How to Say “Thank you” in Russian

From this article you’ll learn how to say “thank you” in Russian and key thanking phrases every beginner should know. I’ll also show you what to reply to “thank you” and how to refuse politely not to hurt anyone. Another cool thing that you’ll find here is how Google Translate may let you down and how not to fall into this trap.

How to accept and decline favor in Russian

In most cases we use thanking words to express gratitude when we accept something that is done or presented for us by other people. But it’s also important to use them when we decline favor. The next passages are right about that.

By the way, you can watch the video.

Russian “thank you”

In Russian In English Audio Pronunciation Where to use
Спасибо Thank you
Spa—sí—ba Formal/Informal
Спасибо большое Thank you very much
Spa—sí—ba bal’—shо́e Formal/Informal
Спасибо огромное Thank you very much
Spa—sí—ba ag—rо́m—nae Formal/Informal

While getting ready to write this note, I looked through a huge number of articles such as “151 way to say thank you in Russian.” And you know what? It’s ridiculous! The modern Russian language is not so diverse when it comes to the expression of gratitude.

The only basic phrase used daily in 99.99% of cases is: Спасибо. It is used in both formal and informal situations. Well, if you feel that one word is not enough and you want to express deep gratitude, then add the word большое which means big or огромное (huge).

As you know, the Russian word order is unfixed, so, you can say Спасибо большое or Большое спасибо: the sense of the sentence will be the same.

Grammar note. If you want to say thank you for certain things, then use this construction:

Спасибо большое + за + Accusative case

For example:

  • Спасибо (большое/огромное) за приглашение (Thank you for the invitation) or
  • Спасибо (большое/огромное) за заботу (Thank you for the care).

“No, thank you” in Russian

We use thank you not only for positive acceptance but also to refuse politely. Here are some phrases that might come in handy.

In Russian In English Audio Pronunciation Where to use
Спасибо, нет No, thank you
Spa—sib—á, nе́t Formal/Informal
Спасибо, не стоит No need, thank you
Spa—si—bá, ni stо́—it Formal/Informal

I looked up and found that when a Russian says Спасибо, нет or Спасибо, не стоит, an English speaker would say something like “Thanks, I’m good,” or “No, I’m fine, thanks.” In comparison to the English version, Russian sounds much more direct and brutal.

What to reply to thanking words: you’re welcome in Russian

It’s equally important not only to know how to say “thank you”, but to reply to this phrase as well. So, in the next couple of passages I’ll show you some casual replies and some very formal ones – for special occasions.

Casual replies to “thank you”

In Russian In English Audio Pronunciation Where to use
Пожалуйста You’re welcome
Pa—zhа́—lus—ta Informal
На здоровье You’re welcome
Na zda—rо́—vje Informal
Не за что Never mind
Nе́ za shta Informal

The most widely spread word to reply to the gratitude is Пожалуйста. It might seem weird, but Пожалуйста means both “you’re welcome” and “please”, depending on the context. Look at this example:

As a beginner, you probably will not believe, but world-famous На здоровье is not even close to a drinking toast! I’m still wondering, why does everyone think that we say На здоровье as cheers? I heard that they do in Poland, but in Russia, we don’t. Here На здоровье is an informal way to say that you’re glad to help.

Now, a couple of words about Не за что. You might probably ask, what do these three little words mean? It’s quite difficult to give a more or less adequate translation, but let’s try. “Не” – not, “за” – for, “что” – that. I hope it makes some sense.

Secondly, pay attention to the way we put stress in a phrase. We don’t stress every syllable of each word: Не за что (wrong) but pronounce it as if it was one word with a stress on the first syllable: Не-за-что.

Formal replies to “thank you”

Sometimes, especially in formal situations we need “exchange” gratitude. Here’s what I mean.

In Russian In English Audio Pronunciation Where to use
Ну что вы! Не стоит меня благодарить! Please, you don’t have to thank me
Spa—sib—á, nе́t Formal
Это я должен (должна fem.) вас благодарить! I should thank you!
Spa—si—bá, ni stо́—it Formal

Ну что вы! Не стоит меня благодарить! (Please, you don’t have to thank me). Pay attention to stress in the first part. We merge three words and pronounce not Ну что вы! (wrong), but Ну-что-вы! with a stress on the second vowel.

Это я должен (должна fem.) вас благодарить! (Please, I should thank you!) This phrase is helpful when you want to “return” gratitude to someone who did something good to you first.

Russian translation for “thank you”

This is how the most popular online translator – Google Translate puts “Thank you” in Russian.

It’s imperative to know that even though the program is technically correct, the phrase Благодарю вас is outdated and very formal. I would say, that the most equivalent to it would be “I’m so obliged to you.”

While I was in the office, I had a 75 years old colleague. He always said Благодарю вас (Bla—go—da—rú vas) and as a gallant person, entering the room; he exclaimed: “My compliments, ladies!.” Such old phrases were part of his personality, but, you’ll hardly hear them somewhere at the street.

So, not to sound like a hero of an old Chekhov’s play, I would advise using Спасибо or Спасибо большое.

Helpful resources

While picking up the information for this article, I looked through a lot of websites and found some worthy ones that might be helpful if you want to know more about the way Russians thank each other.

  1. A good article focused on the key “thank you” phrases with video and audio
  2. Here you’ll find the words of grace with a brief explanation
  3. On this site you can find some more examples of Спасибо / Пожалуйста usage.

Anastasia Korol

Anastasia Korol is an enthusiastic Russian language tutor. She gives effective, goal-oriented lessons to students all over the world. Thousands of people have already followed her Instagram.

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