscow is the logical next step forward. 

But is Moscow a nice place to visit? 

Believe us: This lively city has dozens of entertainment options for all tastes. If you’re ready, let’s start planning your trip right now in our Moscow travel guide!

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Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go: The Most Important Things to Know
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Survival Russian Phrases for Foreigners
  5. Conclusion

Before You Go: The Most Important Things to Know

Planning a visit to Moscow involves more than getting your itinerary in order: it’s also essential to know the area and what to expect. Here’s some useful and interesting information about Moscow for you! 

People

Moscow is the most-populated city in all of Europe, with about twelve million people currently living there. It may surprise you, but only two percent of them are indigenous residents. The rest came to this city of big opportunities from other parts of Russia and even other post-Soviet countries. So, if you’re going to travel to Moscow, be prepared to enter a busy atmosphere.

Weather

Another thing you should prepare for is the weather. Moscow is known for its long, severe winters and short, mild summers. While it’s wonderful here at any time of the year, you should keep in mind that you won’t be able to walk around as much during the winter. 

By the way, the best time to visit Moscow is during summer and the beginning of autumn. Before traveling, remember to check the weather forecast, because boiling summer days are not unheard of here.

Currency

In Russia, we pay in rubles; dollars and euros are only accepted in duty-free shops. Although Moscow is a modern city where you can easily pay by card, there are still some places that only accept cash. So, it would be wise to make sure that you always have some cash on you.

Accomodation

The average cost of a hotel room for two people in Moscow is around 2800 rubles (40 dollars) per day. Since Moscow is a really enormous and diverse city, you can find both luxury hotels like Radisson and really cheap variants like hostels.

Transport

The public transportation network in Moscow is well-developed. The best way to get around the city is to use the metro. The Moscow Metro system is well-known for its stunning interior, full of art and mosaics. Even if you prefer taxis, you should take the metro at least one time for the aesthetic experience.

A Moscow Metro Station

Where else in the world can you find something similar to this?

Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

If your time in Moscow is limited, it’s not a big problem. You can visit the most famous sights during your first trip and then come back for more in the future. Let’s discover the must-see places for your one- to three-day visit.

Red Square

Red Square, or Красная Площадь (Krasnaya Ploshchad’), is the symbol of Moscow and of Russia in general. It’s considered to be the center of Moscow, and there are always hundreds of people (mostly tourists) walking around here. 

While in Red Square, you can check out the most significant sights of Moscow. They are:

1.   St Basil’s Cathedral. This unique cathedral attracts attention with its bright colors, crazy patterns, and strange shapes. It’s open every day, but if you come on Sunday, you can also attend a church service.

2.   The Kremlin. The Kremlin is a long-fortified complex where the Russian government is based. There’s also a museum inside.

3.   GUM. This is a huge mall with dozens of boutiques from world-famous brands. If you go inside, make sure to buy the famous GUM ice-cream at one of the ice-cream stalls.

4.   The State History Museum. This museum holds the largest collection of Russian history. There are about five million exhibits and many Russian-style interiors inside of it.

5.   Lenin’s Mausoleum. Lenin was the Russian revolutionist who formed the Russian Soviet Republic. His body is still kept in a transparent sarcophagus inside the mausoleum, and everybody can see it.

It’s worth noting that the amount of time you’ll spend in Red Square fully depends on how deep you want to dig. Five or six hours is enough for most tourists, but some people come here for several days at a time to visit all of the museums.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil’s Cathedral is the first thing that comes to any foreigner’s mind when thinking of Russia.

The Bolshoi Theatre

Visiting the Bolshoi Theatre, or Большой театр (Bol’shoy teatr) as Russians call it, is an essential part of any trip to Moscow. For many years, it’s been a place for holding masquerades and balls. Nowadays, many wonderful ballet and opera performances take place in the Bolshoi Theatre.

If you travel to Moscow, you’d better buy tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre ahead of time, because this place is really popular among Moscow residents and tourists alike. But even if you’re not able to get tickets, you can still walk around this magnificent building and enjoy its Neoclassical architecture.

Arbat

Arbat, or Арбат (Arbat), is the second-most-famous walking street in Moscow after Red Square. Arbat is divided into two parts: the old one and the new one. The old one is a fully pedestrian area, while the new one also contains a carriageway.

Among all the good places to visit in Moscow, Arbat is the best one for getting to know Russian architecture. It’s also nice to eat some traditional food in one of the local restaurants here, listen to street musicians, and buy souvenirs. Several museums are located on Arbat, and the Viktor Tsoi Memorial Wall is also situated here.

Viktor Tsoi Wall in Moscow, Russia

Viktor Tsoi was a legendary Russian musician, and his sudden death at the age of 28 came as a shock for millions of fans.

Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

If you have four to seven days to stay in Russia, then you’re lucky! There are plenty more places you can visit in Moscow with the extra time. 

Moscow-City

In Russian, this is called Москва-Сити (Moskva-Siti) or just (Siti). It’s a modern architectural complex that consists of glass and concrete skyscrapers. The architecture of the buildings combines high tech and Neoconstructivism.

Moscow-City is a budget-friendly place where you can walk between skyscrapers and take wonderful pictures from an observation deck. If your budget isn’t too limited, you can go shopping in a mall or dine in a restaurant in one of the towers.

Moscow-City

Moscow is the city of contrasts, and this photo is proof.

The Moskva River

The Moskva River, or Москва-река (Moskva-reka), flows through the entire city. Many famous buildings are located near this river, so there’s a high probability that you’ll notice it while walking around the city.

If your trip is planned for summer and you would like to visit Moscow by night, we highly recommend that you roam the Moskva River on a tourist boat. The perfect way to do this is to book a late cruise and enjoy the night views of the city.

The State Tretyakov Gallery

In Russian, it’s called Третьяковская Галерея (Tret’yakovskaya Galereya). As the foremost depository of fine Russian art, this is one of the best places to visit in Moscow if you like art and want to further explore Russian culture.

The State Tretyakov Gallery is composed of two buildings: the main one presents masterpieces from the early eleventh century up to the twentieth century, and the second building mainly contains works of Russian avant-garde artists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In total, the gallery contains around 130,000 exhibits. It may take an entire day to see all of them.

Gorky Park

Among Russians, Gorky Park is known as Парк Горького (Park Gor’kogo). This historic park is located in the heart of the city and covers 275 acres. Several festivals and concerts take place in Gorky Park throughout the year.

Gorky Park is one of the greatest places to visit in Moscow in any season. During a summer trip, you’ll be able to rent a bicycle or roller skates here; in winter, you can do ice skating.

Gorky Park in Moscow, Russia

The government takes care of Gorky Park, so every year it becomes more and more beautiful.

Sparrow Hills

Sparrow Hills is one of Moscow’s highest points, where you can enjoy an outstanding panoramic view of the city. It’s located near Gorky Park, so you can visit them one after the other.

In addition to the viewing place, there’s also a beautiful park here in Sparrow Hills. In this park, you can get a closer look at one of the famous Stalinist skyscrapers, which is now the Moscow State University. Tours inside the building are also available.

Tsaritsyno

Tsaritsyno is a palace museum with a large park reserve located in the southern part of the city. Many years ago, Tsaritsyno served as the residence of Empress Catherine, but now the palace and other decorated buildings are open for tourists.

Tsaritsyno’s enormous territory is filled with blooming gardens, greenhouses, ponds, bridges, and even mounds, so you can spend the whole day just walking around and exploring it. If you’re traveling with your partner, then you should definitely arrange a romantic date here!

VDNH

VDNH is an enormous city area with various exhibition pavilions, alleys, and fountains. The abbreviation VDNH stands for the “Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy.” In Russian, it’s called: Выставка достижений народного хозяйства (Vystavka dostizheniy narodnogo khozyaystva), or simply ВДНХ (VDNH).

Besides walking around and discovering pavilions, you may also visit the oceanarium, check out one of the innovative exhibitions, or treat yourself to some food from the farmers’ markets. In summer, there are many cyclists and roller-skaters here—and you can also be one of them!

Survival Russian Phrases for Foreigners

Unfortunately, not all Russian people can speak and understand English, so before traveling to Moscow, you should learn some basic Russian phrases. These ten expressions will suffice:

  • Здравствуйте. (Zdravstvuyte.) – “Hello.”
  • Спасибо. (Spasibo.) – “Thank you.”
  • До свидания. (Do svidaniya.) – “Goodbye.”
  • Извините. (Izvinite.) – “Sorry.”
  • Здорово. (Zdorovo.) – “Very good.”
  • Я вас не понимаю. (Ya vas ne ponimayu.) – “I don’t understand you.”
  • Где здесь туалет? (Gde zdes’ tualet?) – “Where is the restroom?”
  • Сколько это стоит? (Skol’ko eto stoit?) – “How much is it?”
  • Мне вот это. (Mne vot eto.) – “I want this.”
  • Помогите! (Pomogite!) – “Help me!”

Conclusion

So, is Moscow worth visiting? We hope that this article gave you a positive answer to this question, and introduced you to plenty of great reasons to visit Moscow in the near future! 

Have you gotten your tickets to Moscow already, or would you still like to improve your Russian before your trip? You can sign up for our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to have one-on-one tutoring with a native  Russian speaker. This will help you pick up the language much faster and gain additional insight into Russian culture. 

Before you go, are there any other Russian cities you would like to visit? We look forward to hearing from you!

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Cool English Words in Russian You Should Know!

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The Russian language is rich not only with its own words, but also with words borrowed from other languages. For English speakers looking to learn the language, studying English loanwords in Russian is a great way to quickly expand your vocabulary and make Russian seem less daunting. 

We’ve prepared a list of English words in Russian that you can start using right away. We’ve also included a section about Russian words in the English language to further broaden your horizons. 

Let’s get to it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Runglish
  2. Runglish Examples
  3. Loanwords vs. Runglish
  4. How to Say These Names in Russian
  5. English Words Derived From the Russian Language
  6. English-Russian Paronyms
  7. Conclusion

Introduction to Runglish

Runglish, also known as Ruglish or Russlish, is a special form of pidgin language which combines both Russian and English elements. This term became popular in the early 2000s, when Runglish was widely used aboard the International Space Station. The thing was that all the crew members spoke English and Russian, so when somebody was short of words in one language, he or she would find equivalents in the other language. Finally, Runglish obtained its status as one of the onboard languages.

Runglish words are mostly used by two categories of people. The first category is Russian emigrants, particularly those who currently live in the U.S.A. The second are Russian teenagers who study English at school, listen to English and American music, watch movies in English, and so on. It’s worth noting that old people don’t understand Runglish and have a highly negative attitude toward it.

An American Astronaut and a Russian Cosmonaut

Judging by this photo, the need for Runglish aboard still exists.

Runglish Examples

So what exactly would speaking Runglish sound like? Here are a few examples to give you an idea. 

Ивент (ivent) – “event”

This is the Runglish version of the word “event,” which originally refers to any occasion, such as a birthday party or meeting. In Runglish, it has a slightly different meaning. It’s mostly applied to big and resonant public occasions. For example:

Ивент месяца: Дэвид и Виктория Бэкхем отмечают годовщину свадьбы.
Ivent mesyatsa: Devid i Viktoriya Bekkhem otmechayut godovshchinu svad’by.
“Event of the month: David and Victoria Beckham are celebrating their twenty-year wedding anniversary.”

Боди (bodi) – “bodysuit”

While the English word “body” is not associated with wardrobe at all, the Russian word боди (bodi) is used for this female clothing item because it fits the body snugly. Let’s look at an example:

Вчера я купила себе очень классное боди.
Vchera ya kupila sebe ochen’ klassnoye bodi.
“Yesterday, I bought a very cool bodysuit for myself.”

Фейс-контроль (feys-kontrol’) – “doorman”

The Runglish word фейс-контроль (feys-kontrol’) has two meanings: 

1. A man who works at public places like nightclubs or bars to provide security

2. The process of providing security itself

In both cases, you can see that Russian ‘doormen’ differ from American and English ‘doormen.’

In Russia and other post-Soviet countries, фейс-контроль (feys-kontrol’) may prohibit you from visiting a public place without any explanation, just because he or she doesn’t like your appearance. It’s not like in the U.S.A. or England, where a doorman can only stop you at the entrance if you’re under the age of 21, intoxicated, aggressive, or if your clothing doesn’t match the dress code.

Now that we’ve explained this a bit, let’s look at an example of how this word is used in Runglish:

На входе в ресторан меня встретил серьёзный фейс-контроль.
Na vkhode v restoran menya vstretil ser’yoznyy feys-kontrol’.
“A serious doorman met me at the restaurant entrance.”

Loanwords vs. Runglish

An Open Bag of Potato Chips

Unlike Runglish, loanwords are borrowed English words in the Russian language that are used without significant changes in their meaning. As a result, native English speakers can understand them easily. Most English loanwords in Russian appear in the spheres of social networking, computer technologies, finances, politics, sports, food, and clothing. 

Here is a brief list of basic English words in Russian:

  • блогер (bloger) – “blogger”
  • файл (fayl) – “file”
  • брокер (broker) – “broker”
  • президент (prezident) – “president”
  • теннис (tennis) – “tennis”
  • спикер (spiker) – “speaker”
  • ток-шоу (tok-shou) – “talk show”
  • ростбиф (rostbif) – “roast beef”
  • чипсы (chipsy) – “chips”
  • свитер (sviter) – “sweater”

How to Say These Names in Russian

Many Russian people are curious about Western culture and lifestyle. It comes as no surprise that famous English names and brand names are well-known not only in their respective countries of origin, but also in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries. And of course, these names have Russian equivalents. Let’s have a look at some examples:

  • МакДоналдс (MakDonalds) – “McDonald’s”
  • Волмарт (Volmart) – “Walmart” 
  • Найк (Nayk) – “Nike”
  • Конверс (Konvers) – “Converse”
  • Форрест Гамп (Forrest Gamp) – “Forrest Gump”
  • Джек Лондон (Dzhek London) – “Jack London”
  • Брэд Питт (Bred Pitt) – “Brad Pitt”
  • Бейонсе (Beyonse) – “Beyonce”
  • Мэрилин Монро (Merilin Monro) – “Marilyn Monroe”
  • Дональд Трамп (Donal’d Tramp) – “Donald Trump”

McDonald’s Restaurant

Russian people may not be as passionate about fast food as Americans, but they love it anyway!

English Words Derived From the Russian Language

English speakers don’t even realize how many of the words they regularly use were borrowed from other languages. There aren’t very many Russian words in the English language, but we’ve found some of them for you. 

“Intelligentsia”

When this word first appeared in English, it was only applied to Russians. “Intelligentsia” was borrowed from the Russian word интеллигенция (intelligentsiya). In both languages, it refers to a class of highly educated people. 

В Москве я познакомился с русской интеллигенцией.
V Moskve ya poznakomilsya s russkoy intelligentsiyey.
“In Moscow, I got to know the Russian intelligentsia.”

“Babushka”

Unlike many other Russian words in the English language, this word is polysemantic in its host language but not its original language. In English, its first meaning is a scarf tied under the chin and the second meaning is an old woman. “Babushka” came from the word бабушка (babushka), which is an affectionate term Russians use to call their grandmothers. By the way, in Russian this word has nothing to do with scarves, so its first English meaning seems a bit funny to many Russian speakers. 

Моя бабушка печёт вкусные пирожки.
Moya babushka pechyot vkusnyye pirozhki.
“My grandmother bakes delicious pies.”

A Grandson and His Grandma

We all love our babushkas!

“Mammoth”

Another English word derived from Russian, “mammoth” comes from the word мамонт (mamont) which, in turn, came from the Yakut language. The word mamma means “earth,” from the notion that this huge animal was found in the ground. Besides this, the English word “mammoth” is also used to refer to something of enormous size. 

Мамонты вымерли из-за глобальных изменений климата.
Mamonty vymerli iz-za global’nykh izmeneniy klimata.
“Mammoths died out due to the global climatic changes.”

English-Russian Paronyms

Some words exist in both English and Russian, but have absolutely different meanings in these two languages. However, they’re not related to Runglish or English loanwords in Russian. Language learners call them “false friends of the translator.” Let’s look at some of these insidious words together!

“Artist” – артист (artist)

While the English word refers to painters, its Russian version артист (artist) has nothing to do with brushes and paints. In the Russian language, it refers to an actor, singer, or anyone who is performing onstage. Its English equivalent is “performer.” For example:

Элтон Джон – хороший артист.
Elton Dzhon – khoroshiy artist.
“Elton John is a good performer.”

“Killer” – киллер (killer)

In English, the word “killer” is applicable to any person who has comitted a murder. In Russian, the word киллер (killer) is used to describe someone who gets paid for killing other people. It has the same meaning as the English word “hitman.” For instance:

Главный герой в фильме “Леон” киллер.
Glavnyy geroyl v fil’me “Leon” – killer.
“The main character in ‘Leon: The Professional’ is a hitman.”


 A Screenshot from the Famous Movie

This iconic frame needs no introduction.

“Smoking” – смокинг (smoking)

While English speakers associate the word “smoking” with cigarettes, Russian speakers use the word смокинг (smoking) to refer to a man’s evening suit. Many years ago, there was a type of jacket for men to wear when smoking cigars, which was aptly called a smoking jacket. In English, this word has been replaced with “tuxedo” or “tux.” Let’s see how the Russian version would be used:

Этот смокинг ему идёт.
Etot smoking emu idyot.
“This tuxedo suits him.”

Conclusion

In this article, you learned several English loanwords in Russian, how the language phenomenon of Runglish works, and much more. How attentive were you? List some of the words you remember in the comments section, or let us know if there are any others you know about. 

Now it’s time for you to move forward and learn even more! RussianPod101.com provides a variety of learning materials for students at every level: themed vocabulary lists, free resources, engaging audio and video lessons, and the list goes on. 

If you don’t have much time to dive into the finer points of Russian vocabulary or grammar on your own, you can use our Premium PLUS service MyTeacher and take private lessons with a native speaker. We can assure you that it’ll save you countless hours you would otherwise spend struggling to memorize words or understand grammar points.

Happy Russian learning!

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A Brief Russian Culture Overview

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What images come to mind when you hear the word “Russia”? 

Russia is known for its large territory and cold winters. But, digging deeper, what is Russian culture like? 

Art and literature enthusiasts may be familiar with our world-famous ballet and our prominent writers: Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky… 

Sports lovers may acknowledge our hockey team and outstanding performances at the Olympics.

Those who are into science must already be familiar with our space activities as well as our massive oil and gas industry. 

And gamers: you know Tetris, right?

Perhaps you’ve already learned something new just from reading this Russian culture introduction. But if you want to find out how Russians live, interact with each other, and spend their free time, the following overview of the Russian culture will help you get a bigger picture. You’ll see: Russia is not only about bears and vodka!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Numbers and Facts
  2. Relationships
  3. Education
  4. Religion
  5. National Holidays
  6. Leisure Time
  7. What’s Next?

1. Numbers and Facts

Someone Holding a Miniature Russian Flag

The Russian flag has three colors.
White for nobility and frankness, blue for faithfulness and honesty, and red for courage, generosity, and love.

Let’s warm up with some interesting Russian culture facts!

Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of territory. While it’s not all permafrost and tundra that’s unfit for human life, it’s still one of the least densely populated developed countries in the world. The current population is only 144 million people.

However, Russia can still boast of its vast cultural diversity, being home to nearly 200 ethnic groups, according to the CIA. Russian is the most common group (77.7%), and other ethnic groups include Tatar, Ukrainian, Bashkir, Chuvash, Chechen, and others.

Due to this population diversity, there are various languages spoken in Russia. Of more than 100 languages used throughout Russia, Russian is the most widely spoken. It might come as a surprise, but Russian has very few dialects. To be precise, there are some well-distinguishable accents like the one from Moscow or Kuban in southern Russia. But it’s usually impossible to tell where a person is from just by listening to them talk.

2. Relationships

A key component in understanding Russian culture is learning how people interact with each other. Let’s go over what Russian relationships look like at home and at work!

A- Family

The legal marriage age in Russia is 18 years old for both men and women. Monogamy is the only form of relationship recognized in Russia. Same-sex marriage is not allowed. 

Nowadays, most couples prefer to move in together to dip their toes into real family life. Even though more and more couples prefer to just live together without engagement, the institute of marriage is still going strong in Russia, meaning most couples will end up marrying after all. Unfortunately, the current divorce rate in Russia is 52%.

The child-free spirit is not widely supported. Most people still expect a married couple to have a baby, and some couples might even experience pressure from their relatives or peers. Thirty years ago, it was normal to have your first baby at 20-22; nowadays, the mothers-to-be prefer to do it later.

The government is trying to stimulate childbirth in the country by offering monetary payments to new parents. Starting in 2020, couples will receive a one-time payment for their first child equal to almost 40 minimum monthly wages in Russia. Before 2020, you could only get this payment for the second child in your family.

The state offers a generous maternity leave as well: up to 3 years, 1.5 years of which are paid. For this reason, mothers prefer to go back to work when their baby is 18 months old. At this point, they will find a babysitter or nursery to look after their offspring. It’s also a common practice to ask one’s parents to babysit. Most of them don’t mind spending time with their grandchildren anyway!

Property in Russia is expensive considering the local salaries, so many children stay with their parents even as adults. Charging one’s children rent is extremely uncommon—if they could afford rent, they would already have moved out to live on their own. However, children often offer financial support to their families by purchasing the groceries and such. There is also the expectation that kids will look after their parents when they become old or can’t take care of themselves.

    → Brush up on some relevant vocabulary with our Family vocabulary list!
A Woman Putting a Wedding Ring on Her Right Hand

When Russians marry, they put a wedding ring on the right hand.
When they divorce, they put it on the left.

B- Work

In Russia, one is legally allowed to work when they turn 16 (in some cases 14). Many people start working at the age of 22-24 after graduating from university, and around 50% of students combine their studies with a part-time job. Surprisingly, only less than half of all graduates work in their degree field after leaving their alma mater.

Many Russians are dissatisfied with their jobs. It’s pretty common to hear someone complaining about their boss and salary. Very few people follow their hearts and truly enjoy what they’re doing. 

As for Russian work etiquette, one piece of advice will be especially useful: learn how to be punctual. It’s strongly advised to arrive at a meeting or an interview on time, or even ten minutes in advance. If you’re going to be late, it’s better to call the person to warn them.

Another crucial aspect of Russian culture in business is that you should address people formally.

➤ After reading our article about doing Business in Russia, you’ll have a better idea of how formal language differs from informal language.

Patronymic names are one feature of ‘formal’ Russian that will be new to you. Whenever you talk to your boss, teacher, doctor, etc., you should address them by their first name + their patronymic name. The patronymic name is derived from the person’s father’s name:

  • m: Иван Сергеевич — Ivan (name) Sergeyevich (patronymic)
    Ivan’s father’s name is Sergey.

  • f: Марина Викторовна — Marina (name) Viktorovna (patronymic)
    Marina’s father’s name is Viktor.

Most male patronymic names end in -vich, while most female patronymic names end in -vna

➤ Learn more about male and female patronymic names in our lesson “Introducing Your Boss to a Client.”

A Man Sitting at His Work Desk, Rubbing His Eyes with Exhaustion

A typical work week in Russia is 40 hours, five days per week.
14 days of public holidays together with all the weekends give Russians 118 days off work each year.
Also, most workers have an average of 28 vacation days per year.

3. Education

You already know from the previous chapter that the maternity leave in Russia can last up to 3 years. After that, the majority of parents enroll their children in kindergarten. However, the number of free public kindergartens fell drastically in the 90s, so now there are far more children than places available. This results in extremely long waiting lists, and many parents stake a place for their children the moment they’re born!

The primary school welcomes children aged 6 or 7 years old. Parents usually enroll their children in the school closest to their home. In Russia, education in primary and secondary public schools (a total of 11 years) is free for everybody. 

Russian schools use a 5-point system for grading. It ranges from 5 (“excellent”) to 2 (“unacceptable”). The lowest score, 1 (“a total failure”), is hardly ever used. 

In Russia, students often have no choice in what subjects they focus on later in their studies: everybody follows the same curriculum. However, after 9 years of schooling, children can choose to stay in school for 2 more years to complete their secondary education or to transfer to a training-type school that specializes in an area of choice (construction, metalwork, electricity, secretarial practice, etc.). Very few teens decide to drop their studies at this point, and students who intend to apply to university should finish the full 11-year school program. 

At the end of the 11th grade, all students are required to pass the Unified State Exam (USE), which includes two obligatory subjects: the Russian language and Math. Students can then apply to a university with these results, so they strive to pass the test with flying colors. Depending on the entry requirements for their specialty of choice, students can opt for tests on other subjects as well (literature, foreign language, history, etc.).

Going to university after school is a popular choice in Russia. According to OECD, around 65% of adult Russians have a college degree. Higher education is not free for everybody, though. Depending on the specialty, there is a limited amount of state-funded places reserved for those with high USE scores and beneficiaries (such as veterans, orphans, and disabled people). Since 2010, there are three types of university degrees: Bachelor’s degree (4 years), a Master’s degree (2 more years), and postgraduate degrees.

A Little Russian Girl Wearing a Soviet-era School Uniform

Many Russian schools require their students to wear a uniform.
However, it doesn’t have a unified look, so each school decides on its own dress code.
The girl in the image is dressed in a uniform worn during Soviet times.

4. Religion

The dominant religion in Russia is Orthodox Christianity. Over 70% of the population identifies as Russian Orthodox Christian. In Russian culture, however, religion does not play a large role in most people’s lives. Most believers don’t attend church regularly, limiting their religious activities to baptizing their kids at a nearby church and attending funerals.

Majestic Russian Orthodox churches attract visitors from all over the world, but even foreign tourists are recommended to follow the traditional rules when visiting. To begin with, men must remove any headgear; their heads must be uncovered at all times. Women must cover their hair and wear long skirts, certainly not trousers. If you arrive wearing trousers or shorts, some churches might offer you a large piece of cloth at the entrance to wrap around your legs, even if you’re a man. You’ll also see people crossing themselves three times from right to left before entering and leaving the church.

A considerable difference between a Russian church and a Western one is that the Russian church will have very few seats (if any at all). One must stay standing, often for many hours. The service is always in Old Russian. Russians can understand some of it, but it can be difficult to comprehend completely.

Church of All Saints in Ekaterinburg, Russia

Church of All Saints in Ekaterinburg, Russia
Golden domes represent eternity and heavenly glory.

5. National Holidays

National holidays reflect and incorporate some of the most significant Russian traditions. In Russia, there are numerous religious holidays. Even those who do not consider themselves believers enjoy celebrating Christmas and Easter, for instance. Here’s a brief look at the most important Russian holidays and celebrations.

A- New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is undoubtedly the biggest and most anticipated holiday in Russia. It’s a magical time for kids and a well-deserved 10 days of rest for adults!

Because celebrating Christmas was prohibited in Soviet Russia, many Christmas traditions (such as giving gifts and decorating Christmas trees) were carried over to the New Year. The Russian Santa Claus is called Ded Moroz, and he visits kids with his granddaughter Snegurochka

Almost all Russian families decorate the New Year tree and exchange presents when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Just before the countdown, all national channels broadcast a video message from the Russian President where he congratulates everybody and gives a summary of the past year. 

➤ Check out our article about New Year’s Day to learn how Russians celebrate this holiday. You can even learn a couple of new words and expressions in Russian right away!

B- Christmas and Easter

Russian Christmas is on January 7, according to the Gregorian calendar. It’s mostly celebrated by believers, who attend a night service at church. Some young girls often go for old traditional fortune-telling at night, hoping to get a hint of who their future husband might be.

Easter is usually celebrated in April or May. Russians cook paskha and kulich, and greet each other with this salutation: 

  • Христос воскрес! (Khristos voskres!) – “Christ has risen!”

To this, the other party replies:

  • Воистину воскрес! (Voistinu voskres!) – “Truly, he has risen!”

On this day, they also paint chicken eggs different colors and then compete with their folks to see whose egg is “stronger.” They do this by trying to crack the egg of their loved ones with their own to see whose breaks last.

C- Defender of the Motherland Day

Defender of the Motherland Day is celebrated on February 23 in honor of veterans and all of the men and women in the military service. Men and boys receive gifts and congratulations on this day. And even though the holiday does celebrate women to some extent, it’s still informally called Men’s Day.

D- International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. It’s like a mixture of Mother’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day, where men express their love to women with gifts and flowers. 

E- Victory Day

Victory Day, celebrated on May 9, is one of the most spectacular Russian holidays with its military parades, performances, and fireworks. On this day, the whole country thanks and congratulates the World War II veterans on the surrender of Nazi Germany. The Immortal Regiment is a massive march held in major Russian cities to pay tribute to those who died in the battle. Every year, thousands of people march through the city with photos of the loved ones they lost in the war.

A Christmas/New Year Tree Set Up in Russia

Russians have two New Year celebrations: one on January 1 and another on January 13. The latter is called “the Old New Year,” and it’s only there because of the Julian calendar we used before 1918.

6. Leisure Time

Russians enjoy spending time with their folks and friends. Several months of winter make Russians enjoy summertime to the fullest. Outdoor activities and picnics are particularly popular.

  • Shashlyk is a Russian variety of BBQ. The meat is grilled on a skewer with marinated onion.

  • Fishing is a popular men’s hobby. Some even cook the fish right on the spot: ukha is a traditional Russian fishing soup. It’s best when cooked and served in the fresh air.

  • Dacha is a summer house in the countryside that some Russians use as a means of escaping from busy cities to quiet nature. Many have a garden with all types of vegetables and fruit trees. For most, banya is a must-have in their summer house.

  • Banya is a Russian sauna. Temperatures can reach up to 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) with a humidity of 90%. In winter, some Russians get steamed and warmed up thoroughly first, then jump into the snow to cool down.

Winter activities include sledding, sliding, and snowball fights as well as the popular winter sports of skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating.

Shopping in Russia is popular at any time of the year. In a big city, even if you go to a shopping mall in the middle of the week, it will be full of people. But, unlike in most European countries, Sunday is the most popular day for going out. So if you don’t like crowds, you’d better stay home. 

Russians put much value upon good looks, especially women. Heels, neat makeup, fine clothes—looking spick-and-span is just a part of their daily routine. 

Needless to say, some people just prefer the quietness of their homes.

Younger people entertain themselves with social networks, music, movies, books, computer games, and different forms of art and handwork (painting, scrapbooking, knitting, etc.). Most music and movie enthusiasts in Russia still prefer foreign bands and cinema, frowning upon everything produced in Russia. However, older people tend to take the opposite view. 

The older generation enjoys watching TV, gardening, cooking, and spending time with their friends and children. Most people over 60 in Russia are not exactly tech-savvy.

Still, Russian is the second most popular language on the Internet. We even have our own Google (Yandex) and Facebook (vk.com). But you should probably take the comments on social media with a grain of salt: the Russian Internet community is notorious for its toxicity and love for trolling.

A Birch Bath Broom Resting in a Banya

In a Russian banya, get ready to be slapped with a birch bath broom all over your body.
They say it cleans your skin and relaxes your muscles (and mind).

7. What’s Next?

Did this page shed some light on any aspects of Russian culture you didn’t know about? What was the most surprising fact you learned about Russia today? 

This overview only scratches the surface of the multifaceted Russian culture, but we hope it caught your interest and motivated you to learn more about the largest country in the world. While visiting Russia yourself is the best way to explore the culture, you can start small by getting acquainted with the language first. 

RussianPod101.com is the best place for this. For example, you can learn grammar and new words with our podcasts and free vocabulary lists. And if you happen to have any questions about Russian culture, our native teachers will help you dispel any doubts. 

With our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, you get personal one-on-one coaching with a tutor. He or she will answer all of your culture- and language-related questions, give you assignments, and provide you with grammar and vocabulary exercises to boost your Russian. They may also assign you voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. Give it a try!

Eager to learn more? Check out this material to dig a little deeper into Russian culture and traditions:

Happy learning with RussianPod101!

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Russian Food Guide: Traditional Dishes and Quick Recipes

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Although Russia is not considered one of the world’s top food destinations, this country has lots of fantastic traditional dishes to offer. Tourists who come to Russia are often astonished by the diversity and flavors of the local cuisine. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the most famous Russian foods and give you some simple recipes that you can try wherever you are. 

Let’s start our journey into the world of Russian cuisine!


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Must-Try Dishes in Russian Restaurants
  2. Unique Russian Foods
  3. Food-Related Vocabulary
  4. How to Cook Russian Food at Home
  5. Conclusion

1. Must-Try Dishes in Russian Restaurants

If you come to Russia and visit a local restaurant, you’ll probably find some traditional Russian foods on the menu. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to find variations of Russian cuisine in your home country! We highly recommend that you taste the following Russian dishes should you ever have the opportunity:

A- Borscht

Borscht is a beet soup that came to Russia from Ukraine many years ago. The main reason you should try borscht is to enjoy the unusual combination of meat and sauteed vegetables. It’s served either hot or cold, usually with a piece of rye bread and some sour cream on top.

B- Pirogi

Pirogi is just as important in Russian cuisine as pizza is in Italian cuisine. Russian pirogi are usually cooked with unsweetened dough, and they come with different stuffings, from meat to fruits. You’ll find the best version of this traditional Russian food not in a cafe, restaurant, or Russian food store, but rather as a guest in a Russian home.

C- Varenyky

Another Russian food you must try is varenyky, or dumplings filled with potatoes, cabbage, or cherries. You can find them in any Russian food store’s frozen food department. It’s a really cheap yet nourishing Russian dish.

D- Blini

Blini are Russian wheat pancakes. In most Russian restaurants, you can find plain blini, as well as blini with toppings. This dish is such an important part of Russian cuisine, that even the annual spring festival called Maslenitsa is celebrated with blini.

E- Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is a dish made with beef and served in a special delicate sauce. It has a really long history, and there are lots of variations in its cooking. Rice, pasta, or potatoes are usually good side dish options for beef stroganoff.

F- Kvass

Kvass is an ancient Russian drink. Initially, it was served as a light alcoholic drink; over time, Russians started to make it from roasted bread. We advise you to order kvass if you come to Russia in the summer, since it’s really refreshing. This drink is sold in every single Russian food store.

Borscht

Borscht is one of the most internationally popular Russian foods ever!

2. Unique Russian Foods

There are some unique Russian foods which are extra-popular in Russia, but have no analogues outside of the country. If you’d like to try some really authentic Russian cuisine staples while visiting, look for the following items on the menu:

A- Olivier

This Russian salad was invented by M. Olivier, who owned a luxurious restaurant in Moscow in the 1860s. It consists of meat, peas, eggs, boiled vegetables, and mayonnaise. This is a very popular Russian food for New Year, in particular. 

B- Dressed Herring

This simple but delicious salad is the second-most famous meal in Russia, after Olivier. Its ingredients are layered: first comes the herring, then boiled potatoes, carrots, and red beets. Mayonnaise is used as the dressing.

C- Okroshka

Okroshka is a cold soup with small cubes of vegetables, pickles, meat, or fish. Before serving, Russians fill this dish with kvass and add some sour cream to it. It’s a great summer alternative to other soups.

D- Raznosoli

This is not one particular dish, but a general term for foods eaten during a cold season. Raznosoli include salted cucumbers, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Russian people mostly use them for cooking soups and second courses, but sometimes they’re served as separate meals.

Olivier Salad

Most Russian people love their Olivier and dressed herring enough to cook these dishes for any celebration.

3. Food-Related Vocabulary

Are you good and hungry for some traditional Russian cuisine and can’t wait to get a taste? 

Unfortunately, not all Russian people know English well, so you’d better learn some food-related phrases before going to Russia and visiting local cafes and restaurants. These ten phrases will be really helpful:

RussianRomanizationEnglish
Где-нибудь поблизости можно попробовать русскую еду?Gde-nibud’ poblizosti mozhno poprobovat’ russkuyu yedu?“Is there any Russian food near me?”
Я хочу есть/пить.Ya hochu yest’/pit’. “I am hungry/thirsty.”
У вас есть меню на английском?U vas yest’ menyu na angliyskom?“Do you have a menu in English?”
Дайте меню, пожалуйста?Dayte menyu, pozhaluysta?“Could I have the menu, please?”
Я возьму это.Ya voz’mu eto.“I’ll have this.”
Стакан чая/кофе, пожалуйста.Stakan chaya/kofe, pozhaluysta.“A cup of tea/coffee, please.”
Больше ничего, спасибо.Bol’she nichego, spasibo.“That’s all, thank you.”
Счёт, пожалуйста?Schyot, pozhaluysta?“Could I get the check, please?”
Приятного аппетита!Priyatnogo appetita!“Enjoy your meal!”
Было очень вкусно, спасибо!Bylo ochen’ vkusno, spasibo!“It was delicious, thank you!”

If you’re a RussianPod101 member, you can learn even more useful phrases in our Restaurant lesson series:


Food Served in a Russian Restaurant

This is how some Russian restaurants serve their borscht—in a bread bowl!

4. How to Cook Russian Food at Home

What if you don’t have access to a Russian restaurant and can’t visit the country anytime soon? You’re still in luck!

Below, we’ve outlined two Russian food recipes that don’t take much time or effort. You can try them at home and have amazing Russian food for dinner!

    → Don’t forget to check out our lesson on Cooking-Related Actions so you can get used to reading recipes in Russian! 

A- Pelmeni

Pelmeni are Russian dumplings which have much in common with varenyky. The main difference is that pelmeni are made from meat or sometimes fish. This dish is quite popular in Russia due to its convenience: large batches of it may be frozen and then swiftly boiled for dinner another day.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of flour

Filling

  • 18 ounces of ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • ½ of a tablespoon of cold water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 pepper

Directions

1.  Mix the first three ingredients for the dough in a measuring cup. Add water to fill the cup. Pour everything into a bowl and add some flour. Start mixing the dough till it becomes smooth and elastic. Leave it for 30 minutes in a warm place.

2.  Take the bowl and mix ground beef with onion and pepper. Add some water and salt. Mix everything one more time using your hand or a fork.

3.  Flour your table surface and roll the dough thin. Cut it into small circles. While doing this, keep the rest of your dough under the towel, otherwise it will dry out. Put ½ of the teaspoon with filling on one side of the prepared circle and form a crescent. Join the ends.

4.  Flour your baking sheet and put the half-done pelmeni on it. Keep them in your freezer for 30 minutes to keep them from sticking together.

5.  Take a pot, pour water in it, salt it, and then bring it to boil. Put pelmeni into your pot and cook them for 5-10 minutes, depending on their size.

6.  Serve the dish with ketchup, mayonnaise, sour cream, or any other sauce you like.

Pelmeni

Russians love pelmeni from early childhood.

B- Shchi

Shchi is a good example of traditional Russian food for lunch. This popular cabbage soup is also known as “green shchi.” It can be cooked with or without meat. The recipe below is meatless, but you can always add your favorite kind of meat into it. By the way, this is one of the easiest Russian food recipes!

Ingredients

  • 250 g. of white cabbage
  • 150 g. of beans
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Soak beans. If you do it two hours before cooking, the taste will be amazing.

2.  Cut potatoes and cabbage. Grate carrots and garlic.

3.  Fill a pan with water. Put the soaked beans into it. As soon as the water begins to boil, add potatoes.

4.  In the meantime, heat the pan. Put some vegetable oil in the pan. Fry onions with carrots and tomato paste.

5.  When the fried vegetables are ready, place them into the pan. Add cabbage. Add salt to taste.

6.  Cook the soup for 15-20 minutes. Right before the end of cooking, add garlic and bay leaf.

Shchi

Shchi is very similar to borscht, but not the same.

5. Conclusion

In this Russian food guide, we’ve introduced you to only the most famous Russian foods. Of course, there are many more Russian recipes worth knowing. 

If you’d like to learn more Russian cooking words or even become an expert in Russian cuisine, create a Premium PLUS account to use RussianPod101’s MyTeacher service. Your native Russian tutor will help you learn more vocabulary and also help you get better acquainted with the cuisine and culture of Russia. 

If this article made your mouth water, then it’s time to taste some traditional Russian dishes yourself. If you could cook any Russian meal right now, what would it be? Share your favorite Russian food in the comments!

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The Top 20 Russian Quotes for Language Learners

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Although quotes don’t play a very important part in our everyday lives, there are some situations where knowing them can be really helpful. With quotes, we can express our thoughts in a more vivid and concise way. 

If you’ve been studying Russian for a long period of time, you’re definitely ready to step up your game and learn some Russian quotes. We’ve prepared a list of twenty famous Russian quotes that you can use to enrich your speech, impress native Russian speakers during a conversation, and make yourself look more intelligent in their eyes. Some of these quotes are of Russian origin, while others are quotes from other languages that have gained popularity in Russia. 

Pick your favorites and learn them by heart. We’re sure that these quotes will come in handy someday!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Love
  5. Quotes About Family
  6. Quotes About Friendship
  7. Quotes About Food
  8. Quotes About Health
  9. Quotes About Animals
  10. Quotes About Language Learning
  11. Conclusion

Quotes About Success

Whether you have big plans for the future or an upcoming project you’re concerned about, reading through these Russian quotes about success is sure to give you the inspiration you need to succeed!

1. Не важно, как медленно ты продвигаешься, главное, что ты не останавливаешься 

Romanization: Ne vazhno, kak medlenno ty prodvigayesh’sya, glavnoye, chto ty ne ostanavlivayesh’sya
Meaning: “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.”

This is a very old quote from Chinese philosopher Confucius. With these words, he meant that if you don’t give up, then you’ll reach your goal sooner or later. It may take a long time, but it will happen one day.

2. 100% непредпринятых попыток заканчиваются неудачей

Romanization: Sto protsentov nepredprinyatykh popytok zakanchivayutsya neudachey
Meaning: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

This inspirational thought was expressed by the Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky. It motivates us to have no fear in trying, since it’s impossible to succeed in something if we don’t even attempt to do so.

A Hockey Player Sitting on Ice

Wayne Gretzky is considered the greatest hockey player of all time. This man can tell us much about success!

Quotes About Life

Are you feeling stuck in life or unsatisfied with how things are going? Here are two insightful Russian quotes on life from a couple of massively popular figures.

3. Жизнь – это то, что случается с нами, пока мы строим планы на будущее

Romanization: Zhizn’ – eto to, chto sluchayetsya s nami, poka my stroim plany na budushcheye
Meaning: “Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.”

The author of this quote is John Lennon from The Beatles. His words perfectly ascertain the fact that people can become so concerned about their future that they totally forget about their present.

4. Если хочешь изменить мир, начни с себя!

Romanization: Esli khochesh’ izmenit’ mir, nachni s sebya!
Meaning: “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”

This is one of the most famous quotes from Mahatma Gandhi. By saying it, he meant that everyone should start with his or her own personal development. If everybody did this, many of the world’s problems would disappear and no longer affect us.

Quotes About Time

Managing one’s time is one of the most crucial aspects of living a satisfactory life. Read these Russian language quotes on time to view this concept from a Russian angle. You may be surprised how familiar they are to you!

5. Делу – время, потехе – час

Romanization: Delu – vremya, potekhe – chas
Meaning: “Time for business, an hour for fun.”

This Russian quote belongs to the Tsar Alexis of Russia. He wrote it in his falcon hunting manual in the seventeenth century. The main idea is that it’s important to both work and rest. After spending some time as one of the most famous Russian quotes, it finally became a proverb.

6. Счастливые часов не наблюдают

Romanization: Schastlivyye chasov ne nablyudayut
Meaning: “Time flies when you’re having fun.” This phrase is from Alexander Griboyedov’s book Woe from Wit. It expresses the fact that when you’re enjoying something, the time seems to pass unnoticeably.

A Man Reading a Book

Woe from Wit is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about Russian culture.

Quotes About Love

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll enjoy these Russian quotes about love!

7. Любовь – апофеоз жизни

Romanization: Lyubov’ – apofeoz zhizni
Meaning: “Love is the apotheosis of life.”

This Russian love quote came to us from Aleksandr Herzen, a writer and thinker known as the “father of Russian socialism.” Herzen thought that love is the main thing in life, filling it with sense and joy.

The word “apotheosis” has two meanings. On the one hand, it’s “the highest point in the development,” and on the other hand, it’s “the elevation to divine status.” Both of these meanings are applicable in the context of this Russian love quote.

8. Люди должны влюбляться с закрытыми глазами

Romanization: Lyudi dolzhny vlyublyat’sya s zakrytymi glazami
Meaning: “People should fall in love with their eyes closed.”

This beautiful quote by Andy Warhol, known as “the king of pop art,” persuades us to pay more attention to the human soul and heart rather than the outward appearance. Warhol’s statement has become a really well-known Russian love quote.

Quotes About Family

Family is perhaps the most important social construct, no matter where you are in the world. Here are a couple of Russian quotes on family that express the intricacies of familial relationships.

9. Семья – это один из шедевров природы

Romanization: Sem’ya – eto odin iz shedevrov prirody
Meaning: “Family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”

The author of this quote is the American philosopher and essayist George Santayana. Santayana regarded family as one of the things created by nature, just as things like trees and lakes were. For him, family was an outstanding phenomenon. This wonderful quote reminds us that we should cherish our families.

10. Все счастливые семьи похожи; каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему

Romanization: Vse schastlivyye sem’i pokhozhi; kazhdaya neschastlivaya sem’ya neschastliva po-svoyemu
Meaning: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

This is how Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina begins. Here, Tolstoy meant that there are several factors involved in making a happy family; if even just one is absent, the family will be unhappy.

Quotes About Friendship

Friendship is one of life’s greatest joys and necessities. Here are two poignant Russian quotes on friendship that express this truth.

11. Старый друг лучше новых двух

Romanization: Staryy drug luchshe novykh dvukh
Meaning: “An old friend is better than two new ones.”

This phrase was so popular that it eventually became a proverb. It teaches us not to forget our old friends, because they’re much more reliable and precious than our new acquaintances. This Russian quote is similar in meaning to the Chinese proverb: “Everything is good when new, but friends when old.”

12. Друг познаётся в беде

Romanization: Drug poznayotsya v bede
Meaning: “A friend is known in trouble.”

This quote is from the Greek storyteller Aesop. His words advise us not to rely on superficial friends, because they always leave us in our bad times. This phrase became a well-known proverb and is similar to the English proverb: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Friends Playing on the Beach

Aesop is right, but…don’t forget to enjoy good times with old friends!

Quotes About Food

Who doesn’t enjoy sitting down to a nice meal now and then? Well, even something as simple as food has parallels in life. Here are some Russian sayings that have to do with food!

13. Хлеб — всему голова

Romanization: Hleb — vsemu golova
Meaning: “Bread is the staff of life.”

Unfortunately, the author of this saying is unknown. Russian people consider this to be more of a proverb, rather than a quote. Since it’s one of the oldest Russian sayings, let’s take a look at it from a historical perspective. 

There were many battles and wars in the past, as people went in search of fertile lands where wheat and rye could be easily grown. Therefore, bread was a symbol of welfare and a good life all those years ago. Bread is still an essential part of our daily ration; there are many products we can live without, but bread is not one of them.

14. Аппетит приходит во время еды

Romanization: Appetit prikhodit vo vremya yedy
Meaning: “Appetite comes during the meal.”

This phrase first appeared in a novel by François Rabelais. We use it to say that the more we have, the more we’d like to have. By the way, this can also be applied to other areas of life.

Quotes About Health

One should always make good health a priority, because only when one is healthy can they achieve other important goals. Here are a couple of insightful Russian quotes concerning health. 

    → Sometimes, even our best efforts aren’t enough to keep us healthy. See our list of Common Health Problems so you can discuss your concerns with a professional while in Russia.

15. В здоровом теле – здоровый дух

Romanization: V zdorovom tele – zdorovyy dukh
Meaning: “There is a healthy mind in a healthy body.”

This quote first appeared in the ancient Roman era, but became widely spread in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through the efforts of European educators Locke and Russo. As we now know, the body and the mind are closely connected. For this reason, people who are physically healthy also tend to have healthy minds; those who are healthy of mind are less likely to suffer from any physical disease.

16. Здоровье дороже золота

Romanization: Zdorovy’e dorozhe zolota
Meaning: “Health is above wealth.”

This quote is by William Shakespeare, and its meaning is pretty obvious.

The Droeshout Portrait of William Shakespeare

Even though Shakespeare’s works were written in the sixteenth century, they are still relevant!

Quotes About Animals

In Russian culture, quotes and sayings about animals are fairly popular. Here are two quotes we think you’ll enjoy!

17. Доброму человеку бывает стыдно даже перед собакой

Romanization: Dobromu cheloveku byvayet stydno dazhe pered sobakoy
Meaning: “A good person sometimes feels ashamed of himself even in front of a dog.”

This idea was expressed by one of the greatest Russian writers, Anton Chekhov. In his opinion, kind-hearted people care about all living creatures, including animals, birds, and insects. A good person is ready to help anyone who needs it. If he doesn’t help, he feels bad—not because of others’ disapproval, but because of his own conscience.

18. О величии нации и её моральном прогрессе можно судить по тому, как она обращается с животными

Romanization: O velichii natsii i yeyo moral’nom progresse mozhno sudit’ po tomu, kak ona obrashchayetsya s zhivotnymi
Meaning: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

This popular statement is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. It expresses the same idea as the previous quote.

Mahatma Gandhi

To seek to reduce the suffering of those who are completely under one’s domination, and unable to fight back, is truly a mark of a civilized society.

Quotes About Language Learning

To close, let’s look at a couple of quotes in Russian about language learning. 

19. Пределы моего языка есть пределы моего мира

Romanization: Predely moyego yazyka yest’ predely moyego mira
Meaning: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

This quote is from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophical work The Tractatus. Wittgenstein meant that a language constrains the limits of human expression, and therefore limits human understanding.

20. Чем больше языков вы знаете, тем меньше шансов, что вы станете террористом

Romanization: Chem bol’she yazykov vy znayete, tem men’she shansov, chto vy stanete terroristom
Meaning: “The more languages you know, the less likely you are to become a terrorist.”

This heavy idea was offered by Indian litterateur Suniti Chatterji. He supposed that knowing a foreign language makes you more intelligent, open-minded and, as a consequence, more tolerant toward other people.

Conclusion

You’ve just read some of the most famous Russian quotes. Some of them are truly Russian, while others entered the Russian language from other cultures. Each of them conveys a meaningful idea and can be easily implemented into a conversation. 

We’re sure that you’d like to learn more Russian phrases, their meanings, and their correct pronunciations. We’re ready to provide you with all of these on RussianPod101.com. You can study by going through our free lessons or with the help of our MyTeacher option. The latter gives you your own personalized learning program based on your needs, as well as a personal tutor. 

Before you go, which of the quotes did you like the most? Leave your answer in the comments section below! You can also ask us if there’s an equivalent to any quote that we didn’t mention in this article. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Get Back to Business: Essential Russian Business Phrases

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In many cultures, the sphere of business is associated not only with money, but also with a specific language style. If you plan to do business with Russian speaking partners or move to Russia for work, knowing some Russian business phrases would be useful, as there are situations when everyday language is just not enough. Well, turning to business, I won’t teach you how to earn millions, but I can help you spare a lot of embarrassment by teaching you some fundamental Russian courtesy rules.

In this guide, you’ll learn some basic Russian business phrases for various occasions, from job interviews and your first days of work to giving presentations, writing business letters, and making phone calls. Also—the icing on the cake—you’ll find out why Russians don’t use “Mr.” and “Mrs.” in business environments, and what you should use instead. Let’s get down to business!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Learning Basic Courtesy
  2. Nailing a Job Interview
  3. Interacting with Coworkers
  4. Speaking in a Meeting
  5. Business Emails and Phone Calls
  6. What’s Next?

1. Learning Basic Courtesy

The first thing you need to know is how to talk and act to leave a great impression. This includes using appropriate business Russian greetings and knowing the difference between formal and informal “you.” Let’s take a look. 

Greetings

  • Здравствуйте. (Zdravstvuyte.) — “Hello.”
  • Доброе утро. (Dobroye utro.) — “Good morning.”
  • Добрый день. (Dobryy den’.) — “Good afternoon.”
  • Привет. (Privet.) — “Hi.” [casual]

To greet your boss, business partners, or colleagues that you don’t know well, use any of the first three options. That said, you can never go wrong with здравствуйте. It’s not locked to a specific time of day (unlike “Good morning”) and it can be used as a respectful greeting toward anyone. Leave привет for your work buddies and friends.

There’s a joke about the Russian language being really unwelcoming to beginners. The first word you learn—здравствуйте—salutes you with an unholy mixture of consonants, so you might need some time to practice this one. 

    ➢ You can check the pronunciation of this word in our dictionary.

❗️Pay attention to the silent в, which is not pronounced (здравствуйте).

Business Partners Shaking Hands

How would you greet your new partner in Russian?

It’s not common in Russia to ask how someone is doing unless you really care about their actual state of things. Here’s a list of phrases you might find useful for these occasions:

[Formal]

  • Как ваши дела? (Kak vashi dela?) — “How are you doing?”
  • Хорошо. А у вас? (Khorosho. A u vas?) — “Fine. And you?”

[Casual]

  • Как дела? (Kak dela?) — “How are you doing?”
  • Хорошо. А у тебя? (Khorosho. A u tebya?) — “Fine. And you?”
  • В последнее время не очень. (V posledneye vremya ne ochen’.) — “Not so good recently.”

Please keep in mind that nobody expects you to complain in a business environment. Asking “How are you?” is just a matter of courtesy.

In Russia, it’s notably uncommon to address people using “Mr.” or “Mrs.” If we want to show respect, we use the person’s first name + patronymic name. A patronymic is a special name derived from a person’s father’s name:

Здравствуйте, Василий Иванович. (Zdravstvuyte, Vasiliy Ivanovich.) — “Hello, Vasiliy Ivanovich.” 

Ivanovich is the patronymic name. It means that Vasiliy’s father’s name is Ivan.

Goodbye

  • До свидания. (Do svidaniya.) — “Goodbye.”
  • Всего доброго. (Vsego dobrogo.) — “Take care.”
  • Пока! (Poka!) — “Bye!” [casual]

Formal and Casual “You”

As you might have already noticed, there are distinct ways of addressing people depending on whether the situation is formal or informal. Thus, you should be careful with how you approach a person, as many people are sensitive to this.

There are two ways to address your work partner: вы (vy) [formal] or ты (ty) [casual]. If you’re not sure how to address someone, just remember this table:

ВыТы
  • strangers
  • older people
  • anybody you want to treat with special respect
  • family members
  • close friends
  • children
  • fellow colleagues that you know well

A safe bet is to follow your partner’s lead. If they’re addressing you politely, you might want to avoid talking to them informally.

    ➢ It’s not just the pronoun that changes when you switch between the styles. The formality affects the verb endings as well. To see how verbs change in each case, check out our article about Verb Conjugations.

2. Nailing a Job Interview

Job Interview

In the previous section, you learned how to greet a person in the workplace. 

Now, let’s consider some questions that your future employer or an HR representative might ask you during the interview.

  • Есть ли у вас опыт работы? — “Do you have any work experience?” 
    (Yest’ li u vas opyt raboty?)
  • Где вы раньше работали? — “Where did you work before?”
    (Gde vy ran’she rabotali?)

    • Я пять лет работал(а)* в компании ABC. — “I’ve worked for ABC for five years.”
      (Ya pyat’ let rabotal-a v kompanii ABC.)


      Я работал(а) в продажах. — “I worked in sales.”
      (Ya rabotal-a v prodazhakh.)


      Я работал(а) журналистом. — “I worked as a journalist.”
      (Ya rabotal-a zhurnalistom.)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

  • Какое у вас образование? (Kakoye u vas obrazovaniye?) — “What is your educational background?”

    • Я закончил(а) Карлов университет в Праге. “I graduated from Charles University in Prague.”
      (Ya zakonchil-a Karlov universitet v Prage.)

      Моя специальность — гостиничное дело. — “I have a degree in hospitality.”
      (Moya spetsial’nost’ — gostinichnoye delo.)

      Я учился [m] / училась [f] в Париже на дизайнера. — “I studied design in Paris.”
      (Ya uchilsya / uchilas’ v Parizhe na dizaynera.)
    ➢ You can find more school-related terms to talk about your degrees on our Education vocabulary list.
  • Какие языки вы знаете? (Kakiye yazyki vy znayete?) — “What languages do you speak?”

    • Я свободно говорю по-испански. — “I speak Spanish fluently.”
      (Ya svobodno govoryu po-ispanski.)

      Я немного говорю по-русски. — “I speak a bit of Russian.”
      (Ya nemnogo govoryu po-russki.)

      Я знаю китайский и японский. — “I speak Chinese and Japanese.”
      (Ya znayu kitayskiy i yaponskiy.)
    ➢ There’s a good chance you can find your native tongue on our list of 38 languages spoken worldwide.

An interview is a stressful event for most job-seekers. Especially if it’s not going to be in one’s native language! But believe me, many HR representatives and CEOs are more likely to care about your professional experience and how useful you can be to the company than how you conjugate verbs and use cases. If you don’t understand the interviewer’s question, don’t hesitate to ask them to repeat.

  • Не могли бы вы повторить, пожалуйста? — “Could you repeat, please?”
    (Ne mogli by vy povtorit’, pozhaluysta?)
  • Простите? — “Pardon me?”
    (Prostite?)

❗️ Keep in mind that Простите? should be said with a rising intonation to make it a question. Otherwise, it will sound like an apology.

If you feel too anxious while sitting in the hall waiting for your interview, just take ten deep breaths to trick your brain into a state of calmness.

A Businessman Looking Smug during an Interview

What do you think this person is saying about himself at the interview?
Come up with three sentences in Russian.

3. Interacting with Coworkers

When you receive that finally-I’m-hired call and an invitation to start working on Monday, it’s time to brush up on your introduction lines (if you didn’t before the interview). Your nosy colleagues will be curious about a foreigner on the team! 

Remember to mirror the politeness level your partner is using with you; chances are, your peers will address you informally right away.

Here are some phrases for effective Russian business communication with your new work team! 

Nice to meet you.

First, some questions that you might want to ask your colleague during small talk:

[Casual]

  • Извини, как тебя зовут? — “Sorry, what’s your name?”
    (Izvini, kak tebya zovut?)

  • В каком отделе работаешь? — “In what department do you work?”
    (V kakom otdele rabotayesh’?)
  • Давно ты тут работаешь? — “How long have you been working here?”
    (Davno ty tut rabotayesh’?)
  • Где ты раньше работал? — “Where did you work before?”
    (Gde ty ran’she rabotal?)

And a couple of ideas for how you could react:

[Casual]

  • Ясно. (Yasno.) — “I see.”
  • Понятно. (Ponyatno.) — “I got it.”
  • Прикольно! (Prikol’no!) — “Cool!” [familiar]

However, you should be careful with these reactions. They can be real conversation killers if used improperly. Consider them to be a solid full stop, so if you don’t want an awkward silence to interrupt your discussion, use the combination “reaction + follow-up question” to keep the conversation going.

I need help.

[Casual]

  • Можешь помочь мне с презентацией? — “Could you help me with the presentation?”
    (Mozhesh’ pomoch’ mne s prezentatsiyey?)

  • Можешь объяснить, как это работает? — “Could you explain how it works?”
    (Mozhesh’ ob’yasnit’, kak eto rabotayet?)
  • Я не понимаю, что надо делать. — “I don’t understand what I need to do.”
    (Ya ne ponimayu, chto nado delat’.)
  • Умеешь пользоваться этой штукой? — “Do you know how to use this thing?”
    (Umeyesh’ pol’zovat’sya etoy shtukoy?)

These phrases are suitable for a conversation with your fellow coworkers. If you need to ask a senior colleague for help, you need to increase your level of politeness. Find an example of a formal dialogue in our “Asking for Help” lesson from the “Business Russian for Beginners” course.

I’m sorry.

The last thing you want to do when you’ve already messed something up is to apologize poorly. You need to be extra-careful with formality here; you don’t want to call your boss “dude” in the heat of the moment.

  • Извини(те). — “Sorry.”
    (Izvini-te.)
  • Извини(те) за опоздание. — “I’m sorry I’m late.”
    (Izvini-te za opozdaniye.)
  • Прости(те), я не видел(а)*, что мне звонили. — “I’m sorry, I didn’t see that you had called.”
    (Prosti-te, ya ne videl-а, chto mne zvonili.)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

❗️We add -те to извини and прости if we want to sound polite

We’ve written a whole article about How to Say Sorry, with a wide variety of apologies for any occasion. Using these phrases, you’ll be forgiven, guaranteed. 

Thank you!

  • Спасибо. — “Thank you!”
    (Spasibo.)
  • Спасибо за помощь. — “Thanks for the help.”
    (Spasibo za pomoshch’.)
  • Молодец! — “Well done!”
    (Molodets!)
  • Так держать! — “Good job!”
    (Tak derzhat’!)
People Worried about the Internet Connection and Deadline

When the Internet suddenly shuts off ten minutes before the report delivery deadline.
Have the phrases for apologizing already popped up in your mind?

4. Speaking in a Meeting

Now let’s go over some useful phrases for Russian business meetings! 

Expressing opinions

  • Я согласен. (Ya soglasen.) — “I agree.” [m] / Я согласна. (Ya soglasna.) — “I agree.” [f]
  • Всё верно. (Vsyo verno.) — “That’s correct.”
  • Извините, я с этим не согласен / не согласна. — “Sorry, I can’t agree with you here.” [m/f]
    (Izvinite, ya s etim ya ne soglasen / ne soglasna.)
  • Пожалуй, тут я не соглашусь. “I’m afraid I must disagree here.”
    (Pozhaluy, tut ya ne soglashus’.)
  • Проблема в том, что… — “The problem is that…”
    (Problema v tom, chto…)
  • Давайте сделаем так… “Let’s do this…”
    (Davayte sdelayem tak…)
  • Я предлагаю повысить цены. — “I suggest that we increase the prices.”
    (Ya predlagayu povysit’ tseny.)
  • Все согласны? “Can we all agree on that?”
    (Vse soglasny?)

Giving presentations

If you give a presentation in front of new colleagues or partners, it’s worth saying a couple of words about yourself. Speaking about something familiar and trivial will help you relax if you feel anxious, and your new partners will have a better idea of who the speaker is.

  • Меня зовут Майк. — “My name is Mike.”
    (Menya zovut Mayk.)
  • Я представляю отдел продаж компании ABC. “I represent the sales department in ABC.”
    (Ya predstavlyayu otdel prodazh kompanii ABC.)

Check out our lesson “Introducing Yourself in a Business Meeting” to gain some cultural insight on the matter!

And here are some basic phrases for the presentation itself.

  • Сегодня поговорим о продажах. “Today we will talk about the sales.”
    (Segodnya pogovorim o prodazhakh.)
  • Сегодня мы обсудим новые сделки. “Today we will discuss the new deals.”
    (Segodnya my obsudim novyye sdelki.)
  • Обратите внимание на этот график. — “(Please) take a look at the chart.”
    (Obratite vnimaniye na etot grafik.)
  • Посмотрите на эту статистику. — “(Please) have a look at these statistics.”
    (Posmotrite na etu statistiku.)
  • Всем спасибо за внимание. — “Thank you all for your attention.”
    (Vsem spasibo za vnimaniye.)
  • Буду рад(а)* ответить на ваши вопросы. — “I will be glad to answer your questions.”
    (Budu rad-a otvetit’ na vashi voprosy.)
  • Иван ответит на вопросы после собрания. — “Ivan will answer the questions after the meeting.” 
    (Ivan otvetit na voprosy posle sobraniya) [if you feel insecure about answering the questions yourself]

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

People with Mixed Opinions during a Business Meeting

Все согласны?

5. Business Emails and Phone Calls

Even with the rising popularity of messengers, sending emails is still the most popular way of in-company communication in Russia. The phone is still a thing, as well.

Email etiquette

While casual emails to your colleagues are not going to be much different from a message on a social network, the etiquette of formal emails is much stricter, so this is what we’re going to focus on in this section.

  • Уважаемая Екатерина Сергеевна! — “Dear Ekaterina Sergeyevna”
    (Uvazhayemaya Ekaterina Sergeyevna!)
  • Уважаемый Александр! — “Dear Alexander”
    (Uvazhayemyy Aleksandr!)
  • Здравствуйте, Александр! — “Hello, Alexander”
    (Zdravstvuyte, Aleksandr!)
  • Добрый день! — “Hello!” (lit. “Good afternoon”)
    (Dobryy den’!)
The greetings are listed in order of formality, starting with the most formal one. If you know the full name of the person you’re emailing (the first name + the patronymic name), you should address them accordingly. 
  • Я хотел(а)* бы узнать, готова ли презентация. “I’d like to know if the presentation is ready.”
    (Ya khotel-a by uznat’, gotova li prezentatsiya.)
  • Хотел(а) бы напомнить о завтрашнем дедлайне. “I’d like to remind you about tomorrow’s deadline.”
    (Khotel-a by napomnit’, o zavtrashnem dedlayne.)
  • Хотел(а) поинтересоваться стоимостью курса. — “I was wondering about the price of the course.”
    (Khotel-a pointeresovat’sya stoimost’yu kursa.)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

  • Спасибо! “Thank you!”
    ((Spasibo!)
  • С уважением, “Faithfully yours,
    Майк Сантос Mike Santos”
    (S uvazheniyem, Mike Santos”
Business Phrases

Business calls

Within the company, you’re likely to call your colleagues via Skype or some other video conference software. However, if you’re going to call other companies, you might want to use the phone.

Let’s start with Алло? (Allo?), or “Hello?” Like in English, it’s a versatile word that can be used both when you pick up the phone and when you can’t hear the person well. But only on the phone—not face-to-face, please.

Here are some practical Russian phrases for business phone calls.

Calling

When you call the company, they usually introduce themselves when answering the phone. If you just hear a cold “Алло?”, the strategy would be the following (don’t forget to greet the person!):

  • Здравствуйте, это магазин «Шик»? “Hello, is this the ‘Shik’ shop?”
    (Zdravstvuyte, eto magazin «Shik»?)
  • Здравствуйте, это Сергей Иванович? — “Hello, is this Sergey Ivanovich?”
    (Zdravstvuyte, eto Sergey Ivanovich?)
  • Я хотел(а)* бы поговорить с Сергеем Ивановичем. — “Could I speak to Sergey Ivanovich, please?”
    (Ya khotel-а by pogovorit’ s Sergeyem Ivanovichem.)
  • Пожалуйста, соедините меня с отделом продаж? “Could you put me through to the sales department?”
    (Pozhaluysta, soyedinite menya s otdelom prodazh?)

* [The ending -a is added if the speaker is a woman.]

Receiving calls

  • Слушаю. — “Hello?” [lit. “I’m listening.”]
    (Slushayu.)
  • Добрый день. Компания ABC. — “Good afternoon. It’s ABC company.”
    (Dobryy den’. Kompaniya ABC.)
  • Вас плохо слышно. — “I can’t hear you well.”
    (Vas plokho slyshno.)
  • Минутку, пожалуйста. — “One minute, please.”
    (Minutku, pozhaluysta.)
  • Я вас с ним соединю. — “I will put him on.”
    (Ya vas s nim soyedinyu.)
  • Извините, сейчас он занят. — “I’m sorry, he’s busy at the moment.”
    (Izvinite, seychas on zanyat.)
  • Может, мне ему что-нибудь передать? — “Would you like to leave a message?”
    (Mozhet, mne emu chto-nibud’ peredat’?)
  • Можете перезвонить чуть позже, пожалуйста? — “Could you call again a bit later, please?”
    (Mozhete perezvonit’ chut’ pozzhe, pozhaluysta?)
  • До свидания. — “Goodbye.”
    (Do svidaniya.)
  • Извините, вы ошиблись номером. — “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number.”
    (Izvinite, vy oshiblis’ nomerom.)

You can listen to a sample phone conversation in one of our lessons from the “Business Russian for Beginners” course.

A Man Holding a Map and Talking on the Phone

Who is he calling? Why?
Come up with a simple phone conversation in Russian to practice the new phrases.

6. What’s Next?

I think you’re now ready to do business in Russia and chat with your Russian speaking colleagues! You know how to introduce yourself, interact with your coworkers, write business emails, and how to not make your boss angry if you messed something up! Obviously, these Russian business phrases are just the tip of the iceberg, but they’re a good place to start. 

When you feel comfortable using the phrases listed in this article, you can explore our “Business Russian for Beginners” course to improve your knowledge. If you happen to have any questions about doing business in Russia or the formal style used in the business environment, our teachers on RussianPod101.com will help you dispel any doubts. 

With our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, you get personal one-on-one coaching with a tutor. Feel free to ask any business- or language-related questions. If you want to practice your business phrases, you’ll receive assignments, grammar and vocabulary exercises, and voice recording tasks to improve your pronunciation. Give it a try!

Eager to learn more? The following material will help you gain even more knowledge about business phrases in Russian.

Is there anything we didn’t cover that you still want to know? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help! 

Happy learning with RussianPod101!

About the author: Dzhuliia Shipina is a Russian linguist and a language teacher. For the past few years, she’s been traveling around the world and sharing her passion for languages with other inquiring minds. She invites you to explore the beauty of Russian and unravel its mysteries together.

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Learn Russian: YouTube Channels to Improve Your Skills

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Sometimes learning a foreign language may seem tiring or boring, but that’s not a reason to give up doing it. One of the best ways to make the process of studying more interesting is to add some entertaining materials (like videos) to your normal routine. This is why, when you set out to learn Russian, YouTube can be a great educational tool.

If you’re studying Russian, you may have heard about the RussianPod101 YouTube Channel, which is the number-one destination for improving your language skills online. If you’re going to learn Russian via YouTube, this channel is the best one to start with. 

That said, there are many other good Russian YouTube channels to help you learn the language. We’re excited to share them with you in this article, so let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Foreign Language Dialogues
  2. Russian Songs with English Subtitles
  3. Russian with Anastasia
  4. Antonia Romaker – English and Russian Online
  5. Киноконцерн «МосФильм» (Kinokoncern «MosFil’m») – Cinema Concern “Mosfilm”
  6. Bridget Barbara
  7. «Вечерний Ургант» (Vecherniy Urgant) – “Evening Urgant”
  8. Искусство харизмы (Iskusstvo kharizmy) – “Charisma on Command”
  9. Varlamov
  10. Learn Russian with RussianPod101.com
  11. Conclusion

1. Foreign Language Dialogues

Two Girls Talking

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcnakakIRt7Yp5Dsu1YGO7A/featured

Level: Beginner

This channel includes short and simple dialogues, voiced by native Russian speakers and designed to reflect the kinds of conversations you’d hear in real life. If you learn each line of dialogue by heart, you won’t have any difficulties engaging in small talk with Russians. We think that listening to such dialogues is a must when you first start learning Russian.

For each video, the dialogues are accompanied by Russian subtitles so you can read along. But keep in mind that the English translation is not provided, so you’ll have to search for it by yourself. After some time, you won’t even need the dictionary to understand each dialogue, at which point it’ll be time for you to start watching some more advanced YouTube videos for learning Russian.

Knowing how to hold a dialogue is art!

2. Russian Songs with English Subtitles

Category: Songs

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClMkzhRvKZpNCdYa3Efi6YA/feed 

Level: Beginner

Maybe you’ve never thought of it, but you can learn a lot of new words and expressions from Russian songs. Moreover, listening to Russian YouTube music can help you strengthen your sentence-building skills and grammar knowledge. Check out this channel if you want proof.

There aren’t many songs uploaded on this channel, but the ones which are currently on it are really iconic. You could spend a couple of days studying each song word-by-word. Another perk is that this is one of a few Russian YouTube channels with English subtitles, making it perfect for beginners or those who have poor listening skills.

3. Russian with Anastasia

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnastasiSemina/featured 

Level: Beginner-Intermediate

This is definitely one of the best YouTube channels for learning Russian from scratch. The videos are hosted by Russian speaker Anastasia, who teaches foreigners the language basics: alphabet, vocabulary, spelling, and the most important grammar rules. There’s even a playlist of her videos just for beginners.

People who learn Russian on YouTube love Anastasia for her creativity. She shoots not only typical educational videos, but also other entertaining and enlightening content. For example, in some videos, Anastasia reads Russian poems; in others, she interviews Russian people. Such videos are informative and highly recommended for intermediate level students.

4. Antonia Romaker – English and Russian Online 

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/AntoniaRomaker/featured 

Level: Beginner / Intermediate

Antonia’s channel is dedicated to studying languages. Each video on this channel belongs to one of two groups: videos for those who have just started studying Russian and videos for those who have started studying English. If you belong to one of these groups, you can find lots of precious information about grammar and vocabulary on this channel. Antonia loves making videos about Russian idioms, and this distinguishes her from other vloggers teaching Russian on YouTube.

Sometimes, Antonia also talks about Russian cities, food, and culture. Thanks to these kinds of videos, the process of studying becomes much more interesting.

Saint Petersburg

It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times… Come and see Saint Petersburg with your own eyes after watching Antonia’s videos!

5. Киноконцерн «МосФильм» (Kinokoncern «MosFil’m») – Cinema Concern “Mosfilm”

Category: Films

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEK3tT7DcfWGWJpNEDBdWog 

Level: Intermediate

Watching Russian films on YouTube can both teach you the language and introduce you to the cultural background of Russia. All the movies on this channel are divided into categories; you’ll find dramas, comedies, and many other film genres here, so you’ll definitely find something that suits your tastes! 

We highly recommend that you start learning to speak Russian via YouTube by watching iconic Russian films such as: 

  • «Любовь и голуби» (Lyubov’ i golubi) – “Love and Pigeons” 
  • «Иван Васильевич меняет профессию» (Ivan Vasil’yevich menyayet professiyu) – “Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession”

In these films, you can hear a lot of clear Russian speech without any slang or new-fangled words.

The main advantage of this channel is that some of the films on it have both English and Russian subtitles. At the very beginning, you may want to watch Russian movies with English subtitles. A bit later, though, you’ll be able to switch to the Russian ones without a problem—believe us!

6. Bridget Barbara

Category: Vlog

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqILnGzWyjqnPFqS2e1yVWQ/featured 

Level: Intermediate

What sets Barbara apart from other Russian YouTube vloggers? She’s an American girl who studies Russian and shares her progress on YouTube. 

Her videos are mostly life blogs on various themes, such as traveling, languages, and food. The main thing is that they’re all made in Russian; despite Barbara’s American accent, she sounds nice and fluent.

Barbara’s channel was created not only to help you learn to speak Russian through YouTube, but also to inspire you. If you think that you’ll never be good in Russian, just watch the videos in which she pronounces complicated tongue twisters, and you’ll probably become motivated again!

7. «Вечерний Ургант» (Vecherniy Urgant) – “Evening Urgant”

Category: TV Shows

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzlzGhKI5Y1LIeDJI53cWjQ 

Level: Upper-intermediate

If you want to learn some colloquial Russian and improve your listening skills, this channel will be perfect for you. «Вечерний Ургант» (Vecherniy Urgant), or “Evening Urgant,” is one of the most popular late-night talk shows in Russia. The actual running time of each episode is 30-50 minutes, but here on YouTube, you’re allowed to watch only short snippets of the funniest moments.

You can learn lots of Russian jokes and slang expressions while watching this program, and may become acquainted with many famous Russians. There are also some live singing videos uploaded on this channel; if you’re an upper-intermediate student, you probably won’t have any troubles understanding most of the lyrics.

8. Искусство харизмы (Iskusstvo kharizmy) – “Charisma on Command”

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXppDx0xzfKqOafJunzcEw 

Level: Upper-intermediate

This is the Russian version of the famous English channel called “Charisma on Command.” Here, you can find high-quality Russian translations of the best videos from the official channel, made by professional translators. 

Unfortunately, watching videos on one of the best YouTube channels for learning Russian is not easy. You have to be at least an upper-intermediate student to understand what the show’s host is talking about. At the same time, if you don’t understand something, you may find the English version of the video and bridge the gaps.

9. Varlamov

Category: Vlog about urbanism

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ilyavarlamov 

Level: Upper-intermediate

Ilya Varlamov is a Russian video blogger who travels the world and comments on the architecture of the cities he visits. He also discusses the latest news, makes reviews on various gadgets, and gives his subscribers helpful life advice. If you’re interested in one of these topics, welcome to Ilya’s channel.

Varlamov’s videos are done fully in Russian. As a foreigner, you need to have a high level of language knowledge and concentration to understand what he’s saying—but it’s worth it. Learning Russian through YouTube with Varlamov can also broaden your mind on other topics, so don’t miss it!

10. Learn Russian with RussianPod101.com 

Category: Education

Link to the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/russianpod101 

Level: All levels

The RussianPod101 YouTube channel is the number-one place for people who want to learn Russian through YouTube on their own. On our channel, you’ll find educational videos prepared by experienced teachers. We post new videos nearly every day, so you can constantly refresh and deepen your knowledge.

The best thing about our channel is that it’s helpful for students of all levels. If you’re beginning your path, watch some simple videos about the alphabet; if you’re at the intermediate level, check out our grammar materials; if you’re pretty advanced, we have plenty of content for you, too.

We’re sure that everyone can learn to speak Russian through YouTube with our channel.

11. Conclusion

RussianPod101.com Image

We’ve shown you the best YouTube channels for learning Russian in an easy and engaging way. We advise you to pay more attention to video materials like these, because this form of education provides you with lots of new lexicology, teaches you to perceive Russian speech by ear, and—of course—it’s a more pleasurable way to learn.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our website, RussianPod101.com. We have a lesson library with dozens of Russian videos for learners at every level. We’re 100% sure that you’ll find something really precious there, as well as on our YouTube channel. Feel free to check them out right now!

Before you go, let us know which of these YouTube channels you’re most interested in watching. Did we miss any good ones you know about? We look forward to hearing from you!

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How to Say Goodbye in Russian

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When you’ve just started studying a foreign language, you may not be able to keep up conversations in it, but you should at least know the basic rules of politeness. Greeting and saying goodbye are the most essential aspects of day-to-day communication, and they can make or break your future encounters with native speakers.

Today, RussianPod101.com will teach you how to say goodbye in Russian for a variety of life situations. After learning the following ten phrases, you’ll be much more confident when meeting and speaking with Russians.

Let’s get started! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE!(Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. До свидания (Do svidaniya)
  2. Пока (Poka)
  3. Прощай (Proshchay)
  4. До встречи (Do vstrechi)
  5. До скорого (Do skorogo)
  6. Увидимся (Uvidimsya)
  7. Спокойной ночи (Spokoynoy nochi)
  8. Мне пора (Mne pora)
  9. Счастливо (Schastlivo)
  10. Давай (Davay)
  11. Conclusion

1. До свидания (Do svidaniya)

Most Common Goodbyes

До свидания (Do svidaniya) is the most popular way to say goodbye in Russian. The literal translation of this expression is “Until we meet again.” Its English equivalent is “Goodbye.”

This versatile Russian phrase for goodbye is suitable for any formal situation. Keep in mind that it may sound a little too formal if you’re chatting with good friends or family.

Feel free to implement this expression while talking to someone who is older than you or anyone you’re not very close with. Look at the following example:

  • До свидания, Мария Ивановна, спасибо вам за всё!
    Do svidaniya, Mariya Ivanovna, spasibo vam za vsyo!
    “Goodbye, Maria Ivanovna, thank you for everything!”

Here, we put the pronoun Вам (Vam) instead of Тебе (Tebe). Anytime you say До свидания (Do svidaniya), you need to use the polite forms of any other words in that sentence.

A Grandson Offering His Grandfather a Cup of Coffee

You should definitely learn more about Russian forms of address in order to be polite while talking to older people (and to avoid awkward situations)!

2. Пока (Poka)

Пока (Poka) is the most popular informal expression for saying goodbye in Russian. Its literal translation is “For now,” but it’s just like saying “Bye” in English. 

You may use Пока (Poka) in any everyday situation, toward anyone you would address informally as Ты (Ty). This kind of goodbye in Russian is appropriate for ending conversations with friends and close relatives. For instance:

  • Пока, дружище!
    Poka, druzhishche!
    “Goodbye, buddy!”

You may also say Пока-пока (Poka-poka). The meaning won’t change at all, but your farewell will be longer, warmer, and friendlier.

3. Прощай (Proshchay)

This Russian word for goodbye isn’t very common, so you probably won’t hear it in everyday conversations. The literal translation of this word is “Forgive me.” By saying it, you mean “Farewell” or “Goodbye forever.”

Прощай (Proshchay) is used when the speaker knows that he or she won’t see the other person again. It’s suitable to use when somebody is moving away, lying on their deathbed, or breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

This is the perfect parting word to use when you want to say goodbye and ask for the other person’s forgiveness at the same time. This word carries the additional weight of admitting guilt, and it sounds really sad. Here’s an example:

  • Прощай, моя любовь.
    Proshchay, moya lyubov’.
    “Farewell, my love.”

You’ve probably noticed that the example above uses informal language. If the situation was formal, you would use the polite form Прощайте (Proshchayte).

A Girl Misses Someone

Sometimes saying goodbye is heartbreaking… And you need special words for it.

4. До встречи (Do vstrechi)

До встречи (Do vstrechi) is one of the safest expressions for saying goodbye in Russian. We say this because it’s appropriate for both formal and informal conversations with people of different ages.

The literal translation of this phrase is “Until the next meeting,” but it’s more like saying “See you soon” in English. Of course, you should only use this phrase to part ways with people you’ll definitely be seeing again. Check this example:

  • Мне нужно идти, до встречи!
    Mne nuzhno idti, do vstrechi!
    “I have to go, see you soon.”

5. До скорого (Do skorogo)

Another phrase you should know for saying goodbye to close friends and family is До скорого (Do skorogo). Its literal meaning is “Until soon,” but it’s really just another way to say “See you soon.”

This is a shortened version of До скорого свидания (Do skorogo svidaniya), which is translated into English as “Until we meet again soon.” For your information, the long version isn’t used in modern Russian.

Here’s an example of how to use this Russian informal goodbye phrase: 

  • Ну, мы пойдём, до скорого!
    Nu, my poydyom, do skorogo!
    “We’re going now, see you!”

The most appropriate situation for using this expression is when you know you’ll see the person again very soon. For example, if you’re working, studying, or even living together.

A Dad Is Saying Bye to His Family

Saying goodbye is not sad when you know that you’ll see the person again soon!

6. Увидимся (Uvidimsya)

This expression means almost the same thing as the previous one. Увидимся (Uvidimsya) is literally translated into English as “See each other.” It’s like saying “See you soon” in English.

This phrase is a good way to say goodbye in Russian in more casual situations. You may say Увидимся (Uvidimsya) to your friends if you know you’ll see them again in the near future, like in the following example:

  • Увидимся на неделе.
    Uvidimsya na nedele.
    “See each other again this week.”

You may also say the longer version: Ещё увидимся (Eshchyo uvidimsya). The meaning will stay the same.

7. Спокойной ночи (Spokoynoy nochi)

Спокойной ночи (Spokoynoy nochi) is a good phrase for ending a conversation late in the evening. The literal translation of it is “Have a calm night,” and it’s like saying “Goodnight” in English.

This phrase is very versatile, and you can use it in both formal and informal situations. This language construction is appropriate for when it’s late, and you know that the person whom you’re talking to is going to bed. Look at this simple example:

  • Спокойной ночи, выспись хорошенько!
    Spokoynoy nochi, vyspis’ khoroshen’ko!
    “Goodnight, get enough sleep!”

There are some Russian equivalents for this phrase, as well:

  • Доброй ночи.
    Dobroy nochi.

This one sounds good in both formal and informal situations.

  • Сладких снов.
    Sladkikh snov.

This one sounds very informal and even romantic, so you’d better save it for use with really close friends or your sweetheart.

Texting Someone a Good Night

If someone wishes you goodnight every day, you’re happier than many people.

8. Мне пора (Mne pora)

This is a great example of how to say goodbye in Russian when leaving a formal conversation. Мне пора (Mne pora) may be literally translated as “It’s time for me,” but it actually means “It’s time for me to go.”

Using this phrase implies that you not only need to cut the conversation short, but that you also need to leave your current location. It’s a good idea to elongate it with a more traditional way of saying goodbye in Russian, like in the example below:

  • Мне пора, до свидания!
    Mne pora, do svidaniya!
    “It’s time for me to go, goodbye!”

You may also say:

  • Боюсь, что мне пора.
    Boyus’, chto mne pora.
    “I’m afraid it’s time for me to go.”

9. Счастливо (Schastlivo)

Счастливо (Schastlivo) is a colloquial phrase for ending everyday conversations. The literal translation of it is “Happily,” and it’s like saying “All the best” in English.

We recommend that you use this phrase with people whom you know pretty well—otherwise, it would sound overly familiar. This is a good example of how it should be used:

  • Классно провели время. Счастливо!
    Klassno proveli vremya. Schastlivo!
    “We’ve had a cool time. All the best!”

Pay attention to the stress. In this case, it falls on the vowel И, not on А like in all of the other cases.

10. Давай (Davay)

The literal translation of this word is “give” or “let’s,” but people often use it to mean something like “Bye-bye” in Russian. 

Russians often use this word to say goodbye after a phone call or Skype chat with friends. Here’s an example:

  • Давай, ещё созвонимся.
    Davay, eshchyo sozvonimsya.
    “We’ll talk later, byе.”

You should only use this goodbye phrase with your friends, acquaintances of your age, and close relatives.

People Waving Goodbye

Most Russian Skype sessions end with the word Давай. Russians really love this way of saying goodbye!

11. Conclusion

All of the words and phrases we covered in this article are used regularly in Russia. If you’re only a beginner, it’ll be sufficient for you to learn one formal, one informal, and one universal phrase from this article. If you’re an intermediate or advanced student, you’d better learn all ten of them (or even more!).

Please remember that if you need more help saying goodbye in Russian—or any other aspect of the Russian language—we have a Premium PLUS service called MyTeacher. One-on-one tutoring with your personal teacher will help you succeed at any point of your language-learning journey.

Do you know any other ways to say bye in Russian that we didn’t mention in this article? If yes, please leave a comment below.

Happy learning with RussianPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian

Russian Pronouns: Pronunciation, Grammar & Exciting Facts

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Psss, psss, you. 

Yes, you. 

RussianPod101 has chosen you for a top-secret mission. Don’t worry, no guns or poisoned apples are required. All you need is to equip yourself with a new portion of the Russian language and learn Russian pronouns with us.

The thing is that we need you to deliver a message with secret information to a Russian spy. He’ll find you in the crowd on the street himself. The only difficulty is that you can’t name things directly in case there are enemy ears around. You’ll need to just drop some hints, and the Russian agent will understand.

How? Well, Russian pronouns will help you. These tiny words replace nouns, and even adjectives, so that only the one who knows what you’re talking about will get the idea. Helpful? Without a doubt!

Study this article and arm yourself with knowledge about Russian pronouns pronunciation, the Russian declension of pronouns, and their usage in a sentence, to successfully perform this mission. We provide you with a comprehensive list of Russian pronouns with examples, useful charts and tables, and other information to help you use them. 

Are you ready? The fun is about to begin.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Russian Table of Contents
  1. Russian Personal Pronouns
  2. Russian Possessive Pronouns
  3. Russian Reflexive Pronouns
  4. Russian Demonstrative Pronouns
  5. Russian Determinative Pronouns
  6. Russian Interrogative-Relative Pronouns
  7. Russian Indefinite Pronouns
  8. Russian Pronouns Exercises
  9. Conclusion

1. Russian Personal Pronouns

Introducing Yourself

First, let’s understand what exactly a pronoun is. In the Russian language, a pronoun is a substitute word used to mention a noun without naming it directly. Before we start, check out our list of the most useful Russian pronouns.

Basically, the most essential pronouns for beginners are personal pronouns. In Russian, they’re called личные местоимения (lichnyye mestoimeniya). 

The Russian personal pronouns are:

  • я (ya) — “I”
  • ты (ty) — “you” (singular)
  • он (on) — “he” 
  • она (ona) — “she” 
  • оно (ono) — “it” 
  • мы (my) — “we” 
  • вы (vy) — “you” (plural)
  • они (oni) — “they”

Here’s a Russian personal pronouns chart that will help you understand the system of Russian pronoun declension:

SingularPlural
1st2nd3rd1st2nd3rd
NeuterMasculineFeminine
EnglishIyouithesheweyouthey
Nominativeя (ya)ты (ty)оно (ono)он (on)она (ona)мы (my)вы (vy)они (oni)
Accusativeменя (menya)тебя (tebya)его (yego)её (yeyo)нас (nas)вас (vas)их (ikh)
Genitive
Dativeмне (mne)тебе (tebe)ему (yemu)ей (yey)нам (nam)вам (vam)им (im)
Instrumentalмной / мною (mnoy / mnoyu)тобой / тобою (toboy / toboyu)им (im)ей / ею (yey / yeyu)нами (nami)вами (vami)ими (imi)
Prepositionalмне (mne)тебе (tebe)нём (nyom)ней (ney)нас (nas)вас (vas)них (nikh)

There are several things that you need to keep in mind:

  • Его is pronounced as yevo, not yego.
  • If there’s a preposition before the third-person pronoun, the pronoun gets the prefix н- (n-) before е (e) and и (i). For example, К нему кто-то пришёл (K nemu kto-to prishyol), meaning “Somebody came to him.” 

Compare this to Передай ему привет (Pereday yemu privet), meaning “Say hi to him.” 

Because the prepositional case is always used with a preposition, you can see in the Russian personal pronouns chart that only forms starting with н- (n-) are used.

We’ve prepared a special video for you about Russian personal pronouns and the accusative case. Check it out! 

Here are some examples:

  • Я ему передам (Ya yemu peredam) — “I will give it to him.” (Or: “I will tell him what you said.”)
  • У неё новый парень (U neyo novyy paren’) — “She has a new boyfriend.”
  • Как зовут твоего кота? (Kak zovut tvoyego kota?) — “What’s your cat’s name?”
  • Мы пойдём к ней в гости (My poydyom k ney v gosti) — “We will go to her place as guests.”

2. Russian Possessive Pronouns

This is Your Book.

Possessive pronouns are called притяжательные местоимения (prityazhatyel’nyye myestoimyeniya) in Russian. The Russian possessive pronouns are: 

  • мой (moy) — “my” or “mine” 
  • твой (tvoy) — “your” or “yours” (for singular possessor)
  • наш (nash) — “our” or “ours” 
  • ваш (vash) — “your” or “yours” (for plural possessor)

In Russian, possessive pronouns are called притяжательные местоимения (prityazhatyel’nyye myestoimyeniya). These pronouns answer the question “Whose?” and show to whom an object belongs.

Here are a couple more Russian pronouns declension tables:

Singular
1st person2nd person
NeuterMasculineFemininePluralNeuterMasculineFemininePlural
Englishmy; mineyour; yours (singular)
Nominativeмоё (moyo)мой (moy)моя (moya)мои (moi)твоё (tvoyo)твой (tvoy)твоя (tvoya)твои (tvoi)
Accusativeмоё (moyo)мой, моего (moy, moyevo)мою (moyu)мои, моих (moi, moikh)твоё (moyo)твой, твоего (tvoy, tvoyevo)твою (tvoyu)твои, твоих (tvoi, tvoikh)
Genitiveмоего (moyevo)моей (moyey)моих (moikh)твоего (tvoyevo)твоей (tvoyey)твоих (tvoikh)
Dativeмоему (moyemu)моим (moim)твоему (tvoyemu)твоим (tvoim)
Instrumentalмоим (moim)моими (moimi)твоим (tvoim)твоими (tvoimi)
Prepositionalмоём (moyom)моих (moikh)твоём (tvoyom)твоих (tvoikh)
Plural
1st person2nd person
NeuterMasculineFemininePluralNeuterMasculineFemininePlural
Englishmy, mineyour, yours (plural)
Accusativeнаше (nashe)наш, нашего (nashe, nashego)нашу (nashu)наши, наших (nashi, nashikh)ваше (vashe)ваш, вашего (vash, vashego)вашу (vashu)ваши, ваших (vashi, vashikh)
Genitiveнашего (nashego)нашей (nashey)наших (nashikh)вашего (vashego)вашей (vashey)ваших (vashikh)
Dativeнашему (nashemu)нашим (nashim)вашему (vashemu)вашим (vashim)
Instrumentalнашим (nashim)нашими (nashimi)вашим (vashim)вашими (vashimi)
Prepositionalнашем (nashem)наших (nashikh)вашем (vashem)ваших (vashikh)

There are two options for the accusative case that depend on the animacy of the noun following the pronoun.

Please note that in the words моего (moyego), твоего (tvoy, tvoyego), нашего (nashe, nashego), вашего (vash, vashego), the letter г (g) is pronounced as v. This is an important rule of Russian pronouns’ pronunciation.

Here are some examples of Russian possessive pronouns in a sentence:

  • У моего друга есть машина (U moyego druga yest’ mashina) — “My friend has a car.”
  • Как твои дела? (Kak tvoi dela?) — “How are you doing?” (Lit. “How are your doings?”)
  • Нашему папе сегодня исполняется 50 лет (Nashemu pape segodnya ispolnyayetsya pyat’desyat let) — “Our dad is becoming fifty years old today.”
  • Ваша дочь очень красивая (Vasha doch’ ochen’ krasivaya) — “Your daughter is very beautiful.”

3. Russian Reflexive Pronouns

Smiling Woman Pointing to Herself.

Reflexive pronouns are called возвратные местоимения (vozvratnyye mestoimeniya) in Russian. The Russian reflexive pronouns are:

 себя (sebya) — “-self” 

свой (svoy) — “one’s own” 

сам (sam) — “myself,” “himself,” “herself,” “itself”
1- The Personal Reflexive Pronoun Себя

Englishmyself, himself, herself
Nominative
Accusativeсебя (sebya)
Genitiveсебя (sebya)
Dativeсебе (sebye)
Instrumentalсобой (soboy)
Prepositionalсебе (sebe)

Have a look at some examples that show how the information in the Russian pronouns table can be applied:

  • Я всегда сам себе готовлю еду (Ya vsegda sam sebe gotovlyu yedu) — “I always cook for myself.”
  • После увольнения я хочу немного пожить для себя и только потом начать искать новую работу (Posle uvol’neniya ya khochu nemnogo pozhit’ dlya sebya i tol’ko potom nachat’ iskat’ novuyu rabotu) — “After a resignation, I want to live for myself a little bit, and only after that start searching for a new job.”

2- The Reflexive Possessive Pronoun Свой

NeutralMasculineFemininePlural
EnglishMy own, his own, her own
Nominativeсвоё (svoyo)свой (svoy)своя (svoya)свои (svoi)
Accusativeсвоё (svoyo)свой, своего
  (svoy, svoyego)
свою (svoyu)свои, своих (svoi, svoikh)
Genitiveсвоего (svoyego)своей (svoyey)своих (svoikh)
Dativeсвоему (svoyemu)своим (svoim)
Instrumentalсвоим (svoim)своими (svoimi)
Prepositionalсвоём (svoyom)своих (svoikh)

Ready to have a look at some example sentences? Here they are:

  • Заботься о своём здоровье (Zabot’sya o svoyom zdorov’ye) — “Take care of your health.” 
  • Он сегодня пойдёт с ней в кино (On segodnya poydyot s ney v kino) — “He will go to the cinema with her today.” 

3- The Emphatic Pronoun Сам

NeutralMasculineFemininePlural
EnglishMyself, himself, herself
Nominativeсамо (samo)сам (sam)сама (sama)сами (sami)
Accusativeсамо (samo)сам, самого (sam, samogo)саму (samu)сами, самих (sami, samikh)
Genitiveсамого (samogo)самой (samoy)самих (samikh)
Dativeсамому (samomu)самим (samim)
Instrumentalсамим (samim)самими (samimi)
Prepositionalсамом (samom)самих (samikh)

This is how this pronoun can be used in a sentence:

  • Он сам так решил (On sam tak reshil) — “He decided it by himself.” 
  • Она хочет сделать это задание сама (Ona khochet sdelat’ eto zadaniye sama) — “She wants to do this task by herself.” 

4. Russian Demonstrative Pronouns

Man Pointing to Something in the Distance

The Russian demonstrative pronouns are:

  • этот (etot) — “this”
  • тот (tot) — “that”

And here’s another Russian pronouns chart for you to review:

NeutralMasculineFemininePlural
EnglishThis
Nominativeэто (eto)это (eto)эта (eta)эти (eti)
Accusativeэто (eto)этот, этого
  (etot, etogo)
эту (etu)эти, этих (eti, etikh)
Genitiveэтого (etogo)этой (etoy)этих (etikh)
Dativeэтому (etomu)этим (etim)
Instrumentalэтим (etim)этими (etimi)
Prepositionalэтом (etom)этих (etikh)
NeutralMasculineFemininePlural
   EnglishThat
Nominativeто (to)тот (tot)та (ta)те (te)
Accusativeто (to)тот, того (tot, tovo)ту (tu)те, тех (te, tekh)
Genitiveтого (tovo)той (toy)тех (tekh)
Dativeтому (tomu)тем (tem)
Instrumentalтем (tem)теми (temi)
Prepositionalтом (tom)тех (tekh)

Here are some examples of these Russian language pronouns in a sentence:

  • Ты можешь этим гордиться (Ty mozhesh’ etim gordit’sya) — “You can be proud of it.” 
  • Я не знаю ту женщину (Ya ne znayu tu zhenshchinu) — “I don’t know that woman.” 

5. Russian Determinative Pronouns

There’s just one Russian determinative pronoun: весь (ves’), meaning “all” or “the whole.”

NeutralMasculineFemininePlural
Englishall, the whole
Nominativeвсё (vsyo)весь (ves’)вся (vsya)все (vse)
Accusativeвсё (vsyo)весь, всего
  (ves’, vsego)
всю (vsyu)все, всех (vse, vsekh)
Genitiveвсего (vsego)всей (vsey)всех (vsekh)
Dativeвсему (vsemu)всем (vsem)
Instrumentalвсем (vsem)всеми (vsemi)
Prepositionalвсём (vsyom)всех (vsekh)

For example:

  • Я весь промок (Ya ves’ promok) — “I’m all wet.” (if a man is talking)
  • Ты весь горишь (Ty ves’ gorish’) — “You are burning.” (Meaning: “You have a fever.”)
  • Мы все идём гулять в воскресенье, ты с нами? (My vse idyom gulyat’ v voskresen’ye, ty s nami?) — “We all are going out on Sunday, will you go with us?” 

6. Russian Interrogative-Relative Pronouns

Basic Questions

The Russian interrogative-relative pronouns are: 

  • кто (kto) — “who” 
  • что (chto) — “what” 
  • какой (kakoy) — “what” 
  • который (kotoryy) — “which” 
  • каков (kakov) — “how” or “what” 
  • сколько (skol’ko) — “how much” 
  • чей (chey) — “whose” 
  • когда (kogda) — “when” 
  • где (gde) — “where” (location) 
  • куда (kuda) — “where to” (direction)
  • как (kak) — “how” 
  • откуда (otkuda) — “from where” 
  • почему (pochemu) — “why” 
  • зачем (zachem) — “what for”

You may wonder why two groups of pronouns—relative and interrogative—are joined into one. This is because, in the Russian language, in both cases the same pronouns are used while their functions in a sentence differ.

Russian interrogative pronouns are called вопросительные местоимения (voprositel’nyye mestoimeniya). They’re used to ask questions, and can also be called вопросительные слова (voprositel’nyye slova), meaning “question words.” Watch our video lesson about interrogative pronouns to learn more about them.

Russian relative pronouns are called относительные местоимения (otnositel’nyye mestoimeniya). They’re used to connect the parts in a complex sentence.

Only several Russian interrogative-relative pronouns are conjugated (yaaaay!). The following pronouns always stay the same:

  • когда (kogda) — “when” 
  • где (gde) — “where” (location)
  • куда (kuda) — “where to” (direction)
  • как (kak) — “how” 
  • откуда (otkuda) — “from where” 
  • почему (pochemu) — “why” 
  • зачем (zachem) — “what for” 

That leaves us with seven pronouns. It’s important to know their conjugations because the same words—and the same rules of conjugation—work for the next group of pronouns, which will be indefinite pronouns. So, here’s a Russian pronoun declension chart:

EnglishWhatWhoHow many
Nominativeчто (chto)кто (kto)сколько (skol’ko)
Accusativeчто (chto)кого (kovo)сколько, скольких (skol’ko, skol’kikh)
Genitiveчего (chego)кого (kogo)скольких (skol’kikh)
Dativeчему (chemu)кому (komu)скольким (skol’kim)
Instrumentalчем (chem)кем (kem)сколькими (skol’kimi)
Prepositionalчём (chyom)ком (kom)скольких (skol’kikh)

The following pronouns are conjugation by the rules of adjective conjugation: 

  • какой (kakoy) — “what” 
  • который (kotoryy) — “which” 
  • каков (kakov) — “how” or “what” 
  • чей (chey) — “whose” 

For more information, check out our article about Russian adjectives.

Here are some example sentences of interrogative-relative pronouns in a sentence:

  • Я не знаю, где мой телефон (Ya ne znayu gde moy telefon) — “I don’t know where my phone is.” 
  • О чём ты думаешь? (O chyom ty dumayesh’?) — “What are you thinking about?” 
  • Сколько сейчас времени? (Skol’ko seychas vremeni?) — “What time is it now?” 

By the way, do you know another way to ask about time and how to answer this question correctly? If not, read our exhaustive article on time in Russian.

7. Russian Indefinite Pronouns

Mystery Man

Indefinite pronouns are called неопределённые местоимения (neopredelyonnyye mestoimeniya) in Russian. These pronouns are formed from Russian interrogative-relative pronouns with the prefix не- (ne-), meaning “not.” There are also some particles that are used to form the indefinite pronouns: 

  • кое- (koye-) — “some-” 
  • -либо (-libo) — “any-” or “some-” 
  • -то (-to) — “some-” 
  • -нибудь (-nibud’) — “any-” 

Keep in mind that these particles are written with a hyphen.

Every particle has a meaning. It will be useful to know it in order to form indefinite pronouns from Russian interrogative-relative pronouns with it:

  • не- (ne-) — “not” 

This particle means something indefinite or hard to describe. Also, it’s a negation of the following interrogative-relative pronoun, so sometimes it means that there are no options or solutions.

  • кое- (koye-) — “some-” 

This also means something indefinite, but in most cases, the meaning is that the speaker doesn’t want to give exact information.

  • -либо (-libo) — “any-” or “some-“

It’s tricky to separate the meaning of this particle from the particle -нибудь (-nibud’), meaning “any-,” because they mean the same thing. The only difference is that -нибудь (-nibud’) is very common and widely used in spoken language; it can also be used in all situations. On the other hand, -либо (-libo) creates bookish and official pronouns which are mostly used in questions.

  • -нибудь (-nibud’) — “any-” or “some-” 

So, this particle means “at least something,” “at least someone,” “at least somewhere,” “at least somehow,” etc. It’s not important what you’re talking about exactly; just as long as there’s something, it’s fine.

  • -то (-to) — “some-” 

This particle is used when the speaker doesn’t find that it’s important (for his story, claim, message, etc.) to name something directly. It helps keep the focus on the facts that really matter. This particle is very commonly used.

We’ve prepared example sentences with all of the possible variations for the most-used pronouns. Try to memorize sentences instead of learning dry rules. :)

  1. кто (kto) — “who”
  1. некто (nekto) — “someone” 

This is a very bookish word that refers to an unknown person. 

Некто приходил сюда и оставил окно открытым (Nekto prikhod’il syuda i ostavil okno otkrytym) — “Someone came here and left the window opened.” 

  1. кое-кто (koye-kto) — “someone” 

Compared to the previous pronoun, this word is much more frequently used in spoken language. Most of the time, a speaker uses this word when talking about someone he knows, usually an opponent of some sort. The speaker could even jokingly refer to themselves as the opponent to be ironic. 

Кое-кто съел всё мороженое, что у нас было (Koye-kto s’yel vsyo morozhenoye, chto u nas bylo) — “Someone specific ate all the ice-cream we had.” 

  1. кто-либо (kto-libo) — “anyone” 

This word is also pretty bookish, and in spoken language, it’s better to use кто-нибудь (kto-nibud’), meaning “anybody.” 

Не желает ли кто-либо из присутствующих чаю? (Ne zhelayet li kto-libo iz prisutstvuyushchikh chayu?) — “Does anyone from the people who are here fancy some tea?” 

  1. кто-то (kto-to) — “somebody” 

This is a very common word in speech. 

Кто-то мне звонит (Kto-to mne zvonit) — “Someone calls me (on the phone).” 

  1. кто-нибудь (kto-nibud’) — “anybody” 

This word is used a lot in spoken language. 

Кто-нибудь хочет пиццу? (Kto-nibud’ khochet pitsu?) — “Does anybody want a pizza?” 

  1. что (chto) — “what”
  1. нечто (nechto) — “something” (that a speaker has difficulty describing)

This is a very bookish word. 

В темноте было нечто большое и пугающее (V temnote bylo nechto bol’shoye i pugayushcheye) — “There was something big and scary in the darkness.” 

  1. кое-что (koye-chto) — “something specific” (the speaker knows what, but doesn’t want to name it)

This is a very common pronoun in spoken language. 

Мне нужно еще кое-что купить, я вас догоню (Mne nuzhno eshchyo koye-chto kup’it’, ya vas dogonyu) — “I need to buy something else; I’ll come up with you.” 

  1. что-либо (chto-libo) — “anything” 

This word is also pretty bookish, and when speaking, it’s better to use что-нибудь (chto-nibud’), which also means “anything.” 

Не имеется возможности что-либо предпринять на текущий момент (Ne imeyetsya vozmozhnosti chto-libo predprinyat’ na tekushchiy moment) — “There is no opportunity to do anything at the current moment.” 

  1. что-то (chto-to) — “something” 

This is a very common word in spoken language. 

Кто-то мне звонит (Kto-to mne zvonit) — “Someone calls me (on the phone).” 

  1. что-нибудь (chto-nibud’) — “anything” 

This word is used a lot in spoken language. 

Ты хочешь что-нибудь? (Ty khochesh’ chto-nibud’?) — “Do you want anything?” 

Please note that not all of the particles are used with every interrogative-relative pronoun, and some of the words change form. Below is a chart of all possible combinations (we’ve excluded old pronouns that are hardly used in modern language). 

You’ll see that some indefinite pronouns have exactly the same translation—especially with the particles -нибудь (-nibud’) and -либо (-libo). To spot the difference in meaning, check out the explanation about indefinite particles above.

Man Waving from Inside Doorframe
VariationsExample Sentence
какой (kakoy)
“What”
некий (nekiy)
  • With some not very well-known characteristic; little-known
  • Usually followed by a person’s name, surname, or nickname

кое-какой (koye-kakoy)
  • With indefinite characteristics; with bad quality

какой-либо (kakoy-libo)
  • This or that; any from the group of the same; not worth attention

какой-нибудь (kakoy-nibud’)
  • This or that; any from the group of the same; not worth attention
какой-то (kakoy-to)
  • Not clear which exactly
Тебя у дверей ждёт какой-то мужчина

Tebya u dverey zhdyot kakoy-to muzhchina.

“There is a man that waits for you near the door.”
который (kotoryy)
“Which”
некоторый (nekotoryy)
  • Not stated definitely; not very significant

который-нибудь (kotoryy-nibud’)
  • Any one out of several
Он некоторое время молчал 

On nekotoroye vremya molchal.

“He didn’t say anything (kept silent) for some time.”
сколько (skol’ko)
“How much”
несколько (neskol’ko)
  • Indefinite small amount

сколько-либо (skol’ko-libo)
  • Indefinite amount (usually a small one)

сколько-то (skol’ko-to)
  • Indefinite amount

сколько-нибудь (skol’ko-nibud’)
  • Indefinite amount
Рассказать в нескольких словах

Rasskazat’ v neskol’kikh slovakh

“To tell in a small amount of words”
чей (chey)
“Whose”
чей-либо (chey-libo)
  • Belonging to someone, not known to whom

чей-нибудь (chey-nibud’)
  • Belonging to someone, not known to whom

чей-то (chey-to)
  • Belonging to someone
Чья-то забытая книга лежит на столе 

Ch’ya-to zabytaya kniga lezhit na stole.

“Someone’s forgotten the book that lies on the table.”
когда (kogda)
“When”
некогда (nekogda)
  • No spare time

кое-когда (koye-kogda)
  • Sometimes; seldom

когда-либо (kogda-libo)
  • (In) some time

когда-нибудь (kogda-nibud’)
  • (In) some time

когда-то (kogda-to)
  • Some time ago; in the past; some time in the future
Мне некогда 

Mne nekogda.

“I don’t have time (I’m busy).”
где (gde)
“Where” (location)
негде (negde)
  • No place (where something could be done)

кое-где (koye-gde)
  • Somewhere; in some (usually rare) place

где-либо (gde-libo)
  • In any possible place

где-нибудь (gde-nibud’)
  • In any possible place

где-то (gde-to)
  • In some place
Мне негде заниматься 

Mne negde zanimat’sya.

“I don’t have a place to study.”
куда (kuda)
“Where to” (direction)
некуда (nekuda)
  • No place where to

куда-либо (kuda-libo)
  • Somewhere to; doesn’t matter where

куда-нибудь (kuda-nibud’)
  • Somewhere to; doesn’t matter where

куда-то (kuda-to)
  • Somewhere to; unknown where to
Я хочу куда-нибудь в отпуск 

Ya khochu kuda-nibud’ v otpusk.

“I wanna go on vacation somewhere (not stay at home).”
как (kak)
“How”
кое-как (koye-kak)
  • With great difficulty; negligently; anyhow

как-либо (kak-libo) 
  • In any possible way

как-нибудь (kak-nibud’)
  • In any possible way

как-то (kak-to)
  • In an indefinite way, not clear how; to an extent; once upon a time
Он кое-как помыл посуду 

On koye-kak pomyl posudu.

“He washed the dishes in a slapdash manner.”
откуда (otkuda)
“From where”
неоткуда (neotkuda)
  • No place from where

откуда-нибудь (otkuda-nibud’)
  • From somewhere

откуда-либо (otkuda-libo)
  • From somewhere

откуда-то (otkuda-to)
  • From some unknown place or from some source
Он только что откуда-то приехал 

On tol’ko chto otkuda-to priyekhal.

“He’s just arrived from somewhere.”
почему (pochemu)
“Why”
почему-либо (pochemu-libo)
  • According to some indefinite reason

почему-нибудь (pochemu-nibud’)
  • According to some indefinite reason

почему-то (pochemu-to)
  • Due to an unknown reason
Он почему-то не пришёл 

On pochemu-to ne prishyol.

“He hasn’t come (due to an unknown reason).”
зачем (zachem)
“What for”
незачем (nezachem)
  • No need

зачем-либо (zachem-libo)
  • With some, not definitely known reason/goal

зачем-нибудь (zachem-nibud’)
  • With some, not definitely known reason/goal

зачем-то (zachem-to)
  • For something; for some goal
Тебя зачем-то вызывает начальник 

Tebya zachem-to vyzyvayet nachal’nik.

“The boss calls you for something.”

8. Russian Pronouns Exercises

Wow, impressive. You’ve mastered all the nuances of Russian pronouns. Seems like you’re a responsible person to trust with such an important mission. Alright, here are the messages that need to be delivered:

1. В доме с красными занавесками есть комната. В комнате лежит книга. Ответ в ней. Скорее!

(V dome s krasnymi zanaveskami yest’ komnata. V komnate lezhit kniga. Otvet v ney. Skoreye!)

There is a room in the house with red curtains. There is a thick book in the room. The answer is in it. Hurry up!

A possible answer: В доме с красными ними есть она. В ней лежит кое-что. Он в нём. Скорее! (V nyom s krasnymi nimi yest’ ona. V ney lezhit koye-chto. On v nyom. Skoreye!)—”There is it in the house with red them. There is something lying inside it. It is in it. Hurry up!”

2. Операция началась. Будь осторожным. Не ходи в бар “Белая лошадь”.

(Operatsiya nachalas’. Bud’ ostorozhnym. Ne khodi v bar “Belaya loshad’”).

The operation has started. Be careful. Don’t go to the bar “White horse.”

A possible answer: Она началась. Будь осторожным. Не ходи в тот бар. (Ona nachalas’. Bud’ ostorozhnym. Ne khodi v tot bar)—”It has started. Be careful. Don’t go to that bar.”

Now practice replacing the nouns with pronouns in the comments below.

To finalize your Russian pronouns journey listen to our special podcast about Russian pronouns. It will also help you to improve your Russian pronouns pronunciation.

9. Conclusion

Improve Listening

Well, well, well, that was a wonderful trip through the mysteries of Russian pronouns, wasn’t it? Now, you’ll be able to use Russian pronouns correctly in a sentence—that’s a new, serious step toward language fluency. So, well done!

If you want to continue improving your language skills, think about getting professional help from a language tutor. He or she will help you spot mistakes, improve your pronunciation, and help you start talking in Russian. Like REALLY TALKING. Wanna check how effective that will be for you? Then give RussianPod101’s MyTeacher program for Russian-learners a try. Schedule a trial lesson right now and get ready for a language boost!

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you’ve learned anything new about Russian pronouns today! Did we forget any words in our Russian pronouns list? We look forward to hearing from you!

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