Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 24

Greetings and Small Talk in Russian

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Exercises Only

Привет! And welcome to episode 24 of Russian Made Easy. Today we’ll be beefing up on our greetings and small talk. So let’s first start by repeating the word I opened this podcast with:


One more time:


So what does it mean? Well, when you see someone you know, you greet them with “привет.” The key here is, someone you know. You can not use this word to a stranger. By definition, it is a greeting used with people you already know. If you say it to a total stranger, they will immediately wonder, “He knows me? When did I ever meet this person?”

Notice how I’m not saying what all those other courses and websites tell you, which is:

Previet is the Russian word for “hi.”

Previet is simply a friendly greeting to people you know. And this leads me to an email I got recently from a Russian Accelerator member. She asks, “Is it ok to use previet with people you speak formally with?” That’s a great question. And yes, it’s fine. I speak formally, on ВЫ with my wife’s parents, but I’ll greet them with привет. To be honest, I mix it up. I’ll greet her father with zdrastvityeh, but her mom with previet.

Now, let’s say your friend Tanya has just arrived. Listen to what she says after greeting me.

Привет, Марк. Как дела?

We know the word как. We worked with it in the last episode. Remember asking your friend:

How are your pancakes?

Как твои блины?

So, how would you translate как дела?

Well, in English we’d say: Hi Mark, how’re things?

Hopefully, you know by now what I’m going to tell you: The word “дела” does not MEAN “things”, as in, “I bought these things yesterday.” Or, “Whose things are these?” That’s just how it translates in this context. Because, depending on context, it might translate as “business” or “things to do” and so on.

Anyway, greet your friend Polina by saying:

Hi, Polina. How’re things?

Привет Полина! Как дела?

So, how should we respond? Let’s come back to that question in a moment, after reviewing the material from recent podcasts.

Imagine your friend’s grandmother has brought over some of her homemade pig fat for you to enjoy. You love it, so tell her:

Your pig fat is very tasty!

Ваше сало очень вкусное!

Imagine your friend brews his own beer. Tell him…

I really like your beer.

Literally: To me VERY pleasing your beer.

Мне очень нравится твоё пиво.

Tell grandma: Your cat is very pretty.

Ваша кошка очень красивая.

Imagine this scenario: Both your friend and her grandmother each have a cat they want you to take. Your friend’s cat is mean and hisses at you, whereas grandma’s cat purrs and is nice. So tell your friend:

I don’t want your cat.

Я не хочу твою кошку.

Then tell grandma:

I want yours.

Я хочу вашу.

Now why do we say “vashu” here? Is it to rhyme with the word “хочу”?

No. That’s just a coincidence. Instead, it’s rhyming with the word “koshku” which – though we didn’t actually say it – is nevertheless understood. We know that I’m saying, I want your…..cat.

Let’s try a similar set up. Pretend you’re in a Russian bazzar. There’s a kid selling a pen, and an old man selling one. The kid’s pen cost five cents and writes great. The old man’s pen costs ten bucks and has no ink. So tell the old man…

I don’t want your pen.

Я не хочу вашу ручку.

Tell the kid: I want yours.

Я хочу твою.

If you got these right…and more importantly, if you understand the patterns here…you’re doing awesome. Alright, let’s get back to our greetings.

Greet your friend Tolik and ask him how’re things:

Привет, Толик. Как дела?

Now listen to his response:

Нормально. А у тебя?

Let’s just take that first word: Нормально

How would you translate it. After an uneventful trip, someone asks you how it was. You tell them:


Or this example:

The lady at the deli counter is putting some salad into a container for you. She looks at you, wondering if she put enough in. Tell her…Нормально and reach for the container.

In that first situation, responding to the question of, “How was your trip?”, we might’ve said, “Fine.”

In that 2nd example, when the deli lady wants to know if that’s enough salad, we might’ve said:

That’s good.”

In Russian, they say: Нормально …which to me, is essentially a cognate. It’s their version of “normal,” but again, it’s used to mean “Fine, good, okay,” and so on. Get used to saying this word a lot.

In Russia, when a potential landlord shows you her apartment, she might ask simply:

Well, how?

…as in…Well, how is it to you?

Ну как?

With our one new word, tell her it’s fine:


And when someone asks you:

How’re things?

Как дела?

Tell them:



And then ask:

And at you?

А у тебя?

Or try this version. Ask:

And how’re things at you?

А как у тебя дела?

This topic of greetings is also the subject of today’s tip….

V.O. And now, here’s your Tip of the Day from Russian Made Easy…

Pretend you’re spending time with your Russian friend Andrei. A friend of his shows up and says to him: Приветик, Андрюшка! Как дела?

And you’re thinking? “Previeteek?” I thought it was just “previet.” And “Andryushka?” I thought his name was just “Andrei.” What’s going on?

Well, what’s going on is that Russians love to make certain words sound cute. They do this by – what else – changing the endings. The fancy linguistics term for this is “diminutives.” Which is a good name for it. Think of the word “diminish” in English, which means to make smaller, right? It’s becoming smaller and cuter.

Anyway, the two main ways Russians will make a word sound cute is by adding either “eek” or “ka.”

So…привет becomes приветик .

And…Андрей becomes Андрюшка

If grandma has served you just a tiny bowl of salad – in her mind, a small salad – she might ask you:

How’s your little-salad?

Как твой салатик?

From салат….we get….салатик

It sounds cute, doesnt it?

If she served you little pancakes, she might ask…

How’re you little pancakes?

Как твои блинчики?

Notice the plural with that “и.” Блин is the word for pancake. “чик” makes it small. And that “и” at the end makes it plural. (bleen-cheek-ee)

Как твои блинчики?

You don’t need to learn these, really. You’ll pick them up once you’re hanging out with native speakers. I just wanted to introduce you to them so it doesn’t throw you off when you hear these diminutive forms.

Returning to our greetings, again greet your friend Anton and ask how’re things:

Привет, Антон! Как дела?

Listen to Anton’s response:

Всё хорошо. А у тебя как?

We know the word “horosho”, but that word “fsyo” is new to this podcast. Imagine you’re packing a car for a long trip. You look around, seeing if any other bags need to go in the car. You don’t see anything, so you ask your friend, just to be sure:


He says:

Да, это всё…

…and he closes the trunk.

In English, we’d say, “Is that everything?” And in Russian, they can just say, “Всё?”

If I were to spell that out using English letters I would spell it F-S-Y-O. Listen to the native speaker…


So, depending on the phrase, Всё translates as either “everything” or “all.”

So say:

Everything’s good.

Всё хорошо.

But again, that word всё is used in a lot of situations. For ex: After you’ve given your order to the waitress, she’ll make sure that’s everything you want by saying,

Everything, yes?”

Всё, да?

Tell her, Yes, that’s all. Thanks.

Да, это всё. Спасибо.

Now let’s practice a typical encounter with some friends. You see a group of Russians you know. So let’s tell them,



One of them says:

Hi, Taylor. How’re things?

Привет, Тэйлор. Как дела?

Say: Fine.


And ask…And with you?

А у тебя?

He says:

All good.

Всё хорошо.

He notices your friend and asks:

Who is this?

Кто это?


This is my friend, Vika.

Это моя подруга Вика.

He then says…

Мы сейчас идём в парк. Хотите с нами?

Hmm…we haven’t learned everything he said. But we did catch, “f park” which means, “To the park.” Plus we heard, “хотите” which means, “Do you guys want?” He’s probably saying that they’re going to the park…do you guys want to come with us? So in two words, say:

Okay. Let’s go!

Хорошо. Пошли!

Speaking off heading off somewhere, I hope you guys go check out my new course: Russian Made Easy plus. As cool as this podcast is, Russian Made Easy…our new one, RME Plus…it’s all about getting you fluent with highly useful, everyday phrases from Russian conversations. And with the RME Plus Media Center, you can then watch modern Russian TV and see everything you’ve learned being used by native speakers. It’s awesome reinforcement.

So be sure to visit Russian Made Easy.com to check it out in the sidebar of this lesson, or send me an email: mark(at)russianmadeeasy.com Subject: New course info

Meantime, see you in the next episode.

*Russian Made Easy Plus New Course Information Here

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Episode 24 – Full Program

Episode 24 – Exercises Only


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Episode 24 – Exercises Only

20 responses to “Learn Russian: Russian Made Easy Ep. 24”

  1. Mudassar Avatar

    hi mark
    i am a student in russia your way of teaching is very well thank you very much for providing all of this episode with amazing teaching style.love it

  2. Jude Avatar

    Здравсттвуйте Марк!
    Thank u so much for this podcast , i have two questions please:
    If we are speaking formally is it correct to say «а у вас как ?»
    Another thing about the writing, i notice that the shape of the letters change when we write in russian, do l have to study them if i want to study in a russian university?

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Jude,

      Yes, if you’ve just answered someone’s question (Как у вас дела?) you can then answer with: А у вас как?

      And yes, I imagine it would be quite useful to know how to read and write Russian if you plan on attending a Russian univerity. They might have classes entirely in English…I don’t know…but you’ll still need it function in your daily life.

      Hope this helps. And hope to see you in RA!

  3. Faoli Avatar

    Hi, Mark! Cheers from Brazil!
    I have a question: shouldn’t they say “Мы сейчас идём в парке” instead of “в парк”? And, if I’m wrong, could you explain me why? I could have missed something here.

    And I’m really glad I found this podcast. It’s helping me a lot! Thank you so much for all this precious content!

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Привет Фаоли! <--- Can you read that? Thanks for your kind words about my podcast. So glad you're enjoying it.Let's look closely at your question (which is a good one): Мы сейчас идём в парк. = We are now going to the park. Мы сейчас идём в парке. = We are now walking inside the park. Remember, that "yeh" sound at the end of words often (but not always) marks it as a **location** (and not a destination). We are now in Starbucks. = Мы сейчас в Старбаксе. We now are going to Starbucks. = Мы сейчас идём в Старбакс. <-- notice, no "yeh" sound here...no locational marker. Because Starbucks is a destination in this sentence. Finally, if wanting to say, "We're now talking a walk in the park" Russians actually use the verb ГУЛЯТЬ (which means "to take a stroll", "to walk without a destination"Мы сейчас гуляем в парке. I hope this helps. And I hope to welcome you to my Russian Accelerator course when you finish RME!  Cheers from Ukraine, Mark Thomson Pres. Russian Accelerator

  4. Michel Avatar

    Thank you for the fast reply. I did the #19. I remember very well “у меня есть” to say “at me it exists” or “I have”, but I was not sure “y” meant “at” in the case too.
    I’ll keep listening to the 5 last podcasts, and I will take the leap and start RussianAccelerator.
    Have a great day.

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      My pleasure, Michel. And yes, please specifically go through Episode #19 once again.
      The word “у” is carefully defined as “at” and, well…it’s all there. 🙂

      And I look forward to welcoming you to my Russian Accelerator course.
      Thanks for you support,


  5. Michel Guillou Avatar
    Michel Guillou

    Hello Mark,
    I’ve taken all the RussianMadeEasy classes so far and I’ve never seen “kak y” before. In the podcast, it’s taken for granted, you don’t explain why there is a “y” here. Maybe in the #25 you will ?

    Best regards

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Michel,

      I’m wondering if maybe you accidentally skipped an episode?
      У тебя is explained in episode 19. It translates literally as “at you”.
      Would you be able to repeat that episode and then check back in and let me know if it’s clearer?


  6. […] Russian uses diminutives for lots of words. According to Russian Made Easy, Russians like to make words sound cute by adding “eek” or “ka” to the end. […]

  7. Harrison Sanders Avatar
    Harrison Sanders

    Mark, I’m gonna bug you again because I just looked at the link you sent (to your Russian Accelerator course), and I’m really impressed. May I ask when your Winter sale ends?

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Hi Harrison,

      I don’t actually handle that side of things. I’m th writer/course designer but don’t work with marketing/sales and all that.
      I do know that the guys are working on a new sales page, but not sure what that will affect. You can learn more about our current offer here…


  8. Harrison Sanders Avatar
    Harrison Sanders

    Здравствуйте Марк, First of all, LOVE the podcasts, they have been a lot of fun and a learning experience for me and my friend. And now my question: when is it appropriate to use “хорошо” vs. “Нормально” ? The impression I got was that they mean the same thing, being fine, ok, and good. So when do you use each word?

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      Здравствуйте Харрисон!

      Thanks for writing. Glad you and your friend are enjoying the podcast. Great question about those two similiar words.
      Хорошо is a direct approval of someone’s offer or suggestion.
      Want to go to the movies?
      Horosho. (Sure. Okay.)


      нормально is more of a comment on the quality of something:
      How was the movie?

      So if the sales lady comes out from the back with a T-shirt that’s hopefully to your liking, she might ask:
      А как эта?
      And how’s this one?

      You wouldn’t likely say: Хорошо because she didnt ask: Do you want it? (You’re not agreeing to anything.)
      You’d instead say нормально (or perhaps супер) as a comment on the quality of the shirt.

      Hope this makes sense.
      And hopefully you’ll join my Russian Accelerator course. We can get into thee kinds of things in much greater depth with videos.



      1. Harrison Sanders Avatar
        Harrison Sanders

        Ok, that helped to clarify things. Спасибо! One more question though, I recall you using the word “хорошо” to describe someone doing something well, like speaking Russian. (Ex. Ты хорошо говоришь по-русски.) So is that an exception? Or can “хорошо” describe the quality of something as well? Also, when I have some extra money I may look into the Russian Accelerator Course. Once again, спасибо!

        1. Mark Thomson Avatar
          Mark Thomson

          Хорошо has many uses, one of which is “well” as in, You speak Russian well.

  9. […] Reverso, Russian Made Easy, The Oxford Russian […]

  10. Chad Vaughn Avatar
    Chad Vaughn

    Zdrastvuyte Mark, menya zavoot Chad.
    I have friends who speak russian. Is it really necessary for me to learn the grammar before the actual vocab? and also, i wanted to know if we would learn how to count in russian,

  11. mahmoud Avatar

    in the last sentences you wrote
    instead of
    Хорошо. Пошли!

    Is it a same meaning ?

    1. Mark Thomson Avatar
      Mark Thomson

      That’s what we call a typo. 🙂 Should of course be: Пошли!

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