How to Say Hello in Russian
by Brent Van Arsdell
People ask me all the time, “How do you say hello in Russian?” We’ll here’s how to learn to say Здравствуйте, the Russian word for hello, in about five minutes.
First I’m going to teach you how to say it very slowly, then at normal speed.
Note that this page will teach you how to say the Russian word for “hello”, not the word for “hi”. The Russian word for “hi” is привет.
Learn Здравствуйте (Russian for Hello) From Back to Front
I had a Russian teacher record this word in a way that sounds strange but will help you learn it quickly. First she says it slowly one time. Then she starts at the end of the word and builds it up one syllable at a time working toward the front of the word. At the end she says Здравствуйте slowly twice.
Don’t open your mouth as much as you would when you speak English. Try to keep your jaw almost entirely closed.
First say the word out loud after the teacher, then say it at the same time as the teacher.
Notice: If the audio clips sound like Mickey Mouse (they play too fast and have a high pitch) upgrade your version of Flash to the current version or try a different browser like Firefox or Internet Explorer.
Здравствуйте (Hello in Russian) said Slowly
If you have a hard time with the rolled r’s in this slow pronunciation, don’t worry about it. The normal speed version doesn’t roll the r very much. However sooner or later you will want to learn how to roll your Russian R’s.
Here’s the normal speed pronunciation of Здравствуйте . The word is said twice with a space between it.
Здравствуйте (Hello in Russian) at Normal Speed
Don’t worry about getting it perfect, just keep your mouth mostly closed, and say the words out loud first after the teacher and then at the same time as the teacher.
If you want to have even more fun with this open up an audio recorder like Windows Media recorder on a PC or QuickTime Pro on a Mac and record both your voice and the teachers voice. Try to make your recorded voice match the teachers voice.
Why Closing Your Jaw Makes Talking Russian Easier
The most important thing you need to know to be able to say this Russian word (and have Russians understand you) is that you need to keep your mouth mostly closed.
Different languages have you open your mouth different amounts. Italian is a mouth wide open language. English is a mouth half open language. Russian is a mouth mostly closed language.
One time I was watching a Russian newscaster read the news on Moscow TV and he wasn’t moving his lips at all! This guy was talking clearly enough to be a famous TV broadcaster but he didn’t move his lips.
This key thing to saying hello and most other words in Russian is that you need to keep your jaw mostly closed and use your lips and tongue to make the sounds.
Put a fingernail in your mouth and bite down on it lightly. That’s the maximum width you should open your mouth to say Здравствуйте. Try this in front of a mirror to make sure you keep your mouth closed.
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