Forms of address to a person in the Russian etiquette

According to etiquette, it is customary to distinguish between two basic and most common forms of address to a person in our country.

Official address

In the modern Russian language, there is no generally accepted address to a man and woman like in the West or East (Mister, Miss, Madam, Hanim Efendi, etc.).

  • If we know initials, then the official form is a name and middle name of a person (sometimes it can be observed with an addition of a surname). Also the plural pronoun «ВЫ [VY]-YOU» is used in a dialogue:

- Иван Сергеевич, вы уже подготовили документы к нашей декабрьской конференции? [Iván Sirgéivich, vy uzhé padgatóvili dakuménty k náshij dikábr′skaj kanfiréntsii?] – Ivan Sergeyevich, have you already prepared documents for our December conference?

! This applies to both familiar and unfamiliar persons:

Нашим лектором по истории России 20 века будет профессор Иванова Мария Петровна. [Náshim léktaram pa istórii Rasíi dvadtsátava véka búdit prafésar Ivanóva Maríya Pitróvna.] – Our lector of Russian history of 20th century will be Ivanova Maria Petrovna.

  • Semi-official form allows using of only name:

- Никита, как вы думаете, пьесу Чехова «Три сестры» в этом сезоне ждёт такой же успех? [Nikíta, kak vy dúmayiti, p′yésu Chékhova «Tri sistrý» v étam sizóni zhdyót takój zhi uspékh?] – Nikita, how do you think, the play «Three sisters» by Chekhov is waiting for the same success in this season?

  • If we don’t know a person, then most common words in the beginning of a talk are:

«мужчина [muschína] – man» (middle age and older), «молодой человек [maladój chilavék ] – young man» or парень [párin′] - fellow (early years), «мальчик [mál′chik] - boy» (child);

«женщина [zhén′schina] - woman» (middle age and older), «девушка [dévushka] – young girl» (early years), «девочка [dévachka] - girl» (child).

- Молодой человек, вы знаете, есть ли рядом почтовое отделение? [Maladój chilavék, vy znáiti, yest′ li ryádam pachtóvaye atdiléniye?] – Fellow, do you know whether there is a post office nearby?

! In addition, it is possible a nameless address, when we don’t we’ll communicate with in advance (for example, messages in messengers, phone calls to call-centres or emails to support team on websites). In this case, it is enough to politely say ‘Hello’ and go directly to the reason of your request:

- Добрый день! Скажите, пожалуйста, есть ли в наличии данная модель смартфона? Я не могу найти её в поиске у вас на сайте. [Dóbryj den′! Skazhíti, pazhálusta, yest′ li v nalíchii dánaya madél′smartfóna? Ya ni magú najtí yeyó v póiski u vas na sájti.] – Good afternoon! Could you, please, say the availability of this smartphone model? I can’t find it in search on your website.

Informal address

If to talk about informal form of address, it is necessary to divide it into a living dialogue and communication in the Internet and messengers. In all the examples below, is mainly used the personal singular pronoun «ТЫ [TY] – you», more rarely «ВЫ [VY] – YOU.

  • A personal conversation might start with a person by his/her name, with addition family ties, or without name at all. The last option is possible when two people talk to each other or it is clear to whom the question is addressed:

- Тётя Аня, мы приедем к тебе в гости на школьные каникулы. [Tyótya Ánya, my priyédim k tibé v gósti na shkól′nyye kaníkuly.] – Aunt Anya, we are going to visit you on school holidays.

- Дядя Саша, вы хотите ещё кофе? [Dyádya Sásha, vy khatíti yeschyó kófe?] – Uncle Sasha, would you like more coffee?

- Может отметим два дня рождения в один день? Поднимите руки, кому нравится эта идея. [Mózhit atmétim dva dnya razhdéniya v adín den′? Padnimíti rúki kamú nrávitsa éta idéya.] – Maybe will celebrate birthday party at the same day? Raise your hands who likes this idea.

  • In a correspondence in social networks or messengers, is used, as a rule, a short form, without reference by name to go directly to the topic of conversation. The pronoun «ТЫ [TY] – you» is also more common:

- Привет! Как насчёт встречи на этих выходных? [Privét! Kak naschyót vstréchi na étikh vykhadnýkh?] – Hi! How about meeting this weekend?

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