Updated: Oct 12, 2021
How to be polite in Russian
In this free Russian video lesson, you will learn different polite words and phrases in Russian. In particular, you will learn how to thank someone in Russian, how to say you are welcome in Russian, how to say bless you, and other polite Russian words and phrases.
While there is a stereotype that Russian people are rude, it is very important to use some basic Russian polite words and phrases everyday. And no, Russian people are not rude, but rather straightforward. And being polite in Russian is not that difficult. You don't need to use some long and super polite phrases like in English or French. On the contrary, if you use such sophisticated phrases, it would sound weird to Russian people and they would think that you make fun of them.
I recommend you to watch this free video lesson first. You can find a summary of this video just below. The test to check your knowledge on polite Russian phrases is at the bottow of this page. Have fun learning!
Free Russian Video Lesson - How to be polite in Russian
Summary of the video lesson
Here are the key polite Russian words and phrases:
1. СПАСИБО (spasiba) - Thank (you)
It is the most common way to thank someone in Russian (both formal/informal)
To make it more personal, you can add a pronoun. Ex.: Спасибо тебе / вам (Thank you).
The word СПАСИБО comes from the saying "Спаси (тебя) Бог" which means "God save you". You can also add an adjective БОЛЬШОЕ (bal'shóye) big to say that you are really grateful to someone.
Any variations of word order are possible:
Большое спасибо, спасибо большое
Спасибо тебе большое
Спасибо вам большое
Another variation is ОГРОМНОЕ (agrómnaye) huge.
Огромное спасибо = thank you so much
Any variations of word order are possible:
Огромное спасибо, спасибо огромное
Спасибо тебе огромное
Спасибо вам огромное
If you want to specify for what exactly you want to thank a person you need to use this construction: Спасибо за + noun (Accusative case)
Ex.: Спасибо за подарок (Thanks for a gift)
There are many informal variations of the word СПАСИБО:
Спасибочки, спасибки (cute, colloquial);
Спасиб, пасиб (conversational);
Спс - a short written form (not really polite).
There is an interesting Russian expression with a word спасибо:
ПОТОМ ЕЩЁ СПАСИБО СКАЖЕШЬ (patóm yeshyó spasiba skázhesh')
You will thank me later.
You can use this expression when someone doubts the importance / value of your actions
or believes that you / they waste time on smth.
For example, Russian mothers like to say this expression to their children when they force them to study hard.
Ex.: - Давай, учись! Потом ещё спасибо скажешь.
Come on, study! You will thank me later.
2. Благодарю (blagadaryú)
Thank you / I am grateful
It is a very formal way to say "thank you"
Благодарю тебя (blagadaryú tibyá)
Благодарю вас (blagadaryú vas)
благо + дарю - I give you goodness
Normally you should better use the word БЛАГОДАРЮ only for some official meetings, performances and with customers (for some jobs). Though there is nothing wrong to use this word in everyday situations. Just don't use it with your friends, family and children.
If you want to specify for what exatly you want to thank a person you need to use this construction: Благодарю за + Noun (Accusative case)
Ex.: Благодарю за приглашение (I am grateful for an invitation).
3. Не за что (nyézashta)
Not at all! / It's nothing
It is a common but controversial way to respond to СПАСИБО. Literal meaning: there is nothing to thank me for.
Use it only when you think that you have done smth really insignificant for another person or that you didn't make any efforts to do it
Пожалуйста (pazhálsta) You are welcome
It is the most common and polite way to respond to СПАСИБО. You don't need to respond anything after someone said to you a word ПОЖАЛУЙСТА (You are welcome).
The word ПОЖАЛУЙСТА has several meanings and serves different roles in speech:
1) A way to respond to СПАСИБО. Equivalent to "You're welcome"
2) A way to politely ask for smth. Equivalent to an English "Please".
It is important to add a word ПОЖАЛУЙСТА whenever you ask somebody for something
(at shops, cafes, other public places, with your friends, colleagues, family and any other groups of people).
3) A polite way to give a permission. Equivalent to "Go ahead if you want", "Sure, go ahead"
Ex.: - Можно взять твою ручку?
(Could I borrow your pen?)
- Да, пожалуйста
(Sure, go ahead)
4) A polite way to pass something. Equivalent to "Here you are","Here you go".
A long version - Возьми(те), пожалуйста
Take it, please
There is an interesting expression with a word "пожалуйста" - НУ И ПОЖАЛУЙСТА
(nu i pazhálsta) Whatever / I don't care
You can use it when you are angry at smb for not accepting your idea, not wishing to do smth with you / show / share with you. This way you let smb know that after all you don't care
While in some cultures it is polite to pretend that you don't hear when someone sneezes or it is not obligatory to say anything, for Russian people, it is veryimportant to wish a good health to a person who sneezed.
БУДЬТЕ ЗДОРОВЫ (búd'te zdaróvy) - Bless you (formal / plural)
БУДЬ ЗДОРОВ (а) bud' zdaróv (a) - Bless you (informal / singular)
You can find the audio files with pronunciation of these Russian phrases in my free guide 'Essential Russian Words and Expressions to Understand Spoken Russian'.
This guide also contains audio files so that you can listen to these phrases on the go: while driving, walking, doing sport or brushing your teeth. Make sure that you repeat these phrases yourself and try to imitate my accent.
It's also very important to know how to pronounce Russian words correctly as not every Russian letter is pronounced the same way as it's written. There are certain Russian pronunciation rules that are really easy to learn.
Test "How to be polite in Russian"
Hello! My name is Mila and I am a founder of Hack Your Russian language platform. You can find me here:
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