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Russian Alphabet


Lesson 1a - The Russian Alphabet and Pronunciation

To help you rote-learn the alphabet we have provided an Adobe PDF document for you to download here

We suggest you make several printed copies of this document so you can fill-in the gaps over and over again until you learn the whole alphabet. Cover-up the answers in the first column and try to gradually memorise the letters, don't try to memorise them all at once.


Having problems with the Russian alphabet? Click here

Here is the Russian alphabet with a key to pronunciation:

Letter
Pronunciation
Letter Name
Audio
Audio
   
(in Russian)
Sveta
Dasha
А а a as in another; u as in umbrella
'ah'
Б б b as in bit, bake, boys
'beh'
В в v as in vine, veranda
'veh'
Г г g as in get, go, girls
'geh'
Д д d as in door, ditch
'deh'
Е е ye as in yesterday
'yeh'
Ё ё yo as in yonder
'yo'
Ж ж zh as in pleasure
'zheh'
З з z as in zoo
'zeh'
И и i as in pip or kiss; ee as in eel
'ee'
Й й y as in boy; y as in bay (this letter usually modifies a vowel)
'ee krAtkayeh' (И краткое: ee short)
К к k as in kitten
'kah'
Л л l as in lamp, like
'el'
М м m as in milk
'em'
Н н n as in night, neat
'en'
О о o as in born; aw as in lawn (the Russian o is very strong and usually pronounced as though there is bit of an 'r' following it)
'oh'
П п p as in poke
'peh'
Р р r as in run. However, this is a 'rolled r' that is common to many European languages
'ehr'
С с s as in single, send, see
'es'
Т т t as in take, tip
'teh'
У у oo as in fool, pool
'oo'
Ф ф f as in face, fish
'ef'
Х х kh; ch as in Scottish loch
'khah'
Ц ц ts as in sits
'tseh'
Ч ч ch as in chair
'cheh'
Ш ш sh as in shop, shut
'sheh'
Щ щ officially 'shch', but sh as in sheep (when Russians speak it sounds like they just use ш). Don't worry too much about the difference between ш and щ
'scheh'
ъ the 'hard sign' has no sound of its own, but adds a slight pause. Very rare to see this in a word.
'tvYOrdi znak' (твёрдый знак: hard sign)
ы most difficult Russian vowel sound, with no equivalent in English. Closest sound is ei as in being, but vocalised from the back of the throat with the lips pulled back like a smile to show the front teeth
'eigh'
ь the 'soft sign' has no sound of its own, but softens (modifies) the preceding letter, adding a soft y sound
'mYAkee znak' (мягкий знак: soft sign)
Э э e as in peg, met
'eh'
Ю ю yoo as universe, duke
'yu'
Я я ya as in yarn
'ya'

 

Notes:

  • There is no 'J' in Russian, use the combination 'дж'. For example, John = Джон
  • There is no 'W' in Russian, use the combination 'уо'. For example, walk = уолк
  • Pronounce the combination ай as eye, or i as in bite
  • Most English-speakers find it difficult to pronounce all the Russian letters, just practice and do your best. It's heartening to know that many Russians also find it difficult to pronounce some combinations of English letters too (example, th in three)
  • The Russian 'o' sound is pronounced only when it is stressed (the emphasis of a word). When another vowel is stressed the letter o is pronounced as an [a] sound.
  • Similarly, when the Russian letter е is not stressed, it is commonly pronounced as an [i] sound