Хорошо или плохо? | How to Answer How Are You in Russian | What to say when someone asks how you are in Russian

vocabulary Feb 08, 2022

How to answer “How are you” in Russian

Typically when someone answers the question "How are you" in Russian there are three possible types of answers: positive, negative, and neutral. In English you are almost expected to give a positive answer because it facilitates the movement of the conversation from greetings and introductions to the real topics of discussion. But in Russian you are more likely to hear a range of positive, negative, and neutral responses. Remember that "How are you?" in English is very often a greeting, but in Russian it's not.

35 Ways to Answer "How are you" in Russian

There are so many different ways to answer this question that it's hard to make a list. I've included some of the most popular answers, but people are very creative and come up with new responses all the time. Try to find a few replies to this question that suit you.

Positive answers

Хорошо. = Fine.

Pronunciation: "hah-rah-SHO" ; /ha:ra:'ʃo/

You could also say "У меня всё хорошо." or just "Всё хорошо." These phrases use the word "всё", which means "all" or "everything", so "Всё хорошо" is like "It's all good".

If you want to say that things are going very well in your life, you could say "Очень хорошо." The word "очень" means "very".

Отлично. = Great.

Pronunciation: "aht-LEECH-nuh" ; /a:t'li:tʃnə/

I love this one. It expresses even more positivity than "хорошо". However, as is true with most positive expressions, you can say "отлично" sarcastically to mean that something is terrible. For example: "Туалетная бумага закончилась! Отлично!" (We are out of toilet paper! Great!)

Супер. = Super.

Pronunciation: "SUE-pear" ; /'su:per/

Just like in English, "Супер" means "great" or "fantastic", but I think you should use it sparingly. Don't let "супер" be a crutch you lean on because you don't know other adjectives.

Hilariously, "super-duper" translates to "супер-пупер", which is pronounced "SUE-pear POO-pear" ; /'su:per 'pu:per/.

Замечательно. = Excellent.

Pronunciation: "zah-meh-CHAH-tel-nuh" ; /za:me'tʃa:telnə/

This is a great word to add to your vocabulary if you always say "хорошо", "отлично", or "супер". If you answer "Замечательно!" to the question "Как ты?", it means something very good happened or you are in a great mood for some reason.

Лучше всех! = Never better!

Pronunciation: "LOO-cheh vsyehh" ; /'lu:tʃe vsjeh/

The direct translation of this phrase is "better than everyone". It's mostly used to tell someone that you are in a great mood. Even though "better than everyone" includes the person who asked you the question, this answer is not considered rude.

Лучше не бывает! = Couldn't be better!

Pronunciation: "LOO-cheh nyeh bih-VIE-yeht" ; /'lu:tʃe nje bɪ'vaɪjet/

Another way to translate this phrase would be "It doesn't get better than this!"

Как огурчик. = In great shape.

Pronunciation: "kahk ah-GOOR-cheek" ; /ka:k a:'gu:rtʃik/

Literally this means "like a cucumber". Just think of the English phrase "as cool as a cucumber" and it will be easy to remember. You could also translate this phrase as "feeling great".

Всё пучком! = Everything's tight!

Pronunciation: "vsyoh pooch-KOHM" ; /vsjo pu:tʃ'kom/

Literally "пучок" means a "bundle" or "bunch". Usually this word is used in Russian when speaking about herbs, for example: пучок петрушки (a bunch of parsley), пучок лука (a bunch of green onions). You tightly tie them together so that "Everything's tight!" (всё пучком). But this phrase usually has nothing to do with herbs and generally means "Everything is alright".

Another example is "Я припарковал машину в неположенном месте, надеюсь, всё будет пучком, когда я вернусь" (I parked the car in a place that I shouldn't have, I hope everything will be OK when I get back).

Как по маслу. = Smooth.

Pronunciation: "kahk puh MAH-slue" ; /ka:k pə 'ma:slu:/

"Масло" means "Butter". So if everything is "like on butter" it means it's going smooth. 

Всё шоколадно! = Everything's sweet!

Pronunciation: "vsyoh shuh-kah-LAHD-nah" ; /vsjo  ʃəka:'la:dna:/

This phrase literally means "Everything is chocolate". You can also say that it's all covered in chocolate "Всё в шоколадке". Even though it sounds messy, it's a positive way to answer that  means "Everything's sweet".

Зашибись! = Friggin awesome!

Pronunciation: "zah-shee-BEESE" ; /za:ʃi:'bi:s/

"Зашибить" is "to hit really hard" or even "to hit to death". But, surprisingly, it's a good thing. For example, you can say "Тусовка была просто зашибись!" (The party was friggin awesome!). You might also hear people use a different version of this phrase, which is a curse word that you shouldn't go around saying all the time: "Заебись!" (Fucking awesome!)

Офигенно! = Awesome!

Pronunciation: "ah-fee-GYEHN-nuh" ; /a:fi:'gjenə/

You might also hear "Охрененно" which is a less polite (closer to cursing) version of this word. And if you want to go all the way and use a curse word, then you can say "Охуенно".

Negative answers

Плохо. = Bad.

Pronunciation: "PLOH-huh" ; /'plohə/

This is probably the most common answer if you are not doing so well. You are much less likely to hear a Russian person who is in a bad mood answer with a fake "I'm great!" If things are bad, they're going to tell you. After all, you asked!

Ужасно. = Terrible.

Pronunciation: "oo-ZHAS-nuh" ; /u:'ʒa:snə/

This is worse than bad. Something major has to happen for a person to use this as an answer. However, in other contexts "ужасно" can mean "very". Instead of "Она очень красивая." (She's very beautiful.), you could say "Она ужасно красивая." (She's terribly beautiful.)

Отвратительно. = Horrible.

Pronunciation: "aht-vrah-TEE-tel-nuh" ; /a:tvra:'ti:telnə/

"Отвратительно" is worse than terrible. It literally means "disgusting". You might say "Я отвратительно себя чувтствую!" (I feel horrible!)

Нет настроения. = I'm in a bad mood.

Pronunciation: "nyeht nah-strah-EH-nee-yuh" ; /njet na:stra:'eni:jə/

The literal translation of this phrase "I have no mood". It is a very common answer when your day isn't going so well, you feel irritated, or you're not in the mood to do something.

Ничего не успеваю. = I don't have time for anything.

Pronunciation: "nee-cheh-VO nyeh oo-SPEH-vayoo" ; /ni:tʃe'vo nje u:'speva:joo/

"Успевать" literally means to "be in time to do something", but it can also mean "to have time". If a person is super busy, this is how they might answer. Another translation of this phrase would be "So much to do, so little time".

Как сажа бела. = You don't want to know.

Pronunciation: "kahk SAH-zhuh byeh-LAH" ; /ka:k 'sa:ʒə bje'la:/

Probably the most important thing to know about this phrase is that you should only say it when someone asks "Как дела?" In Russian there are many sarcastic rhyming phrases that people use to very standard or typical questions. In most cases they are uttered for the purpose of rhyming or joking around and they might not actually have any meaning at all, for example if you ask "Ты кто?" (Who are you?), someone might answer "Конь в пальто." (A horse in an overcoat.) because the words "кто" and "пальто" both stress the final "о". In this case, the word "бела" rhymes with "дела".

The word "сажа" means "soot" and its black appearance makes it a metaphor for things that are bad or negative. Overall, this answer is considered negative, but it could also tell the person that you don't really want to answer their question. It is not very common but you still might hear it from time to time.

Neutral answers

Нормально. = OK.

Pronunciation: "nor-MAL-nuh" ; /nor'ma:lnə/

This is probably one of the most comment answers to the question "How are you?" in Russian. You could also say the slang versions "норм", "нормуль", or "нормас". 

Ничего. = Nothing to complain about.                              

Pronunciation: "nee-cheh-VOH" ; /ni:tʃe'vo/

Some people might answer with the full phrase "ничего особенного", which means "nothing special". It sounds a little strange to English speakers to answer the question "How are you?" with "Nothing." Usually we answer "Nothing" when someone asks "What's up?" or "What's going on?". But it's important to remember that answering "ничего" is like answering "OK".

Так себе. = So-so.

Pronunciation: "tahk see-BYEH" ; /ta:k si:'bje/

"Дела так себе, устал очень!" - "I am doing so-so. Really tired!" The same concept as in English. You should stress the word "так".

Неплохо. = Not bad.

Pronunciation: "nyeh-PLOH-huh" ; /nje'plohə/

Not quite good, but better than bad. "Это звучит очень даже неплохо!" (That doesn't sound bad at all!)

Пойдёт. = It's going.

Pronunciation: "pie-DYOHT" ; /paɪ'djot/

The literal translation is "It will go". This phrase can also be used to mean "That will do it". So it means things are not completely how you would want them to be, but they are good enough. For example:

A: "Тебе эта куртка нравится больше?" (Do you like this coat more?)

Б: "Aaaa, пойдёт!" (Aaah, it will do.)

Не жалуюсь. = I'm not complaining.

Pronunciation: "nyeh ZHAH-loo-yoos" ; /nje 'ʒa:luju:s/

A: "Как жизнь?" (How is life?)

Б: "Я не жалуюсь!" (I can't complain!)

You might also hear someone say "Я ни на что не жалуюсь." (I have no complaints whatsoever.)

Всё в порядке. = Everything's alright.

Pronunciation: "vsyoh v pah-RYAHD-keh" ; /vsjo v pa:'rja:dke/

"Порядок" means "order". So you can also translate this phrase as "Everything is in order". You could also use it as a question, in place of "How are you?" or "Как дела?", a person might ask "У тебя всё в порядке?" (Is everything alright?). That usually happens when you look ill or you look like something bad has happened.

Как обычно. = As usual.

Pronunciation: "kahk uh-BEECH-nuh" ; /ka:k ə'bi:tʃnə/

Another variation of this phrase that you might hear is "Как всегда" (As always).  

Бывало и лучше. = It's been better.

Pronunciation: "bih-VAH-luh ee LOO-cheh" ; /bɪ'va:lə i: 'lu:tʃe/

For example: "Бывало и лучше, это точно." - "It's been better, that's for sure." 

Всё по-прежнему. = Nothing's changed.

Pronunciation: "vsyoh puh PREHZH-neh-moo" ; /vsjo pə 'preʒnemu:/

For example: "Все по-прежнему, не волнуйтесь." (Everything is the same as before. Don't worry.) Or "У нас все по-прежнему." (Everything's still the same with us.).

Всё по-старому. = Same old, same old.

Pronunciation: "vsyoh puh STAH-rah-moo" ; /vsjo pə 'sta:ra:mu:/

You might also translate it as "just like old times".

Ничего нового. = Nothing's new.

Pronunciation: "nee-cheh-VOH NOH-vah-vuh" ; /ni:tʃe'vo 'no:va:və/

For example: "У нас ничего нового." (Nothing new with us.) 

Ничего особенного. = Nothing special.                                

Pronunciation: "nee-cheh-VOH ah-SOH-byehn-nah-vuh" ; /ni:tʃe'vo a:'sobjena:və/

You might also hear just the short version of this expression: "Ничего".

По-тихоньку. = I'm getting by.

Pronunciation: "puh tee-HONE-koo" ; /pə ti:'honku:/

Literally, "тихо" means "quiet". But in this context Russian people mean slow. You might hear something like this: "Дела идут по-тихоньку." (Things are moving along). In general, it means "Nothing is new".

Относительно. = It's relative.

Pronunciation: "aht-nah-SEE-tel-nuh" ; /a:tna:'si:telnə/

You know that guy who answers every question with "it depends"? Well, that guy exists in Russia, too. Everything is relative to something else. Someone might also answer "How are you?" by asking their own question back, for example: "По сравнению с кем?" (Compared to who?).

Answers from English

Бьютифульно. = Beautifully.

Pronunciation: "byoo-tee-FOOEL-nuh" ; /bju:ti:'fu:lnə/

If you hear someone say this, it's probably a joke. In fact, you probably won't hear anybody say this... but if you do, it means "Great!"


Pronunciation: "ohk" ; /ok/

It doesn't get more obvious than this. But the pronunciation isn't nearly as obvious as the meaning. In English we say "oh-KAY", but sometimes in Russian they say "ohk". So, to English speakers, it sounds like a type of tree "oak".


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