Russian Alphabet And How To Pronounce It

Posted by Mike Schuck

Let’s start with some basic information about the Russian language, its alphabet, and how to pronounce it!

First of all, the Russian language is spoken in Russia as well as many other countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. It is also the second most common native language in the world. There are around 200 million people who speak the language, making it one of the largest languages in terms of number of speakers.

The way Russians write their own language varies slightly from region to region and even city to city within a given area. This makes it difficult for non-native readers to identify the correct spelling or pronunciation sometimes.

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Luckily, there isn’t much variation when it comes to the vowels and consonants used to create words. That means we can learn the basics of the Russian alphabet and phonetics pretty easily.

How to pronounce Russian letters

russian alphabet and how to pronounce

Let’s look at some examples! The most common letter is of course the one we already learned about, which is а (pronounced like the English word “arm”).

The next one you will learn how to say is ч (chi), which sounds something like the Scottish pronunciation of the word chat or the Welsh word chwythir.

Next we have с (sa), which has several different sounds depending on where it occurs in the sentence. It can be pronounced more like the German s-like for example, or the French espece like the word species.

Then there is the very popular set of characters called л (la) that looks like an l with a line through it. This sound is unique to native Russians and does not exist anywhere else in the world!

Lastly, we have у (u) that sounds kind of like the English y but with a soft g instead of a hard d. Make sure when saying this sound to slightly push your tongue up as it comes out.

Examples of how to pronounce Russian words

The way to learn any language is by learning its alphabet first! This seems like a simple statement, but it can get pretty tricky when you do not have the tools to look up your vocabulary.

Luckily, there are many ways to be organized about this and sources abound- some free, others costed. One of the most common routes is looking at the Latin alphabet and figuring out which letter corresponds to each syllable in a word.

Words that start with the letter ‘В’

russian alphabet and how to pronounce

The next group of letters in the russian alphabet are в-. These letters look like an apostrophe, but is not one. They are called interlinear forms or word fragments.

Words which begin with this letter include:

вы (vye) – second person singular pronoun

(vy) – second person plural pronoun

(vyragya) - noun form of яркость, brightness

- noun form of, brightness година (yodina) – month name

– month name амбулаторчик (ambutalaktic) – device for measuring glucose levels in blood

(glucose levels in blood медицинский (meditsny) – medical

– medical etc.

Words that start with the letter ‘И’

russian alphabet and how to pronounce

The next group of letters in the Cyrillic alphabet are called i-mutes, or mute letters. These eight letters do not have any pronounced sound when used as a word by themselves but they play an important role in giving consistency to other sounds.

The most common of these is й (or sometimes і), which you may already be familiar with if you learned English or French before here! It looks like this: [je]. This letter connects to another letter just like а does through its drooping stem. In this case, it drops down after м and becomes е (/e).

So, a sentence using only е would look like this: He was very happy. Because there is no vowel sound attached to it, the ear can focus more on the rest of the words.

Words that start with the letter ‘К’

russian alphabet and how to pronounce

The next word you will learn in this series is the most common starting letter of the Russian alphabet, к.

Most people are not familiar with how to say this very popular letter in Russian! There are several ways to pronounce it depending on what position it is in, who is saying it, and where it is being said.

This article will teach you how to properly pronounce the letter к in all situations using the standard American pronunciation rules.

Words that start with the letter ‘Л’

russian alphabet and how to pronounce

The next group of letters in the russian alphabet is called the lerngs or long sounds. These are typically longer than one sound, two sounds, or even three sounds!

Some examples of lerngs include the l-sound in language like English word “leaf”, the nr-sound in languages such as Hindi/Urdu where it is similar to the howling noise you make while sleeping, and the ng-sound in some Scandinavian languages.

The trick when learning these sounds is to learn them separately first before being combined into one word.

Words that start with the letter ‘М’

russian alphabet and how to pronounce

The next group of letters is made up of nineteen separate characters, which all begin with the letter м. These are called hard consonants, as they require some sort of resistance in your voice or body to sound them.

The most well-known member of this group is definitely ам (ahm). When you say the word ‘apple’ out loud, you are using the сhoice а (a) for the first syllable and the у (ooh) for the second. This sounds like the English word ‘applause�’ because it is similar to the pronunciation of the final -cuh at the end of the word.

Another famous hard consonant is ч (ch), which sounds something like the Scottish word ‘loch’.

Words that start with the letter ‘Н’

russian alphabet and how to pronounce

The next group of letters in the russian alphabet are н, э, и, о, and г. These six letters can be tricky because you have to know how to pronounce them correctly!

The first two belong to the same category- they both mean sound like the word nose. Therefore, their correct pronunciation is `naʃ`. For example, when saying hello or goodbye, add an extra `n` after these words to make it longer and more formal.

Now let us learn the second longest vowel in the russian language. This will take place in the middle of the three sounds mentioned above. It is the short i sound, which also has several different variations.

We will call this sound as etymologically derived from Latin. To get this sound, say the last part of the previous sentence as poetically as possible. The most straightforward way to say it is `eh-tee-myoong-ly`.

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