Let's say your friend got a new job, but the first week was awful. What would the right word for encouraging your friend to not quit the job immediately, but to go on.

Some possibilities seem to be

  • воодушевлять
  • вдохновлять
  • ободрять
  • подбодрять
  • поощрять
  • ... давать смелость, вселять мужество, придавать бодрости, внушать бодрость

But I cannot figure out which of these are really commonly used, e. g. I was told поощрять you'd say to a child only. I also think that развеселить is inept, as it's more like amuse with the aim of changing ones (superficial) mood.

So what is the word to choose and how can those given words be used?

  • 1
    Приободрить would be one more appropriate word that has not been mentioned so far Jun 7, 2014 at 16:50
  • Perhaps there is an ambiguity in the question. Whether you like to describe the process of encouraging (я пробую вдохновить его) or word to the friend (cheer up!)?
    – Putnik
    Jun 10, 2014 at 9:32
  • @putnik It's about the first one, I think. It just shouldn't be a formal term/phrase which would sound strange when used in speech.
    – user3538
    Jun 10, 2014 at 9:49
  • @embert My choice is поддержать/подбодрять.
    – Putnik
    Jun 10, 2014 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


In this case we would use ободрять-ободрить or подбодрять-подбодрить. Вселять-вселить мужество, придавать-придать бодрости and внушать-внушить бодрость are all synonyms of ободрять, but are not commonly used, I would say they are quite bookish.

I have never heard of the expression давать смелость.

We use the verb ободрять-ободрить when we want to encourage a person because he (she) is in a bad mood or something bad happened. Подбодрять-подбодрить means "encourage a little bit".

  • Я ободрил друга, сказав ему, что это временные трудности.

    Она приободрила сына и сказала: "Ничего, в следующем году экзамены сдашь, не беда!".

Поощрять-поощрить is used when we give smth to a person (not only a child) if he (she) did something which was good (correct). It can be translated into English as "reward" or "praise"

  • Режиссёр поощрял оригинальные идеи артистов.

Воодушевлять-воодушевить means "to inspire smb to do smth", "fill with enthusiasm", "inspirit". It is used with the preposition на and the Accusative case.

  • Рассказ воодушевил художника на создание полотна.

Вдохновлять-вдохновить means "to inspire smb to do smth". It is a synonym of воодушевлять-воодушевить, but is normally used with artistic or scientific work.

  • Паук-акробат вдохновил учёных на создание робота.
  • поощрять и материально поощрять это не одно и тоже )
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 11, 2014 at 20:29

In the described situation I can think of one commonly used word: поддержать

All other listed words are more formal in this case (maybe, except подбодрять).

Please note you hardly can say "я поддерживаю тебя" when you are speaking to the friend with tricky job but absolutely can "я поддержал его" when you're relating the story to someone else.

  • So я хотел подбодрить тебя не вешать голову. or Я подбодрил его укрепляющими словами is possible? Or you'd hardly hear somebody say so? Any common non-formal words which one can use?
    – user3538
    Jun 9, 2014 at 19:29
  • 1
    Something like "я хотел подбодрить тебя чтобы ты не вешал нос/не опускал руки" (I'm not sure that "вешать голову" is widely used in phrases like this) would be totally fine, second one is almost OK, except that we don't say "укрепляющие слова", you can say something like "приободряющие слова", but "подбодрил приободряющими словами" sounds tautologically.
    – Alissa
    Jun 9, 2014 at 19:43
  • 1
    @embert I'd say я хотел поддержать/подбодрить тебя if I spoke to a friend, but please note you're using Past Tense here. Sure thing you can say я поддерживаю тебя but in sense I agree with your decision not in sense of encourage. Another example is я подбадриваю тебя, чтоб у тебя все получилось but we rather have Present Perfect here :) and this sentence does not contain any encourage itself, just description/explanation. Non-formal may be Я с ним поговорил, и его пропёрло if you want to make an accent on the success of the action.
    – Putnik
    Jun 10, 2014 at 9:24
  • @embert Also you can зажечь идеей/желанием (преодолеть)
    – Putnik
    Jun 10, 2014 at 9:26

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