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Is there a typo in these spelling rules?

  • 1635

The following spelling rules are written in Animals 1. They don't make sense to me. Is there a typo?

"There are some restrictions on which consonants are used with which vowels when making word forms. Here are the rules for ы, а, у vs. и, я, ю:

<pre>use only И after к, г, х/ ж, ш, щ, ч use only А, У after к, г, х/ ж, ш, щ, ч and ц" </pre>
November 29, 2015



These letters are often separated into categories: gutturals (г, к, х), hushers (ж, ч, ш, щ), and the affricate ц. Sometimes the terms velars and sibilants are used instead of gutturals and hushers. These spelling rules are just that--orthographic rules only. In terms of pronunciation, the 'и' after 'ш' or after 'ж' is almost always pronounced like 'ы', but nonetheless must be spelled with an 'и'.

Here are the most common spelling rules, and they are remarkably consistent with the only exceptions being foreign words:

5-Letter Rule: Write Е instead of an unstressed O in word endings when it follows a husher (ж, ч, ш, щ) or ц.

7-Letter Rule: Write И instead of Ы when it follows a guttural (г, к, х) or a husher (ж, ч, ш, щ).

8-Letter Rule: Write А or У instead of Я or Ю (respectively), when it follows a guttural (г, к, х), a husher (ж, ч, ш, щ), or ц.


These rules govern which vowel you use when you have to make a form of a word you know.

  • is it И or Ы?
  • is it А or Я?
  • is it У or Ю?

Usually, a stem ending in a non-palatalized consonant gives you a normal vowel (стол→столы, луна → луны), whereas if you have a palatalized consonant there, it gives you a iotated/palatalized vowel (портфель→портфели, земля→земли).

Still, that does not work for ALL palatalized and non-palatalized consonants.

Historically, softened velar consonants Г, К, Х (those pronounced at the back of your mouth) turned into hushes eventually. Then a new set of ги, ки, хи was produced from their "hard" versions, so in modern language гы, кы, хы are nowhere to be seen, even though a native speaker can pronounce them (they are found at word boundaries and foreign words)

Russian hushes (Ш, Ж, Ч, Щ), which, may I remind you, had formed from palatalized velars, were all palatalized. Then Ш and Ж became "hard". Huses do not have palatalized/non-palatalized variants, so, in theory, it does not matter which vowel of the pair you use after them. In practice, there is a spelling convention that you use и, а and у after them (unless it is a stem of a foreign word that is somehow traditionally spelt against these conventions)..


No, I believe it is not a typo. Take a look at this site:


[deactivated user]

    I don't think so. Sounds perfect to me.

    • 1635

    Thanks for your replies. I was confused because it wasn't clear to me when to only use и and when to only use а or у. Under which circumstances do these rules apply? Any time a word ending on a palatalized consonant followed by an ы, а, у,. и, я or ю changes form?

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