I already speak a fair bit of Russian.

In a classroom where I often study, I once wrote «покой» on the blackboard. When I came back on another day, someone had completed what I had written on the board with «нам только снится» :) ^^ And I wanted to write «really?», but in Russian, obviously. But I don’t know what word I should choose exactly in this context!

I can't seem to understand what word I should use to translate «really?» (as a reaction to something someone just said): правда? действительно? or even another word? I remember a friend of mine using «вообще» in this case, but when I try to translate it, I get quite a different meaning from what I'm looking for. What would a native say? (Please warn me if you suggest slang words! ;) :) )

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    Hi and welcome to Russian.SE! Words, especially abstract ones, are best translated within context. Could you please provide an English phrase using "really", or, better yet, a Russian phrase with a gap to fill with an equivalent of English "really"? This way, we could leave the guesswork out and provide a much better answer. Thanks!
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 16:22
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    Правда? or В самом деле?
    – markvs
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 17:13
  • By « покой», I wanted to mean « peace ». I wrote it on an late evening and I was very tired, all was very silent, so I wrote « покой» )
    – AAS98
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 0:35
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    With "really" did you mean something more like "could you come up with something more entertaining" thus translation could be along the lines "Скучно!" ( similar to one writing "fish" after "If you give a man a ") or you actually did not know the phrase and wanted to express more of a disagreement/surprise (which is what answers so far suggest)? Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 2:01
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    The phrase word "Really?" has different meanings: 1. Expression of surprise. 2. Neutral word, just showing, that you are paying attention to what is being said. 3. (Mentioned by A.L.) expression of disinterest. Which do you need?
    – Gangnus
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 16:20

8 Answers 8


There are many phrases that can be used in a situation like this. Some of them include:

  • Правда? or Чё, правда? (Mostly used if you indeed question the truthfulness of what you've heard; the latter is more slangy.)
  • Разве? (If you suspect that what you've heard isn't true.)
  • Неужели? (A bit stronger that "Разве", in certain contexts can be considered a bit rude.)
  • Да ты что! or Да ну?! (To indicate surprise.)
  • Не может быть! (Also to indicate surprise, but with a bit of skepticism thrown in.)
  • Серьёзно? (Also expresses both surprise and skepticism, rather informal.)
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    Thank you very much!! As requested I will explain why I need this for. In a classroom where I often study, I once wrote « покой» on the blackboard. When I came back on another day, someone had completed what I had written on the board with « нам только снится» :) ^^ And I wanted to write « ([really]?) », but in russian obviously. But I don’t know which word I should chose exactly in this context! From the answer which was kindly posted, I would pick « разве?» up 🧐
    – AAS98
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 16:39
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    @AAS98 What did you mean to say by writing «покой»? 'Silence'? If so, it's «ТИХО!» or, more formally, «Сохраняйте тишину». «Покой» means 'rest'. Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 19:16
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    + "Действительно?" + "Реально?" Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 23:55
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    Серьёзно is actually a loanword from French and works just like it does in English or French (sérieuxment?! or seriously?!)
    – J...
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 15:47
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    Да ну is more like "come on!" Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 13:06

What would a native say?

"И пусть ничто не потревожит сны."

Explanation: "Покой нам только снится" is 2nd sentence of Brodsky's poem "И вечный бой…" Proposed answer is 3rd sentence of the same poem.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 3:41
  • 7
    Actually, Brodsky borrowed the phrase from Blok: "И вечный бой! Покой нам только снится Сквозь кровь и пыль… Летит, летит степная кобылица И мнет ковыль… " culture.ru/poems/275/na-pole-kulikovom But anyway, while "Покой нам только снится" is a well-known idiom, few people know where it's from and whether it's a part of any poem at all Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 12:12
  • How's it related to the question? Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 14:23
  • More information would be great - at least a tranalstion of the Russian portions for those who can't make it out.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 14:16
  • Combining with Sergey Slepov's advice to replace "Покой" with "Сохраняйте тишину!", that would be quite funny. Покой... нам только снится... И пусть ничто не потревожит сны. Сохраняйте тишину!
    – il--ya
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 12:13

It might be a word 'В натуре?'.

  • It would help to clarify what you mean by "really?". Literally it means, "in truth? In reality?" but it's come to have a subtle sarcastic implication meaning more like, "You're joking right?", or more accurately, "You can't be serious". It's actually hard to pin down the meaning, which gives it it's magic. Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 18:59

You can say "Реально?" if you want to sound informal.


A neat variant I don't see in other answers is "Да ладно?", it indicates surprize (sometimes sarcastically) just like "Да ну?" but seems more frequent among Millenials


"Правда?" — a skeptical question, means you're not sure if the statement/fact is true.

"Действительно?" — less skeptical. Can be (sometimes) used in more formal speech.

"Вы уверены?" — kind of a formal phrase. Can be used when you're asking someone formally, or asking a group of people. It's more suitable for when you're told something weird, you're not at all sure, and you're asking someone if they're sure of what they're saying.

"Точно?" — easier to pronounce, a bit shorter, very similar to the first two.

"Серьёзно?" — informal, use only when talking to a friend. Usually pronounced with a heavy stress on the letter ё. Better suited for when you're really surprised by a fact/statement.

Those are the main ones. Hope they help. Of course, the Russian language is very rich in words, but you don't need to know them all. =)


В натуре?

WARNING: Very slang and rough. Your Russian friends'll crack up that you even know this expression 😂 It's basically prison talk, and they'll invariably tell you not to use it. However, it's good to know in case you come across it in a movie or chatroom, for example.


You can use "Точно?" or "Действительно?"

And if your classmates are in IT, you can definitely use "O'Rly" despite the fact it isn't Cyrillic. It belongs to nerd culture: https://lurkmore.to/O_RLY%3F

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    O'Rly is NOT Russian, it's English, it's a part of nerdy culture 'cause "nerds" use many English slang in Russian. Commented Nov 17, 2021 at 13:07

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