Russian Alphabet Pronunciation for Beginners

russian alphabet pronunciationCompared to English, Russian alphabet pronunciation is simpler. For instance, in Russian, there are no words with different spellings that sound similar such as “mite” and “might.” As a general rule, reading Russian words letter by letter will sound correct. Learning Russian alphabet pronunciation is the first step to learning Russian. This is relatively easy because of the fact that all the words tend to be sounded out the way you write them. Here is a course called Russian Alphabet Mastery that teaches you the entire Cyrillic Alphabet in a matter of hours.

The Cyrillic Alphabet

The Russian alphabet is called the Cyrillic alphabet. In this alphabet, there are thirty-three letters total, two pronunciation signs, twenty consonants, and eleven vowels.  Here is a course on accelerated lessons on the Russian language that will help get you started.

Russian Letters With No English Version

  • Ю: Pronounced like U in “useful.”
  • Я: Pronounced like YA in “yards”
  • Ё: Pronounced like YAW” in “yawn.”
  • Ж: Pronounced like S in “pleasure.”
  • Ц: Like the TS sound in “sits.”
  • Ч: Pronounced like CH in “church”
  • Ш: Pronounced like SH the word in “shut.”
  • Щ: Pronounced like SH as in “show” except your tongue should be in the roof of your mouth.
  • Ы: Pronounced like the I in “ill” or “bit” but said with your tongue in the back of your throat.
  • Й: This letter is used for diphthongs- so the word “AЙ” sounds like “IGH” in the word “sigh” and “OЙ” sounds like “OY” in “coy.”

Symbols for Pronunciation

  • Ь: This is the ‘soft’ sign which makes the letter before it ‘soft-’ like in the letter P of the word “pew.”
  • Ъ: Rarely used- this is the ‘hard’ sign and indicates a slight pausing between 2 syllables.

Russian Letters with Similar Sound but Look Unusual

  • Э: Pronounced like “E” in “bed.”
  • Ф: Equivalent to the English letter F and pronounced like the “F” in “fix.”
  • П: Equivalent to the letter P in English- pronounced like P in “post.”
  • Л: Pronounced like the L in “love”
  • И: Pronounced like the I in the word “taxi-” or the short sound of “ee.”
  • З: Equivalent to the letter Z- pronounced like the Z in “zebra.’
  • Д: Pronounced like the D in “darling.”
  • Г: Pronounced like the G in “groggy.”
  • Б: Pronounced like the B in “bark.”

Russian Letters that Look Like English Letters But Sound Different

  • B: Pronounced like “V” in “vanity.”
  • E: Pronounced like the “Ye” in “yellow.”
  • H: Equivalent to the letter “N” in English- H is pronounced like the N in “nope.”
  • P: Equivalent to the letter “R” in English- P is pronounced like the R in “roar.”
  • C: Pronounced like the S in “saw” and is used like the English C in words like “centimeter.”
  • Y: Pronounced like the “OO” in “cool-” “root” or “boot.”
  • X: Pronounced like the H in “hi” but leaning more to the “CH” of the German word “Bach.”

Letters Like the English Alphabet

Here are Russian letters of the alphabet that are almost like letters sounds in English:

  • A: You pronounce the Russian “A” the way you would in the words ‘car’ or ‘father’ rather than of the words ‘flat’ or ‘cat.’
  • K: This letter replaces the English sound of “C” like in the words like “Cat” and you pronounce this like “K” in “kangaroo” and “kitten.”
  • M: Pronounced like the “M” in “meat.”
  • O: O is pronounced two ways. The unstressed way is like the letter “A” such as in the word “all” and the stressed version is like in the word “ore.”
  • T: Pronounced like the “T” in “Toe.”

Did this help? Here is a course that will help you speak like a native called Fast Track to Russian Fluency, which may just get you chatting with the locals in no time at all.

A Note About Pronunciation

In many languages, there is emphasis put on some syllables and not in others. One example is the word “photography” where the emphasis is on the second syllable while in the word “photograph,” the emphasis is on the first syllable. Can you hear how the vowel changes phonetically when the syllables change? Words in Russian are pretty much the same. For the purposes of pronunciation, this is why it is important to know which syllable is stressed in a word. Once you actually hear how Russian is spoken, you will be able to mimic the way words are pronounced. Here is a great course on learning Russian for beginners that could make a world of difference since you will hear the actual words being pronounced.