Accent marks in Russian words
The audio for the lesson is available at the bottom of the screen under the blue button.
Learning the Russian accents is one of the most challenging things for every Russian student. Today we’ll talk about them and try to make the idea of the unpredictable Russian accents a little bit less stressful for you.
As we saw in all the previous lessons, every word in the Russian language carries an accent. These accents are fundamental in Russian – accentuated vowels are pronounced with more intensity and do not change their sound in pronunciation as we learned before.
Unfortunately, there are no rules in the Russian language that would help you to figure out where the accent shoul fall. To make things worse, Russians do not have a habit of putting accents on words when writing. At the same time, changing the accents can not only complicate the communication, but change the meaning of the word completely. For example:
замо́к [za-mók] – lock
за́мок [zá-mak] – castle
у́же [ú-zhe] – narrower
уже́ [u-zhé] – already
This is why you should always memorize Russian words together with the accents. It seems like a lot of work, but we promise, further down the road it will become easier as you’ll start seeing some patterns and be able to guess the correct accentuation.
There are a few tools in the internet that can help you with the Russian accents. For example, morpher.ru will put all the accents in the text you enter into the field. Attention though: when the word can have a few different accents (i.e. a few different meanings for every accent), this tool will offer you all of them.
In the example below, the word дома have two different meanings depending on where you put the accent:
– дóма – at home
– домá – houses
Remember also that the letter Ё is always accentuated. Unfortunately, very soon you’ll come accross the fact that Russains prefer to replace the written Ё by E. If you find yourself trying to read a text where Ё-s are not specified, it’s safer to assume that the words contain E, because the Ё is the least used letter in the Cyrillic alphabet.
We will disclose a little secret: sometimes even Russian themselves can’t remember where the accent goes in certain words, for example, the word звонит (calls/is calling) is prounounced by many as звóнит, although the correct variant is considered to be звони́т.
To finish this lesson, let’s learn some new Russian words and practice their pronunciation. Listen to the audio and repeat after it.
сло́во [sló-va] – word
компью́тер [kamp-yú-teer] – computer
ве́тер [vyé-teer] – wind
бума́га [bu-má-ga] – paper
экра́н [ek-rán] – screen
письмо́ [pees’-mó] – letter, mail
сообще́ние [sa-ap-sché-nee-ye] – message
More lessons on the Russian pronunciation
- 006: Russian pronunciation rules - vowels
- 007: Pronunciation rules - consonants
- 008: Accent marks in Russian words
- 009: Russian pronunciation: practice reading Russian words
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