13 Useful Russian Phrases for World Cup Travelers

Fisht Olympic Stadium during a 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup match in June 2017|© Edgar Breschanov/Wikimedia Commons
Fisht Olympic Stadium during a 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup match in June 2017|© Edgar Breschanov/Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Dasha Fomina
20 December 2017

Knowing that the Russian language is pretty hard to master, organizing committees are working hard to make FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities as foreigner friendly as possible. While in Moscow they are hiring English-speaking metro workers and arranging language training for Yekaterinburg’s taxi drivers, it’s always good to know a couple of Russian phrases just in case.

Здравствуйте (‘zdravstvuyte)

Meaning: Hello!

This is a basic polite greeting you can use anywhere – it’s the same for men and women.

До свидания (da svi’daniya)

Meaning: Goodbye.

A polite way of saying your goodbyes, that applies to any situation imaginable – whether you’re checking out of a hotel, exiting a restaurant or leaving a friend.

Как вас зовут (‘kak vas za’vut)

Meaning: What is your name?

It’s always good to know who you’re talking to, so use this phrase whenever you need to learn somebody’s name.

Меня зовут … (Me’nya za’vut)

Meaning: My name is …

Once you’ve found out the person’s name, it’s only polite to introduce yourself – this phrase will help you to do just that.

New Kremlin in Izmailovo. Moscow | © NVO/Wikimedia Commons

Спасибо (spa’siba)/ Пожалуйста (pa’zhalusta)

Meaning: Thank you! /Welcome.

Saying thank you and responding politely whenever someone thanks you is a great opportunity to start flexing your Russian.

Пожалуйста, помогите мне (pa’zhalusta| pama’gite me)

Meaning: Please help me.

Anything can happen at a large-scale event like FIFA World Cup, so you may need to get someone’s attention or ask for help.

Как пройти к стадиону/метро/бару/музею/гостинице/вокзалу? (kak prai’ti k stadi’onu/met’ro/’baru/mu’zeyu/gos’tinitse/vok’zalu)

Meaning: How do I get to the stadium/metro/bar/museum/hotel/train station?

In the world of GPS navigators and Google maps, asking for directions may seem redundant. But when your phone battery dies while you’re heading to the game, you’ll thank us.

St Petersburg, St Isaac Cathedral

Прямо (‘pryamo) /Направо (nap’ravo)/ Налево (na’levo)

Meaning: Straight/Right/ Left.

Knowing basic words for directions will pay off, once a friendly stranger starts explaining the way in Russian.

Одно пиво/один кофе, пожалуйста (a’dno ‘pivo/a’din ‘kofe|pa’zhalusta)

Meaning: One beer/one coffee, please.

No matter where you find yourself, you’ll always know how to ask for a beer and a coffee.

Сколько это стоит? (‘skolko ‘eto ‘stoit)

Meaning: How much it this?

If you manage to make some time for souvenir shopping and end up at a flea market with price tags in Russian, this phrase will help.

Kul-Sharif Mosque, Kazan | © Gontzal86/Wikimedia Commons

Вы принимаете кредитные карты? (vi prini’maete kre’ditniye ‘karty)

Meaning: Do you accept credit cards?

Credit cards are still not ubiquitous in Russia, so there’s definitely no harm in asking.

Я не говорю по-русски (ya ‘ne gava’ryu pa’ruski)

Meaning: I don’t speak Russian.

Once you start operating these 13 phrases with confidence, people might start thinking you’re fluent in Russian. So you might have to remind them to switch to English.

Какой у вас пароль от Wi-Fi? (ka’koy u ‘vas pa’rol ot vay–’fai)

Meaning: What is your Wi-Fi password?

These days Wi-Fi is one of the basic human needs and many hotels, restaurants and cafes in Russia fulfil those needs with Wi-Fi hotspots. Ask for a Wi-Fi password in Russian so that you can always stay connected.

View from the 53rd floor, Yekaterinburg, Russia | © Pawel Maryanov/Wikimedia Commons

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