Learn Russian from the beginning!
Lesson Four

Ordering drinks and snacks

You will learn

  • to find out what is available for a meal, or part of a meal
  • to make your choice
  • to ask advice about cafes and about recommended dishes
  • to ask for a seat at a table
  • to pay for your meal

and you will be introduced to traditional Russian cuisine

Конфеты Белочка - обертка

Конфета Маска

Russian sweets

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, 4: listen without the book
Dialogues 3, 4: listen, read and study one by one
Practice what you have learned
Dialogues 5-7: listen without the book
Dialogues 5-7: 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 has stayed the night at a friend's

Tanya Тамара, а что у нас сегодня на завтрак? Tamara, a shto unas sivodnya na zaftrak?
Tamara Каша, бутерброды с колбасой или с сыром. Kasha, buterbrody skalbasoy ili syram.
Tanya Дай мне просто хлеб с маслом. Dai mnye prosta khlyep smaslam.
Tamara Пожалуйста. Pazhalsta.
Tanya Спасибо. Spasiba.

каша [kasha] porridge
просто [prosta] simply

что у нас сегодня на завтрак? [shto unas sivodnya na zaftrak?] what do we have for breakfast today? At appropriate times of the day на завтрак [na zaftrak] could be substituted by:
на обед [na abyet] for lunch, the middle meal of the day
на ужин [na uzhin] for dinner.

бутерброды [buterbrody] sandwiches. One sandwich would be бутерброд [buterbrot]; с колбасой [skalbasoy] with sausage, salami; с сыром [syram] with cheese.

дай мне просто хлеб с маслом [dai mnye prosta khlyep smaslam] give me just bread and butter. Tanya is speaking to a friend, and therefore she says дай [dai] rather than the formal дайте [daitye].

мне [mnye] means 'to me' and is used after verbs such as дайте [daitye] i.e. 'give to me'.

2. What about coffee?

Tamara А кофе ты будешь? A kofye ti budish?
Tanya Ой, с удовольствием. Oi, sudavol'stvyem.
Tamara Тебе чёрный или с молоком? Tibye chorny ili smalakom?
Tanya С молоком, если можно. Smalakom, yesli mozhna.
Tamara Пожалуйста. Pazhalsta.
Tanya Спасибо. Spasiba.

ой [oi] oh
если можно [yesli mozhna] if possible

кофе ты будешь? [kofye ti budish?] will you have coffee? If you were on more formal terms with someone, you would be asked: кофе вы будете? [kofye vi buditye?]. You are also likely to be offered чай [chai] tea, which is always drunk without milk.

с удовольствием [sudavol'stvyem] with pleasure

тебе [tibye] for you. This is the same kind of ending as мне [mnye]. It is often used when offering or making a choice. Here the choice is:
чёрный кофе [chorny kofye] black coffee or
кофе с молоком [kofye smalakom] coffee with milk.
Again if you use вы [vi] with a person, the appropriate form here would be вам [vam] instead of тебе [tibye].

с молоком [smalakom] with milk. If you drink coffee with sugar, you'll want to know:
с сахаром [sakharam] with sugar.

Practice what you have learned

1. Ol'ga Ivanovna has a family - Marina, Vasily and their two children Natasha and Ira - staying with her. Listen to their orders for breakfast and then decide whether the following statements are true or false. You'll notice that the children use дайте [daitye] when they speak to Ol'ga Ivanovna, an adult.

I. Vasily asks for porridge and black coffee. true; false.
II. Natasha asks for salami sandwiches. true; false.
III. Ira wants porridge with sugar. true; false.
IV. Marina wants coffee with milk and salami sandwiches. true; false.


Grocery packaging for sugar lumps (below) and 'Hercules' oatflakes (right)

Сахар Рафинад
Геркулес - овсяные хлопья

2. Later on Natasha asks everyone what they would like to drink but becomes hopelessly confused. Listen to the recording and match the request with the person.

I. Mama (a) tea
II. Papa (b) coffee with milk and sugar
III. Ira (c) coffee with milk
IV. Ol'ga Ivanovna (d) black coffee

3. Your name is Nina and you will be finding out from your brother what there is for breakfast. Andrei will prompt you.


3. Natasha drops into the company cafeteria for lunch.

Natasha Добрый день. Dobry dyen'.
Serving lady Здравствуйте. Zdrastvuytye.
Natasha Что у вас сегодня на первое? Shto uvas sivodnya na pyervaye?
Serving lady Есть суп гороховый с мясом и суп рыбный с картошечкой. Yest' sup garokhavy smyasam i sup ribny skartoshichkay.
Natasha Что вы мне порекомендуете? Shto vi mnye parikamenduitye?
Serving lady Я бы вам порекомендовала суп рыбный, мягкий, нежный, сочный суп. Ya bi vam parikamendavala sup ribny, myakhkiy, nyezhny, sochny sup.
Natasha Хорошо. Спасибо. Kharasho. Spasiba.
Serving lady Пожалуйста. Pazhalsta.

суп гороховый с мясом (sup garokhavy smyasam] pea soup with meat
суп рыбный с картошечкой [sup ribny skartoshichkay] fish soup with potato

что у вас сегодня на первое? [shto uvas sivodnya na pyervaye?] What is there for the first course today? For other dishes, you would ask:

что у вас сегодня... [shto uvas sivodnya...]
на второе? [na ftaroye?] for the second course?
на третье? [na tryetye?] for the third course?
на десерт? [na disyert?] for dessert?

с картошечкой [skartoshichkay] with potatoes. The more common word for potatoes is
картошка [kartoshka] and 'with potatoes' с картошкой [skartoshkay].

что вы мне порекомендуете? [shto vi mnye parikamenduitye?] what would you recommend?
я бы вам порекомендовала... [ya bi vam parikamendavala...] I would recommend... The lady uses a different form of the verb. Don't worry about learning this - it's the question you will need.

суп рыбный - мягкий, нежный, сочный суп [sup ribny - myakhkiy, nyezhny, sochny sup] fish soup - delicate, gentle, juicy soup. (These adjectives are not the most common words used to describe a soup!) You will find out more about how to use adjectives in Lesson 6.

4. Lyena is next in line and asks about the second course.

Lyena Что у вас на второе? Shto uvas na ftaroye?
Serving lady На второе? Рыба отварная, беф-строганов, мясо тушёное, бифштекс с луком, запеканка творожная со сметаной. Na ftaroye? Riba atvarnaya, befstroganof, myasa tushonaye, bifshteks slukam, zapikanka tvarozhnaya sa smitanay.
Lyena Дайте мне, пожалуйста, бифштекс. Daitye mnye, pazhalsta, bifshteks.
Serving lady Бифштекс с луком. А какой гарнир желаете? Bifshteks slukam. A kakoy garneer zhilayitye?
Lyena Картофельное пюре. Kartofil'naye pyure.
Serving lady Пожалуйста. Pazhalsta.
Lyena Большое спасибо. Bal'shoye spasiba.
Serving lady Пожалуйста. Приятного аппетита! Pazhalsta. Priyatnava appitita!
Lyena Спасибо. Spasiba.

рыба отварная [riba atvarnaya] poached fish
беф-строганов [befstroganof] beef Stroganoff
мясо тушёное [myasa tushonaye] stewed meat
бифштекс с луком [bifshteks slukam] beefsteak with onion
запеканка творожная со сметаной [zapikanka tvarozhnaya sa smitanay] baked cottage cheese dish with sour cream
картофельное пюре [kartofil'naye pyure] mashed potatoes

какой гарнир желаете? [kakoy garneer zhilayitye?] what would you like with it? желать [zhilat'] can mean 'to desire' and is not the most common verb in this context. You will more often hear какой гарнир вы хотите? [kakoy garneer vi khatitye?], to which you could reply 'я хочу...' [ya khachu...] I want...

большое спасибо [bal'shoye spasiba] thank you very much (or, literally, a big thank you)

приятного аппетита! [priyatnava appitita!] bon appetit! It is quite normal for Russians to say this whenever they see somebody eating.

Practice what you have learned

4. Oleg and Larisa find the following menu in a local cafeteria. See how much you can make out before looking at the transliterated version below.

гороховый суп
рыбный суп
картофельное пюре

garokhavy sup
ribny sup
kartofil'naye pyure

Listen to the recording and mark the correct box.

I. The man serving recommends:
рыбный суп [ribny sup]
гороховый суп [garokhavy sup]
борщ [borshch]

II. For her main course Larisa asks for:
гуляш [gulyash]
бифштекс [bifshteks]
беф-строганов [befstroganof]

III. What does she want with her meal?
салат [salat]
винегрет [vinigryet]
картофельное пюре [kartofil'naye pyure]


5. Still using the same menu, this time it's your turn to order. Follow Andrei’s instructions.


5. Lyena is now at the cashier's desk

Lyena Сколько с меня? Skol'ka sminya?
Cashier А что у вас? A shto uvas?
Lyena У меня бифштекс с картофельным пюре. Uminya bifshteks skartofil'nym pyure
Cashier Тридцать восемь копеек. Tritsat' vosim' kapyeek.
Lyena Вот, пожалуйста. Vot, pazhalsta.
Cashier Спасибо. Spasiba.
Lyena Пожалуйста. Pazhalsta.

сколько с меня? [skol'ka sminya?] how much do I owe you? (lit. 'how much from me?'!)

у вас [uvas], у меня [uminya]: It is difficult for a learner to know when to use у меня есть... [uminya yest’...] and when у меня [uminya] by itself is enough. Есть [yest'] is used when out of the blue you inform somebody that you have something. It is omitted if you are simply describing what you have. If this sounds confusing, simply listen to whether it is used or not, and follow suit!

тридцать восемь копеек [tritsat' vosim' kapyeek] 38 kopecks

A word of warning - from the beginning of 1992 the cost of living in Russia increased dramatically, making the prices quoted here and elsewhere quite outdated.

6. Lyena has taken her tray and is looking for a seat.

Lyena Извините, пожалуйста, здесь свободно? Izvinitye, pazhalsta, zdyes' svabodna?
Other customer Да, садитесь, пожалуйста. Da, sadityes', pazhalsta.
Lyena Спасибо. Spasiba.

садитесь [sadityes'] take a seat

здесь свободно? [zdyes' svabodna?] is this place free? If it were not, the reply would probably have been нет, здесь занято [nyet, zdyes' zanyata] no, it's taken.

7. Ira doesn't have much luck finding a place to eat.

Ira Извините, пожалуйста, где здесь можно быстро пообедать? Izvinitye, pazhalsta, gdye zdyes' mozhna bistra paabyedat'?
Passerby Здесь пообедать? Здесь пообедать очень трудно. Можно только выпить чашку кофе в кафе вот рядом. Zdyes' paabyedat'? Zdyes’ paabyedat' ochin' trudna. Mozhna tol'ka vypit' chashku kofye fkafe vot ryadam.
Ira Спасибо большое. Spasiba bal'shoye.
Passerby Пожалуйста. Pazhalsta.

только [tol'ka] only

где здесь можно быстро пообедать? [gdye zdyes' mozhna bistra paabyedat'?] where around here can one get a quick meal? The verb 'to have lunch' is formed from the noun for lunch - обед [abyet]. If you wanted to find out where you could get breakfast - and not necessarily quickly! - you would leave out быстро [bistra] (quickly) and ask:
где здесь можно позавтракать? [gdye zdyes' mozhna pazaftrakat'?] and dinner:
где здесь можно поужинать? [gdye zdyes' mozhna pauzhinat'?].

здесь пообедать очень трудно [zdyes' paabyedat' ochin' trudna] it is very difficult to get lunch around here

выпить чашку кофе [vypit' chashku kofye] to have (lit. to drink) a cup of coffee. If Ira had wanted a coffee, she would have asked где здесь можно выпить чашку кофе? [gdye zdyes' mozhna vypit' chashku kofye?]

вот рядом [vot ryadam] just here, next door

Recipe for an open jam tart:

Пирог открытый с повидлом

Мука - 546, сахар - 38, маргарин столовый - 27, яйца для теста - 27, соль - 5, дрожжи - 16, вода - 230, повидло - 333, яйца для смазки пирога - 27, жир для смазки листа — 3,3.

Выход — 1 кг.

Дрожжевое тесто, приготовленное так же, как для булочки дорожной, раскатать в пласт толщиной 1 см, положить на смазанный жиром лист и выровнять поверхность. Сверху на тесто положить подогретое до 30°С повидло. Края теста загнуть на 1,5-2 см, а сверху на повидло положить узкие полоски теста в виде решетки и смазать яйцом. Оставить пирог в теплом месте для расстойки 20—30 мин. и выпекать при температуре 200°С.

Пирог открытый с повидлом

Now the exercises based on these dialogues.

Practice what you have learned

6. The price list below is in a sorry state. Listen to the recording and match each dish with its price.

I. суп гороховый с мясом
[sup garokhavy smyasam]

II. гуляш

III. беф-строганов

IV. бифштекс с луком
[bifshteks slukam]

V. борщ

(a) 39 копеек

(b) 25 копеек

(c) 37 копеек

(d) 48 копеек

(e) 45 копеек

7. Ol'ga Ivanovna's guests ask passers-by for advice about where they can 'fortify themselves' during a long day’s excursion. Listen to their conversation and fill in the missing words in Vasily's diary. You will find the answers out of order beneath the diary.

I. завтрак [zaftrak]
II. обед [abyet]
III. ужин [uzhin]
IV. кофе [kofye]

(a) в ресторане на Остоженке [vrestoranye na Astozhinkye]

(b) в кафе рядом [fkafe ryadam]

(c) в кафе на Арбате [fkafe na Arbatye]

(d) в ресторане 'Приятного аппетита' [vrestoranye Priyatnava appitita']


NB Russians will of course write rather than print, but then they already know the printed alphabet very well! For now, use the printed form when writing.

8. It's time to pay for the meal you ordered in the previous exercises. Don't worry if you've forgotten what you had - Andrei will guide you.

Key words and phrases

что у нас сегодня на завтрак?
[shto unas sivodnya na zaftrak?]
на обед? [na abyet?]
на ужин? [na uzhin?]
what do we have for breakfast today?

for lunch?
for dinner?
что у вас на первое?
[shto uvas na pyervaye?]
на второе? [na ftaroye?]
на третье? [na tryetye?]
на десерт? [na disyert?]
what do you have for the first course?

second course?
third course?
дай мне... [dai mnye...]
дайте мне... [daitye mnye...]
хлеб с маслом [khlyep smaslam]
бутерброды с колбасой
[buterbrody skalbasoy]
бутерброды с сыром
[buterbrody syram]
чёрный кофе [chorny kofye]
кофе с молоком [kofye smalakom]
give me... (asking a friend or child)
give me... (formal)
bread and butter
sandwiches with salami

sandwiches with cheese

black coffee
coffee with milk
с удовольствием [sudavol'stvyem] with pleasure
что вы порекомендуете?
[shto vi parikamenduitye?]
what would you recommend?
сколько с меня? [skol'ka sminya?] how much do I owe you?
здесь свободно? [zdyes' svabodna?] is this place free?
где здесь можно (быстро)...
[gdye zdyes' mozhna (bistra)...]
позавтракать? [pazaftrakat'?]
пообедать? [paabyedat'?]
поужинать? [pauzhinat'?]
выпить чашку кофе?
[vypit' chashku kofye?]
where can one (quickly)...

have breakfast?
have lunch?
have dinner?
have a cup of coffee?

приятного аппетита!
[priyatnava appitita!]
bon appetit!

To understand

кофе ты будешь? [kofye ti budish?] will you have coffee? (to a friend or child)
кофе вы будете? [kofye vi buditye?] will you have coffee? (more formal)
какой гарнир желаете? / хотите?
[kakoy garneer zhilayitye? / khatitye?]
what would you like with it?
я хочу... [ya khachu...] I would like...
здесь пообедать очень трудно
[zdyes' paabyedat' ochin' trudna]
it’s very difficult to get lunch here

The Russian alphabet

The five letters we will look at in this unit are:

ш [sh]
ё [yo]. This vowel is always in stressed position
ф [f]
ы [y in bury - but this is approximate so listen to the recording]
г [g in good]

9. Can you match the following capital cities with their country?


10. a) Which of the following would you be unlikely to eat?




b) And who might feel a little out of place?




11. Here are some signs you might want to look out for:

V. СТОЛОВАЯ (cafeteria, canteen)

a) For which place might you need to make a reservation?

b) Where could you go for a snack?

c) Where would you probably find grilled chicken?


A word of warning: г [g] is sometimes pronounced quite differently - as [v]. This happens for example in the word сегодня [sivodnya] today. As a rule it happens with the combinations -ого [-ovo] or -его [-yevo], but since there are exceptions even to this, be patient with such eccentricity and just try to remember the words in question.



Кофе чёрный или с молоком? [kofye chorny ili smalakom?]
Coffee black or with milk?

С [s] is used before a noun to mean 'with' (in grammatical terms it is a preposition). In addition, however, the ending of the noun changes.

Masculine and neuter nouns normally end in -ом ([om] but pronounced [am] if not stressed). Hence бутерброды [buterbrody] with сыр [syr] becomes бутерброды с сыром [buterbrody syram] 'sandwiches with cheese'. And кофе [kofye] with молоко [malako] becomes кофе с молоком [kofye smalakom] 'coffee with milk'.

Feminine nouns normally end in -ой ([oy] but pronounced [ay] if not stressed). So бутерброды [buterbrody] with колбаса [kalbasa] becomes бутерброды с колбасой [buterbrody skalbasoy] 'salami sandwiches'.

The с [s] is normally pronounced as part of the next word.

12. Four friends are perusing the menu in a cafeteria. Katya is ravenous, Kolya just a little hungry, Tanya is a vegetarian and Ira only wants something to drink. What might each order?

[buterbrody] (sandwiches)
[smitana] (sour cream)
[bifshteks] (beefsteak)
КОЛБАСА [kalbasa] (salami)
[befstroganof] (beef Stroganoff)
[luk] (onion)
[zapikanka tvarozhnaya]
(baked cottage cheese dish)
[rees] (rice)
КОФЕ [kofye] (coffee) МОЛОКО [malako] (milk)
[chorny kofye] (black coffee)
[sakhar] (sugar)
ЧАЙ [chai] (tea) ЛИМОН [limon] (lemon)


Did you know

Traditional Russian cuisine is very rich. Much of it is fried and may then be served with dollops of sour cream. For breakfast your hotel or some of the cooperative cafes are likely to offer блины [bliny] pancakes or сырники [syrniki] cottage cheese patties, possibly со сметаной [so smitanay] with sour cream. If you prefer a lighter breakfast, there will probably be сыр [syr] cheese, колбаса [kalbasa] sausage, яйца [yaitsa] eggs, каша [kasha] porridge and хлеб [khlyep] bread. Чёрный хлеб [chorny khlyep] black bread is particularly tasty!

One should not, however, assume that this is how Russians normally eat. The above dishes are time-consuming to make, and more often than not some of the ingredients will be дефицитные [difitsitniye], i.e. unobtainable.

Russians normally eat a large breakfast. What it consists of is to a large extent dependent on the time of the year, and what is available in the shops. Buckwheat, oats and semolina (all called каша [kasha]) are common, though quite often breakfast is fried potato or vermicelli, with sausage or whatever meat is around.

Breakfast is normally eaten at home. The number of cafes even in the larger cities is still not high, and not everyone can afford to wait in the long lines which form even around street vendors selling пирожки [pirashki] filled yeast buns, ice cream and other snacks. (the information is out of date)

Your turn to speak

You will be ordering breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Read the following phrases, then turn on your recording and let Andrei guide you.

здесь свободно? [zdyes' svabodna?]
что у вас сегодня на завтрак? [shto uvas sivodnya na zaftrak?]
дайте, пожалуйста, ... [daitye, pazhalsta, ...]
с удовольствием! [sudavol'stvyem!]
кофе с молоком [kofye smalakom]