Pronunciation rules - consonants
There are a few cases when Russian consonants are pronounced not as they are written:
- Russian voiced consonants are pronounced as their voiceless counterparts when they appear in the very end of the word.
– обе́́д [a-byét] – dinner
– муж [mush] – husband
- Voiced consonants become voiceless when they are followed by other voiceless consonants.
Example: ю́́бка [yúp-ka] – skirt
- Voiceless consonants sound as their voiced counterparts when they are followed by the consonants Б, Г, Д, Ж, З.
Example: футбо́́лка [fud-ból-ka] – t-shirt
- Endings -ОГО and -ЕГО become -ОВО and -ЕВО respectively (or -ОВА/ЕВА if unstressed). But be careful, this rules only applies to the endings and does not aplly when -ОГО/-ЕГО is a part of the word’s stem.
– ничего́ плохо́го [nee-chee-vó pla-hó-va] – nothing bad
– мно́го [mnó-ga] – many, a lot (the stem is “мног”)
- If several consonants go together, some of them can be omitted to facilitate the pronunciation.
– со́лнце [són-tse] – sun (omit Л)
– чу́вство [chú-stva] – feeling (omit В)
– здра́вствуйте [zdrást-vuî-tye] – hello (omit В)
– аге́нтство [a-gyénst-va] – agency (omit first Т)
- -ТЬСЯ at the end of the word (the ending of reflexive verbs in the form of infinitive) is pronounced as -ЦА [tsa]. Same with the -ТСЯ (the ending of the verbs in the Present tense, 3d person).
– улыба́ться [u-ly-bá-tsa] – to smile
– улыба́eтся [u-ly-bá-ee-tsa] – (he/she) smiles
- Do you remember the 5 soft vowels that we learned in the lesson #2 (И, Я, Ю, Ё, E)? If any of them follows a consonant, you should soften that consonant to achieve more natural sound.
– нет [nyet] – no
– приве́т [pree-vyét] – hi
Now, we have covered the Russian alphabet and pronunciation rules, so you should be able to start reading Russian words. It will take you some time to master your reading skills and pronunciation in Russian. Further down the road you will also encounter some words that don’t exactly follow the rules you’ve been learning, but don’t let it discourage you.
Remember this: the best way to master the Russian pronunciation is to try to mimic the native speech. So listen to Russian as much as possible and try to repeat what you hear.
Thank you for deciding to learn Russian with us.
Practice the examples of this lesson with the audio recording (at the bottom of the screen under the blue button).
More lessons on the Russian pronunciation
- Russian pronunciation rules - vowels
- Pronunciation rules - consonants
- Accent marks in Russian words
- Russian pronunciation: practice reading Russian words
We need your support!