There are many words in the Russian language that can often be translated equally into English but have different meanings.
Such words include the adjectives “хороший” and “добрый“.
In Russian, these are two different words with distinct meanings.
Let’s break it down.
“Добрый” generally translates to “kind” or “good” in the sense of being good-natured or having a kind disposition. It’s often used to describe someone’s character, personality, or behavior.
Это очень добрый человек. – This is a very kind person.
Он сделал доброе дело. – He did a good deed. (He did something kind).
The opposite word is злой (evil, wicked).
On the other hand, “хороший” translates to “good” in the sense of being of good quality or suitable for a particular purpose. It’s a more general term used to describe the quality or state of something. For instance, “хороший фильм” means a good film, indicating the quality of the movie.
У него хороший автомобиль. – He has a good car.
Это хороший ресторан. – This is a good restaurant.
У неё хорошие навыки. – She has good skills.
Хорошая погода. – Good weather.
“Хороший” can be applied to a wide range of situations to express the positive quality or nature of something, whether it’s tangible objects, intangible qualities, experiences, or conditions.
The opposite word is плохой (bad).
So, while “добрый” focuses more on kindness or goodness in a person’s nature, “хороший” refers to the quality or goodness of something in general.
In some cases, these words can be used to describe the same nouns. For example, you can say both “добрый человек” (a kind person) and “хороший человек” (a person with positive traits).
But can we say “добрый фильм” or “добрая песня“? Well, yes. For example, if a movie or a song promotes kindness.
You probably already know Russian greetings and have noticed that we use the word “kind” when we say hello:
Добрый день! – Good afternoon! The literal translation is “kind afternoon.”
Доброе утро! – Good morning! The literal translation is “kind morning.”
However, when it comes to well-wishing, we use the adjective хороший:
Хорошего дня! – Have a good day!
Хорошей поездки! – Have a good trip!
But: доброго здоровья. This is a greeting, not a wish.
This is what you need to remember.
The adjective “добрый” has relative nouns with the same root – добро, доброта. The word “хороший” does not have such nouns, at least in the official Russian language. There is a word “хорошесть”, but it is only used in colloquial language.
To keep it simple, “добрый” (as well as “злой“) is used to characterize living things, and “хороший” (“плохой“) is used to characterize non-living things. Although there are cases where the words overlap, and we’ve already addressed these instances in this brief article.