Russian pronunciation rules - vowels
In the Russian language, as in many other languages, some letters change their pronunciation depending on their position in words and the letters that surround them. Today we start learning the Russian pronunciation rules.
This lesson we dedicate to the pronunciation of Russian vowels. You might have noticed that we add an accent mark (stress) to every Russian word that includes more that one vowel (syllable). It’s because the position of the accent affects the pronunciation of Russian words, so knowing where to put an accent (make the stress) tells you how to pronounce the word. If there is only one vowel in a word, it’s the one that’s stressed. You can read more about the stress in the Russian words here.
Now, the pronunciation of the Russian vowels:
- Overall Russians tend to be sort of lazy with their pronunciation, so the Russian letter O, when unstressed, usually sounds close to A. For example:
– по́мощь [pó-masch] – help
– молоко́ [ma-la-kó] – milk
- The same “lazy pronunciation” happens to the letters Я, Е and Э. When unstressed and not in the beginning or the end of the word, the Russian letters Я, Е and Э tend to be pronounced close to the Russian sound И. For example:
– е́хать [yé-hat’] – to go (by vehicle) [E stressed]
– мечта́ [meech-tá] – dream [E unstressed]
– я́щик [yá-scheek] – box [Я stressed]
– тяжёлый [tee-zhó-lyî] – heavy [Я unstressed]
– э́хо [é-ha] – echo [Э stressed]
– аэродро́м [a-ee-ra-dróm] – airfield [Э unstressed]
- The letter Ё (don’t confuse it with E) is always stressed (accentuated) in the Russian words (you will never see an accent mark above it as it’s always assumed):
– зелёный [zee-lyó-nyî] – green
– жёлтый [zhól-tyî] – yellow
That’s all you need to remember about the pronunciation of Russian vowels. Listen to the audio examples and repeat after it.
More lessons on the Russian pronunciation
- Russian pronunciation rules - vowels (#006)
- Pronunciation rules - consonants (#007)
- Accent marks in Russian words (#008)
- Russian pronunciation: practice reading Russian words (#009)
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