How to Say “Do You Speak Russian?” in Russian: Informal and Formal Ways

Learning how to greet someone in their native language can be a fantastic way to connect with people from different cultures. If you are interested in speaking with someone who knows Russian, you might want to know how to ask them, “Do you speak Russian?” In this guide, we will explore both informal and formal ways to ask this question in Russian. Whether you’re planning a trip to Russia or simply curious about the language, this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to strike up a conversation in Russian.

Informal Way to Ask “Do You Speak Russian?”

If you are in an informal setting or talking to someone your age, you can use the following phrases:

1. “Ты говоришь по-русски?”

This is a simple and direct way to ask, “Do you speak Russian?” In English transcription, it would be “Ty govorish po-russki?” Remember to pronounce the “r” in “russki” with a soft rolling sound.

Example: You meet a fellow traveler at a hostel in Moscow, and you want to find out if they speak Russian. You can ask, “Ты говоришь по-русски?”

2. “Ты разговариваешь по-русски?”

This phrase is an equally valid alternative and means the same thing as the previous example. It would be transcribed as “Ty razgovarivayesh po-russki?” The emphasis in the pronunciation is on the “ya” sound in “razgovarivayesh.”

Example: You strike up a conversation with someone you met at a café in Saint Petersburg. To determine if they speak Russian, you could ask, “Ты разговариваешь по-русски?”

Formal Way to Ask “Do You Speak Russian?”

If you are in a formal environment or speaking to someone older or in a higher position, you should use the appropriate formal phrases:

1. “Вы говорите по-русски?”

When addressing someone formally, it is necessary to use “Вы” instead of “Ты” (the informal “you”). The phrase would be transcribed as “Vy govorite po-russki?” Remember to pronounce “russki” with a soft rolling “r” sound as before.

Example: You meet a professor of Russian literature at a conference in Moscow. To ask if they speak Russian, use the formal phrase: “Вы говорите по-русски?”

2. “Вы разговариваете по-русски?”

This variant is another correct way to ask the question formally. It would be transcribed as “Vy razgovarivayete po-russki?” The emphasis in pronunciation is on the “ya” sound in “razgovarivayete.”

Example: You attend a business meeting in Moscow and need to ask your Russian colleague if they speak the language. You could ask, “Вы разговариваете по-русски?”


Learning how to ask, “Do you speak Russian?” in both formal and informal ways can open up many opportunities for communication and connection with Russian speakers. Whether you’re visiting Russia or engaging with Russian speakers in your own community, using these phrases will show your interest in their language and culture.

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