What is the Russian word for ‘hello’?
Everybody knows that ‘hello’ in Russian is ‘privet’. But did you know that this word is not suitable for all contexts? There is a wide variety of expressions, ranging from formal to informal, that can be used depending on the specific occasion. Want to learn them? Read on for the ultimate list of Russian greetings and the best way to learn Russian. In this article, you will discover the answer to the popular question “how do you say hello in Russian?”. You will find out:
- how popular learning Russian is around the world
- different ways of greeting someone in Russian
- where and how to learn Russian online
Numbers & Statistics: The growing importance of Russian around the world
Did you know that Russian is one of the world’s most widely spoken languages? Some 153 million native speakers and an estimated 258 million total speakers make Russian the 8th most widely used language. As one of the five major languages of the United Nations, learning Russian can open many doors.
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Russia accounts for over $1bn and 3.1% of global GDP and is the 11th largest economy in the world, reported to grow between 1.6 and 1.8 percent in 2020–2021. Its influence on the global economy and political map cannot be disputed. Russian has been described as an extremely politically, culturally, and economically relevant language, not just in Mother Russia but also in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.
It may surprise you to learn that Russian is also the second largest language on the internet. With over 103 million users online it accounts for 6.5% of written Internet content.
While in EU Member States more than 65% of students enrolled in upper secondary education were learning English as a foreign language, Russian was the most commonly non-EU language learned in 2018, especially in Latvia (48%), Estonia (44%), Bulgaria and Lithuania (both around 26%).
There are quite a few famous people around the world who have chosen to learn Russian for various purposes. Some notable names include:
- Kate Beckinsale: The actress studied Russian literature at Oxford University because she wanted to read the works of writers like Chekhov in their original language.
- Ralph Fiennes: The actor had to learn Russian for his role in the movie “Two Women”.
- Jared Leto: The actor learned Russian for his role in the movie “The Lord of War”.
Withoutfurther ado, let’s find out what is Russian for hello and get intothe basics of greetings in Russian depending on the specific contextand situation you find yourself in! A big Russian hello!
How to translate hello to Russian depending on the context?
Word choice matters a lot when greeting someone in Russian. If you’re looking for a ‘hello in Russian translation’, you will come up with different results and likely find yourself confused.
Don’t just try typing ‘hello translate to Russian’ into a search engine… it won’t clarify things! This is because Russian has two main registers, i.e. formal and informal. Unlike we do in English, Russians use different words depending on the situation they find themselves in. That’s why it is important to know what phrase to use when greeting someone.
While ‘привет’ is appropriate for friends and other people of your age, ‘здравствуйте’ is best to show respect to your elders and others you are not acquainted with. Read on to find out how to properly translate hello into Russian.
5different language contexts
Inthis article, we are considering 5 main language contexts that oneneeds to take into account when looking for a hello Russiantranslation:
- Neutral: Neutral language that can be used in most situations and does not favor anyone. If you stop someone at the street to ask for directions and they look roughly your age, you would use neutral language to be polite.
- Colloquial: Language used in informal conversation between friends and family. If you are at school, talking to a group of friends and acquaintances, you would be using colloquial language.
- Slang (extremely colloquial): Slang is a very informal language, best reserved for people one knows very well. One could use slang when texting their best friend, for example.
- Formal: Formal language is impersonal and is used for professional purposes or for talking to elders. When interviewing for a new job position, you would have to use formal language.
- Extremely formal: Extremely formal language would be reserved for serious situations involving people we don’t know well (e.g. resume writing, academia). A doctor in a medical conference is likely to be using extremely formal language to do a presentation.
Neutral Russian Greetings
1. Здрáвствуй! / Здрáвствуйте!
- Здрáвствуй! [zdr’astvuy] (singular)
- Здрáвствуйте! [zdr’astvuytye] (plural or when addressing a senior person politely)
While the literal meaning of this expression is “be healthy” in the imperative mood, Russians commonly use it as a way to say “Hello”. It is suitable for most everyday situations and is considered to be Russian for “hello”. If you would like to greet your local grocery store owner, for example, “Здрáвствуйте!” is a perfect choice of a phrase. This is typically how to greet someone in Russian.
You can listen to how Russians pronounce this and many other greetings in this fascinating video:
2. Дóброе ýтро! [d'obroye 'utro]
Thisphrase means “Goodmorning”and can be used in the same way as it would be in English. However,keep in mind that, while in English it is not unusual to reduce “Goodmorning”to just “Morning”,Russians never do this (however, they sometimes reduce thisphrase to“Дóброе”instead). If you come across someone you would like to greet in thedaytime, you can’t go wrong saying “Дóброеýтро”.
3. Дóбрый дéнь! [d'obryy d'en]
Anexpression that translates to “Goodday”,“Дóбрыйдéнь” isused to greet people in the afternoon, when it is too late to say“Goodmorning”,i.e. after 12 o’clock at noon.
4. Дóбрый вéчер! [d'obryy v'yetʃyer]
This phrase means “Good evening” and you can use it as you would in English – after 6 pm or so. It is not uncommon to find the expression “Дóброй нóчи!” (translating to “Good night”) as a greeting on Russian language blogs, but this is not correct. Use “Дóбрый вéчер” to greet Russians in the evening and “Дóброй нóчи” only to wish somebody a good night or say goodbye in the evening.
ColloquialGreetings in Russian
5. Дóброго врéмени сýток! [d'obrovo vr'yemyeni s'utok]
This expression literally means “Have a good time of the day”. Even though it’s a phrase that sounds somewhat awkward in English, in Russian it is actually employed often.
An example would be when writing a letter or e-mail to somebody. Since you never know when the person you are addressing is going to read your letter (in the morning or the evening), using “Дóброго врéмени сýток” helps you stay accurate and on point, and it is a common Russian greeting.
6. Привéт! [priv'yet]
Thispopular greeting means, of course, “hello”.It is a familiar and informal word to be used in casual settings,with friends or family. If you search for ‘hello Russian’, thisis the answer you will get! It is the most common Russian word for“hello”.
7. Здорóво! [zdor'ovo]
Not to be confused with the words “здóрово” ([zd’orovo], “great!”) and “здорóвье” ([zdor’ovye], “health”), this colloquial expression is used to say “Hey” in Russian. It is most often used by men and only between very good friends saying hello in Russian, as it sounds rather rough to the native ear.
8. Салю́т! [sal'yut]
Aword derived from the French greeting “Salut”,it is an informal way to greet someone. When meeting people you knowvery well in a casual setting, for example, “Салю́т”is perfectly appropriate.
9. Салáм алéйкум! [sal'am al'eykum]
Thisis a greeting borrowed from Arabic which means “Peacebe upon you” thatis normally used as a religious salutation among Muslims. However, itis not unusual to hear it in informal settings, between friends, inRussia.
Saying“Hello” in Russian slang (extremelycolloquial greetings)
10. Привéтик! [priv'yetik]
Anextremely informal greeting that would almost be better described asslang, “Приветик”is a playful and even childish way to say “Hello”.A rough English equivalent is “Heya”.You would not use this humorous phrase with people you do not knowvery well. It is best saved for greeting children or your best pals.
11. Хеллó! [hell'o] and
12. Хáй! [h'ay]
Don’tbe surprised if you hear Russian youth greet each other with theEnglish words “Hello”or “Hi”(spelled using the Cyrillic alphabet when written online). YoungRussians are becoming increasingly familiar and comfortable withAnglo-Saxon culture through watching popular movies, series andbrowsing the Internet.
13. Здрáсьте! [zdr'aste]
Thisword means “Hello”.It is the short form of “здраствуйте”and, as an abbreviation, it can sometimes be considered lazy,impolite or even rude. Reserve it for the people closest to you, whowill not be offended.
14. Дрáтути! [dr'atuti]
Another way to say “hello” in Russian slang to be reserved for greeting your best friends, this word is a distorted form of the word “здравствуйте”. While it means “Hello”, it is not considered a particularly polite form of saying it. This is how to say “hello” in Russian informally.
Saying “hello” in Russian: formal greetings
15. Привéтствую! / Привéтствую вас! / Привéтствую Вас!
- Привéтствую! [priv’yetstvuyu] (suitable for all addressees)
- Привéтствую вас! [priv’yetstvuyu vas] (when addressing more than one person)
- Привéтствую Вас! [priv’yetstvuyu vas] (when addressing one or more people in a polite way)
Thisexpression literally means “Iam greeting you”.Just like its English equivalent“greetings”,it is considered a rather formal word. If you were addressing anaudience at a conference, this would be a good phrase to use.
16. Разрешúте вас привéтствовать! / Разрешúте Вас привéтствовать!
- Разрешúте вас привéтствовать! [razryeʃ’itye vas priv’yetstvovat] (when addressing more than one person)
- Разрешúте Вас привéтствовать! [razryeʃ’itye vas priv’yetstvovat] (when addressing one or more people in a polite way)
Even more formal than “Привéтствую”, this expression translates to “Allow me to greet you”. It is only appropriate in formal occasions and settings, and you could use it, for example, as a politician welcoming foreign delegates into your country.
17. Рáд/рáда/рáды вас привéтствовать! / Рáд/рáда/рáды Вас привéтствовать!
- Рáд/рáда/рáды вас привéтствовать! [r’ad/r’ada/r’ady v’as priv’yetstvovat] (when addressing more than one person)
- Рáд/рáда/рáды Вас привéтствовать! [r’ad/r’ada/r’ady vas priv’yetstvovat] (when addressing one or more people in a polite way)
In the same vein as the previous two phrases, this expression literally translates to “I am/we are glad to greet you” and is appropriately used as “hello” in Russian formal-style.
How to say an extremely formal “hello” in Russian?
18. Физкýльт-привéт! [fisk'ult priv'yet]
Arather unique expression that is difficult to translate into English,“Физкýльт-привéт”could be described as a sort of sporty cheer. It is used duringsports competitions or in a humorous way. An announcement-makerwelcoming a football team to a stadium could use this expression togreet the athletes.
19. Здрáвия желáю! / Здрáвия желáем!
- Здрáвия желáю! [zdr’aviya zhel’ayu] (used as a singular form if you are speaking alone when greeting someone)
- Здрáвия желáем! [zdr’aviya zhel’ayem] (used as a plural form if you and somebody else are greeting someone)
This extremely formal phrase literally means “I/we wish you good health”. It actually means “Hello, sir!” and is usually used in military service, for example, to render a salute to an officer. Alternatively, Russians sometimes use it jokingly in a casual setting.
At the end of the article you will find a colorful infographic enlisting all the ways to say “hello” in Russian described above. Don’t forget to save it!
Common phrases around the Russian hello
Hello how are you in Russian: Привет! Как дела?
This phrase that could be translated as “Hi! How are things?” is common between friends. If you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in a while on the street, you could greet them this way.
Hello comrade in Russian: Привет, товарищ!
You could use this phrase instead of “Hello friend” or “Hello my brother” to greet a dear friend, but it has Soviet roots and used to be more common back in the day.
Hello my name is in Russian: Привет! Меня зовут … .
Whenyou find yourself in a situation meeting someone for the first time,you will have to introduce yourself. This is the phrase you would useto do so.
Hello beautiful in Russian: Привет, красотка! / Привет, красавчик!
Thisgreeting would be appropriate in a situation where you are trying toflirt with an attractive girl or boy and want to cheekily say hello.
Hello and goodbye in Russian: Здравствуйте! До свидания! / Привет! Пока!
If you are in a situation where you are not particularly close with a person, they are senior, or you are speaking to someone in a professional setting, it would be appropriate to greet them with “здравствуйте” and parting with “до свидания”.
Hello nice to meet you in Russian: Здравствуйте! Приятно познакомиться!
When you are meeting someone for the first time in a formal setting or they are senior, for instance, your grandmother’s friend, you could use this phrase to politely greet people.
Hello everyone in Russian: Всем привет!
This greeting is appropriate when you first arrive into a large group where you don’t know everyone’s name or, for example, if you are greeting multiple people in an event hosted at your home.
Online Russian lessons
There are 3 key advantages to learning Russian online and, in particular, on Eurekly:
- Russia is a huge country with 11 standard time zones. These are the following: Russia Time Zone 1 (UTC + 2), Russia Time Zone 2 (UTC + 3), Russia Time Zone 3 (UTC + 4), Russia Time Zone 4 (UTC + 5), Russia Time Zone 5 (UTC + 6), Russia Time Zone 6 (UTC + 7), Russia Time Zone 7 (UTC + 8), Russia Time Zone 8 (UTC + 9), Russia Time Zone 9 (UTC + 10), Russia Time Zone 10 (UTC + 11), Russia Time Zone 11 (UTC + 12). Naturally, this can make scheduling online lessons rather complicated. However, Eurekly offers a special feature that facilitates lesson scheduling in many different time zones, which is particularly handy!
- Online Russian lessons offer on-the-go mobile solutions, enabling you to complete coursework from anywhere, as your individual schedule permits, without having to travel to your lessons. You can tailor-fit your learning around your day whenever it’s convenient.
- Compared with traditional face-to-face lessons, Eurekly’s online Russian classes offer a much cheaper alternative!
Many of Eurekly’s highly qualified tutors are native Russian speakers and all have a perfect command of English, making them the ideal choice for your education. Here are four of the many Russian teachers available on Eurekly today to get you started:
- Andrei is a native Russian linguist and writer who teaches both Russian and English. He taught at West Virginia University for two years and has students in the USA, UK, Australia, France, New Zealand, and Denmark. He takes great pride in customizing lesson plans to every student’s needs and always uses the most up-to-date teaching aids.
- Olga holds a Ph.D. in Russian Language and is hugely qualified and highly experienced having taught over 300 people 5000 lessons. With 10 years of her teaching experience (7 years online), you will be in very safe hands. She is a native of St.Petersburg and loves to help people attain a real Russian accent!
- Tatiana loves working with all ages and backgrounds. She holds a Master’s degree in teaching Russian and offers a personalized program for all her students depending on their goals. She teaches for the TRKI/TORFL Russian language exams you will need to take if you want to study or work in Russia. She makes a real focus on pronunciation and promises that you will not stay at entry-level for long!
- Alexander is a true international Russian native having studied and worked in London, Turkey the UAE, and the Maldives. He is a certified Russian tutor with an academic background in Russian Literature and History and loves including Russian culture in his lessons. He promises that everyone can speak Russian with his help!
Eurekly’s leading Russian tutors have prepared this amazing infographic to facilitate your Russian studies. Save it and make sure you use the right expressions in all the suitable contexts!
FAQ about how to say hello in Russian
1. How do Russians greet each other?
Russians greet each other by saying hello, the word for which can vary depending on the circumstances.
2. What does hello mean in Russian?
Hello, i.e. приве́т, is the most common way to informally greet others in Russian.
3. How to pronounce hello in Russian?
To pronounce здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte), say zdrah-stvooy-tee and remember to roll your R’s.
4. How to spell hello in Russian?
The correct spelling of hello in Russian is здравствуйте (zdravstvuyte) or привет (privyet).
5. How to write hello in Russian?
You can write здравствуйте or привет.
6. How do you say hello in Russian phonetically?
Phonetically, приве́т is [pree-vyét], while здравствуйте sounds like [zdrah-stvooy-tee].