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

Learning any language starts form the alphabet. In this lesson you’ll get familiar with the Russian alphabet and learn 5 of its vowels.


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.

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Russian alphabet, pronunciation and hand-written Russian

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. You can divide all of them in four groups:

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

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

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

– and the last group 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’ll need some practice to get a perfect Russian accent.

Start learning Russian aphabet

To help you to get used to 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)

To pronounce the Russian Ы, you need to place your tongue in the position between the positions for i in ‘kit’ and u in ‘sugar’. Make a sound, it must be close to a sound that one makes being hit in the stomach. 🙂

The audio track includes the 5 letters we’ve learned today. Every letter is repeated twice, one time longer and one time shorter, so you grasp the pronunciation better.

Be sure you memorized today’s vowels well before moving to the next lesson. In the next four lessons we’ll learn:

Russian vowels: Я, Ё, Ю, Е, И
Russian consonants (1st. part)
Russian consonants (2d. part)
Hard sign (Ъ) and soft sign (Ь)

Spotted an error? Let us know please!

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

  1. Milad Faragalla says:

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

  2. 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

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

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Thanks )

      1. kumududeva seneviratna says:

        Though I know nothing of Russian language, Russian people are not new to me. I’ve known them from my schooling days through many books translated to Sinhala. this is the first time I got a chance to learn Russian and I’ll never miss the chance which found by me accidentally. Thanks a lot for maintaining a site like this.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Barkallah Tahir says:

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

  7. Sabuhi says:


  8. Sami Akl says:

    An Excellent site for absolute beginners !

    1. But, there are some mistakes. (not in this lesson)

  9. Kumaresan says:

    very useful guid

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