It can sometimes feel like the only way to learn a language is to tackle the entire thing. Languages aren’t a binary, though. Even learning just a few Russian phrases can be very useful, especially compared to not knowing any at all. No matter what reason you’re learning for, focusing on the most essential phrases is a good first step.
With that in mind, we assembled a handful of the most important Russian phrases to commit to memory. Whether you’re starting your journey or just want a few Russian sentences in your back pocket, this cheat sheet is a great place to start. (And you can always continue learning Russian with Babbel.) We include audio for each of the terms so you can practice your pronunciation, but you may also want to brush up on the Cyrillic alphabet to be better prepared.
Russian Phrases: The Ultimate Vacation Cheat Sheet
The Most Basic Basics
If you learn nothing else, it’s good to familiarize yourself with “yes,” “no,” “thank you” and so on. It’s the polite thing to do.
да — yes
нет — no
пожалуйста — please
спасибо — thank you
извините — excuse me
How To Introduce Yourself
Saying “hello” in Russian, like in any language, comes with its own set of cultural norms. You’ll want to use the right greeting for the person you’re speaking to, as well as for the time of day. Here are a few simple options.
Привет! — Hello! (informal)
Здравствуйте! — Hello! (formal)
Добрый день! — Good afternoon/day!
Добрый вечер! — Good evening!
After you’ve said hello, you may want to say your name or where you’re from. Here are a few example sentences, though of course you’ll need to put in your own name.
Меня зовут Лена. — My name is Lena.
Я из Германии. — I’m from Germany.
Как тебя зовут? — What’s your name?
How To Order Food And Drinks
Ordering food and drinks is a pretty common experience, so you’ll want to get the phrases down for that right away. To get the full experience, though, you’ll also need to pair these phrases with some Russian food vocabulary.
Дайте мне, пожалуйста, меню! — Give me the menu, please!
Можно сделать заказ? — Can we order, please?
Бутылку воды, пожалуйста. — A bottle of water, please.
Что Вы хотите пить? — What would you like to drink?
Счёт, пожалуйста. — The bill, please.
How To Ask For And Give Directions
There’s nothing worse than getting lost in a place you’re not familiar with. You’ll definitely want to have these words and phrases in your back pocket.
Извините, я ищу булочную. — Excuse me, I’m looking for a bakery.
Ты знаешь, где аэропорт? — Do you know where the airport is?
Идите направо. — Go to the right.
Поверните налево. — Turn left.
прямо — straight ahead
How To Book A Hotel
The internet has made booking a hotel a pretty easy experience, even if you don’t necessarily speak the local language of the hotel. Still, your travel might be a bit easier if you know at least the basics.
Я забронировал номер. — I booked a hotel room.
Вот Ваш ключ. — Here is your key.
Во сколько завтрак? — At what time is breakfast?
Вам нужна регистрация. — You need to register.
How To Take Public Transportation
Each place’s public transportation system is different, and so even without the language barrier it can be confusing. We have a whole guide to Russian public transportation phrases and terms, but here are a few to (literally) get you going.
Где здесь ближайшая автобусная остановка? — Where is the next bus stop?
Когда прибывает твой поезд? — When does the train arrive?
Есть автобус-экспресс в аэропорт? — Is there an express bus to the airport?
Сколько стоит одна поездка? — How much does one trip cost?
Какая это остановка? — Which stop is this?