One of the first steps in learning ру́сский язы́к [Russian language] is to learn its алфави́т [alphabet]. While it may seem daunting to learn a new alphabet, learning ру́сский алфави́т [Russian alphabet] is relatively easy. You will find that some ру́сские бу́квы [Russian letters] look the same as English letters, e.g.: А а, В в, Е е, К к, М м, Н н, О о, Р р, С с, Т т, У у, and Х х. We also have quite a few similar sounds. After all, Russians also use гу́бы [lips], зу́бы [teeth], язы́к [tongue], рот [mouth], and го́рло [throat] to form зву́ки [sounds] just like everyone else!
Ру́сский алфави́т [the Russian alphabet] is also known as кири́ллица [the Cyrillic alphabet]. It has 33 letters: 10 vowels, 21 consonants and 2 pronunciation signs, which have no sounds. Once you learn алфави́т [the alphabet], you’ll be able to sound out pretty much any word по-ру́сски [in Russian], whereas in English some words’ pronunciation may not be clear from their written form (e.g., though, enough).
Because we use зву́ки [sounds] when we говори́м [speak], it is more useful and less time consuming to just learn the sounds instead of learning both, the names of the letters and their sounds. So if you are here to learn to speak Russian, let’s begin by learning the sounds of the Russian language! Click on the audio player above, listen, and repeat after me one звук [sound] at a time.
Note: Closer to the end of the alphabet, you will hear two names of the letters “ъ” – твёрдый знак (pronounced as tvyor-diy znah-k) and “ь” – мя́гкий знак (pronounced as myah-keey znah-k) that do not have sounds. They are also known as a “hard sign” or “separator” and a “soft sign” or “softener” respectively. While they have no sounds, they carry out important functions в ру́сском языке́ [in Russian language].
Practice pronouncing зву́ки [the sounds] as often as you need and want. After all, повторе́нье – мать уче́ния [practice makes perfect]! If you would like to learn the names of Russian letters, watch our video: