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Cyrillic Alphabet

Any suggestions to help learn the Cyrillic alphabet? I know several by heart; и, р, п, т, а and д. One question though; what is the difference between з and ц? Thanks

November 17, 2015



I'll answer the easy question:

з = 'z' like in Zebra

ц = 'ts' like in caTS


пицца = pizza


In this case, it would be more like пица as it makes the "ts" sound without needing two.

  • 118

I am pretty sure it is longer than a single Ц there, at least it is in mu pronunciation. Which is also characteristic of English TS.


The IPA pronunciation is /ˈpɪtsɐ/ though I imagine some regional pronounciations it could be different. "Pee-tsa". Maybe some say "peet-tsa" or something?

More, I was trying to show that "zz" makes the "ts" sound here, but that you don't need to have it be цц.

  • 118

The thing is "ц" does not make the "ts" sound. It makes t͡s.


From Wikipedia:

Аа father
Бб bad
Вв vine
Гг go
Дд do
Ее yes
Ёё yoghurt
Жж pleasure
Зз zoo
Ии me
Йй toy
Кк kiss
Лл lamp
Мм map
Нн not
Оо more
Пп pet
Рр rolled r
Сс see
Тт tool
Уу boot
Фф face
Хх Scots loch
Цц sits
Чч chip
Шш sharp
Щщ sheer (sometimes instead pronounced as in fresh-cheese)
Ъъ silent, prevents palatalization of the preceding consonant
Ыы roses
Ьь silent, palatalizes the preceding consonant (if it is phonologically possible)
Ээ met
Юю use
Яя yard


The Хх is also like German ch, as in Bach, if that helps more.


Remember the word 'ATOMIK'; I'm sure it's not too difficult to associate this word with Russia and the West... These are the letters that look and sound the same as English† (apart from 'i', of course, which isn't a letter in Russian).

Then lots of letters look like Greek letters: Г Д С (ς with a bit of imagination) Л П У Ф Х Б/б and Р. З also looks a bit like Greek zeta, or a cursive latin z, and Э looks like a back-to-front epsilon.

But remember that Н is not a capital eta!

The rest you just have to remember in whatever way suits your best. For example, when I first learnt it, I remembered Ш because it looked somewhat like Chinese 山*, which starts with the same /ʂ/ sound. Ц could be a stick drawing of two ca/t͡s/ sitting together, the tail of one hanging down. I had a mnemonic for Ч, too, but I really can't remember what it was, now.

†Except О only sounds like 'O' when stressed.
*This is problematic as when 山 is handwritten the last stroke often protrudes down so it looks more like Щ; however, it was still my mnemonic, and it worked for me.

  • 118

I think, CHair for Ч works just fine. The letter does look bear some resemblance to an upside-down chair, after all. It is also convenient later if you write your 4's like that because "four" is «четыре» in Russian and starts with the same letter.


Try this awesome video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIyaZirHLOA
Pronounces every letter with a sample.


I used russianlessons.net and mylanguages.org and found them very helpful. Wikipedia is also a useful source for things of this sort.


Here is a fun Cyrillic Alphabet course (in Finnish):

Watch the videos (! актеры – русские)! :-)


Dankon! Ĉi tiu estas tre utila ligilo. Thank you, this is a very useful link. адрес [ádres] osoite балет [balét] baletti водка [vótka] vodka гитара [gitára] kitara доллар [dóllar] dollari евро [jévro] euro ёлка [jólka] joulukuusi журнал [žurnál] aikakauslehti зал [zal] sali икона [ikóna] ikoni йогурт [jógurt] jugurtti кино [kinó] elokuvat лампа [lámpa] lamppu марка [márka] merkki номер [nómer] numero опера [ópera] ooppera парк [park] puisto радио [rádio] radio спорт [sport] urheilu театр [teátr] teatteri уран [urán] uraani факт [fákt] fakta хобби [hóbbi] harrastus центр [tsentr] keskusta чай [tšai] tee школа [škóla] koulu щи [štši] kaalikeitto объект [objékt] objekti сын [syn] poika конь [kon’] hevonen экспорт [éksport] vienti юрист [juríst] juristi яхта [jáhta] huvipursi


I would suggest looking up videos on the alphabet, look up the alphabet itself (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/russian.htm is a good resource). And whenever you see a word in Cyrillic, just try to pronounce it and then see if you're correct. I learned the Cyrillic alphabet a long time ago because I got addicted to just alphabets; not languages for some reason; but learning the Ukrainian pronunciation was very hard for me. So take your time and do what I tell you and in no time you'll be writing Cyrillic naturally!


з = здравствуйте

ц = цифра

ну и вместе: ЗаяЦ

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