How to Say “How Are You” in Russian: 12 Common Phrases

By Ari Helderman
December 16, 2022

If you want to learn Russian, knowing how to say “how are you” in Russian is essential.

Imagine a Russian friend is coming over. He knows that you are practicing Russian. When he enters he says:

Как дела?

And you just stare at him and say “Ehh, I didn’t get it. What does that mean?”


You want to be able to reply right away:

Хорошо! А у тебя?

So if you want to become fluent in Russian, knowing how to say this basic phrase is a good start.

“How are you” in Russian at a glance

Look, Russian is a poetic language. There are many ways to say the same thing. So don’t take every single phrase on this list as ‘must know Russian vocabulary’.

If you’re in a hurry, just learn the main one: как дела.

That’s enough. You can just say this after hearing any of the basic Russian greetings.

If you want to continue, you can learn 1 or 2 more to switch things up.

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

Как дела?

How are you in Russian (simple) – как дела? (kak dela)

This is the simplest way to ask how someone is doing. 2 words:

  • как – how
  • дела – things

In the Russian language, you can skip the verb “to be”. So if you say “how things”, in Russian you say “how are things”.

The great thing about these 2 words is that you can say them in literally any situation. It’s both formal and informal. You can say it to your friends and family. But you can also say it to your boss, or to someone who’s obviously in a higher societal position than you.

Verdict: by far the easiest way to say “how are you” in Russian. It’s easy to pronounce and you can use it in any formal or informal situation. So make sure you say this often.

Как у Вас дела?

How are you in Russian (formal) – как у Вас дела? (kak u vas dela?)

If you want to be a bit more formal, you can change the sentence a bit:

  • как – how
  • у Вас – with you (formal)
  • дела – things

You can say this if you want to emphasize that you know you’re in a formal situation. Though as a foreigner learning Russian, this would be overkill.

You can also change it to the more informal version:

  • как – how
  • у тебя – with you (informal)
  • дела – things

Verdict: This is something you can say to friends or family. And you can emphasize that you want to know how things are specifically with your conversation partner.

Как делишки?

How are you (funny) – как делишки? (kak delishki?)

A very informal – almost childish – way of asking how are you in Russian is to say:

  • как – how
  • делишки – things (a diminutive form of дела)

In Russian, you can make words smaller, by playing around with the ending. There’s no hard rule here, and you can sometimes even create new words. Most of the time people will understand what you mean if the stem of the word remains the same.

But for делишки, it’s better to simply use this form.

Be aware that it’s a very informal formal. Don’t say this to anyone that you would usually say Вы to. And it would even sound a little weird to say it to other adults.

Verdict: As a foreigner, who’s learning Russian, I wouldn’t say this word. Unless you’ve been learning for a while, and say it to a close friend.

Как Вы поживаете?

How’s it going (little old fashioned) – как Вы поживаете? (kak vi pozhivaete)

If you haven’t seen someone for a while, and are curious how they’re living now, you can use this. There is also an informal way of saying this:

  • как ты поживаешь? – informal
  • как Вы поживаете? – formal

Verdict: it’s a little too old fashioned for foreigners to say this. It has a lot of subtle connotations, and it’s way easier to just say как дела. Also, some Russians nowadays started saying this with some slang, half-joking manner.

Как ты?

How are you (super casual) – как ты? (kak ti)

This is the literal translation of how are you in Russian.

  • как – how
  • ты – you

Remember that in Russian you can skip the verb “to be”? That’s also what’s going on here.

It’s a very informal way of asking how someone is doing. So only say it to those you know well.

If you want to make it more formal (but still relatively informal), you can ask: как Вы?

This would be a good thing to ask your grandparents for example. You know them well, but you still want to add some politeness.

Verdict: I’d probably skip this until I would be intermediate in Russian. Though you won’t get weird looks if you say it.

Как Ваши дела?

How are things in Russian – как Ваши дела? (kak vashi dela)

If you want to emphasize that you’re specifically asking how the other person is doing, you can add a modifier:

  • как – how
  • Ваши – your (formal)
  • дела – things

This makes the question a bit more personal, and formal. This would be more suitable for a business meeting.

You can change the word for you to address several persons or someone you have a closer relationship with:

  • как ваши дела – how are YOUR things (plural)
  • как твои дела – how are YOUR things (informal)

Verdict: you can say this as a foreigner. It can be used interchangeably with как дела. Just add “your” and you’re good to go.

Как настроение?

How’s your mood in Russian – как настроение? (kak nastroyeniye)

Another way to ask how are you in Russian is to ask how someone’s mood is:

  • как – how
  • настроение – mood

This is something that you usually ask after someone has done something or just went through an experience.

For example, if you know that someone had a bad day at work, and they came home, you can ask them how their mood is now.

It’s a more informal way to ask how it’s going.

Verdict: you can say this as a foreigner, but more to close friends or family.

Что нового?

What’s new in Russian – что нового? (chto novogo)

If you haven’t seen someone for a while, and want to catch up, you can ask что нового? It literally means “what is new?”, and you can use this exactly how you would in English.

Вы как?

How are you (plural) – вы как? (vi kak)

If you want to ask a group of people at the same time how they are doing, you can ask вы как? Just like как ты and как Вы, it implies that you already have a relationship with the people you’re asking.

Как живется?

How’s your life going – как живется? (kak zhivyotsya)

With как живется, you ask how someone’s life is going. Since the verb живется implies the passive tense, this is more being used to ask the circumstances of how your life is going. A normal response here would be “хорошо”.

Как жизнь?

How’s life – как жизнь? (kak zhizn)

Another way to ask how someone’s life is going is to ask как жизнь. It’s quite informal, so be sure to say it to people you have a good relationship with.

Хау а ю?

How are you (Englified) – хау а ю? (khow a yu)

In the last few years, Russians started to Englify more words. This is usually said in a joking manner. For example, “hello, how are you” becomes: “хэлло, хау а ю?”

Please, as a foreigner who speaks English, don’t try to say this with a Russian accent. You’ll sound as if you’re trying to make fun of their English pronunciation skills 😉

What to do next if you want to learn the Russian language?

I hope you enjoyed this Russian lesson. The main thing I want you to take away from this lesson is that it’s good to keep things simple.

If you’re just starting to learn Russian, it’s best to keep it to a simple “how are you?”. Only later, once you gain more experience, and have spoken with more native speakers, can you start incorporating other ways.

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