How to say hello in Russian

 Lesson comments

The most important greeting you probably want to know is how to say hello in Russian. Greetings make you sound polite and give people a good first impression of you. Russian has several greeting words that are used differently depending on the time of the day and people you talk to. Let's start with learning a few Russian phrases essential in most situations where you need to greet people.

Hello! (polite and official way to say hello. Literally: "Be healthy")
Hi! (this is an informal way to say hello in Russian)

Здравствуйте (hello) and привет (hi) are two very handy greetings to begin with. Just like in English, they can be used at any time of the day. However, Russian people are more particular about who you are greeting. Здравствуйте is a polite form used in official setting and when strong friendship or a relationship has not been established yet. Привет is used in informal conversations with friends and peers. Try saying these two Russian greetings aloud now. Don’t just read them silently!

Greetings by the time of the day

There are three more greetings that you can use depending on the time of the day. They are similar to здравствуйте in the degree of politeness and formality. However, remember to use them at the proper time, whether it is morning, afternoon, or night.

 Доброе утро!
  [dob-rah-yeh oot-rah]
Good morning!
 Добрый день!
  [dob-riy dyen']
Good afternoon!
 Добрый вечер!         
  [dob-riy vyeh-cher]
Good evening!

How are you?

Russians have a very strong community feeling. They like to know how their friends and pals are doing and they share a lot of information about how things are going on. The following greeting phrases are used in majority of conversations.

 Как дела?
  [kahk dee-lah]
How’re things? How’s it going? (informal)
 Что нового?
  [shto no-vuh-vuh]
What's new?
 Как поживаете?
  [kahk pah-zhi-vah-ee-tyeh]
How are you? (formal)
 Как поживаешь?       
  [kahk pah-zhi-vah-eesh]
How are you? (informal)

In reply to these questions, you might hear one of the following:

 Хорошо, спасибо.      
  [kha-rah-sho spah-see-bah]
Fine, thank you.
 А у тебя?
  [ah oo tee-byah]
How about you? (informal)
All right.
 Ничего особенного.
  [nee-chee-vo ah-so-byen-nah-vah]
Nothing special.

Oftentimes, the above questions are taken as an invitation for a small talk about how the listener feels or what is going on. Don’t be surprised when the person you asked Какдела? replies with something like “All right. I’m relaxing, reading books.” Russians are rather willing to share such information and their version of Hi, how are you? is generally less superficial than its American counterpart.

More sites that teach Russian greetings: Russian greetings

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