How to greet and say goodbye in Russian

If you would like to greet a person, whom you are friendly with, and address to him informally then best suited words are "Здравствуй" - Zdravstvuj (zdrah-stvooy) or "Привет" - Privyet! (Pree-vyet). If you’d like to greet someone officially or formally, then use the long form Zdravstvujtye (zdrah-stvooy-tee). It is very important that the first "v" in "Zdravstvujtye" is missed (it’s not pronounced). If it was pronounced, this word of greeting would be difficult to say even to the Russians!

Please note the word "Zdravstvujtye" is used as well to welcome two or more people at once. Use this word if you’ve met a couple or more people (let they are children, your relatives or friends). You may ask about informal greeting, for example, how to say "hello" in Russian? In this case it’s better to say "Привет!» - "Privyet!" (Pree-vyet). Such an exclamation is similar to the English "Hi" and it’s clear that for greeting like this you need to be close enough with this person and have friendly relationships with him (her).

How to greet people at different times of the day

Besides these greeting methods there are other ones, which are applied depending on the time of day. For this purpose in the Russian language most often are used the following greeting:

  • Доброе утро (in Eng. Good morning!) - Dobroye utro! (dohb-roh-ee oo-truh): This method of greeting is applied before noon, id est. in the morning.
  • Добрый день (in Eng. Good afternoon!) in transliteration - Dobryj dyen! (dohb-rihy dyen): This method of greeting usually used in the afternoon until the evening, during the day (except for early mornings and late evenings).
  • Добрый вечер (in Eng. Good evening!) - Dobryj vyechyer! (dohbrihy vye-cheer): This method of greeting usually used, as you’ve already understood, in the evening time.

It is important to know that in the Russian language people use all of the above expression exclusively at the meetings and never use them for goodbyes. Remember that these expressions can be used regardless of whether you are addressing them to one person or several at once. This means that you can safely use any of these phrases without any matter whether you are applying to somebody "Вы" or closer "Ты".

Asking "How are you?" in Russian language.

If you’d like to ask a person "How are you?" in Russian, a simple and very popular way to do so is just to say, "Как дела?" - "Kak dyela?" (kahk dee-lah). Of course, such a phrase uses exclusively in some simple, informal atmosphere (for example, parties, meeting with a friend on the street or on the phone). There is also the more formal "Как вы поживаете?" - "Kak vy pozhivayetye?" (in transliteration - kahk vih puhzhih-vahee-tee). This last phrase can be used when you’re talking with the boss, teacher or even a person, with whom you’ve barely met.

Please note that in the official atmosphere of communication no one will be offended on your saying "Как дела?" (Kak dyela?); and yet it would be better to stick to the phrase "Как вы поживаете?" (Kak vy pozhivayetye?). Most Russian people often tend to errors of more formally saying "welcome".

Pay attention! When we say "How are you?" in English, this phrase does not mean anything special – it’s a common standard phrase instead of greeting. If we ask a similar template question, we do not wait for an answer to it at all; we do not wait any report on how actually things are going at the person, whom you ask such a question to. At Russians everything is quite different! If they ask a question like that, they REALLY want to know how anyone's things are going! When you will be asked, "How are you doing?" note - this person really, genuinely wants to know, how your things are doing; he (she) expect from you a more or less detailed reply on the latest developments in your life!

What should you react to "Kak dyela"? Optimistic Americans often say "amazing" or "great", Russians most often respond with a more moderate "Хорошо; Eng. Good" - Khorosho (khuh-rahshoh) or "Нормально; Eng. Normal or okay" - Normal'no (nahr-mahl'-nuh). Also may use the word with a neutral shade "Ничего; Eng. so-so, nothing" - Nichyego (nee-cheevoh) or Russians may say "Неплохо; Eng. - Not bad" - Nyeploho (neeploh-khuh).

If you really feel great, go ahead, saying "Прекрасно; eng. wonderful" - Pryekrasno! (pree-krahs-nuh). You can also say "Великолепно!; Eng. terrific" - Vyelikolyepno! (vee-lee-kah-lyep-nuh). Be careful and keep in mind that if you answer "Прекрасно - wonderful" or "Великолепно - terrific", it may cause your Russian friend some wariness of your insincerity (as it may seem to him) - all Russians know quite well that our life is far not a holiday... The fact is that the Russians rarely met in their life «wonderful» or even «terrific» events; more often such events are rare in their lives. Do you want to avoid stress and feeling of insincerity? Then, in this case, simply answer "Ничего or неплохо" - Nichyego or Nyeplokho (Eng. equivalent - not bad).

Well, after answering that, do not stop and continue your conversation! Ask him (her) how he's doing, saying, "А у вас: Eng. - And you?" - A u vas? (ah oo vahs). This is the more formal response; less formally will be "А у тебя; eng. and you?" - A kak u tyebya? (ah kak oo teebya?).

Farewell, parting.

The common way to say goodbye in every situation is like "До свидания! - Do svidaniya!; responded to Eng. Goodbye" - (in transliteration - duh svee-dah-nee-ye). Literally this means "Till meeting". If you are dealing with a person in any informal setting or simply are in close relationships with him, then you can say, "Пока; eng. See you later, or (as we say) Bye" - Poka (in transliteration pah-kah; it means "Goodbye and also See you later"). Farewell in the evening or just wishing a good night, you might say, "Спокойной ночи or Доброй ночи; Eng. Good night)" - Spokojnoj Nochi (spa-kohy-nuhy noh-chee). This last couple of phrases confidently used in formal and friendly relations and situations.

English Russian Comment Audio
Bad Плохо
Not so bad Неплохо
As usual Как обычно
So-so Так себе
How are you doing? Как дела? rather informal
How are you doing? Как у Вас дела? formal
Fine, thank you Спасибо, хорошо
And you? А у Вас?
What's new? Что нового?
Nice to see you Рад тебя видеть informal, said by male
Nice to see you Радa тебя видеть informal, said by female
Nice to see you Рад Вас видеть formal, said by male
Nice to see you Радa Вас видеть formal, said by female
Nice to see you too Я тоже рад Вас видеть formal, said by male
Nice to see you too Я тоже радa Вас видеть formal, said by female
How are you? Как поживаете? formal
How are you? Как поживаешь? informal
Fine. And you? Прекрасно. А ты? informal
Hi Привет informal
Good evening Добрый вечер after 6 pm
Good afternoon Добрый день after noon
Good morning Доброе утро before noon
Hello! Здравствуйте! formal, at any time