Lesson 002

Russian alphabet: vowels Я, Ё, Ю, Е, И


In the previous lesson we’ve started learning the Russian alphabet and got acquainted with five its vowels: А, О, У, Э, Ы.

Today we will cover the other five. If you memorized well the vowels from the previous lesson, it will be easy for you to learn these ones. Let’s begin!

Here is a little trick to memorize the other 5 of the Russian vowels:

All the vowels of the Russian alphabet form a sort of pairs, in total 5 pairs of vowels, in each of them one of the vowels is a “soft” version of its pair. Have a look at how it works:

А а [ a ]Я я [ ya ] (like ‘yu’ in ‘yummy’)
О о [ o ]Ё ё [ yo ] (like ‘yo’ in ‘yours’)
У у [ u ]Ю ю [ yu ] (like ‘yu’ in ‘you’)
Э э [ e ]Е е [ ye ] (like ‘ye’ in ‘yes’ or ‘e’ in ‘exit’)
Ы ы [ y ]И и [ ee ] (like ‘ée’ in ‘free’)

As you can see, to make the second vowel in a pair, all you need to do is to add “y” in front the the first vowel (except for the last pair “ЫИ“).

The audio of this lesson includes all the letters above and a little test: I pronounce a vowel, your task is to pronounce its pair.

Stick with us and we will help you to make your first steps in learning Russian!

Spotted an error? Let us know please!

6 comments on “002 – Russian alphabet: vowels Я, Ё, Ю, Е, И”

  1. JOSE MARQUEZ says:


    Great learning resource!

    As I am a total beginner, what can I do to get to a fluent level in russian? I need to get to it in 12 months for work reasons.


    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Jose,

      Thank you for your comment and question.

      It’s an ambitious task, but if you are motivated enough, we are sure that in 12 months you will be able to hold a proper conversation in Russian.

      What you need is to start with the Russian grammar, learn every day a few Russian words (apps like Memrise are good for that) and practice a lot. Be careful and choose wisely what you practice with, because if the content is too advanced for you to understand it might affect your motivation negatively.

      Don’t miss any opportunity to practice. Change the interface of you smartphone to Russian. When you have enough vocabulary, you can subscribe to some Russian news channel and translate the articles from time to time. From my personal experience, the best is the movies with subtitles, but only when you start understanding at least a part of what they are saying, otherwise it’s useless.

      We have created a network of free websites which you can learn and practice with, you can find the list here: https://learnrussian101.com/network/

      At some moment you will need a conversational practice. Here you can try to find people interested in language exchange.

      If you find it hard to learn Russian on your own, you might want to get a teacher, at least from time to time. Here is a good online Russian school: https://russianschoolrussificate.com/

      Personally, when I was learning Spanish on my own, I was spending 1-3 hours almost every day and got an intermediate level in 6 months.

      So everything is possible. Good luck! 🙂

  2. maciej says:

    i cant find the audio, thank you for your help

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Maciej,

      The audio is at the bottom of the page, blue button. You need to click on it to see the player.

  3. Willie says:

    Is there a handwriting script for the alphabet? Thanks

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      You can find an example of hand written Russian here – Everyday Russian – Alphabet.

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