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Hello in Russian (informal)
Like many other languages, Russians sometimes use different words with the same meaning for formal or informal situations. 'Formal' refers to situations where you might be speaking to your partner's parents for the first time, a job interview, a business meeting, a priest, someone you don't know or just someone significantly older than you. An 'informal' situation might be when you are talking to your partner, a friend, or a child.
When in doubt, it is safer to use the formal version of a word. But don't worry too much because these formal / informal distinctions only seem to emerge when you are saying the word for 'hello', and when you are using the personal pronoun 'you' (for example, 'Do you want some caviar?').
We will discuss the usage of the personal pronoun you in a later lesson. But for now, it's useful to learn the informal Russian word for 'hello' as your Russian friends might say this to you quite often.
When you are familiar with someone but are still required to use the formal form of address (such as for parents-in-law; teachers etc), Russians sometimes use a shortened, colloquial version of здравствуйте, "здрасте" (sometimes spelt здрасти, but always pronounced as здрасте).
(Thanks to Vlada from Just Russian in London for assistance with these informal / casual form distinctions!)
The word for 'Hi' is much easier than 'Hello', but remember it is an informal greeting.
Remember to 'roll your r's' slightly, if you can.
You will notice when some (not all) Russians speak they pronounce their Vs as Ws!
Therefore you might be asked to join in a round of 'wodka'.
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