26 words and phrases to learn in Russian for traveling

Are you planning a trip to Russia soon and want to familiarize yourself with the language? Here are 28 Russian phrases to help you understand and be understood.

Have you booked your plane ticket to Russia? Then it’s time to start preparing for your trip, and that includes practicing the language. As you know, Russians have a language and accent quite different from those spoken anywhere else in the world.

To help you get to grips with Russian, we’ve put together a guide with 8 phrases for you to learn, in addition to the basic expressions: a sort of survival kit that combines polite phrases with very local expressions. To complete your practice, don’t forget to take along a dictionary or other reference material (we’ve selected a few for you), which will come in handy during your stay!

1. Basic expressions

To simplify your task and help you with Russian pronunciation, Generation Voyage has transcribed the Cyrillic alphabet into Latin, and underlined the accented vowels!

Everyday words
French Russian Transcription
Formal hello Здравствуйте Zdravstvuyte
Informal hello Привет Privet
Good morning Доброе утро Dobroye outra
Good afternoon Добрый день Dobryïden’
Good evening Добрый вечер Dobryivetchir
Formal good-bye До свидания Da svidaniya
Informal goodbye (salute) Пока Paka
Yes/No Да/Нет Da/Net
Thank you Спаси́бо Spasiba
Please / Je vous en prie Пожа́луйста Pajalousta
Sorry / Excuse me Извини́те Izvinite
How are things? Kак дела? Kak dela?
Je suis français / I am French Я француз / Я француженка Ya frantsous/ Ya frantsoujenka
Do you speak French/English? Вы говорите по-французски/по-англи́йски? Vy govorite pa frantsuski?/angliïski?
I don’t understand Я не понимаю Ya ne ponimaïou
Plane Самолет Samaliot
Train Поезд Poest
Car Автомобиль Aftamabil
Metro Метро Mitro

2. Давай / Давайте – Davaï / Davaïté

In its literal sense, this phrase means « give or give », but it’s also used to say « let’s go ». It’s one of the Russian expressions you need to know. Note that « давай » is used to speak to someone you’re on first-name terms with, and « давайте » marks a distance, so it’s used with someone you’re on first-name terms with.

3. Mожно –Mojna

Mots et phrases à apprendre en Russe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Reidl

This little word is widely used in Russia. It’s used to ask the other person’s permission to do something, and is usually placed at the end of a sentence. It’s usually placed at the end of a sentence, and translates as « can I? Example: you need a pen that’s on your neighbor’s table, you’ll use the word « можно » to ask if he doesn’t mind.

4. Вы выходите? – Vy Vykhoditié?

You’ll hear this expression a lot on your travels, especially if you’re using public transport to get around. Locals use it to ask « Will you get out at the next station? » if the metro is busy and they want to get a head start on getting out. If this isn’t the case, leave a little room for them to extricate themselves from the train.

5. Kто последний – Kto poslednii

Mots et phrases à apprendre en Russe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – ShehryarKhan

If you hear this Russian expression, don’t be surprised. There’s really no literal translation other than « who’s last? Indeed, in Russia, locals are respectful of each other, and even more so when it comes to queuing. No one will take someone else’s place. Example: you’re in a store and there’s a long queue for the fitting rooms or the checkout, but you don’t know who to get behind. So you’ll be able to say « Kто последний » to insert yourself in the queue.

6. Хорошо – Haracho

You’ll hear it everywhere. This little word simply means « good ». It’s a way of saying that you agree with the person you’re talking to. It’s also used in the literal sense, to say that you’re doing well or that you speak good Russian, for example.

7. Вообще – Vaobshié

Mots et phrases à apprendre en Russe

Photo credit: Shutterstock – TTstudio

Like xорошо, вообще is one of the most frequently used Russian words in conversations between locals. In French, it means « in fact ».

8. Серьёзно? – Sériozna? / Правда –Pravda

These expressions mean « seriously? » and express astonishment. These are the words to use if you want to show off your Russian skills! Example: a Russian tells you a story, and you can’t believe it. So you’ll use the word « cерьёзно », for example, to show him how surprised you are.

How can I learn more Russian expressions and vocabulary?

Before you set off for Russia, you’ll need to be patient and work on your Russian vocabulary. It’s not the easiest language to learn, but these days there are plenty of books and aids to help you make progress in just a few weeks. Take a look at the materials below:

I speak Russian

Russian for dummies

Assimil – Russian without difficulty