Been wanting to learn some conversational Russian phrases? Well… these are common, but not necessarily useful phrases. So, schools and textbooks won’t teach them. You’ll hear them often in Russian conversations… but they won’t help you get directions or find out where the toilet is.
But if you want to sprinkle these in, or just get a better grasp of Russian common, yes not really useful, phrases, here are the first ten.
Tip: Memorize them and practice saying them quickly. Once they’re solidly stuck in your head, just blurt them out at the next opportune occasion without stopping to think.
1) чо – cho – What?
It’s like что (shto) except missing a T and actually pronounced with a CH sound. Kind of like… when your friend says “Hey, I took 10 rubles out of your wallet, I hope that’s cool” to which you can answer with чо? It’s the kind of “what” you’d use to something you’d raise your eyebrow to.
2) Ну и что? - Nu i shto? – So What?
Ну и что that you saw a meteor in the sky? We have tons of them in Russia. Is nothing special. Good response for when you’re just not surprised… and most Russians aren’t surprised by things. See video of unsurprised Russian and meteor below for an example.
3) Hу и да… - Nu i da – Well Well…
Literally means.. “well and yes” so this obviously can’t be literally translated. Basically used when you’re somewhat surprised by something, but instead of jumping up and down, you just say this calmly. Mostly used in negative ways. Kind of like when when your friend takes your 10 rubles out of your wallet again without asking. Mмм да (mmm, da) is another variant.
4) Ну ты даешь – Nu ti dayosh
Expression of surprise. Kind of like “holy crap!” Actually, Russian is pretty rich in such phrases which I can list for days. Lots of them are curses too. Variants include Офигеть, не может быть (can’t be), боже мой (my god), Ни фига себе, чёрт (hell)!
5) Давай – Davay – C’mon or OK
Literally means “give” but is used to spur some action. C’mon, let’s go! You can also use it in agreement like “OK.” If someone says “Давай , lets go see ze nyu Russian movie” you can reply with “Давай.”
6) (Hу) Давай – Davay – (Well) Bye
Also a very casual way of saying bye. Friends use this with each other when parting.
7) блин – blin – Pancake!
Yes, literally, it’s pancake! Except it’s not used that way. Blin, though not a phrase but just a word, is scattered all over Russian conversations. It’s like “damn” minus any cussing/cursing connotations. It’s the word Russians use without cursing to express frustration. Pancake! However, it can be used in positive situations like… Blin, that was fun!
8) Eтo Kруто – Eto kruto – That’s Cool!
Literally means twisted but its slang for “cool” or “awesome.” But wait! There are more words for Cool in Russian. You can never have enough words for cool… must be the Russian weather. здорова (zdorova, not to be confused with zdarova,) прикольна (prikol’na), классно (klassno). Note, most young people nowadays don’t use zdorova.
9) Слушай – Slushay – Listen
“Listen, I have something to tell you. I took ten rubles. I hope that’s fine.” This word is used as a way of changing subjects, bringing up a new one, or just popping a question or a fact. So, you’ll start a sentence with “Слушай….”
10) А мне все равно – A mne vso ravno – It doesn’t matter (for me)
When things don’t matter and you’re up for both options, here’s a good phrase for you. Should we drink vodka or eat some blini? мне все равно.
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