5 Ways to Say Hi in Russian: Beginner to Native


Yep, today I want to write an entire post around a single word: “hi in Russian.

Not only you will be amazed to find out how many possibilities to say “hi” in Russian you had without even knowing it, but you will also understand that they all are different and used in different contexts and by different speakers.

And if five words to say “hi” in Russian seem like a lot to you, well, there’s actually more! Here you also find their pronunciation and a PDF recap available for download at the end of the post.

Remember that in Russian formal greetings are much more used than in most European languages, so keep the expressions below for friends, colleagues and people you are very close with!

All the ways to say “hi” in Russian you’ll find here can be used to start a conversation, but are also OK in chat or SMS, just as the six ways to say “bye” in Russian.

Start your engines!

hello in russian

Five ways to say hi in Russian

1. Привет

The word “привет” (pronounced privièt) is the most common way to say “hi” in Russian and the one you want to stick with to play it safe.

However, if you want to add a little twist to your greetings, you may consider using one of these two variations: 'приветик' (priviètik – literally 'little hi') and 'приветики' (priviètiki – literally 'little his').

It happens frequently to see these words at the beginning of a chat, but they are not really common in the spoken language.

Please consider that both variations sound very “sweet” and are therefore considered “girly” by Russian native speakers.

Fun fact: in Russian, when you say that a person is “с приветом” (s priviètom – “with hi”) it means that they are strange, weird or a little crazy.

2. Здравствуй

'Здравствуй' (pronounced zdràsvui) is another standard way to say “hi' in Russian that sounds just a tiny little bit more formal than “привет”.

In my experience, it is mostly used by older people to greet young people in a non-formal way.

I don’t recommend greeting your friends like that, rather some younger acquaintance.

3. Здорово

(to play the audio click on the arrow, not the link!)

Let’s dive into more colloquial ways to say “hi” in Russian. This one – “здорОво” (pronounced zdaròva) could be translated as “Yo!” or “Sup!”.

Pleas mind the pronunciation! The greeting is pronounced “здорОво” with the stress on the second “o”. The same word with the first “o” stressed has a totally different meaning: “healthy” or “good for health”.

There word “здОрово” (pronounced zdòrava) also means “very well” or “cool” in slang.

In addition to being very colloquial, this is also considered to be a purely “manly” greeting, often accompanied by vigorous handshakes and pats on the back (in Russia boys and men always shake their hands when they meet).

During these nine years in Moscow, I’ve never heard girls greeting each other like that.

hello in russian

4. Салют

The meaning of this “hi” in Russian may surprise you.

In fact, the word “салют” (pronounced saliùt) actually means “fireworks show” in Russian.

It is also used to greet friends and close one and it’s very colloquial and non-standard, probably deriving from the French 'salut'.

Honestly, I hear it quite rarely, but Russians often use it to start a chat or on Whatsapp.

5. Хай

Oh yes! English is gradually making its way into Russian Language and the fact that Russian teenagers use “hi” in Russian is a clear validation.

This is a quite new word that is considered “cool” among the youth. As you can hear, the “h” is aspirated the Russian way.

Even if the use of “хай” is quickly spreading, I wouldn’t suggest you to greet with this word people you’re not very familiar with, especially if you’re older than 20 years of age.

Ways to say hi in Russian PDF

Here you can download a recap of this post.

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