Russian Phrases For Dummies
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When traveling, most emergencies are medical — whether you're in a Russian-speaking country or not. Know how to ask for medical help in Russian before you have an actual emergency.

The simplest way to ask for assistance is to say Pomogitye! (puh-mah-GEE-tee), which means Help! You can also use the phrases:

  • Izvinitye, mnye nuzhna pomosh'! (eez-vee-NEE-teh mnye noozh-NAH POH-muhsh') (Excuse me, I need help!)

  • Pozovitye na pomosh'! (puh-zah-VEE-teh nuh POH-muhsh') (Call for help!)

  • Pomogitye mn'e, pozhalujsta? (puh-mah-GEE-teh mnye pah-ZHAH-luh-stuh) (Will you please help me?).

  • Pozvonitye v skoruyu pomosh'! (puhz-vah-NEE-teh v SKOH-roo-yu POH-muhsh') (Call an ambulance!)

In the United States, calling 911 is the answer to almost any emergency question, but to get emergency medical help in Russia, call 03 for a skoraya pomosh' (SKOH-ruh-yuh POH-muhsh') (ambulance [literally: urgent help]).

What's bothering you?

When you get a chance to talk to the doctor, the first question you'll probably hear is Chto u vas bolit? (shtoh u vahs bah-LEET?) (What is hurting you?) or Chto vas byespokoit? (shtoh vahs bees-pah-KOH-eet?) (What brought you here? [literally: What is bothering you?])

If you have a medical condition, you should learn the Russian name for it. For example, U myenya astma. (oo mee-N'AH AHST-muh) (I have asthma.); Ya yepilyeptik. (ya ee-pee-L'EHP-teek) (I have epilepsy.); Ya diabyetik. (ya dee-uh-BEH-teek) (I have diabetes.); and Ya byeryemyenna. (ya bee-R'EH-mee-nuh) (I am pregnant.)

If you have a life-threatening allergy, be sure to learn how to describe your allergy in Russian before taking your trip. Say U myenya allyergiya na . . . (oo mee-NYA uh-leer-GEE-ye nuh . . .) (I am allergic to . . .) + the word naming the cause of the allergy, such as mollyuski (mah-L'OOS-kee) (shellfish), obyezbolivayush'yeye (uh-beez-BOH-lee-vuh-yoo-sh'ee-ee) (painkillers), oryekhi (ah-RYE-khee) (nuts), pyenitsillin (pee-nee-tsih-LEEN) (penicillin), and ukus pchyely (oo-KOOS pchee-LIH) (bee stings).

What are your symptoms?

To get help quickly, you need to be able to explain what's wrong. The following phrases can help.

  • Ya syebya plokho chuvstvuyu. (ya see-BYA PLOH-khuh CHOOS-tvoo-yu) (I am not feeling well. [Use if you have a headache or other mild symptoms.])

  • Mnye plokho. (mnye PLOH-khuh) (I am not feeling well. [Use if you are very, very sick — for example, you have intense pain or nausea, or you feel as though you may faint.])

  • myenya bolit zdyes' (oo mee-N'AH bah-LEET zdyes') (It hurts me here).

To describe specific, less-painful symptoms, you say U myenya . . . (oo mee-NYA) (I have . . .) + one of the phrases from the following list:

bol' (bohl') (pain)
bolit golova (bah-LEET guh-lah-VAH) (headache)
bolit gorlo (bah-LEET GOHR-luh) (sore throat)
bolit ukho (bah-LEET OO-khuh) (earache)
bolit zhivot (bah-LEET zhih-VOHT) (stomach ache)
kashyel' (KAH-shihl') (cough)
nasmork (NAHS-muhrk) (runny nose)
ozhog (ah-ZHOHK) (burn)
ponos (pah-NOHS) (diarrhea)
syp' (sihp') (rash)
toshnota (tuhsh-nah-TAH) (nausea)
tyempyeratura (teem-pee-ruh-TOO-ruh) (fever)
zapor (zuh-POHR) (constipation)

Where do you hurt?

To describe something that is hurting, use the verb bolyet (bah-l'eht') (to hurt). Such as myenya bolit . . . (oo mee-NYA bah-LEET . . .) (. . . is hurting) + the name of the organ that hurts (in the nominative case). The following words can help you to describe what part of your body is injured.

gorlo (GOHR-luh) (throat)
kolyeno (kah-L'EH-nuh) (knee)
lodyzhka (lah-DIHSH-kuh) (ankle)
noga (nah-GAH) (leg/foot)
ruka (roo-KAH) (arm/hand)
shyeya (SHEH-yuh) (neck)
spina (spee-NAH) (back)
zapyast'ye (zuh-PYAST'-yeh) (wrist)
pochka (POHCH-kuh) (kidney)
pyechyen' (PYE-chihn') (liver)
syerdtsye (SYER-tseh) (heart)
zhyeludok (zhih-LOO-duhk) (stomach)
lyogkiye (LYOKH-kee-eh) (lungs)
muskuly (MOOS-koo-lih) (muscles)

Parts of your golova (guh-lah-VAH) (head) that you may seek treatment for include the following:

glaz (glahs) (eye)
litso (lee-TSOH) (face)
nos (nohs) (nose)
podborodok (puhd-bah-ROH-duhk) (chin)
rot (roht) (mouth)
ukho (OO-khuh) (ear)
yazyk (yee-ZIHK) (tongue)

If you're on some kind of medication, tell your doctor Ya prinimayu . . .(ya pree-nee-MAH-yo . . .) (I am on . . . [literally: I take . . .]) + the name of the medication.

In most cases, a doctor will propisat' lyekarstvo (pruh-pee-SAHT' lee-KAHRST-vuh) (prescribe a medicine) for you. To get your lyekarstvo (medicine), you need to go to the aptyeka (uhp-TYE-kuh) (pharmacy) and hand your ryetsyept (ree-TSEHPT) to the aptyekar' (uhp-TYE-kuhr') (pharmacist).

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Andrew Kaufman, PhD, is currently a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia. He holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University, and he has recognized success as both a published scholar and an innovative, award-winning teacher of Russian language, literature, and culture at some of the country’s top universities. To learn more about Dr. Kaufman, please visit his website at

Serafima Gettys, PhD, earned her doctorate degree in Foreign Language Education from Gertzen State Pedagogical University, Leningrad, USSR. She is currently a Coordinator of the Foreign Language Program at Lewis University, where she also teaches Russian. Prior to coming to Lewis University, she taught Russian at Stanford University. Gettys is also a member of a number of professional language associations.

Nina Wieda is a doctoral student in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University in Chicago. A trained linguist with an MA in Social Sciences, Nina also has a book of poetry published in Russian, and a number of scholarly articles on Chekhov and contemporary drama published in English.

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