Russian alphabet: vowels
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 to succeed in this endeavour is your motivation and a bit of patience and perseverance.
In this lessons, we start learning the Russian alphabet.
An introduction to the Russian alphabet
Russian alphabet was derived from the Cyrillic one and includes 33 letters: 10 vowels, 21 consonants and 2 letters that are neither one or the other.
You can divide all the Russian letters into 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.
Learn Russian vowels
Russian vowels form two groups – 5 pairs – where one vowel in a pair sounds like a soft version of the other.
Let’s start with the “not soft” ones:
А а – [ a ] (like ‘a’ in ‘far’)
О о – [ o ] (like ‘o’ in ‘not’)
У у – [ u ] (like ‘u’ in ‘sugar’)
Э э – [ e ] (like ‘e’ in ‘edit’)
Ы ы – [ y ] (has no equivalent in English)
The Russian letter Ы causes a lot of trouble to those not having this 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 the sound that one makes being hit in the stomach. 🙂
Now, have a look at the following list: there are 5 pairs of vowels, where the first vowel in the pair is already familiar to you, and the second one is derived from its counterpart by adding “y” to soften the sound:
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’)
The only pair that does not really follow the pattern is Ы – И. Listen to the audio to feel the difference in the pronunciation.
And this is it for this lesson. In the next lesson, we will continue learning the Russian alphabet and have a look at the Russian consonants.
Update: we have also created the whole site to learn the Russian alphabet easy and free. Don’t hesitate to check it out!
The offline version of this lesson is available hereStart the quiz
Question # 1Choose what you hear
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Question # 7Choose what you hear
Question # 8Choose what you hear
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Question # 10Choose what you hear
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27 comments on “001 – Russian alphabet: vowels”
Thanks a lot. It is very good for beginners.
i want 2 be an astronaut when i grow up. So i have to learn russian. This is really hard 4 me. I feel like i cant do this. i need even more help. what site should i go to for free?
Well, you can start with our site. It is totally free. Here you can get familiar with the Russian grammar and basic vocabulary.
If you would like to get a better grasp on the Russian alphabet, we recomment this site: https://russianalphabet.online/.
To enrich your vocabulary: https://learnrussianwords.com/
To practice Russian verb conjugation: https://russianverbconjugation.com/
To find Russian friends: https://russianpenpal.com/
And when you reach an intermediate level, this site will help you to boost your Russian even further: https://ochenporusski.com/
Russian is not the hardest language. If you want to be an austronaut, you will have to learn much more complicated things. 🙂
Good luck to you and may your dreams come true! 🙂
Where is the audio?
The audio to the lesson is under the blue button at the bottom of the screen.
I have studied the lessons, but I have a doubt. Are audios recorded by natives of the Russian language?
I await answer.
Yes, all the audios are recorded by a native Russian speaker. What made you doubt it?
Learning Russian is very hard! HELP!
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! 🙂
I want to learn Russian and I need your help.
I do not nothing
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!
Где можно узнать the audio file of this lesson? I couldn’t find it. Can one help me please?
The audio player for every lesson is fixed to the bottom of the screen.
Аудио плеер для каждого урока закреплен внизу экрана.
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!
Welcome to the site and thank you for the comment. Feel free to ask your questions. Good luck!
this is the first time learn Russian language i hope this site help me
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
O: I just found this site and I already like it LOL
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.
From what I can see this looks like a very user friendly and beginner friendly website! I look forward to using this!
Thanks for your feedback.
Welcome here and we hope you’ll find here a lot of useful learning materials.
I can help you with your site. I’m living in Russia, and I know English.
Здравствуйте. Благодарю за предложение. Мы можем обсудить это по электронной почте. Напишите, пожалуйста, через форму обратной связи на странице CONTACT.
I’m a beginner by all means.
I hope that that these lessons will help me a lot
An Excellent site for absolute beginners !
very useful guid