What is the right way to express sadness in Russian? I often hear the expression мне грустно, which is formed with an adverb if I'm not mistaken. Recently I also heard about the verb грустить and its first person singular я грущу, which in my opinion could also be used to express sadness. Is this form more often used in sentences and not in fixed expressions? Then there's also a third form, я гру́стен. I've never really heard anyone using this expression, but theoretically it's a short form adjective and these are normally used for expressing current moods.

I appreciate all your answers, thank you for helping.


4 Answers 4


I would recommend you to explore the meanings of the words "печаль" and "тоска". Е.g., "Обуяла меня печаль, одолела меня тоска."

Also of use are the verbs "печалиться" and "тосковать".

When the reason is known or implied, you can say "опечален". Е.g., "опечален я Вашим поведением, сударыня".

It can also be said: "эти события повергают меня в тоску"

Another pertinent saying is: "тяжёлые мысли". E.g., "Уже который день он ходил, погружённый в тяжёлые мысли." (Оn this special occasion, "который" = "не первый".)

Besides, you can say: "тяжко на душе", "тяжело на душе", "муторно на душе" (the latter saying being a bit more conversational).

  • 2
    Finally, I cannot help from citing Pushkin's "Грусть-тоска меня съедает." Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 1:03

While мне грустно neutrally expresses your state (I'm sad), я грущу means you are in a process of “being sad”.

As for me, я грущу sounds like a whim or an irony (like, “don't bother me now; I'm sadding for a short time, but then I'll be available for others”). So it should not be used.


The verb as opposed to the adverb seems more often than not to appear accompanied by an object appended with the prepositions по (which governs either Dative or Prepositional cases) or o/об (which governs Prepositional case) - грустить (п)о ком/чём-л. | по кому/чему-л.


You are right: 'мне грустно' is the most common case. Look at the word in different parts of speech (verb,adjective,adverb). Just compare the variants:

What are you doing? Request for action. Mostly used when speaking about someone else (using that for yourself is not very appropriate, it usually makes you looking lazy/weak - so speak about yourself in such way only with close friends):

Я грущу = I am feeling sad [now]

По-моему, он о чём-то грустит = I think he is sad about something

What person are you? What person are you now? Request for description. Obviously, you should not say about yourself in a such negative way:

Я грустен/Я грустный = I am sad [I am a sad person]

But in Russian it is assumed that sadness will pass somewhen. It is something that distracts you from your friends and your work only now. Sadness in this meaning is some kind of external phenomenon:

Мне грустно = I feel sadness

You will completely understand it if you look at sadness like at other externals (like 'it is rainy', 'it is snowing'):

Мне холодно = It is cold for me (I feel cold)

Мне противно = It is distasteful for me (I feel distastefulness)

Мне хорошо = It is good for me (I feel good)

Мне тяжело = It is hard for me

Regarding other expressions of sadness, I can suggest other common 'sad' expressions (same can be said about drugs):

Меня не отпускает грусть = The sadness doesn't release me

Меня внезапно накрыла печаль = The sadness has suddenly covered me

  • You can also understand this as omitting the word 'feel', because you underline not that you feel, but the feeling itself. This will be similar to my other answer, but I could not imagine good examples for sadness: russian.stackexchange.com/a/18344/11107
    – Makaleks
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 22:43

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