Phone Conversations in Russian

Posted on November 5th, 2012

talk on the phone in RussianIt is difficult to speak a foreign language, let alone hold a phone conversation. Talking on the phone can be especially challenging because you can’t read the person’s expressions or get cues about their meaning from their gestures. Yesterday, we’ve learned phone-related words, and today let’s take a look a few phrases that will give you a few ideas and prepare you for talking on the phone.

Also today I’m inviting you to participate in Russian4real contest and win a prize! Please see the details at the end of the post.

Below are some typical phrases that you can use in a phone conversation in Russian.

Phone Greetings:
– Алло. (informal)
– Hello?
“Алло” is usually what we say in Russian when answering our personal phone calls.

– Здравствуйте, чем я могу помочь?
– Hello. How can I help you?

– Здравствуйте! Это Сергей Васильев.
– Hello. This is Sergey Vasiliev.

The last two examples are more formal greetings and are usually used in a formal setting, for example, at a workplace.

If you are looking for more greetings, check out my article Greetings in Russian That You Will Not Find in Textbooks.

Asking to speak with someone:
– Скажите, пожалуйста, могу ли я поговорить с Ириной?
– Can I speak with Irina, please?

– Вы не могли бы пригласить Ирину к телефону?
– Could you ask Irina to the phone?

– Можно поговорить с Машей? (informal)
– Can I speak to Masha?

Making special requests:
– Подождите, пожалуйста, одну минутку.
– Please, hold on a minute.

– Одну минуту, пожалуйста.
– One minute, please.

You can also say:
– Одну минутку, пожалуйста.
– One minute, please.

– Секундочку, подожди, пожалуйста. (informal)
– Could you wait for a second, please?

– Она вышла на минутку, ты можешь перезвонить попозже? (informal)
– She left for a minute, can you call back a little later?

– Вы не могли бы повторить ещё раз?
– Could you please repeat?

– Извините, я вас плохо слышу. Повторите, пожалуйста.
– Sorry, I can’t hear you very well. Can you please repeat?

– Я не расслышал. Повтори, пожалуйста. (informal)
– I didn’t hear you very well. Can you please repeat?

– Простите, я не расслышал. Что вы сказали?
– Excuse me, I didn’t hear what you said. What did you say?

– Вы не могли бы говорить погромче?
– Could you speak a little louder, please?

– Громче говори, а то я не слышу. (informal)
– Speak a little louder, I can’t hear you.

Taking a message for someone:
– Саши нет дома. А кто его спрашивает?
– Sasha is out. Who is asking?

– Оля ещё не пришла. Вы хотите оставить сообщение для неё?
– Olya hasn’t come back yet. Would you like to leave a massage for her?

– Я передам ему, как только он появится.
– I’ll let him know as soon as he is in.

– Хорошо, я обязательно ему передам.
– Ok, I will let him know.

Leaving a message with someone:
– Вы не могли бы передать ему сообщение?
– Could you leave a message for him?

– Передайте, пожалуйста, Оле, что я перезвоню ей попозже.
– Please let Olya know that I’ll call her later.

– Передай своей сестричке, что я перезвоню попозже. (informal)
– Please let your sister know that I’ll call later.

Leaving a message on an answering machine:
– Здарвствуйте, это Анатолий Петров из компании «Алло». Пожалуйста, перезвоните мне по номеру 222-2222.
– Hello. This is Anatoliy Petrov from “Allo” company. Please call me back at 222-2222.

– Привет, это я. Опять я тебя пропустил. Перезвони мне, пожалуйста, как только сможешь. (informal)
– Hi, it’s me. I’ve missed you again. Please call me back as soon as you can.

You’ve noticed that while the majority of the phrases above can be either formal or informal, some of them can only be informal. To help you differentiate between formal and informal conversation, I want to remind you that if you are speaking with a person you don’t know very well, or who is older then you, you need address them by using the plural form of the Russian pronoun “You” – “вы”. If you are talking to your friend, you can address her or him by “ты”. Remember that the verb conjugation will also change accordingly. Here is an example:

– Позовите Наташу к телефону, пожалуйста. (formal)
– Позови Наташу к телефону, пожалуйста. (informal)

Of course, with your friends you can be as informal and casual as you like, if you know them very well, and there is no risk of hurting their feelings or offending them by being too casual.

Let’s review a few examples of the phone conversations in Russian:

– Привет! Позови, пожалуйста, Олю к телефону.
– Привет! Она вышла в магазин. Хочешь оставить ей сообщение?
– Да, просто скажи, что я звонил.
– Хорошо, я передам. Она тебе перезвонит.
– Спасибо. Пока.
– Пожалуйста. Пока.

– Здравствуйте. Вы не могли бы пригласить Александра Васильевича к телефону?
– Здравствуйте. Одну минуточку, пожалуйста. (Пауза) Александр Васильевич только что уехал на встречу. Что-то ему передать?
– Нет, спасибо. Я перезвоню.
– Хорошо. До свидания.
– До свидания.

– Добрый день. Фирма «Алло». Чем я могу помочь?
– Здравствуйте. Соедините меня, пожалуйста, с Ольгой.
– Простите, я вас плохо слышу. Повторите, пожалуйста, что вы сказали?
– Соедините меня, пожалуйста, с Ольгой.
– Хорошо, одну секундочку.
– Спасибо.

Attention: Contest “The Most Creative Phone Conversation in Russian”

Now it’s your turn to come up with an example of a short phone conversation. The author of the most interesting phone conversation in Russian will get a prize – a set of Russian English keyboard stickers!

Here are the rules:
1. The phone conversation needs to be in Russian
3. Post your phone conversation in the comments section below this post on
4. The conversation needs to be submitted by 12pm PST on November 9th, 2012.

This contest has now closed. The winner of the contest is Ari Ahonen! Congratulations, Ari!

Thank you all for your participation! 

Feel free to include Russian phrases you learned in today’s lesson – Phone Conversations in Russian and new Russian words you learned in yesterday’s lesson – Let’s Talk About Phones. You can be as creative as you like! Please don’t limit yourself to the simple phrases I’ve used in today’s lesson. Feel free to make your conversation funny, silly, scary or spooky. It doesn’t even have to be a phone conversation between people…. You can dedicate it to your pet or your favorite toy. Feel free to be as creative and inventive as you like.

And one more thing (it’s for inspiration! :) )… I wanted to share with you a poem by Корней Иванович Чуковский (Korney Ivanovich Chukovskiy) “Телефон” (“Telephone”). Yes, the image above is an illustration for this poem :).  My Mom used to read it for me, when I was little… You can read it in Russian here. Make sure to listen to the audio recording of the poem to learn and practice Russian pronunciation. You can also get a copy of this book on, this link is just one of the examples, they have a big choice of children’s poems by Korney Chukovsky – “Телефон” (“Telephone”). Knizhka-igrushka. Let me know what you think of the poem!

I’m really looking forward to your great submissions! :)


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The courses of Russian as a foreign language with Russian4real take place online via Skype. The teacher works with adults individually since he is convinced that each person must receive maximum time for practice and professional attention while learning a foreign language.