Useful Sentences When In Russia

Useful Sentences When In Russia
27 February 2015

Useful Sentences When In Russia

Whether you are going to Russia for a quick trip or to study Russian for the first time, there are a few expressions that will come in handy (especially during your first few weeks). It is a known fact that the majority of Russia’s population does not speak English, although Москвичи and Петербуржцы are more likely to. (But don’t be disappointed if you can’t find anyone.) Nevertheless, do your best at speaking Russian; it is always very much appreciated.


#1 When you approach a person

 Hello – Здравствуйте (zdrast-vue-tye)

As opposed to “Привет”, you should use this expression when you are greeting someone you don’t know, someone older or someone with whom you are supposed to have a formal conversation. So this is how you would say “Hello” to a waiter or a shop assistant, for example.

#2 Ask for what you need/want

At a Café/Restaurant:

Opt 1. Мне, пожалуйста, (Item)/ Mne, po-zhá-luy-sta, (Item).

Opt 2. Можно, пожалуйста, (Item)/Mozhno, po-zhá-luy-sta, (Item).

You can use any of these two very simple – yet polite – options to start your order.

Beverages: кофе (coffee); coffee latte/кофе с молоком kofe s ma-la-kom (coffee with milk); чёрный чай chоr-nyy chay (black tea), зелёный чай ze-lo-nyy chay (green tea), чай с жасмином chay s zhas-mi-nom (jasmin tea), вода va-da (water), пиво piva (beer), вино vino (wine).

 Food: Whether you are ordering food at a café or a restaurant, you will most likely do so with the help of a menu, in which case all you have to do is read the name of the dish. If you are just grabbing a coffee and a slice of cake, you just need to read the name of the item on display that you would like to have. So for instance:

Мне, пожалуйста, кофе с молоком и шоколадный торт.

Mne, po-zhá-luy-sta, kofe s ma-la-kom i sho-ko-la-dnyy tort.

There, I just ordered coffee with milk and a slice of chocolate cake.

Possible scenario at a restaurant:

Waiter: Здравствуйте. Слушаю вас (Slu-sha-yu vas).

You: Здравствуйте. Мне, пожалуйста, борщ, а потом салат “Цезарь”.

(Mne, pozhaluysta, borsh, a potom salat “Tsezar”)

For me, please, borsh, and then a Caesar salad.

Waiter: Что будете пить?/Что желаете выпить?

Here the waiter asking you what would like to drink. So be prepared for certain keywords like: пить (pit’), выпить (vy-pit’), напитки (na-pi-tki).

If you need another minute to choose, just tell the waiter: mинуту, пожалуйста (mi-nu-tu, pozhaluysta), which literally means «a minute, please».

To order the bill: Счёт, пожалуйста (Schot, pozhaluysta)

I will pay with a credit card: Я заплачу картой (Ya za-pla-chu kar-toy)



Both in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, when you enter a metro station, look for large signs saying KACCA (kássa, cash desk). At the KACCA, you can purchase a metro ticket without speaking a single word of Russian – just hold up the number of fingers according to the number of rides you want, and give the money to the cashier. (Currently, one metro ride in Moscow costs RUB 50.00.) The cashier will give you a paper card – that is your ticket.

In Saint Petersburg they use жетон (zhe-tòn) – token – as tickets. To buy them just go to a KACCA and say the number of жетон you want – be it one (a-deen), two (dva), three (tri), four (che-ty-re) – followed by пожалуйсtа, then give the money. (One жетон costs RUB 31.00.)

To know how to count until 10, please visit this website:


At a store

Every time I walk into a clothing or cosmetic store, I am immediately approached by an assistant. Logically, the first thing they will ask you is if they can be of any assistance to you. Assuming that you are not able to speak Russian at this point, start by apologizing for not speaking Russian very well, and continue by saying “I am just looking around”. The person will smile to you, insinuating he/she understood, and will let you be. On a few occasions, the person who approached me actually spoke English, so that went well!

I am sorry, I don’t speak Russian very well: Извините, я плохо говорю по-русски (Iz-vi-ni-te, ya plo-ho go-vo-ryu po-rus-ski)

I am just looking around: Я просто смотрю (Ya prosto smotryu)


I hope that these few sentences will put you more at ease. Below you will find some more useful sentences:

Good morning! “доброе утро!” (dobroye utro)

Good afternoon! “Добрый день!” (dobryy den’)

Good evening! “добрый вечер” (dobryy vecher)

How are you? “Как ваши дела?” (kak vashi dela)

Thank you “спасибо” (spa-si-bo)

My name is…“Меня зовут…” (menya zovut…)

Where is the toilet? “Где находится туалет?” (gde na-ho-di-tsa tualet)

Good bye “До свидания” (dah svih-da-nee-ye)


This post was brought to you by Ana Silva, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz


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