The Russian alphabet is easy to learn!
Learning the alphabet is the first step to learning the Russian language. Even if you don’t plan to learn the language, knowing the alphabet is great for travelling because you can read all the street and shop signs. It may seem daunting to learn a new alphabet, but it is relatively easy. In fact, the great thing about Russian is that almost all words can be sounded out as they are written. Russian also has one letter to one sound. Russian is a very phonetic language.
The Russian alphabet is also known as the Cyrillic alphabet. There are 33 letters in the Russian alphabet. 11 vowels, 20 consonants, and 2 pronunciation signs.
Today Cyrillic is the third official script of the European Union, following the Latin and Greek scripts. It is used in over 50 different languages, mainly in Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
The Cyrillic alphabet owes its name to the 9th century Byzantine missionary St. Cyril, who, along with his brother, Methodius, created the first Slavic alphabet—the Glagolitic—in order to translate Greek religious text to Slavic. It is on the basis of this alphabet that the Cyrillic alphabet was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD by the followers of the brothers.
Here is what the Russian alphabet looks like (in dictionary order).
А, Б, В, Г, Д, Е, Ё, Ж, З, И, Й, К, Л, М, Н, О, П, Р, С, Т, У, Ф, Х, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ъ, Ы, Ь, Э, Ю, Я
Now let’s take a closer look at these letters.
Russian letters that are (almost) the same as the English
А а — Pronounced like the [a] in the word «father» or «car»
К к — Pronounced like the [k] in «kitten» or «kangaroo»
М м — Pronounced like the [m] in “man”
O o — When stressed, it is pronounced like the [o] in «bore»
Т т — Pronounced like the [t] in «tap»
Russian letters that look like english letters but sound different
(These are the most important to learn so you don’t get them mixed up)
В в — Pronounced like the [v] in «vet». (Equivalent to the english letter «v»)
Е е — Pronounced like the [ye] in «yes»
Н н — Pronounced like the [n] in «no». (Equivalent to the english letter «n»)
Р р — Pronounced like the [r] in «run», but it is rolled. (Equivalent to the english letter «r»)
С с — Pronounced like the [s] in «see». (Equivalent to the english letter «s»)
У у — Pronounced like the [oo] in «boot» or «root»
Х х — Pronounced like the [h] in «hello»
Russian letters that look unusual, but have familiar sounds
Б б — Pronounced like the [b] in «bat». (Equivalent to the english letter «b»)
Г г — Pronounced like the [g]» in «go». (Equivalent to the english letter «g»)
Д д — Pronounced like the [d] in «dog». (Equivalent to the english letter «d»)
З з — Pronounced like the [z] in «zoo». (Equivalent to the english letter «z»)
И и — Pronounced like the [i] in «taxi». (Sometimes equivalent to the english letter «i», the short [ee] sound.)
Л л — Pronounced like the [l] in «love». (Equivalent to the english letter «l»)
П п — Pronounced like the [p] in «pot». (Equivalent to the english letter «p»)
Ф ф — Pronounced like the «f» in [fat]. (Equivalent to the english letter «f»)
Э э — Pronounced like the [e] in «fed»
New Russian letters and sounds
(The sounds will be familiar, but they don’t have their own letter in English)
Ю ю — Pronounced like the [u] in «universe». (Pronounced much like the english word «you»)
Я я — Pronounced like the [ya] in «yard»
Ё ё — Pronounced like [yo] in «yonder»
Ж ж — Like [zh] in «measure», «pleasure» or «fusion»
Ц ц — Similar to the [ts] sound in «sits» or «its»
Ч ч — Pronounced like the [ch] in «chips» or «church»
Ш ш — Pronounced like the [sh] in shut
Щ щ — Pronounced like [sh] but with your tongue on the roof of your mouth
Ы ы — Pronounced like the [i] in «bit» or «ill». (Said with your tongue slightly back in your mouth)
Й й — This letter is used to form diphthongs. So «oй» is like the [oy] sound in «boy» or «aй» is like the [igh] in «sigh»
(These letters have no sound on their own, but are still considered letters)
Ъ ъ — The ‘Hard Sign’ is rarely used. It indicates a slight pause between sylables
Ь ь — The ‘Soft Sign’ makes the previous letter ‘soft’. Think of the [p] sound in the word «pew»
If you have read to the end, then you have already memorized something from the Russian alphabet!
Let’s play and consolidate our knowledge!
We offer you to combine Russian letters with similar English letters
If you do not want to be satisfied with what has already been achieved or want to repeat everything that you have read above, watch a video about the Russian alphabet with us!
We wish you good luck!
Task «MEMO» «Find the same Russian words.»
You probably know the game «MEMO». After all, this is one of the classic games that helps to train memory and observation. Play with us and very soon you will learn new Russian words. We invite you to find cards with the same Russian words! Try to memorize them by paying attention to how they are read and what they mean. Good luck!
The task «Russian cities».
Russia is rich not only in culture and history, but also in beautiful places. We invite you to play with us and see how many beautiful cities there are in Russia! Do you know what Kazan or Veliky Novgorod looks like? Let’s take a look together. Match the name of the city with its photograph.
Task «True or False.»
Task «MEMO» «Russian symbols»
We invite you to play «MEMO» and get acquainted with unofficial Russian symbols.
Who is Cheburashka? This is the hero of children’s books and cartoons, the mascot of the Russian Olympic team, he is so popular that on July 7, 2016 he made a space flight to the ISS.
What is a samovar? This is a vessel for boiling water and making tea. The samovar is mentioned in almost every significant work of Russian writers of the XIX-XX centuries, it is a symbol of home comfort. Images of the samovar can be seen in numerous works of Russian genre painting and even on postage stamps.
Balalaika is the most famous Russian instrument that has become one of the symbols of the musical creativity of the Russian people.
Matryoshka is a Russian wooden toy in the form of a painted doll, inside which there are smaller dolls like it.
Kokoshnik is an old Russian headdress in the form of a crescent around the head, a symbol of Russian traditional costume.
Felt boots (Valenki) are traditional footwear of the peoples of Eurasia, which is used for walking on dry snow. Felting has been known as a craft since ancient times.
The task «Who wants to be a millionaire?»
Do you already know a lot about Russia? Are you ready to test your knowledge? We offer you to play the famous game «Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?» The winner will receive from us a welcome certificate connoisseur!