Learn Russian from the beginning!
Lesson Three

Asking for and receiving information

You will learn

  • to check in at a hotel
  • to ask if there is a room free and how much it will cost
  • how to go about changing money
  • some useful phrases when seeking information

and you will read about travel to Russia

Study guide

Dialogues 1, 2: listen without the book
Dialogues 1, 2: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 3: listen without the book
Dialogues 3: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 4: listen without the book
Dialogues 4: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Study the Key words and phrases
Read and practice writing the Alphabet
Study the Grammar section carefully
Read Did you know?
Do the exercises in Your turn to speak
Listen to all the dialogues once again straight through


1. Tanya is checking in at her hotel.

Tanya Здравствуйте. Zdrastvuytye.
Receptionist Здравствуйте. Zdrastvuytye.
Tanya Для меня забронирован номер. Dlya minya zabroniravan nomir.
Receptionist Ваша фамилия, пожалуйста. Vasha familiya, pazhalsta.
Tanya Петрова. Вот мой паспорт. Petrova. Vot moy pasport.
Receptionist Спасибо. Одну минуточку... Ваш номер на десятом этаже. Вот ваша визитная карточка. Spasiba. Adnu minutachku... Vash nomir na disyatam etazhe. Vot vasha vizitnaya kartachka.
Tanya Спасибо. Spasiba.

одну минуточку [adnu minutachku] just a minute
визитная карточка [vizitnaya kartachka] guest's card

для меня забронирован номер [dlya minya zabroniravan nomir] I have a room booked

вот [vot] here (is) - the word to use when you're handing something over.

на десятом этаже [na disyatam etazhe] on the tenth floor. Other useful floors to know:
на первом этаже [na pyervam etazhe] on the first floor
на втором этаже [na ftarom etazhe] on the second floor
на третьем этаже [na tryetyem etazhe] on the third floor
By the way, Russians do not talk about the 'ground floor'. The first floor is the floor at ground level.

спасибо [spasiba] thank you

2. Where can she get the key?

Tanya Скажите, пожалуйста, где можно получить ключ? Skazhitye, pazhalsta, gdye mozhna paluchit' klyuch?
Receptionist Ключ можно получить у дежурной по этажу. Klyuch mozhna paluchit' udizhurnay pa-etazhu.
Tanya А где у вас лифт? A gdye uvas leeft?
Receptionist Вот сюда, пожалуйста. Vot syuda, pazhalsta.
Tanya Спасибо. Spasiba.

у дежурной по этажу [udizhurnay pa-etazhu] from the woman on duty on your floor
сюда [syuda] here, this way

где можно получить ключ? [gdye mozhna paluchit' klyuch?] where can I pick up the key?

где у вас лифт? [gdye uvas leeft?] where is the elevator here? [uvas] is often used in Russian where other languages say 'in your hotel, house, country, etc'. It also sounds less abrupt to ask где у вас...? [gdye uvas...?] than simply где...? [gdye...?]

Practice what you have learned

As before, read the instructions for each exercise before turning on the recording.

1. Three visitors to a hotel write their names on their luggage but forget to write which floor they are on. Listen to the recording and see whether you can fill in the missing numbers.


2. On your recording you will hear our hotel guests asking where various places are. Write down the correct floor for each. You will find the possible floors listed in the box below.

Where is your restaurant? I. на [na]
Where is the telephone? II. на [na]
Where is the discotheque? III. на [na]
на первом этаже [na pyervam etazhe]
на втором этаже [na ftarom etazhe]
на третьем этаже [na tryetyem etazhe]


3. The man next to Tanya doesn't have a reservation.

Man Скажите, пожалуйста, у вас есть свободные номера на сегодня? Skazhitye, pazhalsta, uvas yest' svabodniye namira na sivodnya?
Receptionist Вам нужен номер на одного? Vam nuzhin nomir na adnavo?
Man Нет, мне нужен номер на двоих. Nyet, mnye nuzhin nomir na dvayikh.
Receptionist На сколько дней? Na skol'ka dnyey?
Man На три дня. Na tri dnya.
Receptionist Одну минуточку... Да, у нас есть номера. Adnu minutachku.... Da, unas yest' namira.
Man Скажите, пожалуйста, сколько стоит номер в сутки? Skazhitye, pazhalsta, skol'ka stoit nomir fsutki?
Receptionist Номер стоит сто двадцать долларов. Nomir stoit sto dvatsat' dollaraf.

сто двадцать долларов [sto dvatsat' dollaraf] 120 dollars

у вас есть свободные номера? [uvas yest' svabodniye namira?] do you have any vacant rooms?

на сегодня [na sivodnya] for today. Ha [na] is often used to mean 'for', particularly with reservations. If the man had wanted a room for tomorrow he would have said на завтра [na zaftra].

вам нужен номер на одного? [vam nuzhin nomir na adnavo?] do you need a single room? (lit. a room for one person). The man wants a room на двоих [na dvayikh] for two. For three would be на троих [na trayikh].

на сколько дней? [na skol'ka dnyey?] for how many days? In his reply the man says на три дня [na tri dnya] for three days, using a quite different ending. Numbers make nouns do some very funny things! You say:
на один день [na adin dyen'] for one day
на два (три, четыре) дня [na dva (tri, chityrye) dnya] for two (three, four) days
на пять (шесть, ...) дней [na pyat' (shest',...) dnyey] for five (six, ...) days
If this seems too much to remember, just say на [na] with the number, and leave out the noun altogether!

у нас есть номера [unas yest' namira] we have rooms. У нас есть... [unas yest'...] means 'we have...'

сколько стоит номер? [skol'ka stoit nomir?] how much does a room cost?

в сутки [fsutki] per day. Сутки [sutki] is a 24-hour period.

Карта гостя гостиницы Турист, Минск
A guest's card for the hotel 'Tourist'

Practice what you have learned

3. A new reception clerk has completely mixed up some visitors' registration forms. Here they are in translation. After listening to the dialogues on your recording, see if you can spot and correct the mistakes.



3 people

2 nights




1 person

1 night




2 people

7 nights




3 people

3 nights



4. This time you are a tourist seeking a hotel room. Andrei will give you instructions.


4. Tanya has found the foreign currency exchange desk

Tanya Здравствуйте. Zdrastvuytye.
Clerk Здравствуйте. Zdrastvuytye.
Tanya Можно обменять валюту? Mozhna abminyat' valyutu?
Clerk Да, пожалуйста. А что у вас? Da, pazhalsta. A shto uvas?
Tanya Фунты. Funty.
Clerk Сколько вы меняете? Skol'ka vi minyaitye?
Tanya Двадцать. Dvatsat'.
Clerk Дайте, пожалуйста, вашу декларацию и деньги. Daitye, pazhalsta, vashu diklaratsiyu i dyen'gi.
Tanya Вот, пожалуйста. Vot, pazhalsta.
Clerk Здесь ваша подпись, пожалуйста. Zdyes' vasha potpees', pazhalsta.
Tanya Пожалуйста. Pazhalsta.
Clerk Ваши деньги, пожалуйста. Vashi dyen'gi, pazhalsta.
Tanya Спасибо. Spasiba.
Clerk До свидания. Da svidanya.
Tanya До свидания. Da svidanya.

декларация [diklaratsiya] official declaration of how much currency you bring into the country
деньги [dyen'gi] money (a plural noun)

что у вас? [shto uvas?] what have you got? The answer was фунты [funty] pounds. Most words denoting currencies are more obvious: доллары [dollary] dollars, евро [yevro] euro (old: марки [marki] marks), etc.

сколько вы меняете? [skol'ka vi minyaitye?] how much are you changing?
Conveniently, Tanya is changing an amount you know:
двадцать [dvatsat'] 20. She might have asked for:
тридцать [tritsat'] 30
сорок [sorak] 40
пятьдесят [pit'disyat] 50
You will be pleased to hear that you now know all the numbers to 50, or 59 to be exact. For 21, 22, etc. you simply use the number for 20 and add one, two, three etc., i.e.:
двадцать один, двадцать два, двадцать три [dvatsat' adin, dvatsat' dva, dvatsat' tri]
And 59? No problem - пятьдесят девять [pit'disyat dyevit']

дайте, пожалуйста, ... [daitye, pazhalsta,...] give me please...

здесь ваша подпись [zdyes' vasha potpees'] your signature here

Practice what you have learned

5. On your recording you will hear people exchanging currency at the exchange desk. Can you fill in the spaces on their receipts?


6. You are a tourist with pounds to change. Andrei will tell you what to ask for at the exchange desk.

100 rubles (sample - образец [obrazets])

Key words and phrases

для меня забронирован номер
[dlya minya zabroniravan nomir]
I have a room booked
вот [vot] here (is)
спасибо [spasiba] thank you
на первом этаже [na pyervam etazhe] on the first (ground) floor
на втором этаже [na ftarom etazhe] on the second floor
на третьем этаже [na tryetyem etazhe] on the third floor
на десятом этаже [na disyatam etazhe] on the tenth floor
где у вас (лифт)? [gdye uvas (leeft)?] where is your (elevator)?
где можно... [gdye mozhna...]
получить ключ? [paluchit' klyuch?]
обменять валюту? [abminyat' vaiyutu?]
where can one...
get the key?
change foreign currency?
у вас есть свободные номера...
[uvas yest' svabodniye namira?...]
на сегодня? [na sivodnya?]
на завтра? [na zaftra?]
do you have any vacant rooms...

for today?
for tomorrow?
вам нужен номер на одного?
[vam nuzhin nomir na adnavo?]
на двоих? [na dvayikh?]
на троих? [natrayikh?]
do you need a single room?

(a room) for two?
(a room) for three?
мне нужен... [mnye nuzhin...] I need...
на сколько дней? [na skol'ka dnyey?] for how many days?
сколько стоит номер в сутки?
[skol'ka stoit nomir fsutki?]
how much does a room cost per day?
как он работает? [kak on rabotayit?] how (what hours) does it work?
что у вас? [shto uvas?] what do you have?
сколько вы меняете? [skol'ka vi minyaitye?] how much are you changing?
дайте, пожалуйста, ...
[daitye, pazhalsta, ...]
вашу декларацию
[vashu diklaratsiyu]
деньги [dyen'gi]
please give me...

your declaration


The Russian alphabet

In this unit you will learn five new letters. In total you have now met more than two thirds of the alphabet. Read the letters and the words below, then turn on the recording and listen to how Andrei pronounces them.

The letters are:

[e like the first e in edifice]
called 'short и'. It sounds and behaves just like the y in boy, way, New York etc. One sees it very often in names:
Толстой (Tolstoy), Достоевский (Dostoevsky).

7. Who's who and who's in the wrong place?


8. After you have practiced these letters and the words above, see if you can work out the following crossword puzzle. If you have answered each question correctly, the beginning letters of each word read vertically will give you the name of a famous Russian ballerina.



  1. You need this when traveling
  2. A place you might try if you have a headache or cold
  3. An alcoholic drink and probably your first Russian word
  4. Big Ben is in the center of this famous capital
  5. A Scandinavian capital
  6. The French are famous drinkers of this alcoholic beverage
  7. The name of three Russian Tsars

New word аптека [aptyeka] chemist's (shop)



The accusative case

Some nouns have different endings in Russian when they become the direct object of a verb. Less abstractly, in the sentence 'Ivan reads a book', Ivan is the subject, he is doing the reading. The book is the direct object, it is being read.

It is important to be aware of these endings even if you don’t always remember to use them. In a language without set word order they can provide vital clues to help you understand who is doing what!

In the dialogue, Tanya was asked for her currency declaration:

Дайте, пожалуйста, вашу декларацию
[Daitye, pazhalsta, vashu diklaratsiyu]

In the dictionary the word for 'declaration' would be written: декларация [diklaratsiya]. This is a feminine noun and it changes when it becomes the object of the verb дайте [daitye] give (me). Similarly, the word for 'foreign currency' is feminine: валюта [valyuta], but Tanya asked:
можно обменять валюту? [mozhna abminyat' valyutu?]
May I change some currency?

Fortunately these are the only endings for the moment. Neuter nouns never change in the accusative case, nor do masculine nouns which refer to things. If Tanya had been asked for her passport, you would have heard:

Дайте, пожалуйста, ваш паспорт [Daitye, pazhalsta, vash pasport]

9. Tanya was in the foreign currency shop of the hotel, and saw the following items which she wanted:

шоколад [shakalat]
водка [votka]
вино [vino]
коньяк [kanyak]
газета [gazyeta]
матрёшка [matryoshka]
matryoshka doll

She asked for each of the above, beginning each time with дайте, пожалуйста,... give me please.... Can you write in the item with the correct endings?

дайте, пожалуйста, ...
[daitye, pazhalsta,...]

Did you know

Travel to Russia and the Soviet Union

Up to the late 1980s the majority of foreign visitors came to the USSR on package tours arranged by the State organization Intourist.

There was relatively little choice since a visa was only issued on proof of accommodation and hotel rooms booked by individuals were classified as first class and priced accordingly.

To the foreign traveler, the advantage of package tours was that they largely eliminated the problems with accommodation, transportation and general service which plague Russian travelers. The chief disadvantage was that most tourists, especially if they knew no Russian, saw little of the country. Indeed Intourist hotels were built to provide anything that a tourist (in their opinion!) might wish for: bars, restaurants, saunas, shops, etc.

At the time of writing, much of the above is still applicable; none the less noticeable changes have taken place. It has become relatively easy to visit friends in Russia. Easy, that is, for those invited - there is considerable bureaucratic red tape at the Russian end! Visitors must live at the address written on their visa, and need to receive an official stamp in their passport.

Intourist is also increasingly losing its monopoly as more enterprises open. Some of these offer package tours, while others offer accommodation in private homes or rented apartments and offices.


  • the guest's card is a pass to the hotel;
  • the room key is available at the floor desk and is given by the floor maid in exchange for your guest’s card;
  • your visitors can receive a temporary pass to the hotel at the pass bureau on your request made through the floor made and can stay in the hotel from 8 a. m. to 11 p. m.;
  • the floor maid must be informed of the date of your departure two days in advance;
  • long-distance phone calls must be paid within 24 hours;
  • when departing, please, ask the floor maid for a pass to your luggage, leave her the room key and your guest’s card.


  • to use electric heating devices in your room;
  • to leave guests in your room when you are absent and to let anybody use your key and your guest's card.

In case you lose your guest’s card the hotel bears no responsibility for the safety of your belongings. You are kindly requested to observe the hotel regulations ana fire safety rules.

A guest's card from Hotel 'Moskva', issued in 1990.
The rules are no longer quite so stringent.

Your turn to speak

10. You will be playing the role of Misha Ivanov, who is checking in at a hotel, and finding his bearings. As usual, read the following words and phrases and then turn on the recording.

для меня забронирован номер [dlya minya zabroniravan nomir]
спасибо [spasiba]
где у вас...? [gdye uvas...?]