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Traveling in Romania is doable without learning Romanian, but it will help you (and gain you points with the locals) if you learn a few basic Romanian phrases. It’s polite to try, even if you can’t pronounce everything just right. No matter where you are going in Transylvania (or all of Romania), you’ll find these basic Romanian phrases super-helpful with day-to-day interactions.
The Romanian language is, at the same time, straightforward and complicated. There are a few additional letters to the English alphabet that have pronunciation that most English speakers would have to acclimate to.
The vowel combinations in words are pronounced as each letter put together quickly. For example, the ‘oa‘ in the word ‘noapte‘ (night) sounds like the ‘o’ sound plus ‘a‘ sound (‘a‘ as in ‘father‘). When you say these letters together quickly when speaking, it sounds like ‘wa‘, making the word ‘noapte‘ sound like ‘n’wap-tay‘.
|ă||‘a‘ as in ‘about‘ (uh)|
|â / î||There is no equivalent sound in English. It is similar to a forceful ‘uh‘ – listen to this clip of the word România to get a feel for the sound. Both â and î make the same sound – which letter is used depends on where it is in the word.|
|ș||‘sh‘ as in ‘shirt‘|
|ț||‘ts‘ or ‘zz‘ as in ‘pizza‘|
For more information on Romanian pronunciation, check out Romanian Hub videos on You Tube.
basic romanian travel phrases
Whether you’re greeting or meeting people, passing people in the street or at a shop, or simply trying to be polite, learning these basic Romanian phrases will ensure you are regarded as someone with manners by the locals.
Acknowledge shopkeepers and people you pass in the apartment or hotel, always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – basic manners will get you far in Transylvania!
|Yes / No||Da / Nu (noo)|
|Hi (informal)||Bună (boon-uh) / Salut (sa-loot)|
|Hello (formal)||Bună ziua (boon-uh zee-wah) / Sănătate (suh-nuh-tah-tay)|
|Thank you||Mulțumesc (moolt-soo-mesk)|
|You’re welcome||Cu plăcere|
|Please||Vă rog (vuh-rog) / Te rog|
|Nice to meet you||Încântat de cunoștință (un-cun-tat day coo-nosh-teen-tsuh)|
|What is your name?||Cum te cheamă? (coom tay ch’yam-uh)|
|I am…||Eu sunt (eu soont)|
|Good morning||Bună dimineața (dee-mee-n’yat-sah)|
|Good evening||Bună seara|
|Good night||Noapte bună (n’wap-tay boon-uh)|
|Have a good day||O zi bună|
|I don’t understand||Nu înțeleg (noo un-tsay-leg)|
|Do you speak English?||Vorbiți engleza? (vor-beets)|
|I don’t know||Nu știu (noo shtee-oo)|
|Can you help me?||Mă puteți ajuta?|
When traveling between Transylvanian cities or towns, these are some useful and basic Romanian phrases and words to assist you on your journey.
While most people under 45 speak a good level of English in Transylvania, oftentimes the people working the ticket counters at train and bus stations are much older, with limited English. It’s useful to familiarize yourself with these common transportation phrases ahead of time.
|A ticket||Un bilet|
|What time is the last train?||La ce oră e ultimul tren?|
|Where is the bus stop?||Unde este stația de autobuz?|
|Where are the ticket machines?||Unde sunt automatele de bilete?|
|Luggage pickup||Ridicarea bagajelor|
|Boarding pass||Bilet de îmbarcare|
|Wrong boarding gate||Poartă de îmbarcare greşită|
|Delayed flight||Zbor întârziat|
|The flight is cancelled||Zborul este anulat|
In the days of Google Maps and other GPS navigation systems, it’s less common to ask strangers on the street for directions. Still, knowing basic directional vocabulary words could help you in a potentially sticky situation! Here are your basic Romanian phrases for getting directions or when you find yourself lost.
|At the intersection, turn left||După intersecție, ia-o la stânga|
|Where is…||Unde este / Unde e…|
|I’m lost||Sunt pierdut|
One phrase I thought I’d need for sure was ‘Can I try this on?’ – turns out, you don’t usually ask to try clothes on in Romanian stores, you can just go into the dressing room. Still, I always ask just to be on the safe side.
If you find yourself in a small town shop, it’s best to check beforehand whether or not they accept credit cards. These basic Romanian shopping phrases are helpful if you find yourself with lost luggage and need to do some impromptu clothes shopping!
|Can I pay with credit card?||Pot să plătesc cu cardul de credit?|
|I don’t have the receipt.||Nu mai am bonul fiscal.|
|How much does it cost?||Cât costă?|
|Closed for lunch||Închis pentru prânz|
|I’ll buy it||Îl cumpăr|
|I’m just looking||Doar mă uit|
|Can I try it on?||Pot să-l încerc?|
And finally, the most useful, basic Romanian phrases – those needed to go out to eat at a restaurant! In more tourist-oriented areas, your server will likely speak English. Still, it’s good to have these as back-up.
|Could I see the menu please?||Pot să văd meniul vă rog?|
|I would like…||Vreau…|
|Check||Notă de plată|
|A dry (red/white) wine||Un vin (roşu/alb) sec|
|A sweet (red/white) wine||Un vin (roşu/alb) dulce|
|A beer||O bere|
|Do you accept credit cards?||Acceptați plăți cu cardul de credit?|
|Do you have vegetarian meals?||Aveți și meniu pentru vegetarieni?|
|I’m allergic to…||Sunt alergic la…|
|(Sparkling/still) water||O apă (minerală/plată)|
|A coffee/tea||O cafea/ceai|