Planning to travel to Romania? You might be surprised by how many people actually speak English, French or German. However, if you voyage in the countryside, you might need some vocabulary to communicate with the locals. And they will be more than pleased hearing you speak Romanian. So here you have some basic phrases that will help you to get by.
Greetings and everyday essentials
Salut / Bună ziua (Boo-noh zi-ua): hello
While ‘salut‘ is mostly used by young people, ‘bună ziua‘ is a formal way of greeting, literally meaning ‘good day’. In Romania, you usually salute when you enter someone’s house, in a shop, or just someone you know. However, don’t be surprised if, in the countryside, everyone greets everyone.
Ce faci? (che fatch): How are you?
Usually following the ‘salut‘, ‘ce faci?’ is a typical greeting used mainly among friends. If addressing someone older, you can use ‘ce faceți?’, the more formal version.
Bine (bineh): Good
The short answer to the ‘ce faci?’ question, ‘bine‘ means ‘good’. Yet, some people might give you a more detailed answer, which comes naturally for a Romanian.
Da / Nu (Dah / Noo): Yes / No
Two simple words that might come in very useful when you want to accept or refuse something.
Mulțumesc (Mool-tzu-mesk) / Cu plăcere (Koo pla-che-reh): Thank you / You’re welcome
Being polite is much appreciated in Romania and is considered as part of your education. So whether you are at a shop, bar, restaurant, always say ‘mulțumesc‘ after receiving something and the ‘cu plăcere‘ will come right after.
Cum te cheamă? (Koom-teh-kyahm-uh): What’s your name?
This expression might be very useful when you meet someone, as Romanians always ask what your name is at the first encounter, so you will often hear it.
Scuze (Sku-zeh): Excuse me
‘Scuze‘ is an effective word whether you want to make your way through a crowd, apologise, or ask for directions. The latter might seem odd, but in Romania it is polite to say ‘scuze‘ or ‘nu vă supărați‘ before actually asking.
Noroc! (No-rok): Cheers!
Your Romanian friends will be very proud of you if, instead of saying ‘cheers!’, you say ‘noroc!’ the next time you go together for a drink.
La revedere! (La re-ve-de-reh): Goodbye!
It might not be easy to say goodbye, so Romanians use another expression: ‘la revedere‘, similar to ‘until the next time’.
Nu înțeleg (Nu in-te-legh): I don’t understand
Well, when the conversation gets too complicated for you, just say ‘nu înțeleg‘ and try finding someone to translate.
La stânga / La dreapta (la stin-gah / la dreap-tah): To the left / To the right
While this might be more helpful in understanding a Romanian than using it to talk to one, it will surely make it easy for you to comprehend directions when asked for.
Drept înainte (dreapt i-na-in-te): Straight forward
Sometimes, all you have to do is to go straight forward. So when you hear ‘drept înainte‘, just continue your way.
At the restaurant/bar
Unde este toaleta? (un-deh es-teh to-a-le-tah): Where is the bathroom?
Public toilets might be hard to find on the road, so the best idea is to try in a bar or restaurant. In case you just want to go to the bathroom, ask ‘unde este toaleta?’
Ne puteți da un meniu? (ne pu-te-th da un me-niu): Could you give us a menu?
In some restaurants, waiters don’t immediately get you a menu. So if you need one, gently ask ‘ne puteți da un meniu?’
Mâncare tradițională (man-ca-reh tra-dith-o-nalah): Traditional food
Going to Romania and not trying the traditional food is a pity. With such delicious dishes, you just can’t miss them, so when in a restaurant, ask directly about ‘mâncare tradițională‘.
Apă (apa): water
If you want water, you will have to ask and pay for it as, unfortunately, it does not come for free. And with the hearty Romanian plates, you will surely need it.
Delicios (de-lih-cious): Delicious
Saying that your meal was ‘delicios‘ is an appreciated compliment for the restaurant and the chef.
At the market
Cât costă? (Cat kos-tah): How much does it cost?
Products at the market are always fresher and taste better than the ones in the supermarket. However, the prices might not always be displayed. In this case, ask ‘cât costă?’, pointing to what you want to buy.
Sunt proaspete? (sunt proas-pe-teh): Are they fresh?
Just to make sure you are getting good quality products, don’t hesitate to ask if they are fresh: ‘Sunt proaspete?’
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Vreau (number) kilograme (vreau ki-lo-gram-eh): I want (number) kilos
Once you’ve decided what you want, you can say how much you want by making known the quantity.
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