Russian Language Blog

Pet Peeves in Russian Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in language

Many of us have turns of phrase in our language that give us rage. In English, some examples would be “irregardless,” “I could care less,” and other things people consider redundant, incorrect, or plain inane. Russian has such phrases, too, so let’s look at what many Russians find infuriating. I’ll use examples from the spoken subcorpus of my favorite National Corpus of Russian. The punctuation will be odd because of the way spoken entries are transcribed. Feel free to add to the list!

1. похо́ду/по хо́ду

По хо́ду (spelled as two separate words) means “in the course of something,” for instance, “по ходу бесе́ды” — in the course of the conversation. По ходу пье́сы is an idiom meaning “as we go along” — “разберёмся по ходу пьесы”. Похо́же is an introductory word meaning “it looks like.” The two expressions must have got(ten) mixed up in vernacular Russian, and some people started saying “походу” to say “похоже.”

– Пре́под сего́дня / по хо́ду / с похме́лья / да и я пе́рвую па́ру проспа́л! [The professor seems to be hungover today, and I slept through my first class, anyway!]

2. име́ет ме́сто быть

According to, there are two different expressions in Russian. Име́ть ме́сто is a literal translation from French and means “to be present.” This is a bookish/formal expression. Име́ет быть means “is scheduled.” The two got blended — initially as a mock “officialese” expression. Now many people use it to say something is present, to the annoyance of countless others.

Поня́тно / что эта тенде́нция в Белору́ссии име́ет ме́сто быть. [It’s clear that this trend is present in Belarus.]

3. До́брого вре́мени су́ток!

Conventional Russian greetings for each time of the day are “до́брое у́тро,” “до́брый день,” and “до́брый ве́чер.” However, with the rise of electronic communications, people are not sure when their message will be read by people in various time zones. This could be why this new greeting literally meaning “[I wish you a] good time of the [24-hour] day.” As linguist Maksim Krongauz (Максим Кронгауз) pointed out, existing greetings are usually in the nominative case, whereas goodbyes and wishes are in the genitive case (for example, “споко́йной но́чи!”). Consequently, saying “Доброе время суток” would be more consistent with the existing norm, but “Доброго времени суток” is much more common.

До́брого вре́мени су́ток, э́то Андре́й из Сама́ры! [Hello, this is Andrey from Samara!]

4. как бы

The primary meaning of как бы is “as if” — Но дед не слы́шал их ти́хого пла́ча, он как бы огло́х (Людмила Петрушевская. Маленькая волшебница) [But the old man couldn’t hear their soft crying as if he had lost hearing]. It is often used in spoken Russian as a filler word, an approximate equivalent of the English “like,” especially by younger people. Many people get annoyed at this usage, but Maksim Krongauz noted that it may aim to soften the message and convey respect for the listener.

Ну / э́то уже́ как бы вопро́с не к нам / а к ним. [This /like/ isn’t a question for us, but for them].

Any other phrases you find annoying? Any expressions you actually find ingenious?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    I don’t know enough about Russian to know what would be irritating. However, on one of my trips to Siberia we were invited to a home for dinner and the man of the house started almost every sentence with “Дело в том, что” Of course I didn’t know what it meant but after I got home I tried to find it in my dictionary of idioms. And I found it. I have noticed it with other speakers as well. To my English speaking friends, I understand that it means: “The thing is that . . . ” and I guess it’s similar to our using “So . . . ” at the beginning of many sentences.
    I’ve noticed that Americans are not starting to object to us starting every sentence with “So . . .”
    Maybe” Дело в том, что” falls into that category for Russians.

    • Maria:

      @Moonyeen Albrecht Moonyen, “дело в том, что” does sound redundant in that it does not actually say anything, unless you are, indeed, offering an explanation for something. It also sounds faux-learned. What I used to hate in high school in Russia is when some students would say “я понял то, что…” followed by something like “он живет в Москве.” There is no need for the “то” in sentences like that!

  2. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    Correction to post above. (I should proof read better!) I meant to say:
    I’ve noticed that Americans are NOW starting to object to us starting every sentence with “So . . . “

  3. Kat:

    In the same vein as “как бы”, the last time I was in Russia (which was, granted, seven years ago) the word that became like nails on a chalkboard to me was “короче”. I lived with a host family, and in the span of 2 months I swear that the 20-year-old daughter used that filler word at least 300 times. I understood it as a filler word similar to American English’s “like”, which I also don’t enjoy; it was clear from listening to her conversations that she didn’t actually use the word to shorten any of her stories — often, after she said it, her tale would go on for another five minutes. I’ve since relaxed my stance on the word, but every now and again I hear it in a non-comparative context, and the hairs on the back of my neck automatically rise. 🙂 Fun post!

    • Maria:

      @Kat Thanks, Kat. Короче certainly was a popular filler 10-15 years ago. Some people still use it a lot, but it’s given way to other fillers like как-то так or как бы.

  4. aljoscha:

    Why don´t you put your stress-signs IN FRONT OF the syllable that is to be stressed like in the IFA system, instead of on top of a consonant. According to you one would have to say da’broje u’tro.

    • Maria:

      @aljoscha Aljoscha,
      The convention in Russian is to put the accent mark directly above the stressed vowel: “В русском языке ударение обозначается знаком «акут» над гласным слога: говори́ть” (source). This is how you would see it in dictionaries or textbooks. You are right, though, if I were to transcribe Russian words using the International Phonetic Alphabet, I would write the word above as [gəvɐˈrʲitʲ].

      Another thing — I used the Unicode combining accent mark in this post, and depending on the font and the browser, it may not display correctly. See more here:

      I am viewing this post in Google Chrome on my desktop. What browser are you using?

  5. Erik M.:

    I’ve always understood иметь место as meaning not “be present,” but “happen” – or rather “take place,” which is probably also a calque of the French “avoir lieu.”

    • Maria:

      @Erik M. Erik, Wiktionary defines иметь место as to exist, to be present, to happen. While “take place” is one of the definitions, to use it in a casual sentence nowadays would sound a bit stilted or bookish.

  6. languagehat:

    A nice example of the ‘exist, be present’ sense from Lermontov: “[Наша публика] еще не знает, что в порядочном обществе и в порядочной книге явная брань не может иметь места.”

  7. anna.mi:

    Hello, Maria!
    I found the link on your post in one of fellow-translators’ blog and I really liked it. For me these pet peeves are a touchy issue, some of them are really irritating (my anti-favourite is “доброго времени суток”).
    Would you mind if I share your post in my blog with some additions into the “pet peeves” list?

    • Maria:

      @anna.mi Anna, thank you for your comment. you are welcome to use this on your blog; please link to this post, so others can join our discussion, too!