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Pronounce Russian better--soft consonants

Soft consonants can be tough for non-natives. Here's a helpful video on how to get a hold of this tough pronunciation conundrum. https://lovinglanguage.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/lose-your-accent-russian-soft-consonants/

December 17, 2015



Is the тся in words like нравится really soft? I thought it was pronounced like an unstressed ца.


тся and ться at the end of reflexive verbs are pronounced as цца.


According to traditional Russian grammar, "ц" is always hard. http://therussianlanguage.weebly.com/phonologyphonetics.html

I see you speak Ukrainian, too, which is different. Ukrainian has a soft ц.


I know (Russian) people who pronounce ться with the soft Т. But it's not common and it immediately sounds peculiar.

The common way to pronounce both тся and ться, as Shady_arc already told, is цца.

And since they are pronounced identically, some people have trouble to spell them correctly.


This has been an educational thread, learning about the subtle mis-matches between Russian speech and orthography. Thank you, everyone!


There are two words: нравиться нравится. The first is "it is enjoyable" and the second is "to be enjoyable" (conjugated vs infinitive). The first has a soft /t/ and the second has a hard /t/. So they're pronounced differently--a subtle difference, granted.

[deactivated user]

    I’m afraid you’re overestimating how phonetic Russian spelling is: it's not as complex as English, but still has its quirks. :) Shady_arc is right, there is no difference in the pronounciation between -тся and -ться, both are pronounced as -цца.

    Here's a quotation from Avanesov (Аванесов Р.И. Русское литературное произношение, 6-е изд., перераб. и доп. — М.: Просвещение, 1984. — 383 с., page. 205—206):

    avanesov from page 205

    avanesov page 206

    In the 3rd person singular and plural forms, that end in -тся, and also in infinitive that ends in -ться, as a result of the merger of the consonant /t/ or /tʲ/ with a following /s/, hard /t͡s/ with long closure is pronounced. For example, in the 3rd person forms of the verbs: несё/ᵗt͡sə/, берё/ᵗt͡sə/, собира́е/ᵗt͡sə/, стреми́/ᵗt͡sə/, несу́/ᵗt͡sə/, беру́/ᵗt͡sə/, собира́ю/ᵗt͡sə/, стремя́/ᵗt͡sə/; in the infinitive: бра́/ᵗt͡sə/, верте́/ᵗt͡sə/, учи́/ᵗt͡sə/.

    It should be noted that the orthographic forms -тся in the 3rd person forms of verbs and -ться in the infinitive are pronounced in the same way; therefore, the words in such pairs as стреми́тся and стреми́ться, ложи́тся and ложи́ться, накали́тся and накали́ться, зли́тся and зли́ться, столкну́тся and столкну́ться are not differentiated in pronounciation: стреми́/ᵗt͡sə/, ложи́/ᵗt͡sə/, накали́/ᵗt͡sə/, зли́/ᵗt͡sə/, столкну́/ᵗt͡sə/.


    Very helpful. Thank you.

    [deactivated user]

      That being said, I've just listened to your video, and you actually pronounce «нра́вится» with (correct) hard «цца» in 2:08, so your pronounciation is OK (but the explanation after it is not; probably you could have chosen a different example). Overall, your pronounciation is very nice.

      The hard -цца might be related to the the older Moscow pronounciation, where all -ся or -сь were pronounced as -са or -с. This used to be the prestigeous pronounciation, but it has mostly disappeared in most forms. You can hear it, for example, in songs by Zykina: she sings «что стоишь качаясь, // тонкая рябина, // головой склоняясь...» with «качаясь» and «склоняясь» pronounced as «качаяс» and «склоняяс».


      Thank you. The explanation of how to pronounce the sounds still holds, I believe. Perhaps better examples would be more useful in the future, though.

      I have to say that I learned much of my Russian in Ukraine, and I was learning Ukrainian at the same time. So these explanations are very helpful.

      One question: what does the sound цц represent?


      Something like /ts/ or /t͡s/ with a prolonged start. In Russian, when we say we pronounce a geminated (double) consonant we often actually mean the release is postoponed. For example, consider these two words:

      • вассал
      • отточенный

      Whereas it is easy to make an S longer, T is an abrupt sound. Two t's in "отточенный" mean that you start pronouncing a Russian T right after O, but then wait longer for the release than you would if it were a single T.

      Unfortunately, the geminated consonants are sometimes pronounced longer and sometimes just like in English (i.e. with no significant enlongation). There are certain rules that cover most cases but for a non-native speaker it is enough to pay attention to a new word's pronunciation. For instance, «русский» does not have a geminated S in pronunciation.

      [deactivated user]

        Geminated ц

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