1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Lesson 1: Russian Alphabet/Ру…


Lesson 1: Russian Alphabet/Русский aлфавит.

As you all can tell, the Russian course is 77%, and I feel like now is a good time to explain the Cyrillic Alphabet.

Here are the Russian letters from the Cyrillic alphabet : (In Chronological order for a better understanding of the shape of the alphabet)

М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ ъ Ы ь Э Ю Я

Well, let's begin with spotting the letters that are similar to the pronunciation in English.

Here are the letters:

а - Pronounced "ah", but sounds like "ar" in "far"

т - Pronounced "t" ,in "table"

о - Pronounced "O" , like in the word "not"

м - Pronounced "m" , like in "man"

k- Pronounced "K" like in "key"

Some of you might have noticed other English letters, however, these letters have different sounds to them.

Here are the letters:

<pre>е- Pronounced "Ye" like in "Yet". Tip: Don't get this confused with ё. </pre>

р - Pronounced "R" like in "Rock". Note: Russians tend to roll their R's, so be sure to practice your rolling of the R sound.

у- Pronounced "oo" like in "boot"

в- Pronounced "V" like in "Vote"

н - Pronounced "N" like in "Note"

x- Pronounced "ch" like in "bach" or like "h" in "hoopla"

c- Pronounced "s" like in "sad" or "Miss"

Now we will continue through the rest of the words. We will specifically talk about words that have a soft and a hard signs, and words that are not familiar to an English speaker.

Б - Pronounced like "B" in "Bear"

Г- Pronounced like "G" in "Go"

Д- Pronounced like "D" in "Dog"

Ё- Pronounced like "yo" in "Yo-Yo" -Be very careful when writing in Russian. It's critical that you do not get "E" and "Ё" mixed.

Ж- Pronounced like "Zh" in "Pleasure" This is one of the harder letters. Think of making a hard sound with this letter. So, a really hard 'Zh"!

З - Pronounced like "Z" in "Zoo"

И- Pronounced like "e" in "Me"

Й- Pronounced like "Y" in "Boy" or "oyster"

Л- Pronounced like "L" in "Lust"

П- Pronounced like "P" in "Position"

Ф- Pronounced like 'F" in "Film"

Ц- Pronounced like "ts" in "that's"

Ч- Pronounced like "ch" in "chips"

Ш- Pronounced like "Sh" in "shout" or "shots"

Щ- Pronounced like "shsh" like in "rush-ship"

ъ- "Hard Sign". This letter is used between a vowel and a consonant. It is used to show that the consonant should not be palatalized and that the vowel is proceeded with a "y" like in "yes" sound.

Ы- Pronounced like i in "Kit" or U like in "sugar"

ь- "Soft Sign" This letter is used to change the pronunciation of the following consonant by making it soft (palatalized). Pronunciations are soft when you raise your tongue to the middle of the roof of your mouth.

Э- Pronounced like "eh" like in "End"

Ю- Pronounced like "You" like in

Я- Pronounced like "Ya" in "Yard"

(Source for the soft and hard sign definitions: Russian, Master. "The Russian Alphabet." Russian Alphabet. MasterRussian.com, 2 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.)

If you would like more lessons, I would like suggestions on what I should teach. Lesson 2 will be composed of both learning cool phrases and also top comment suggestions. Also, if a native Russian speaker notices a mistake, write below and I will get to editing the text.

Links will be made automatically for every lesson so you can pace yourself however you want.

April 23, 2015



Thanks, I am waiting for the Russian.


Да, пожалуйста! (Yes, you're welcome!). I will release my second lesson later this week.


Thanks, these are helpful


I will probably write my lesson tomorrow and post it Saturday. It will be basic phrases and words spoken commonly among Russian families and people.


Ы- Pronounced like i in "Kit" or U like in "sugar"

I seriously doubt the second part about "sugar". "Kit" may give you an idea of "ы", but it's still not very close. Here are some audio examples with "ы": дым, мы, ты, попытка.


I tried my best to find a word, I had little luck. Thank you Mr. Moderator. I'll be sure to correct this soon.


I'm a Mrs, actually :-)


0.0. Извини мисс олимо


Small note: In Russian, headings are generally written like regular sentences (first letter capitalized, others are lowercase except proper names), unlike English where every word in a title is capitalized. The title of this post should therefore be either "Lesson 1: Russian Alphabet/Русский алфавит." or "Lesson 1: Russian Alphabet/русский алфавит."

Sorry to nitpick this much, just thought I'd post it since it's a language lesson :)


I have made the changes to the title.

You're not nitpicking badly, it's actually really useful information to know.


Russian letter X sounds like this. Basically just add air to your "k".

щ is a sharper 'sh' sound, as in "sheer".

And just so people don't get a heart attack, unstressed 'o' sounds like an 'a' in Russian.


Спасибо, мистер epic. ( thank, Mr. Epic). I will add that in the next lesson. For now, lets make sure English speakers at least know the alphabet.

[deactivated user]

    Большое спасибо! Я говорю немного русский но Я люблю очень русский алфавит! Ты русский? (I hope I didn't mess it entirely up)


    And yes, I am Russian, but the real natives are my mom and my oldest brother. Sorry for the late reply; my next lesson is soon to come out


    It's very good and informative! Just two small things to note, while Х does make the 'h' sound it's often pronounced like 'ch' in the Scottish 'loch' or like 'ch' in the German 'Bach' and Ю is closer to the sound 'you' (not just the 'u') or the 'u' in universe, but is sometimes pronounced as you said.


    I think ы is one of those sounds you just have to hear a lot. None of the explanations I've ever read have really made any sense without audio. Maybe find a good example on Forvo? Look for ты вы examples.

    Я также жду курс русского языка! Мой самый любимый язык :)


    Some teachers suggest having a pen clenched in your teeth, and trying "eeh" then.


    bwahahaha I like it.

    I remember my examiner for my finals had the weirdest Russian accent, he said ы unlike anyone I'd ever heard. He made it sound like it had (at least) two syllables... 8-o


    Due to palatalization and rounding present in the phonetic system of Russian, some glides naturally occur over the vowel's duration. Even in native speakers (they are well trained not to pay any attention to it, thoough). People aren't tone sythesizers, after all. Your tongue and lips keep moving constantly. The arrangement of obstacles inside the vocal tract changes, which reflects on the sound you produce.


    Awesome post! Just a quick question: What is the pronunciation for the Cyrillic letter '' C '' ? I couldn't find it in the post (sorry if it's there). Thank you!


    It is pronounced "s" (sad, miss, seem)


    Ах, да (ah, yes) I forgot to add the c. также, спасибо shady.


    I think (Ж) is actually closer to "J" than it is to (Zh).

    It might be a little bit challenging for English natives to pronounce it without saying "D'jeh"

    However the exact phonetic exist in French, examples are "Jolie, J'arrive.."

    Looking forward to see more lessons. =) Здоров!


    You could have just said it's similar to the S in "vision" ^_^


    Да, but it can be very confusing (especially in the beginning) to associate it with letters that has multiple pronunciations.



    I'm following a russian course for spanish-speakers. Letters like "ы" are fairly hard to imitate for spanish speakers, but I can imagine it will be hard for english speakers to get ж, р, х, ч.

    Some suggestions:

    • The alphabet should take one quite long unit or "bubble" and be requisite for following the rest of the course.
    • Soft sign and hard sign should get a whole lesson.
    • Lots of audio examples and pronunciation exercises.
    • Rip off existing free courses for ideas, shamelessly. RT has a basic course.

    My spanish speaker course link: http://www.rusogratis.com/curso-como-leer-en-ruso-01.php <--- has a number of alphabet reading and pronunciation exercises.


    The letters are roughly similar for Spanish speakers. I can imagine that you are either a fluent speaker in Spanish or Russian?


    Hi, I'm a native spanish speaker, just starting russian (I now can read, somewhat, and have an impressive vocabulary of about 10 words).

    I'm following the referenced course, I'm not the owner... sorry if there was a misunderstanding.

    Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.