Before travelling to a new country, it’s always handy to know a few words in the local language. If you’re going to one of the big cities in Romania, you don’t need it, as there are many English speakers around. But as you go away from the touristy places, English is less spoken. That’s why I thought of writing this short article about Romanian phrases you need to know before your travel.
Being polite in Romanian
Speaking of grateful people, we actually have 2 words for saying Thank you in Romanian!
Thank you – Mulțumesc
It’s the best one to use. And if it looks like a long word, some locals find it trendy to say just Mulțu.
Thanks – Mersi
Like in French. It’s used mostly between friends. I personally use it more than the first one, but it’s very casual, some consider it less polite.
Thanks a lot – Mulțumesc mult
Please – Te rog or Vă rog (a more polite phrase, especially when talking to a senior/elder person)
With pleasure/ You’re welcome – Cu plăcere
Yes – Da
No – Nu
Greetings in Romanian
Hello – Bună
Be careful as the same word means “good” (f) and more locally, it can be used to say a girl is good looking. So if a local tells you to start using it in a certain way, it’s more like a joke.
Hello – Salut
This is used more in Transylvania region and it resembles saying Hi in other Latin languages. It’s also easy to pronounce and nobody will misunderstand the meaning.
Bye/ Bye-Bye – Pa/ Pa-Pa
This one is very casual. I personally use it the most, along with a wave or a hug. It’s very common for Romanians to hug and kiss on the cheeks when greeting.
Goodbye – La revedere
It’s a polite way of saying goodbye. Friends don’t use it that much though.
Directions in Romanian
Where is… ? – Unde este …?
Left – Stânga
Right – Dreapta
Straight – Înainte or Tot înainte (keep straight)
Here – Aici
There – Acolo
Close by – Aproape
Wrong – Greșit
Asking for directions may be easier than other questions because Romanians like to use their hands when explaining. They will probably explain it with wide gestures and you will get the meaning more from it than the actual words.
Buying in Romanian
How much? – Cât costă?
Numbers 1-10 – Unu, doi, trei, patru, cinci, șase, șapte, opt, nouă, zece
I pay by card – Plătesc cu cardul
I pay in cash – Plătesc cash (same as English)
Change – Rest
Discount – Reducere
Do you have… ? – Ai / Aveți (more polite)… ?
Store – Magazin
The local currency is leu (lei in plural), which means lion in Romanian. There is a very old explanation of how the currency got its name, something related to a trader back in the Middle Ages. If I remember the story, I’ll add it. But no, there are no lions in Romania 🙂
Spoken Romanian is almost identical with written Romanian. There are a few reading rules and special sounds that makes it a bit more challenging. But hey, that’s the joy of learning new words!
ă – similar to English a in “an” (article)
â (written also î, but same sound) – similar to English e in “ew”, but try to make the e a longer a
If you master these 2 vowels, the rest is easy pie!
No, I’m joking. But don’t worry, if you pronounce them as simple a, people will still understand you.
ș – sh – as in “sheep”
ț – tz – as in “tzatziki” sauce. If you don’t know it, a Greek restaurant will definitely help.
ce – tche – as in “Che Guevara”. This reminds me of my trip in Cuba.
There are a few more others, but this should be enough for the first trip.
Are you ready for the trip? If you are in London, you can practice your newly learnt Romanian phrases at one of the Romanian restaurants here.