You’re at a dinner table in Russia, and someone asks you to pass the salt. You give it to them, and they say спасибо. What do you say back? What’s the correct way to say you’re welcome in Russian?
Just like in any other language, there are plenty of ways to say you’re welcome.
But some of them are polite.
Some of them you can only say to close friends.
Others show how happy you were to help another person.
And some phrases even try to negate the gratitude the other person felt.
In this article I’ll list 10 common ways to say you’re welcome in Russian.
Don’t feel like you need to know all of them by heart. Just focus on learning the most common, and maybe 1 or 2 others you find nice.
For the rest, it’s fine if you can simply recognize them if you’re talking to native speakers.
How do you say you’re welcome in Russian?
Here are 10 common ways and examples to say you are welcome in Russian. I’ve included the Latin letters, so you can read the pronunciation.
You’re welcome in Russian – пожалуйста (pozhaluysta)
The single most common way to say you’re welcome in Russian and reply to спасибо is to say пожалуйста. Пожалуйста is the Swiss army knife of Russian words, as it has different meaning, depending on the context.
If someone thanks you, you can simply respond with пожалуйста. It doesn’t matter if it’s a formal or informal situation. You can say it to close friends, the police officer, and even to the president if he were to thank you for your effort to try and learn Russian.
It’s nothing – не за что (nye za chto)
If you feel like the thing you did for the other person wasn’t a lot of effort. Or you find that they shouldn’t need to be thanked for it, since it’s so self evident that you helped them, you can say не за что.
The literal translation would be ‘not for something’. But a more liberal translation would be ‘it’s nothing’. It’s an informal way to say you’re welcome in Russian, so be sure to only use it with friends and family.
I would watch out with не за что, as it can be a bit rude. It may sound to you as if you’re downplaying the effort it took you, but if someone thanked you, then it’s nice not to contradict them. For that reason, I wouldn’t say this a lot if you’re a foreigner learning Russian.
Happy to help – рад(а) помочь (rad(a) pomoch’)
If you want to say that you were happy to help, you can say рад(а) помочь. The reason that there is an а between brackets is because Russian adjectives changes depending on the gender of the person saying it:
- рад помочь -happy to help (a male saying it)
- рада помочь – happy to help (a female saying it)
Just like in the English language, you can say this whenever you would say you were happy to help someone. It’s a nice way to reply, as it acknowledges the gratefulness of the other person.
It’s not worth gratitude – не стоит благодарности (nye stoit blagodarnosti)
If someone shows you a lot of gratitude, but it was a small favor from your side you could say не стоит благодарности. Watch out however, as this is a very strong way of negating their thanks. And it’s a bit old fashioned as well. So I wouldn’t say it if you’re learning Russian.
To your health – на здоровье (na zdorovye)
Another phrase to say you’re welcome in Russian is to use на здоровье. You may recognize this as it’s also a way of toasting when you’re drinking something. I wouldn’t say this as a foreigner as it’s quite context dependent.
No problem – не проблема (nye problema)
If something wasn’t a problem for you, then you can say не проблема. But again, watch out. It comes across as more negative than the English equivalent of ‘no problem’.
Ah, it’s nothing – а, ничего (nichivo)
Another way to reply would be to say а, ничего. It’s another way to say ‘oh it’s nothing’.
No question – не вопрос (nye vopros)
If you want to show that helping the other was a no-brainer for you, then you should say не вопрос. It literally means ‘no question’. An example would be if your sister asks if you can bring her to work because her car broke down and she has an important work meeting to attend. You do not want your sister to lose her job, so you’d gladly help her. Then you can say не вопрос.
It was nice helping you = было приятно Вам помочь (byla priyatno vam pomoch’)
If the process of helping wasn’t something that took a couple of moments, but took a longer period of time, you can say было приятно Вам помочь. It implies that you spend some time doing the action someone thanked you for, and that it was a nice activity.
If you’re thanking a family member, friend of close colleague, you can use the informal version:
было приятно тебе помочь.
It’s nothing – пустяки (pustyaki)
The last way to reply would be to say пустяки. It literally means ‘trivia’. And you can say it if it didn’t take you a lot of effort to help someone.
So how do you respond to ‘spasibo’?
If you’re a foreigner who’s learning Russian, I would highly advise you to keep things simple. Just tell them пожалуйста (pozhaluysta). It’s the most common and best way to say you’re welcome in Russian. It’s both formal and informal, so you cannot go wrong with this word.
What to do next?
Here are the main takeaways from this article on how to say you are welcome in Russian:
- You do NOT need to learn all these phrases right away
- Be sure to learn the word пожалуйста
- Pick one or two other phrases you find nice
- Practice them while having conversations with Russian native speakers
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.