89 Basic Russian Phrases for Beginner Russian Learners

By Ari Helderman
April 25, 2022

Imagine traveling to Russia and not knowing a single Russian word. You’re stuck on a bus in a grey Moscow suburb going to your hotel, and want to ask where your bus stop is. But you just don’t know any useful Russian phrases.

So you end up skipping your stop, waiting 50 minutes in the cold Russian winter, and having to pay an extra 200 Rubles to take the next bus back.

That’s the situation we want to avoid.

89 Basic Russian phrases to survive any conversation

If you are traveling to Russia, or you are just learning Russian, it’s smart to focus on basic Russian words and phrases. That’s because most Russians don’t speak English. Though the times are changing and now many (especially younger Russians) are learning English. But for now, just knowing half of the phrases on this page is enough to speak basic Russian.

Here’s a step by step plan on how to use this page:

  1. First quickly read through all the Russian phrases
  2. Then take 10 minutes to slowly read them all out loud
  3. Sleep on the information for a night
  4. The next day take out a notebook and write down the 20 most useful Russian phrases that you want to learn
  5. Write each sentence down 5 times, and say them out loud
  6. Repeat step 4 for 3 days

Note: if you already know the Russian alphabet, write each Russian letter down. If you do not know the Cyrillic alphabet (and don’t have any plans to learn it), just write the Anglified version down. Be sure to underline the stressed part of each word.

Watch this video where I tell you in Russian (with English subtitles) 9 reasons why Russian is actually easy to learn.

Basic Russian phrases

I’ve divided the 89 basic Russian words and phrases into 9 categories:

  1. Essential Russian phrases
  2. Russian greetings and small talk
  3. Directions in Russian
  4. Russian language learning phrases
  5. Shopping phrases
  6. Russian words and phrases for eating out
  7. Russian words for time
  8. Funny Russian phrases
  9. Romantic Russian phrases

Essential Russian words and phrases

Below you’ll find the main basic Russian words you need in every Russian-speaking country. If you only have 1 hour before your flight, make sure to learn these words. It doesn’t take much time, but it will help you tremendously in understanding simple Russian and making your communication with native Russian speakers much clearer.

  1. Yes – Да (da)
  2. No – Нет (nyet)
  3. Please – Пожалуйста (poZHAlusta)
  4. Thank you – Спасибо (spaSIbo)
  5. Thank you very much – Спасибо большое (spaSIbo bolshoYE)
  6. You’re welcome. – Пожалуйста (poZHAlusta)
  7. Enjoy your meal – приятного аппетита (priYATnogo appeTIta)
  8. I’m sorry. – Прошу прощения. (proSHU proSHCHEniya) 
  9. Excuse me. – Извините. (izviNIte)
  10. I don’t understand. – Я не понимаю. (YA ne poniMAyu)
  11. I don’t speak Russian. – Я не говорю по-Русски. (YA ne govoryU po RUSski) 
  12. Do you speak English? – вы говорите по-Английски? (vi govoRIte po angLIYski?) 
  13. Help me, please. – Помогите, пожалуйста. (pomoGIte, poZHAlusta) 
  14. Where is the bathroom? – Где туалет? (gde tuaLET?) 
  15. One ticket, please. – Один билет, пожалуйста. (oDIN biLYET, poZHAlusta)

Russian Greetings and Small Talk

Below you will find common Russian phrases for saying hello and introducing yourself. If you have a couple more hours to spend on learning Russian, I would work on these phrases. If you want, you can look up some of the Russian grammar behind the sentences, but don’t feel obliged. Focus on speaking first, grammar later (or not at all, if you’re just visiting Russia once)

  1. Hello (formal) – Здравствуйте (ZDRAstvuyte)
  2. Hello (informal) – Привет (priVET)
  3. Good morning. – Доброе утро. (dObroye Utro)
  4. Good afternoon. – Добрый день. (dObriy den’) 
  5. Good evening. – Добрый вечер. (dObriy VEcher)
  6. How are you? – Как дела? (kak deLA?)
  7. I’m fine, thank you. – Хорошо, спасибо. (haraSHO, spaSIbo)
  8. I’m OK, thank you. – Неплохо, спасибо. (nePLOho, spaSIbo)
  9. What’s your (formal/informal) name? – Как вас/тебя зовут? (kak vas/teBYA zoVUT?) 
  10. My name is… – Меня зовут… (meNYA zoVUT…) 
  11. It’s nice to meet you. – Приятно познакомиться. (priYATno poznaKOmitsa)
  12. Goodbye. – До свидания. (do sviDAniya)
  13. Good night. – Доброй ночи. (DObroi NOchi)
  14. Until next time – До встречи (do VSTREchi)

Directions in Russian

I highly recommend you download an offline map to your phone so that you don’t get lost. But in case that doesn’t work, you can always ask for directions from native speakers. Use

  1. Where is…? – Где …? (Gde…?)
  2. Where is the metro? – Где метро? (gde meTRO?)
  3. Where is the bus? – Где автобус? (gde avTObus?)
  4. Is it far? – Это далеко? (eto daleKO?)
  5. Go straight. – Идите прямо. (iDIte PRYAmo)
  6. Turn right. – Поверните на право. (poverNIte na PRAvo)
  7. Turn left. – Поверните на лево. (poverNIte na LEvo)
  8. Stop here, please. Остановитесь здесь, пожалуйста. (ostanoVItes’ zdes’, poZHAlusta)
  9. A map, please. – Карту, пожалуйста. (KARtu, poZHAlusta)
  10. I’m lost (male) – я заблюдился (ya zablyuDILcya)
  11. I’m lost (female) – я заблюдилась (ya zablyuDILas’)
  12. I would like to go to … – я бы хотел(а) бы добраться до …. (ya by khoTEL(a) doBRATsya do)

Russian language learning phrases

If you want to learn the language, it’s a good idea to learn the phrases below. They’ll help you explain that you are learning, and will also make a good impression on native speakers.

  1. I am learning the Russian language – я учу Русский язык (ya uCHU RUCkiy yaZYK)
  2. I speak Russian – я говорю по-русски (ya goborYU po-RUSki)
  3. Can you speak slower, please? – Вы можете говорить медленнее. пожалуйста? (vy MOZhete govoRIT’ poMEDlenneye, pozHALuysta?
  4. I like the Russian language – Мне нравится Русский язык (mne nRAvitsya RUSskiy yaZYK
  5. Russian sounds cool – Русский звучит круто (RUSkiy zvuCHIT KRYto)
  6. Can you repeat that, please? – Вы можете это повторить пожалуйста? (vy MOZhete eto povtoRIT’, pozHALuysta?
  7. How do you say …. in Russian? – Как сказать ….. по-русски? (Kak skaZAT’ …. po-RUSski?)

Shopping phrases

If you are going to buy some souvenirs or local products, it’s a good idea to know how to ask how much something is, and if you can pay by card.

  1. How much is it? – Сколько стоит? (skol’ko STOit?)
  2. Can I pay? – Можно заплатить? (MOzhno zaplaTIT’?)
  3. Can I pay by credit card? – Можно заплатить кредитной карточкой? (MOzhno zaplaTIT’ kreDItnoi KARtochkoi?)
  4. Cash – Наличные (naLICHnie)
  5. Bookstore – Книжый магазин (KNIzhni magaZIN)
  6. Supermarket – супермаркет (superMARket)
  7. Bakery – Булочная (BUlochnaya)

Russian words and phrases for eating out

If you’re going to Russia, you have to make sure to enjoy the Russian culture and Russian cuisine. Below are common phrases you’ll need in restaurants.

  1. Could I have the menu, please? – Можно меню, пожалуйста? (MOzhno meNU poZHAlusta?)
  2. A table for two, please. – На двоих, пожалуйста (na dvoIH, poZHAlusta)
  3. Appetizer – Закуска (zaKUSka)
  4. Salad – Салат (saLAt)
  5. Soup – Суп (sup)
  6. Chicken – Курица (KUritsa)
  7. Beef – Говядина (goVYAdina)
  8. Fish – Рыба (RIba)
  9. Main course – Горячее Блюдо (goRYAchee BLUdo)
  10. Dessert – Десерт (deSSERt)
  11. I will have… – Я буду… (ya BUdu…)
  12. May I have a glass of… (water/wine/beer) – Можно мне стакан… (вина/воды/пива) (MOzhno mne staKAN… [viNA/voDI/PIv])
  13. May I have a cup of… (tea/coffee) Можно мне чашку… (чая/кофе) (MOzhno mne CHAshku… [CHAya/KOfe])
  14. Do you have something vegetarian? У вас есть вегетарианские блюда? (u vas est’ vegetariANskiye BLUda?)
  15. May I have the bill, please? – Можно чек, пожалуйста? (MOzhno chek, poZHAlusta?)
  16. Breakfast – Завтрак (ZAvtrak)
  17. Lunch – Обед (oBED)
  18. Dinner – Ужин (Uzhin)

Russian phrases for time

It’s always a good idea to be able to explain when things are happening. The following are the basic words for time in the Russian language.

  1. Now – Сейчас (seyCHAS)
  2. Today – Сегодня (seGOdnya)
  3. Tomorrow – Завтра (ZAVtra)
  4. Yesterday – Вчера (vcheRA)
  5. Morning – Утро (Utro)
  6. Afternoon – День (den’)
  7. Evening – Вечер (VEcher)
  8. This afternoon – Сегодня днем (seGOdnya dnyom)
  9. This evening – Сегодня вечером (soGOdnya VEcherom)

Funny Russian phrases

Here are a few phrases that you won’t hear often. But you can use them to put a smile on the face of a native Russian speaker. Make sure you have a good connection with them before and make it clear you’re joking. Otherwise, you may not be understood.

  1. Yes no, probably – Да нет, наверное (da nyet, naVERnoe)
  2. Pancake – блин (blin)
  3. To make an elephant out of a mosquito – делать из мухи слона (DElat’ iz muCHI sloNA)
  4. Tree sticks (oh my god) – Ёлки-палки (YOLki PALki)
  5. Sea up to your knees (to have no worries in the world) – Море по колено (MOre po koLEna)

Romantic Russian phrases

If you have a Russian partner, the following words are great to show your affection to them.

  1. I miss you – я скучаю по тебе (ya skuCHAyu po teBYE)
  2. I love you – я люблю тебя (ya kyuBLYU teBYA)
  3. I love you with whole my heart – я люблю тебя всем сердцем ((ya kyuBLYU teBYA vsem SERDtsem)
  4. Kiss me – поцелуй меня (potseLUY meNYA)
  5. You’re a great kisser – Ты отлично целуешься (ti onLICHno TSEluytshsya)
  6. You are beautiful (to a woman) – ты красивая (ti kraSIvaya)
  7. You are beautiful (to a man) – ты красивый (ti kraSIviy)
  8. You have beautiful eyes – У тебя красивые глаза (u teBYA kraSIviye glaZA)
  9. I fell in love with you from the first sight- Я полюбил тебя с первого взгляда- Ya palyubIl tebyA s pErvava vzglyAda
  10. I can’t live without you- Не могу жить без тебя- Ne magU zhIt’ bes tebyA

How to continue learning the Russian language?

If you want to continue learning Russian, there are plenty of options you can choose from. If you’re serious about learning Russian, I recommend you follow Russian lessons (either offline or online) that focus on speaking.

What should you do next?

Learning Russian does NOT need to be difficult. All you need is a solid plan that helps you improve the following things daily:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • listening skills
  • speaking skills

That's ALL you need. If you can do this for a couple of weeks, you’ll already be making great progress in your Russian skills.

And the best part? If you improve a little bit every day, soon these practices will become daily habits.

And then you will start making progress on autopilot.

This means that learning Russian is now a part of your daily routine. So you won’t even need discipline anymore to get yourself to practice.

If you like the idea of this, but don’t know where to start, go here for more information.

About the Author

My name is Ari Helderman and I help people learn Russian through videos and blog posts where I share my experience.   I have been learning Russian since 2016. I often get mistaken for a native speaker these days, so I've learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't if you want to speak Russian well.

Ari Helderman