My first trip to Russian in 2016 was a great success. I didn’t know many Russian words back then. But I was happy I had taken the time to learn a couple of ways to say “thank you” in Russian.
Because being able to properly express gratitude is a fundamental part of human communication.
Once you get to know them, Russians can be very hospitable. And then it’s absolutely essential that you’re able to thank them for the nice food, drinks, and help they might offer.
Before we start, I want you to understand that you don’t need to know every single way of saying thank you.
Some are informal.
Some are formal.
Some are commonly used.
Some are infrequently used.
And some are even a little funny, or dramatic.
Apart from just having the translation underneath each word, I’ve also added how and where you can use it. That’s because you don’t want to say the super informal “спасибочки” to the customs officer when you land in Moscow.
How to say “thank you” in Russian?
Thank you in Russian – спасибо (spasibo)
So, you’ve decided you want to learn Russian. The most common phrase to thank someone and show you gratitude is:
The great thing about this word is that you can literally say it in virtually any situation. Formal situation? You can thank the police officer when he’s checking your driving license. Or say thank you to the doctor who just did a medical check up.
Informal situation? You can say спасибо to close friends when they pass you the salt on the table. Or to someone who’s much younger than you who said “bless you” when you needed to sneeze.
It also doesn’t matter if you want to thank one specific person, or a group of people. This will work perfectly fine.
Verdict: if you want to maximize results for effort put in, this is the best way to say thank you in Russian. It’s simple to learn, easy to pronounce and you can use it in literally every single situation.
Thank YOU in Russian – спасибо Вам/тебе (spasibo vam/tebye)
If you want to add a modifier to спасибо, and specifically direct your gratitude at someone, you can say the following:
- спасибо Вам –thank you (formal)
- спасибо тебе – thank you (informal)
- спасибо вам – thank you (plural)
- спасибо ему/ей/им – thank him/her/them
This way of saying thank you in Russian adds a personal touch. You’re not just randomly saying thank you, but you’re specifically thanking that person.
Adding this personal modifier makes it stronger.
Verdict: in every case where you would say this phrase, you can add a modifier and specifically thank that person (or group of people). This makes it more personal and strengthens the power of your thank you.
Thanks a lot / thank you so much – спасибо большое / большое спасибо (spasibo bolshoye / bolshoye spasibo)
If you want to make the phrase thank you in Russian stronger and express more gratitude, you can add the word “big” to it. It doesn’t matter if you add it in front or after: спасибо большое and большое спасибо are both correct.
This translates to “thanks a lot” or “thank you so much”. Just like with a regular thank you, you can direct it to the person you want to thank to make it more specific.
Verdict: say большое спасибо when you’re very grateful and would like to show someone that.
Thank you very much – спасибо огромное / огромное спасибо (spasibo ogromnoe)
Огромное literally means “huge”. But this phrase is translated as ‘thank you very much’. So if you say this you are really grateful. Where the previous form could still be used in formal situations, it’s best not to use this in too formal situations. Огромное спасибо is like большое спасибо, but stronger.
I am grateful – я благодарен (ya blagodaren)
This phrase literally translates to “I am grateful”. It has a more authentic and formal connotation, so you probably wouldn’t say it to close friends and family. You would say this if someone really did something very good for you.
Important to know is that you say благодарен for males, and благодарна for females.
You can also add the modifier очень if you want to up the gratitude aspect: я очень благодарен.
I am so grateful to you – я благодарю Вас (ya blagodaryu bas)
Благодарить comes from 2 older words in the Russian language:
- благо – blessing
- дарить – to give (as a present)
So if you combine each word it’s a way to say thank you, in the form of a blessing.
Благодарю is the conjugation of the verb for the first person, so this word literally means something along the lines of “I give you a blessing”. You can also use this to thank a close friend, or a group of people:
- благодарю Вас: this is the formal way.
- благодарю вас: say this to a group of people.
- благодарю тебя: say this to a friend.
Though over time it has lost a bit of this meaning, it’s still considered a very formal way of thanking somone and expressing gratitude.
Verdict: you probably don’t need this way to say thank you in Russian. But it’s good to know it when someone says it to you.
Thankies – спасибочки (spasibochki)
Let’s switch to a super informal thanks, you can use the word спасибочки. It’s a regular thank you, but in the diminutive form. It’s something you only say to super close friends or family.
I appreciate your help – я ценю Вашу помощь (ya tsenyu Vashu pomoshch’)
If someone specifically offered help, and you want to express your gratitude, you can say the phrase я ценю Вашу помощь. It’s a formal way of thanking someone for their help.
You are very kind – Вы очень добры (Vy ochen’ dobry
If you want to say that someone is very kind for helping you, you can say the phrase “Вы очень добры”. And since adjectives in the Russian language change depending on the noun of the person they’re describing, here are some other forms:
- ты очень добр (male informal)
- ты очень добра (female informal)
Thanks for helping – спасибо за помощь (spasibo za pomoshch’)
If you want to thank someone for their help, but a little less formal than the previous phrase, you can say this phrase.
If you add “за помощь” it means “for your help”. So you can also use this now to thank for other things such as:
- спасибо за машину – thank you for the car
- спасибо за ужин – thank you for dinner
I thank you from my whole soul – благодарю от всей души (blagodaryu ot vsey dushi)
If you have a reason to be super grateful, and want to thank someone from whole your heart/soul, say this phrase.
For example, if you had visa problems and you were risking getting deported, and someone fixed it. In that case a “благодарю от всей души”.
For that reason it’s not as commonly used. And likely as a foreigner who just started to learn Russian, people won’t expect this from you. If you’re already more intermediate, you can also say this in a joking manner if someone does something small for you. But be sure to have a smile on your face, and make it clear you’re joking.
3 Simple ways to say “you’re welcome” in Russian
You’re not the only person to say thank you in a 2-way conversation. If you’re communicating with Russians, you’ll often have people saying one of the above phrases to you.
So in those cases it’s good to be able to respond in a nice way. Below are 3 phrase you can respond with to say you’re welcome in Russian.
“You’re welcome” in Russian – пожалуйста (pozhaluysta)
This is the easiest way to reply. If someone says “thank you very much” in Russian, just reply with a simple пожалуйста. This is the easiest and most common way of replying.
“My pleasure” – не за что (nya za chto)
Literally this phrase translates to “not for what”. A better way to feel the meaning of this phrase would be “ah, it’s nothing”.
You can say this phrase if you feel someone ‘overthanks’ you. If they’re super grateful, but the thing you did wasn’ any effort for you.
I recommend you avoid this, because it has a bit of a snobby connotation. As if you don’t accept the person’s gratitude, and want to tone it down.
“happy to help” – рад помочь (rad pomoch’)
You can also answer by saying that you were happy to help. “Happy to help” is the literal translation of рад помочь. And you can use it whenever you are actually happy to help someone.
рад помочь is the male version. So if you’re a female, say the phrase “рада помочь”
What’s the next step?
Now you know how to say thank you in Russian. I recommend you just focus first on saying спасибо. It’s the easiest way to say thanks. And you can use it in virtually any situation.
After that you can learn to use some modifiers, such as огромное, большое, Вам, or тебе. And if you want, you can call it quits here if you’re just learning a bit of Russian for fun.
If you’re serious about learning the Russian language, and want to speak it well (so not just with friends and family), you can put effort into learning more forms. You can learn forms such as “я очень благодарен” or “спасибо за помощь”.
In the end there are plenty of ways to say thank you in Russian. The most important part is that you can recognize them when someone says them to you. And that you can reply with one of them yourself.
P.S. If you want to improve your Russian on 'autopilot', my best recommendation is to just listen to 1 single Russianpod101 podcast per day (about 15 minutes). Ideally you do this when commuting to work to create a lasting habit. You can also take a daily walk. I did this for about 6 months, and it's the reason my Russian improved so quickly. There's a free 7 day trial with just an email address, so you're not risking anything. Give it a try and see how fast your Russian skills improve.