When do Russians use the word давай?
A few examples on when to use one of the most popular Russian words
Russians use the word давай when they want to do something together, when they agree with each other, when they say goodbye and even when they drink alcohol. It is quite confusing, isn’t it? It seems that now it is a high time to go through some examples and to get rid of this mess in your head.
First of all, we say дай/давай as an Imperative, in the meaning of giving something
- Дай мне мой телефон, пожалуйста. Give me my phone, please.
- Давай мне деньги, и я заплачу за билет на поезд. Give me money and I will pay for the train ticket.
If you meet your friends and you want to say goodbye, you will definitely say пока, до свидания or давай(те)
- Давай, до завтра! See you tomorrow!
- Давай, скоро увидимся! See you soon!
- Давай, пока! Bye!
There is also possible to use давай in the phone call, when you want to finish the conversation. It is implied that a person says давай (закончим), I would like to finish it: “Ну всё, мне пора идти, давай. Well, it’s time to go. Bye!” or “Мой сын спит, не могу говорить. Давай. My son is sleeping, I can’t talk now. Bye!”
Давай can be said in the meaning of let’s when you offer to do something together. After давай an infinitive in perfective or imperfective form should follow:
Давай сходим в кино! Let’s go to the cinema! Давай делать домашнюю работу вместе? Would you like to do the homework together?
Давай сначала приготовим ужин, а потом пригласим гостей. Let’s cook a dinner first and then invite guests.
Давай поженимся! Let’s get married! (This is a title of one Russian famous TV show)
If you are a football/basketball/volleyball/biathlon/tennis fan (underline as applicable), you can cheer your favorite team or a sportsman shouting давай-давай! It means that you want to support someone or encourage to perform better. Perhaps, the best example is the song which is usually sung by the Russian spectators in the Olympic Games:
It is possible to encourage people in everyday situations as well
- Давай иди уже. You go now. (Used for annoying people who don’t want to go)
- Давай чисти зубы и ложись спать. Brush your teeth and go to bed
The best illustration of how it works can be found in “Shrek Forever After” where >the fat kid tries to make Shrek to do the roar. In the Russian version he says давай рычи! and it is driving Shrek crazy! After winning a game you may want to celebrate it in the bar — and use давай again! Yes, Russians also can propose a toast saying this word although it is not really common because we usually prefer to drink to love, to health, to the host of the party etc.
Besides, you can express your agreement, to response to the offer in the affirmative with давай:
— Поедем в Россию этим летом? Let’s visit Russia this summer?
– Давай! Sure!
— Отправить тебе ссылку на смешное видео? Do you want me to send you a link with a funny video?
– Давай! Yes!
There are also some expressions which are useful to know, for instance when you want to describe someone’s age:
— Как ты думаешь, сколько ему лет? How old do you think he is?
— Я бы дала ему лет пятьдесят. I would say fifty years.
— Ты что! Ему всего лишь тридцать! You must be kidding! He is only thirty!
From time to time you can be asked to lend money, so in Russian it is called давать в долг – “Никогда не давай в долг друзьям! Never lend friends money!”
I hope now it is clear for you how to distinct and use the word ДАВАЙ in your speech. Ну давайте, до встречи!