Introducing the Cyrillic Alphabet

Wizard Russian’s Alphabet Lesson

 

Congratulations! You have decided to learn the Russian language, and you already deserve a pat on the back. Russian is a very rewarding language to learn. Neatly folded in the confines of a family of Slavic languages which also include, Czech, Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian and several other languages found in Eastern Europe.

 

However, unlike Polish and Slovenian and a fair few others, Russian uses the Cyrillic Alphabet which is different than the Roman Alphabet you are familiar with in English and Western European languages. So, for this first step in learning Russian, allow me to introduce you to the 33 letters that make up the Russian language.

 

Want to sing the alphabet song in Russian? Here are the letters in alphabetical order…

Аа, Бб, Вв, Гг, Дд, Ее, Ёё, Жж, Зз, Ии, Йй, Кк, Лл, Мм, Нн, Оо, Пп, Рр, Сс, Тт, Уу, Фф, Хх, Цц, Чч, Шш, Щщ, Ъъ (hard sign), Ыы, Ьь (soft sign), Ээ, Юю, & Яя.

 

Русский Алфавит

 

Hard Vowels

А – A as in sofA

Э – E as in Echo

Ы – Y-glide makes a sound similar to the word we

О – O in cOld

У – OO in tOOl

 

Soft Vowels

Я – YA

Е – YE as in YEt

И – EE as in lEEk

Ё – YO as in YO– yo

Ю – YU/U as in YOU or Union

 

Consonants

Б – B as in Bank

В – V as in Vote

Г – hard G as in Goat (never, ever pronounced as jee)

Д – D as in Dog

Ж – ZH as in meaSure

З – Z as in Zap

Й – OY as in boY

К – K as in Kayak

Л – L as in Lamp

М – M as in Mat

Н – N as in Nap

П – P as in Puppy

Р – R as in Rat

С – S as in Sun

Т – T as in Tea

Ф – F as in Family

Х – KH as in loCH or German’s iCH (This is a very hard H sound)

Ц – TS as in caTS

Ч – CH as in CHurch

Ш – SH as in SHeep

Щ – SHCH as in freSH CHeese

Ъ – hard sign – not pronounced

Ь – soft sign – not pronounced

 

Pronunciation Guide:  

  • A consonant is hard unless it is followed by a soft vowel (refer to the list above and memorize the soft vowels). A soft Н (N) is pronounced like the N in the word oNion.
  • Only pronounce an O sound if it is stressed. When it is in an unstressed syllable pronounce it like the A in the word sofA. I will mark stress on new words as we learn them, by capitalizing it in the pronunciation brackets – like this; Группа {GrUppa} – Group
  • Consonants become voiceless at the end of words, or before voiced consonants. Memorize these; Б –> П, В –> Ф, Г –> К, Д –> Т, Ж –> Ш, & З –> С.
  • The soft vowel Ё (ё) is ALWAYS stressed but in writing, Russians rarely add the two dots over ё. Also, in dictionaries the words that begin with this letter are listed under the letter Е (е). Best advice I can give you is to memorize these words and spellings as we come across them, or as you do in your own studies.   
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