If your visit to the Derzhavin Institute will be your first time in a Russian speaking country it’s be a good idea to get acquainted with some of the common phrases that’ll you’ll hear when you’re out and about before you arrive.
Russians speak quick, really quick. So if you want to stand a better chance of understanding them then it’s worth studying some of the common phrases you’re likely to hear them say. Take for example the phrase “Хорошего дня”. Expect to hear the Russian for “have a nice day” a lot as you leave shops while you’re in Russia. You might even want to say “Вам тоже” (you too) in return if you’re feeling polite. The other phrases in our list are a lot more location specific so we’ll group them accordingly.
Perhaps one of the most confusing places to go when you first come to Russia are cafes and restaurants. Waiters and waitresses have a habit of speaking incredibly quickly so if you’re not prepared you can easily miss what they’re saying.
Сразу закажете или через несколько минут?
(Would you like to order straight away or in a few minutes?)
Russian waiters and waitresses have a habit of assuming that you know what you want to order before you’ve even had a chance to look at the menu. Once you’ve spent enough time here to have been to one place several times it’ll be a useful shortcut to food, but until then it’s best to stick to repeating back “черес несколько минут”.
Большой или маленький?/Ноль пять?
(Large or small?/half a litre?)
If you’re ordering coffee and you don’t specify a size you’re likely to be asked if you want Большой или Маленький (another variant is Двойной или обычный?/double or single). If you order a drink that comes in various sizes like a soft drink at a fast food joint or a beer you’ll like be asked if you want a half litre (Ноль пять). If you agree you can just repeat the phrase back, if not just say the size you want in the same manner (e.g. ноль три пожалуйста).
Я могу оставить вам меню?
(should I leave you a menu?)
If you’re with a large group you’re likely to get asked this, just in case someone wants to order something else later on.
(Would you like a refill?)
If there’s an empty glass on your table don’t be surprised if you hear this.
Вы желаете десерт?
(Would you like dessert)
In restaurants listen out for this phrase after they’ve taken away your main course. In cafes you’re likely to hear it if you order coffee or tea on its own.
(Can I take these away?)
Unless you have a very strong attachment to your empty plate, say yes. If your plate isn’t quite empty and you’d like to finish what’s left later you can ask “Можно упаковать с собой?”.
По карте (картой) или наличными?
(Would you like to pay by card or by cash?)
The correct answers are in the question; either “по карте” or “наличными”. If you’re with a group and you want pay seperately you can say “Можно раздельный счёт, пожалуйста?”.
Я могу вас рассчитать?
(Can I take your payment?)
If you want to leave a tip afterwards 10% is fairly standard, but it’s not strictly required.
In shops (excluding souvenir shops) you’re unlikely to hear anything from anyone until you reach the checkouts, but hear are a few phrases to watch out for.
Могу ли я Вам помочь?
(Can I help you?)
Don’t expect too hear this one too often but if you do you can either respond honestly (in which case we can’t help you – we’re not mind readers) or you can just say “Я просто смотрю” (I’m just browsing).
(Do you need a carrier bag?)
A simple “да” or “нет, спасибо” is fine here. If you’re feeling fancy your can specify a number (один/два/три, пожалуйста)
Пятьдесят не найдёте?/Десять рублей посмотрите?/У вас не будет десяти?
(Do you have ten rubles?)
Although the amount you’ll be asked for will change based on the situation all of these mean the same thing and, as such, you can respond to all of them in the same way. If you know you don’t have the change you can say “К сожалению, нет” or if you need to check you can say “сейчас посмотрю…” (I’ll just have a look). With the later answer, if you want to sound like a true native pronounce “сейчас” as “щас”.
Ваши пятьсот. Вот сдача.
(You’ve given me 500, here’s your change.)
This is just the cashier’s way of acknowledging how much you gave them, you don’t need to say anything, unless of course they say “Ваше пятьсот” when you gave them 1000.
Ваша карта, не забудьте.
(Don’t forget your card.)
Everything’s much simpler if you decide to pay with card. The only confusing thing is that you might still hear this phrase even if you pay with a contactless card which never leaves your hand.
Despite the need to stay quiet in museums there are still quite a few phrases that you can hear in them, which might prove confusing for the uninitiated.
Вот ваши билеты, вход справа/слева от вас.
(The Entrance is to your left/right.)
Other than the price of the ticket, you’re unlikely to hear much else at the ticket desk other than this.
Не забудьте номерок.
(Don’t forget to take your number.)
It’s common for most Russian museums to have a cloakroom, and in most if you have a rucksack with you you’ll have to use it whether you want to or not. When you hand over your stuff you can say “я могу оставить это здесь?”. Afterwards, wait to take the small numbered plastic token you’ll be offered in return or you’ll hear this phrase. If you don’t take the number at all you won’t get your clothes/bag back afterwards.
Фото без вспышки.
(You can take photographs without flash.)
In most Russian museums it’s possible to take photos, so long as you don’t use flash. If you see any signs with this phrase written on it or you get it as an answer to the question, “я могу здесь фотографировать?” then you’re good to go.
Не трогайте руками.
Pretty straight forward.
Не стойте близко к ограждению/верёвке: может сработать сигнализация.
(Don’t stand too close to the rope you might set off the alarm.)
In a lot of Russian museums and palaces many of the most valuable displays are guarded by that most impassable of all obstacles, a rope. Sensors placed near to these ropes mean that often, even if you so much as breath on them, you’ll trigger an alarm.
By the end of your time in Saint Petersburg you’re likely to have memorised the entire Metro speech, here’s a break down of what it means.
Осторожно, двери закрываются!
(Caution, the doors are closing!)
If you hear this and you’re outside the carriage it’s important to resist the urge to try and run inside. If you’re inside the carriage it means that sticking your arm out of the door is no longer a good idea.
Следующая станция …(например, Пушкинская).
(The next station is… (e.g. Pushkinskaya).)
Seeing as this comes after the warning about the doors closing once you’ve heard your destination, you’re definitely going there, so relax and enjoy yourself.
Уступайте место инвалидам, пожилым людям, беременным женщинам и пассажирам с детьми.
(Please make space for disabled people, the elderly, pregnant women and passengers with children.)
Don’t enjoy yourself at the expense of others though. If you hear this and you see someone who needs your seat more than you, we recommend you do the kind thing and stand up. If someone else sees you sat in a seat and they want to ask you to give it to them, they might say, “уступите мне место, пожалуйста”. If for whatever reason you need to ask for a seat, then you can use the same phrase.