001 – Russian alphabet: vowels А, О, У, Э, Ы

The audio for the lesson is available at the bottom of the screen under the blue button.

Welcome to Learn Russian Step by Step! This is the place where you will start doing your first steps in the captivating journey of learning the Russian language. All you need is your motivation and a bit of patience and perseverance. Today you’ll get to know more about the Russian language and learn 5 vowels of the Russian alphabet.

Introduction to the Russian language

Russian language belongs to the East Slavic group of the Indo-European family of languages. It’s very close to the Belorussian and Ukranian languages from the same group.

Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages. It is also the largest native language in Europe, with 144 million native speakers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Russian language is considered to be the second most widespread language on the Internet after English.

Russian alphabet was derived from the Cyrillic one and includes 33 letters: 10 vowels, 21 consonants and 2 letters that neither one or the other. It will take you some time to get used to the Cyrillic letters, but fortunately, many of the letters will be familiar to you as an English speaker. You can divide all of the Russian letters in four groups:

– letters that look and sound like in English (A, O, T, M etc.),

– letters that look like in English but sound differently (P [r], У [oo], B [v] etc.),

– letters that sound like in English but look differently (Ф [f], И [ee], Л [l] etc.),

– and the last group of Russian letters includes new to an English speaker sounds and looks (Ъ, Ь, Ы).

Despite the fact the some of the Russian sounds are close to the English ones, you should not forget that they are not absolutely identical. You will need some practice to get a perfect Russian accent.

Russian Pod 101

Start learning Russian alphabet

To help you to learn the Russian alphabet easier, we broke it down into a few lessons. In today’s lesson we’ll learn five out of ten Russian vowels.

Here are these vowels:

А а – [a] (like in ‘far’)

О о – [o] (like in ‘not’)

У у – [u] (like in ‘book’)

Э э – [e] (like in ‘edit’)

Ы ы – [y] (has no equivalent in English)

Russian letter Ы causes a lot of trouble to those who does not have that sound in their native language. To pronounce the Russian Ы correctly, you need to place your tongue in the position between the positions for I in ‘kit’ and U in ‘sugar’. Make a sound, somewhat close to trying to say U with your lips opens for I. The correctly pronounced letter Ы should remind you of sound that one makes being hit in the stomach. 🙂

The audio track of this lesson includes the 5 letters we’ve learned today. Listen to the audio and practice the pronunciation with it.

24 comments on “001 – Russian alphabet: vowels А, О, У, Э, Ы”

  1. Elif says:

    Where is the audio?

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Elif,

      The audio to the lesson is under the blue button at the bottom of the screen.

  2. Georgios says:

    Hello, friends.
    I have studied the lessons, but I have a doubt. Are audios recorded by natives of the Russian language?
    I await answer.
    Many thanks!

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Georgios,

      Yes, all the audios are recorded by a native Russian speaker. What made you doubt it?

  3. Olivia says:

    Learning Russian is very hard! HELP!

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Olivia,

      Our site is designed for self-learning. The lessons are short and should take you just a few minutes a day.

      Of course, to master the Russian language just our site is not enough. You need to work on your vocabulary, i.e. learn a few Russian words a day. Good tools for that can be found online. For example, there is an app called Memrise, which we find quite helpful. We also created another site with the “Russian Word of the Day“. You can subscribe and receive a new Russian word of phrase in your inbox daily.

      You should also use any opportunity to practice. For example, set the interface of your phone to Russian, or try to find Russian movies, and so on.

      You can post your questions here when you have them, we are happy to help.

      In any case, learning any language is not like going for a walk. If it was easy, everybody would be a polyglot. It requires attention, and, most of all, motivation. When you are motivated enough, even Russian will not seem as such a hard language to learn. Good luck! 🙂

  4. Esmaeil says:

    I want to learn Russian and I need your help.
    I do not nothing


    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Esmaeil,

      Our site is designed for self-learning. All the lessons are available for free. Just follow them one by one: List of all lessons.

      You can ask your questions in the comments. Good luck!

  5. Фатима says:

    Где можно узнать the audio file of this lesson? I couldn’t find it. Can one help me please?
    Спасибо большое

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Fatima,

      The audio player for every lesson is fixed to the bottom of the screen.
      Аудио плеер для каждого урока закреплен внизу экрана.

  6. Amir says:

    Very nice and easy method of teaching Russian. Thanks alot!
    In Iran we do not access to PayPal. Hope you best wishes.
    Thank you again!

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hi Amir,

      Welcome to the site and thank you for the comment. Feel free to ask your questions. Good luck!

  7. Milad Faragalla says:

    this is the first time learn Russian language i hope this site help me

  8. Srinivas says:

    I want all that stuff of alphabets used in russian language with all the sound and that grammer in russian language with the equal meanin gin english so that i can under stand russificate

  9. O: I just found this site and I already like it LOL

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Thanks )

      1. kumududeva seneviratna says:

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  10. Robyn says:

    From what I can see this looks like a very user friendly and beginner friendly website! I look forward to using this!

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Robin,

      Thanks for your feedback.
      Welcome here and we hope you’ll find here a lot of useful learning materials.

  11. I can help you with your site. I’m living in Russia, and I know English.

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Здравствуйте. Благодарю за предложение. Мы можем обсудить это по электронной почте. Напишите, пожалуйста, через форму обратной связи на странице CONTACT.

  12. Barkallah Tahir says:

    I’m a beginner by all means.
    I hope that that these lessons will help me a lot

  13. Sami Akl says:

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  14. Kumaresan says:

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The offline version of the course includes the lessons in MP3 and PDF formats. The PDF files are available in two formats: for desktop and mobile devices.