How to start a conversation in Russian

When you meet the person for the first time, you need to get acquainted before you start talking. We already learned how to get acquainted in Russian in one of my previous posts. But what about you’ve already met this person? Maybe you are friends or collegues.

How to start a conversation with a friend

Imagine you suddenly met your friend in the shop. The dialogue may follow this way:

– О, Настя, привет! А ты что здесь делаешь? (Oh, Nastya, hi! What are you doing here?)
– Привет! Не ожидала тебя встретить! Я тут выбираю одежду для сына. Он завтра выступает. (Hi! Didn’t expect to meet you here! I’m looking for (choosing) the clothes for my son. He’s perfoming tomorrow.)

If you and your friend haven’t seen each other for a long time, you can start a conversation with the phrase Давно не виделись (Long time no see). And, of course you’d probably like to know what is happening or happend in your friend’s life.

– Здорово, Серега! (Hi, Seryoga!)
– О, привет, давно не виделись! Как поживаешь? (Oh, hi, long time no see! How are you doing?)
–  Да неплохо. Ты-то давай рассказывай, какие новости у тебя! Я слышал, ты из Европы вернулся. Ну и как оно? (Well, not bad. You tell me what news do you have! I’ve heard you’re back from the Europe. So, how’s it?)

The second dialog is very informal. In this case it is between two old friends, which are males. Notice that I used the word “здорово” as a greeting. It is common among men. In the article about Russian greeting words and phrases I already gave you explanation of each of them.

How to start a conversation with a person you don’t know so well

Now imagine you’re at work and your collegue is not your friend but you want to have a little conversation with him. You know that he had some troubles with the boss and you want to know more about it (you’ve just arrived at work):

– Привет! Как все прошло вчера? (Hey! How was it yesterday?)
– Привет. Нормально. Мы поговорили, и меня не будут увольнять. (Hi. It was OK. We had a conversation and they won’t dismiss me.)

Another case. You met your neighbor which is older than you. You want to ask something important but before asking you make some polite questions:

– Здравствуйте, Иван Петрович. Как поживаете? (Hello, Ivan Petrovich. How are you doing?)
– Здравствуй, Миша. Да ничего. (Hello, Misha. Well, I’m doing OK [literally:nothing bad is happening to me])
– Я слышал, у нас в доме будут проводить ремонтные работы. Вы не знаете точную дату? (I heard, our house would be renovated. Do you know the exact date of it?)

There are many ways to start a conversation in different situations. Usually we follow the same pattern: greeting + “how are you”. But it’s not necessary to ask a person how he or she is. It usually means that you really want to know what happend or is happening to this person. We don’t use it just as a polite way of talking. Well, maybe we do, but not all the time. 

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