How to say “How are you?” in Russian

When you meet your friend, acquaintance or someone new, before you start communicating you say some general things, like “Hi” and “How are you?”. In one of my previous lessons I told you about common greetings that we use in Russia. You can use any of these words to start a coversation. Just remember that they can be used in different situations, none of them are universal.

How to ask ‘How are you’

Now it’s time to find out how to start a conversation using usual questions like “How are you?”, “What’s up?” and so on.

The Russian equivalent of “How are you?” is “Как ты?(informal) or “Как вы?(formal). However, we don’t use these phrases that much when we start a conversation. The most common expression is “Как дела?” (How are things?).

How to respond

There are some common answers to this question:

  • Хорошо. Good.
  • Нормально. OK.
  • Неплохо. Not bad.
  • Отлично. Fine.
  • Замечательно. Great.
  • Так себе. So-so.
  • Могло быть и лучше. Could be better.

Instead of answering the short way, you can share some information with the person. Usually, when we say Как дела? (Kak dela?), we really want to know what’s happening with the person we’re talking to. At the end don’t forget to ask “А как у тебя (вас) дела?” or “А у тебя (вас) как дела?” to show your concern. If you ansered in a short way, you just ask “А у тебя?” (And you?).

For example:

Привет, Ира! Как дела? (Hi, Ira! How are you?)
Привет! Отлично. А у тебя? (Hi! I’m fine. And you?)
У меня тоже. (Me too).

Other ways to start a conversation

There are some other phrases you can use to start a conversation in Russian.

Как поживаешь? (Literally: How are you living?) / Как поживаете? (formal)
Как жизнь? (How’s life?)
Что нового? (What’s new?)

There is no equivalent for “What’s up?” in Russian. Maybe “What’s new?” is the one with the most similar meaning. We don’t ask directly “What’s happening?”, we use the phrases I mentioned.

Here’s a more formal dialogue. A man talking to an old lady living the next door:

– Здравствуйте. Как поживаете, тётя Лена?
– Да нормально. С Божьей помощью. А ты как, сынок?
– Я тоже неплохо. А как ваше здоровье?
– Ой, что-то совсем плохо в последнее время. Сейчас вот иду в больницу.
– Может быть, помочь вам чем-то?
– Нет, спасибо. Меня внучка в больнице ждёт.

There is a funny way to answer the question Kak dela? (how are you?) in Russian. Many young females often say “Пока не родила” [poka ne rodila], which means “I still didn’t gave birth” or something of this kind. This sounds funny because it rhymes with the word “dela”.

Informal ways to answer ‘How are you?’

You can answer the question “Как дела?” with one of the slang words.

If things are bad:

  • Паршиво.
  • Хреново.
  • Не особо.

If things are good (these words are mostly used by young people):

  • Зашибись.
  • Офигенно.
  • Круто.
  • Классно.
  • Клёво.
  • Супер.

Now you can ask and answer the question “Kak dela?” in any situation. Don’t forget to practice your Russian. You can post some comment here, so we can have a little conversation. Good luck!

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