Two “health” phrases: За здоровье! vs На здоровье!

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In Russian there are 2 “health” phrases which sound quite similar but have different meaning: “За здоровье!” and “На здоровье!”. Have you already heard or used any of them? In which situation? 🙂



If you are not quite sure about correct usage of these phrases let us explain it in more details.


So first let’s take a look and remember the grammar rule in these phrases. The word здоровье (health) is the direct object after prepositions “за” and “на” and is put in the Accusative case, so no change for a neuter Noun.


And now to better understand the context usage of “За здоровье!” and “На здоровье!” let’s consider two situations.



Situation #1


Your Russian speaking friends and you are having fun at a birthday party. It’s time to raise your glasses and you feel you are ready to say a toast in Russian. Your toast will be a very short but popular and widely used by Russian natives.


You suggest to raise your glasses glorying and wishing a good health to everyone and you say cheerfully – “За здоровье!”, which is literally translated “For health!” (EN equivalent – “Cheers!”) Your friends are very impressed with your Russian and repeat in reply: “За здоровье!”



In case you would like to specify the person or people whose health you glory, you can use a possessive Pronoun and agree it with a neuter form of the Noun “здоровье”: наше, ваше, твоё:


– За твоё здоровье! For your health (informal)
– За ваше здоровье! For your health! (formal)
– За наше здоровье! For our health!


Alternatively you can mention the name or the status, specifying the recipient of your toast. In this structure the Genitive case (“of” case) will work:
– За здоровье Андрея! For the health of Andrey!
– За здоровье вашей дочери! For the health of your daughter!
Resume: the phrase “За здоровье!” is used to say a toast, glorying and wishing a good health.

Situation #2

You’ve just finished a very delicious dinner at your friends place. You enjoyed it very much and thank the owners in Russian: “Спасибо большое, было очень вкусно!”. In this situation owners can reply you “На здоровье!” which is translated “To your health!” instead of a common “Пожалуйста!” (You are welcome!)
Similarly e.g. if you bought fresh fruits and veggies at the market and thank the seller with a word “Спасибо!”, he or she can also reply to you “На здоровье!” instead of “Пожалуйста!”
So let’s summarise: the phrase “За здоровье!” is used as a reply to “Спасибо!” for any kind of food or drink.
We hope that now you clarified the usage of the Russian phrases “За здоровье!” and “На здоровье!” and will use it correctly in the future.
If this material was useful for you please rate and share it. And we wish you outstanding results in learning Russian!

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