We all need help sometimes. When you visit Russia, you may want to ask how to get to the city center or where to find a restaurant, or in an emergency, you may need medical assistance. Let’s learn the basics of asking for help in Russian. To become fluent, study Russian with a tutor.
Talking to a Stranger
When you want to ask a stranger something in Russian, you can use several basic phrases.
Извините, вы не подскажете…? (Izviniti Vy ne podskazhete…?)
Excuse me, could you tell me…?
This phrase is universal: you can use it to ask for directions, bus schedules, the time, and everything else. For example,
Извините, Вы не подскажете, который сейчас час? (Izvinite, Vy ne podskazhete, kotoryi seichas chas?)
Excuse me, could you please tell me, what time it is now?
Извините, Вы не подскажете, где автобусная остановка? (Izvinite, Vy ne podskazhete, gde avtobusnaya ostanovka?)
Excuse me, could you please tell me, where is the bus stop?
The other way to ask for somebody’s help is to say, “Извините, вы случайно не знаете…?” (Izvinite, Vy sluchaino ne znaete…?). This can be translated into English as “Excuse me, do you happen to know…?”
Извините, Вы случайно не знаете, когда отправляется поезд? (Izvinite, Vy sluchaino ne znaete, kogda otpravlyaetsya poezd?)
Excuse me, do you happen to know when the train leaves?
These two phrases are identical in meaning.
When Something Bad Happens…
When you need help, for example, if the ground is slippery, you fall, and you can’t move, you can say, “Помогите мне, пожалуйста” (Pomogite mne, pozhaluista), which means “Please help me.”
Помогите мне, пожалуйста, перейти дорогу. (Pomogite mne, pozhaluista, pereiti dorogu.)
Please help me to cross the street.
Sometimes you need help urgently. Let’s say you see a criminal stealing somebody’s bag, or you see someone needs help and you can’t provide it. In these situations, scream, “На помощь!” (Na pomosch’!) or simply, “Помогите!” (Pomogite!). Both mean “Help!”
In situations when somebody needs medical assistance, just say, “Врача” (Vracha). That’s a magical phrase that makes someone call a doctor. It’s a shortened version of “Вызовите врача” (Vyzovite vracha – Call the doctor), but the verb is usually omitted. However, when you’re the one who needs the doctor, you need to say, “Мне нужен врач” (Mne nuzhen vrach – I need a doctor).