“Hello” can be a powerful word. It can open doors to new experiences or form the start of a new friendship. Speaking in the local language, even if it's a simple "howdy" can be a sign of respect, and it'll set the tone of the rest of the conversation - whatever language it's in.

We here at Lonely Planet know how powerful “hello” can be, so we’re challenging ourselves to learn how to say it in 25 different languages through the month of January.

Here's the plan: each week, we’ll share a few ways to say “hello” from around the world, with pronunciation and usage tips, and other fascinating linguistic and cultural facts we find along the way.

To start us off, here’s how to say hello in Russian.

The domes of a colorful Russian Orthodox church against a blue sky
Church of Savior on Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia ©Richard Durham/500px

How to say “hello” in Russian

The world’s largest country has two main greetings that’ll work whether you’re in Vladivostok, Moscow or anywhere in between.

Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte) - zdra-stvooy-tyeh - This is a formal form of “hello,” which literally translates to “Be in good health” or “health to you.” It’s a bit like saying “how do you do.” Expect to use it with strangers and superiors.

Pronunciation tips - the zdra cluster is probably the trickiest for native English speakers, but think of “his draft” and you’ll get an idea of how this should sound.

Привет (Privet) - pree-vyet - An informal version of “hello,” you'll more commonly hear this uttered ahead of bouts of vodka shots with good friends.

A common Russian superstition is that it's unlucky to shake hands over a threshold like a door or window frame, so don't be surprised if you're left hanging in these situations.

Group of friends looking at a world map
These language resources are great for beginners and advanced learners © Westend61 / Getty Images

Read more:

How to say "hello" in Japanese, Lakota Sioux, Igbo, Spanish, Hindi and Quechua
How to say “hello” in Indonesian, Italian, Pashto, Burmese, Swedish and Vietnamese
How to say "hello" in Korean, Swahili, Polish, Navajo, Mandarin and Greek
How to say "hello" in Hebrew, Haitian Creole, Turkish, French, Amharic, German, and Filipino

Language Resources  

Ready to learn more? Linguaphiles can dive into these resources to learn more than just how to say hello.

The gold standard for self-guided language learning programs, Pimsleur was developed in the 60s by Paul Pimsleur, a scholar of applied linguistics. Unlike some modern programs that throw somewhat random words at beginners (looking at you, Duolingo), Pimsleur takes a rigorous approach that focuses on conversational basics and more practical phrases and sentences. The core of the Pimsleur approach is based on listening to and repeating after audio clips, so it might not be the best choice for visual learners. From $20 a month at pimsleur.com.

Babbel is one of a slew of smartphone-focused language learning apps designed to introduce beginners to new vocabulary and phrases they’ll actually use. Learners can start off with a quick test to determine current fluency, or jump right into conversation-focused lessons in 14 different languages. Speech recognition software ensures that users can be confident that they’ll be (mostly) nailing their real-world conversations. From $6 a month at try.babbel.com.

Rosetta Stone
Familiar to anyone who still remembers what it was like to wander through a mall, Rosetta Stone gained prominence in the 90s in those mall kiosks lined with the yellow boxed CD sets. These days Rosetta Stone offers complete language learning courses on desktops, tablets and smartphones in over 20 languages like Russian, Spanish, Korean and Portuguese. Language courses are sold separately, but polyglots can go for Rosetta Stone’s Lifetime Subscription ($199) for unlimited access. From $12 a month at rosettastone.com.

This smartphone app mixes gamification with language learning by incorporating a points-based system that encourages consistency and leveling up. Users can even compete against their friends and strangers on public leaderboards. The app is free, but a premium version removes ads and gives users extra hearts to use to unlock new levels and challengers. The app is great for absolute beginners, but a lack of proper grammar study and limited translation methods mean intermediate users might want to look elsewhere. Free at duolingo.com.

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