Hello, dear Russian learners! I present you some survival vocabulary for making phone calls and words and phrases regarding cell phones. These are natural and colloquial phrases which are used very widely, and most of them are not covered in the textbooks. They help you sound natural when you are talking about your phone needs!


Do you remember how to say that you are out of credit, or ask somebody to charge your phone? What is the Russian for SMS? Or if your Russian mate tells you that their phone has “sat down”--what does that mean?


Well, all the answers are here!


The first word in the phone conversation


Алло! - …….


This is the special word used to start a phone call. I think you've noticed a similarity between "hello" and "Алло". You are right! "Алло" originated from "hello" but the meaning changed, and it doesn't mean “hello” anymore. People use this word only to give a sign that they are on the line and to make sure that they hear each other well.




  • Это я -It's me”


Yes. It may be confusing when somebody is calling you, expecting that you'll recognize him or her only by their voice. Thank God all phones identify the caller by the number and you can know who is calling you.


  • Это + your name - “It's [your name]”


People in Russia never use the phrase “Here's …..”, Здесь есть ….. to represent themselves in SMS or calls. That sounds completely weird, because we tend to understand it literally. If you say this it will mean that you are some kind of a virus or bug which is right inside the phone… but of course, even if you say it, nobody will crack their phone open to take you out.


Just say Это + your name. In a formal situation, you can add your second name, position and where you are calling from.


For example:


Алло! Добрый день! Это Джон из языковой школы.
(Good afternoon, this is John from the language school.)


Asking for a person


  • Могу я поговорить с Наташей (Can I speak with Natasha”)


Don't forget to put the name in the instrumental case. In order to do so just add the ending [-eй,-ой] for women and [ -ом,-ем] for men. For example: с Марией, с Иваном, с Виктором, с Биллом Клинтоном, с Ангелой Меркель.


  • Можно мне Наташу? (“Could you put Natasha on the phone for me?”)


Here, the meaning is the same, but the ending is different. Use the rule for the accusative case. In short, put the [-у-ю] ending for women and [-a-я] for men. For example: Марию, Ивана, женщину-кошку, Питера Паркера.

How to talk about phone calls


  • Говорить по телефону (To talk on the phone)
  • Позвони мне вечером (“Call me this evening!”) (informal)
  • Набери меня (“Dial me!”) (informal)
    • This is a short version of "Набери мой номер”, which we can directly translate as "Dial my number". This phrase sounds too long, so "номер" got lost. You can use this phrase as a synonym of "позвони мне"
  • Не мог до тебя дозвониться (“I couldn't reach you”). (informal, masc)
  • Твой телефон звонит (“Your phone is ringing.”) (informal)
  • Созвонимся! (“Let's call each other!”) (informal)
  • Пропущенный звонок (missed call) (informal)
  • Входящий вызов (incoming call)
  • Исходящий вызов (outcoming call)
  • Позвони мне на сотовый (“Call me on the cell phone.”) (informal)
  • Перезвони когда сможешь! (“Call me back when you can.”) (informal)
  • Говорить по телефону (to talk on the phone)
  • Ответить на звонок (to answer a call)
  • Занято (it's busy)
  • Висеть на телефоне (“Hang on the telephone.”) (informal)



You name it - “cell phone” in Russian


  • Сотовый телефон (“cell phone”)
  • Cотовый (“cell phone”)
  • Телефон (“telephone”, “phone”)
  • Мобильник or мобильный (“mobile”)


When the connection is not good


  • Я плохо тебя слышу (“I can't hear you well”)
  • Связь очень плохая (“The connection is very bad”)
  • Ты пропадаешь. (“I'm losing you”)
    • Literally, this phrase is translated as "you are disappearing", but, of course, nobody disappears. It means that the connection is not stable, and some words or parts of words are lost.
  • Пожалуйста, повтори еще раз (“Please, can you repeat?”)




  • Эсэмеска (SMS)
  • Вышли мне адрес эсэмской (“Text me the address” (send me the address by sms))
  • Отправь мне сообщение (“Text me”)


To quit a conversation


This word is still widely used in some phrases whether we speak about cell phone or landline.


  • Положить трубку. (Hang up)
  • Бросить трубку. (Hang up aggressively)
  • Трубка (handset)




We all hate it, but sometimes you can't reach the person you are calling and instead you just hear the recorded voice which tells you something again and again, and you can't ask it what the problem is. Let's try to decode this robo-talking.


  • У вас недостаточно денег для звонка (“You don't have enough money for calling”)
  • Абонент временно недоступен (“The subscriber is temporarily out of reach”)
  • Абонент разговаривает (“The subscriber is talking”)
  • Линия занята, попробуйте позвонить позже (“The line is busy, try to call later”)
  • Оставьте сообщение после звукового сигнала (“Leave a message after the beep”)


How to speak about balance


  • У меня кончились деньги на телефоне (“I ran out of money on my phone”)
  • Положить деньги на телефон (“put money on a phone”)
  • Положи мне, пожалуйста, 200 рублей на телефон (“Please, put 200 rubles to my phone” (You can ask somebody to do this.))
  • Где здесь можно положить деньги на телефон? (“Where can I put some money to phone around?”)
  • Пополнить баланс (replenish your balance (formal))
  • Проверить баланс (check your balance)


When you buy a new SIM card, you can see the USSD code on the pack. Dial it and you will know exactly how much money you have on your phone balance. If you don't want to read you can always ask the seller.


  • Как проверить баланс? (“How do I check my balance?”)


How to speak about charging


  • У меня сел телефон. (“My phone is down”)
  • Телефон садится (“phone is almost dead”)
  • Мне надо зарядить телефон (“I need to charge my phone”)
  • Зарядник (charger (informal))
  • Зарядное устройство (charger (formal))
  • Поставить телефон на зарядку (to put a phone on charge)


Before saying goodbye!


  • Ну ладно, давай. До встречи! (“Well, okay then. See you!”)


In most cases, “давай” means “come on”, or “give”. But in the phone conversation it means "let's say goodbye and finish the call"


It's time for me to say to you: До свидания!


That is all. I hope this helped you and you found it interesting. If you are going to Russia for travelling or working, now you can handle all your phone needs yourself.


Please leave your feedback. I would be very glad to know your opinion.


Anna Bibikova


Image Sources


Hero image by Garry Knight (CC BY 2.0)