How to speak Russian in 5 words (3/5)

If you’re pressed for time and you want to make yourself understood in Russia, here is our basic survival course – Russian in 5 words.

Word 3: Say Please and Thank you in Russian

The third (and fourth) words I choose come as a pair: SPASIBA and PUZHALSTA.

Spasiba means ‘thank you’, and there is no harm in sprinkling it liberally through any conversation with a Russian.

Puzhalsta – the u as in the English up, is a little more tricky. Its basic meaning is ‘please’, to be used when making requests. It does, however, have two other uses.

  1. First, you say puzhalsta when you are offering something to someone (a sort ‘Here you are’ or ‘Have one of these’).
  2. Secondly, you should say puzhalsta after someone has said spasiba to you: a kind of ‘not at all’.

All of which can lead to the perfectly respectable Russian exchange of “Puzhalsta – spasiba – puzhalsta.” ‘Here you are – Thanks – You’re welcome’.