No. "Вот" is more like French "voila", if that helps. If you were looking for something, and now you've found it, or somebody was waiting for you to bring something and you've brought it, that kind of thing. If you're late, and somebody is waiting for you and you rush in at the last second, or if someone was looking for you and you came out from wherever you were and wanted to get their attention, then I think you could say "Вот я". Note that вот should come first.
DISCLAIMER: Not a native speaker. I could be wrong. It happened once.
I am native speaker too and I think that your answer is confusing for Russian learners. I should say that "я вот" is almost never used, at least not in the situations when one can say "я здесь". Another typical variants for "I am here" are:
"Вот и я" (I am here at last)
Answering to "where are you" one can just say "здесь" or "тут". No need to say "я".
To echo what mightypotatoe said, the "ь" is called the мягкий знак in Russian. I'm not a native Russian speaker, but the Wikipedia page for "Soft Sign" appears to provide a comprehensive, yet easy to understand explanation of it and its history in the Russian language. Just to be clear, it is an English page for English speakers, so you won't have to rely on any translation tools to read it. If you visit the page, I hope you find it interesting.
Indeed a very interesting page but I don't understand half of it ;-( I will try and read it a few times more. Can I, in general, ask how long it would take the average interested person to master the alphabet and learn how to 'automatically' understand about the hard sign and the soft sign? I still only see cyrillic letters, I see no words, let alone that I can try and pronounce them. (I started 2 weeks ago, doing a correspondence course with audio files, I'm working with Duolingo and I read as much information as I can about the pronunciation). Tips are welcome! By the way, I'm Dutch but I'm learing Russian via English/Russian because English is my second language.
You’ve asked some good questions. For the very reason that I’ve had many starts and stops along the way, I may not be the best person to answer your question, but I will try. To give you some background, I first started studying Russian while a high school student in a summer school program. I didn’t study it again until college, where I studied it for a couple of quarters. Several years then passed and I didn’t take it up again until 2013 when I studied it for about four months. Studied it again for about three months at the end of 2014, and here I am again, at the beginning of 2016 trying to take it up again. It seems as if something else always comes up to take me away from it. I will say, though, that each time I start and stop, it gets easier to pick it up again. In fact, I’d say it is a bit like riding a bicycle – you might be a bit rusty at first, but you never entirely forget everything you learned.
As for mastering the Cyrillic alphabet, I suppose that depends on what that means to you. Does that mean …
… recognizing the Cyrillic letters?
… being able to recite the Cyrillic alphabet by heart?
… being able to write Cyrillic in cursive
… being able to type Cyrillic using a Russian keyboard?
For the first two, I would say you’d be able to do it in a few hours. Some might even say you could do it in one hour depending on how agile your mind is. If you’re learning Russian via your second language, I would imagine you have a pretty agile mind. Writing Cyrillic in cursive is a bit trickier, but many resources can help you with that. (Try Russian Alphabet.) I’d say you could master Cyrillic cursive in a few days. As for being able to type Cyrillic using a Russian keyboard, it could take you a few weeks or more, depending on how fast you want to be.
Regarding pronunciation, many online resources are available to help you with that, too. Many online videos will help you with pronouncing each individual letter. For whole words Forvo is good, too.
As for the hard sign and the soft sign, I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about the hard sign since it is not used very often anymore. The soft sign, on the other hand, basically tells you how to pronounce the preceding consonant. I think some rules apply to when the use of the soft sign is required, but at this stage of your learning, it may be easier to learn the spelling of words with a soft sign as you go. For right now, just remember that it never starts a word (so it is never capitalized), it usually comes after a consonant, and it doesn't have a sound of its own (it just affects the sound of the consonant before it).
In closing, let me just leave you with some memrise courses that I think you’ll find useful if you are still learning the alphabet. In order from what I think is best to worst:
Learn Basic Russian Lessons 1 and 2 cover the alphabet. Sound quality on this is good. Lesson 4 covers the hard and soft signs specifically, but it is basically just two videos that Shady_arc has posted in an earlier thread. They're good videos, though, so I do recommend viewing them if you haven't already.
Beginner's Russian (Cyrillic typing) This one comes with a full virtual Cyrillic alphabet that you can click one letter at a time. If you have not learned how to use a Russian keyboard and want to jump right in with Cyrillic, this may be for you. If you do have a Russian keyboard, you can also type in the letters. Sound also provided with this course.
Cyrillic Pronunciation Guide Lesson is silent, but you are tested on the way the letter sounds when spelled out.
cyrillic alphabet Don't like this one so much because you've got to type how the letter sounds and the course designer has selected just one to two letters to represent each sound. What makes this one unique, however, is that it tests you both on what the Russian equivalent is in English and what the English equivalent is in Russian. Now that I think about it, this one is actually good brain exercise. It might take a few minutes to get used to, however. Keep in mind that for letters, you've got to type both the upper case and lower case with exactly one space in between or it will be considered incorrect. If you can get used to that, this might be a good course for you.
Lastly, below is a chart. As you can see, five of the 33 letters (15%) of the Cyrillic alphabet are exactly the same as can be found in English.
The chart below categorizes the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, but keeps the order of the alphabet from the first letter to the last. I have found that it is easiest to learn the alphabet in order from first letter to last, just as we all did as children. And take the time to know it almost as well as you know the alphabet in your native tongue. If you ever use a Russian-English dictionary in the future, you will be glad you did.
Hope this helps you and others who read it.
Dear Lisa, this is absolutely wonderful, thank you. I'm at work now, but will work on this information tonight. I usually study 3 evenings a week (1.5 hour an evening) and Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I will come back to you on this but I wanted to let you know first I really appreciate your help.
Later... I've read your information very carefully. Thank you for the useful links, I will check them all soon. The charts are very helpful too. This is the first time I'm trying to learn Russian. When I was 16, 41 years ago, I bought a copy of a rather famous book on Russian (in Dutch). By that time, there was no one or nothing to help with the pronunciation, so I didn't go through with it and the book got lost somehow. Now I've visited Moskou last year, and planning a trip to St. Petersburg next year, so I just would like to be able to have a basic knowledge so it will be easier to read information in a museum or shop, or to be able to order food and drinks in Russian. Or maybe even read simple books and so on. My mind is not as agile as it used to be ;-) at age 57 but I'm in no hurry and see it all as a big adventure. I'm taking this correspondence course which is interesting and working with Duolingo at the same time is a good combination. Your help is greatly appreciated!
Glad it was helpful, Jannelies1. St. Petersburg sounds like a great place to visit. I'd love to travel there one day myself. You'll have to take lots of photos when you are there and post them somewhere. I hear it is a beautiful place. In the meantime, I wish you well as you continue your mastery of the Russian language.
"Ь" doesnt HAVE a sound, it CHANGES the sound of the letter it comes after. So you would only hear the "S" from both "с" and "сь". The difference is how the "S" sounds. "сь" is more palatized, softer, similar to "s" with a tiny/subtle "y (as in yes)". It's hard to explain...
can it be that the Я is not fully pronounced? To me it doesn't sound like an "ya" but more like it merges together with the next word, like words do in french, to sound like yes. Am I just imagining this or is there maybe a general rule for this.
Second question. the "e" seems to be pronounced like it is in its unstressed form, ergo like i in hit, why is that? should it not be stressed as the only vowel in the word or am I again just imagining the sound?
Thank you in advance for the help!
I am just learning, but it seems to me that Russian elides one word into the next, much like French. Probably the most universally-known of these is "до свидания" I was amazed to learn that the "s" sound was the beginning of the second word. There are others I've come across that make me think this elision is the norm. Either that or Russian people speak super fast. Maybe someone else can let us know.
I'm so grateful that I mainly use Russian words together with other Russian words. There are times when there are ALL THOSE CONSONANTS, few vowels, and ARGH! I have to stop, back up, and get a running start at the word(s). Then you can indeed slide through them. Plus, it gets better with practice.