The ultimate guide to ways of saying "Hello" & "Good-bye" in Russian

The ultimate guide to ways of saying "Hello" & "Good-bye" in Russian

Foreigners who spend a bit of time in Russia often are surprised to discover that there are countless ways to greet people and to say good-bye. It might be not enough to know “Здравствуйте/Привет” and  “До свидания/Пока” in order to avoid a confusing situation. The following examples and comments should help you to get a better idea of which phrases are used in which situations.

 

GREETINGS

 

Здравствуйте!
 
[zdra’stvuyteh]
Formal way to say “Hello”. Can also be used to greet a group of people. In general, the formal way of addressing people is used if you don't know the other person well and if he or she is older than you (in work environments people tend to always use the formal way)
 
Здравствуй!
 
[zdra’stvuy]
Informal way to say “Hello”
Привет!
 
[preeve’t]
Most common way to greet informally. Simular to “Hi” in English
 
Приветик!
[preeve’teek]
Even more informal version of “Привет!”. Most likely to be used between girls.
 
Салют!
[salu’t]
Can be used only in an informal situation, usually with people you know well. It sounds exactly like the French "Salut", but in Russian you DO pronounce the "t" at the end.
 
Здорово!
[zdaro’vah]
Usualy used only between men, very informal.
 
Доброе утро!
[do’broeh uht’rah]
“Good morning”
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal.
 
Добрый день!
[do’briy den’]
“Good afternoon”
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal.
 
Добрый вечер!
[do’briy ve’chr]
“Good evening”
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal.
 
Приветствую!
 
[preeve’tstvuyu]
Formal way to greet.
Приветствую вас!
[preeve’tstvuyu  vas]
Very formal way to say “Hello”. Can be also used to greet a group of people.
 
Хелло!
=Hello
Informal
 
Хай!
=Hi
Informal
 
Хаюшки!
[kha’ushkee]
Very informal. Most likely to be used between girls.

 

GOOD-BYEs

 

До свидания!
[dah sveeda’nyah]
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal.
 
Всего хорошего!
[vsevo’h haro’shehva]
The closest translation is “all the best”. 
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal
 
Все доброго!
[vsevo’h do’bravah]
Synonym of “Всего хорошего!”
 
Всего!
[vsevo’h]
It is the shorter version of the previous two phrases. Not very common and very informal.
 
До встречи!
[dah vstre’chee]
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal. But if you know that you will not meet this person again, don’t say it. The translation is similar to “See you”
 
До скорого!
[dah sko’ravah]
Similar to “See you soon”. More informal.
 
До скорой встречи!
[dah sko’roy vstre’chee]
A longer version of “До скорого!”. You should use it only if you plan to meet this person in the near future.
 
До вечера!
[dah ve’cherah]
“Till evening”
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal if you are planning to meet with this person the same day, in the evening.
 
До завтра!
[dah za'vtrah]
“Till tomorrow”
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal if you are planning to meet with this person the following day. Sometimes people say together «До свидания, до завтра!».
 
Увидимся!
[uvee’deemsyah]
“See you”
Use it in an informal situation. It is ok to use it even if are not sure when you will meet next time.
 
Прощайте!
[prasha’ytyeh]
Formal expression that is used if they person is leaving for a long time/unkown time/forever
 
Прощай!
[prasha’y]
Informal version of “Прощайте!” that is used if they person is leaving for a long time/unkown time/forever
 
Спокойной ночи!
[spako’ynoy no’chee]
“Good night”
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal.
 
Доброй ночи!
[do’broy no’chee]
Synonim of “Спокойной ночи!”
 
Доброго дня!
[do’bravah dnyah]
“Have a nice day”
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal. Often used together «До свидания, хорошего дня!».
 
Счастливо!
[schaslee’vah]
Suitable in any situation – formal or informal. Rather similar to English “All the best”.
 
Пока!
[paka’]
The most commonly way to say “Bye”. Only in an informal situation
 
Пока, пока!
[paka’, paka’]
Symular to “Пока!”
 
Бывай!
[byva’y]
Very hard to translate the meaning. It is not very common but yet you might hear it especially in a village. Very informal.
 
Будь!
[bud’]
Similar to “Бывай!”
 
Удачи!
[uda’chee]
Can be translated as “Good luck”. Rather common and neutral. More likely to be used with someone you know.
 
Доброго пути!
[do’bravah putee’]
Similar to “Have a nice trip!” Of course, suitable if the person is going somewhere even if it is a short trip to go back home. Suitable in any situation – formal or informal.
 
Счастливого пути!
[stchasleevavah putee’]
Synonym of “Доброго пути!”
 
 
Давай!
[dava’y]
Rather simular to «Пока», it is very hard to find a meningful translation. This expression is very common. But can be used only informally with friends or family.
 
Давай, пока!
[dava’y, paka’h]
A mix of previous two forms. Similar use.
 
Ну, ладно, давай, пока!
[nuh, la’dnah, dava’y, paka’h]
A longer version. Similar use. Very informal. This expression is often used in phone calls.
 
Чао!
[cha’oh]
The Italian “Ciao” (most likely it has “migrated” into Russian from the old Italian movies that were very popular back in the Soviet days). In Russian, though, it is only used for "bye" and NOT for "hello".

 

 

AVOID MAKING A COMMON MISTAKE

If you are greeted with “Добрый вечер!”, it is NOT polite to reply “Добрый!”. Even though many Russian do say so. You should not repeat this common mistake as it sounds a bit rude.
 

P.S. There are some other phrases that we use to start a conversation, but only over the phone. You can learn more about them in the future posts.

Which expression do YOU usually use?

 

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