23 Ways to Say “Hello” in Russian

You might already know how to say “Hello” in Russian.

But can you say “Hi” in Russian to a group of friends without sounding stuffy? Do you know which greeting to use with a friend and which to use with your boss? Can you sound young and hip by using slang?

With good etiquette, some cultural know-how and the perfect greeting from the list below, you’ll be well on your way to starting off any Russian conversation in grand style.


1. Hello (formal) — Здравствуйте

Usage: Formal

The workhorse of Russian greetings, здравствуйте is the most common way to say hello. It may be a mouthful, but is definitely worth taking the time to learn.

Здравствуйте is often used in the most formal situations, and is used when addressing someone you don’t know, someone you respect, or in a professional setting. It can also be shortened to “здравствуй” (zdravstvuy) in informal settings.

Additionally, if you’re speaking to a group, здравствуйте is also the preferred choice, since the verb form is meant to be used either in formal situations or when you’re speaking to more than one person.

2. Hello (informal) — Здравствуй

Usage: Informal

Здравствуй, on the other hand, is the informal version of the same word, which you can use with friends or with children. However, when in doubt about the level of formality, always go with the formal здравствуйте.

Interestingly enough, здравствуйте and здравствуй actually come from the verb здравствовать , which means “to be healthy” or “to live long.” Now that’s a warm welcome!

3. Hello (informal, shortened) — Здрасьте

Usage: Informal

If здравствуйте is too much of a mouthful, you can also shorten it to здрасьте as long as the situation isn’t too formal.

The level of formality might be for people who are a similar age or status as you, but you don’t know them extremely well, like the cashier at the store.

Note that this greeting is never used in writing!

4. Hello (on the phone) — Aлло

Usage: On the phone

Алло is also used to mean “hello.” However, this is most often used when answering the phone, and not often used in other contexts.

Luckily for English speakers, this is a very easy Russian word to learn to remember and pronounce, because it sounds somewhat similar to English “hello.”

5. Hi — Привет

Usage: Informal

Привет is the most common informal greeting. It’s used like the English word “hi.” Since it’s easy and common, you may find yourself using this one quite often with friends and peers. 

You can see the word written down in Russian cursive in the featured image at the top of this post!

6. Hiya, howdy — Приветик

Usage: Informal, mostly for female speakers

Приветик is the diminutive of привет, so it’s an even less formal way of saying “hi.”

You might think of it as “hiya” or “howdy.” It’s most often used by women, so it may come across as feminine. That being said, it usually comes across as particularly sweet.

7. Greetings — Приветствую

Usage: Informal as a standalone phrase mostly for young male speakers, formal when used in a sentence

Literally meaning “I greet you,” this is a greeting that comes from the verb приветствовать (to greet). It’s a moderately formal phrase used among males of all ages.

It may be used, for example, when addressing business partners or when the level of formality is somewhat ambiguous because it does work with both formal and informal “you,” unlike other options. So if you want to punt the pronoun choice onto the other side, this is one way to do it.

However, Приветствую can also be used as a formal greeting or welcome. In this case, it’s used in a full sentence, as in Я приветствую вас , which means “I welcome you.” 

8. Hi — хай , Хаюшки

Usage: Informal, anglicized, with young people

Хаюшки is the diminutive take or cuter version of хай.

If you hang out with young, hip Russians, you may hear some greetings that sound deceptively familiar. That’s because they’re Anglicisms, meaning they were derived from common English-language greetings.

9. Hey — Эй , Yo — Йо

Usage: Informal, anglicized

If you like a good Anglicism, you may even encounter a few more. Эй (hey) and йо (yo) are also pronounced quite similarly to their American counterparts. You might also hear  алоха (aloha).

These greetings are less common in everyday use, so you’ll only hear them if you’re hanging out in the right crowd (generally younger and close friends).

10. Hey, yo — Здорово

Usage: Informal, mostly for male or young speakers

Здорово is an informal greeting that can be used like “hey” or “yo.” If Приветик is used more for women, then this one would also be more commonly used more men or young people in general. It can also be translated as “cool” or “awesome.”

It’s important to pay attention to context and the accent, though. When the stress is on the second о, this is a greeting.

When the stress is on the first о, it can also mean “wow” or “well done,” so always pay attention to stress and context. It could certainly be awkward if you use the wrong word!

This phrase can be made even more informal by reducing it to дароф , which is slang used by close male friends and mostly for verbal communication.

11. Good morning — Доброе утро

Usage: Informal (when you’ve just woken up), formal (when referring to morning hours)

Доброе утро means “good morning” and can be used as a formal greeting. Not too surprisingly, you should try to restrict your use of this greeting to morning hours.

Since it literally means “good morning,” you can also use it with friends and family when you’ve just woken up as well. 

12. Good day — Добрый день

Usage: Formal

Добрый день is a formal greeting that means “good day.” This can be used late morning through the afternoon. It’s the greeting you should use when you enter a shop or say hello to someone working in the post office, grocery store or bank.

13. Good evening — Добрый вечер

Usage: Formal

Добрый вечер is a formal greeting that means “good evening.” It’s used during evening hours but once the evening progresses into night, say around 10 p.m., you’ll want to use the next greeting on our list.

14. Good night — Доброй ночи

Usage: Formal, used as a greeting

Доброй ночи is a formal phrase literally meaning “good night” but not the before-going-to-bed kind.

You can use it as a greeting at night or in the early morning while it’s still dark out. You can also use it as a farewell. It’s not as common as the greetings previously, though, so keep that in mind.

15. Welcome — Добро пожаловать

Usage: General

Добро пожаловать means “welcome.” It can be used formally or informally, just like the English word “welcome.” You’ll use this to welcome someone to your house or a party, for example, or even to a restaurant, say, if you’re hosting a birthday party there.

16. Welcome (after travel) — С приездом

Usage: After travel

С приездом is another form of “welcome” that you might use when someone is arriving after a long journey or travel.

The meaning is that you’re literally congratulating someone for their arrival, so it indicates that you’re happy to see them. This would be especially useful if a friend or family member is returning from a longer trip.

17. Welcome (after a flight) — С прилётом

Usage: After a flight

The equivalent of someone arriving after travel, but specifically after a flight would be С прилётом.

The word  прилёт means arrival by air and might be a good one to use when meeting someone at the airport. 

18. I’m happy to see you —  Рад тебя видеть

Usage: Male speaker, informal

This phrase offers a lot of options. The basic gist is “nice to see you.” However, variations are used to indicate your gender and to change the level of formality.

Men would use рад, while women would say рада. If the situation is formal, you’d use вас, but you can also use тебя in informal situations. Here are the three other variations of this phrase:

19. Oh, what people! — О, какие люди!

Usage: Informal

This one doesn’t have a direct equivalent in English and literally means “Oh, what people!”

It’s an enthusiastic way of showing how happy you are once you’ve accidentally run into someone you weren’t expecting to see. It also serves as an informal “Long time no see!”

20. Long time no see! —  Сколько лет, сколько зим!

Usage: Informal

Another one to indicate how happy you are to see someone, Сколько лет, сколько зим! is a bit more of a theatrical declaration to indicate just how long you haven’t seen someone.

It literally means “How many years, how many winters!” but can also be translated as “How many summers, how many winters!” playing on the double meaning of the word “лет.” It’s a much more poetic way of saying “Long time no see.”

21. Hello, Comrade — Здравствуйте, товарищ

Usage: Nostalgic Soviet term often used as a throwback or joke

Здравствуйте, товарищ is a formal way of saying “hello, comrade” in Russian and it was commonly used during the Soviet era.

It’s not commonly used today, except in certain nostalgic or ironic contexts. If you say it, chances are the person on the receiving end will take it as a joke. Be careful with this phrase, though, because there’s a chance that an older person could find your use of it offensive.

22. Hello! (online) — Здрасти

Usage: With friends and acquaintances, usually online

Здрасти is a very casual and quite informal way of saying “hello” in Russian, and is most often used among friends or acquaintances.

It’s important to note that it’s not considered a proper word in Russian, and some people may consider it rude or uneducated because of this. It’s usually spelled this way only online, and mainly used by younger people.

23. Hello — Салют

Usage: When entering a room or meeting someone

Салют is a casual and informal way to say “hello” in Russian that can be used among friends and in informal settings.

It can also be used as a general greeting when entering a room or meeting someone for the first time, such as a on blind date or at a friend’s party.

Why Learn a Variety of Russian Greetings?

Still not convinced why you need so many Russian greetings? Here are a few reasons for learning them:

  • Learning a variety of Russian greetings will equip you to start off any conversation on the right foot. If you learn a variety of greetings, you’ll have the right phrase whether you’re ordering food, answering the phone, welcoming a family member, greeting a friend or entering into a very important business negotiation.
  • Knowing a variety of Russian greetings will make you seem more knowledgeable. Plenty of tourists will have studied a few greetings, but few know a wide array, so having this information will set you apart from the pack. All it takes is a little extra time and effort.
  • Russian greetings are easy to incorporate into your everyday vocabulary. Since they’re so commonly used, they’re much easier than lots of other phrases to learn fast and start using immediately. This way you can use your Russian skills more often and spread your love of the Russian language to those around you!

If you’d like to see Russian greetings in context, FluentU is a language learning program that uses video content to teach Russian words and a variety of other everyday speech. 

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So there you have it! With these 23 greetings, you’ll always have the perfect way to start a conversation in Russian, no matter the situation.

Now go out there and impress your Russian-speaking friends. And when you’re done mastering how to say “hello,” you can move on to saying “goodbye” in Russian!

And One More Thing...

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