How to Address People in Russian

In today’s lesson we’ll cover ways on how to address people in Russian. It’s very important to know how to do that in case you need to ask for something when you are traveling in Russia.

Before addressing anyone though, it is a good idea to take a moment to consider the situation. But do not worry - there are only a couple of things to keep in mind: first, whether you know the person in question, and second, is the person an adult or a child. As you probably know, Russians make more of a distinction between formal and informal speech than speakers of English do.

So, how do you decide when a situation is formal or informal? It’s not that difficult, really! If you don’t know the Russian person you are addressing, then as long as they aren’t a child – it’s a formal situation. So simple. When you first meet a Russian person they will tell you their name: it could be their full formal name, or a shortened version. You should address them from that time on using the same name.

In formal situations, like at work or in an office, Russians address one another by their first name and patronymic (which is formed from the first name of one’s father), for instance:

How to address people in Russian

Наталья Петровна

Natаl'ya Pitrovna

Natalia Petrovna

Or

Владимир Иванович

Vladeemir Ivanavich

Vladimir Ivanovich

At universities, or medical institutions they can also address people by their title:

Профессор

Prafessar

Professor

Доктор

Doktar

Doctor

In the streets, shops, public transport, restaurants and other public places you might hear:

Молодой человек

Maladoi chilavek

young man (to a young man)

Девушка

Devushka

Girl (to a girl or a young woman)

Мальчик

Mal’chik

Boy (to a young boy)

Девочка

Devachka

Girl (to a little girl)

Мужчина

Mushcheena

Man (to an older man)

Женщина

Zhenshchina

Woman (to an older woman)

If you need to address a police officer you can say:

Товарищ Полицейский

Tavarishch palitseiskii

Mr policeman

In case you need to address a Russian president you should use:

Господин Президент

Gaspadin prezident

Mr President

However, if you are not sure how to address someone, there’s one phrase that will always be safe to say:

Извините, пожалуйста

Izvineeti pazhalusta

Excuse me, please

That's all for this lesson.

If you want more lessons on Russian salutations then I recommend that you check out the following:

Удачи! (Udachi!) (Good luck!)

Natalia

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