Friendly Russian: Learning How to Read & Write in Russian

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Chapter 1: Lesson 3

The Alphabet

More of the alphabet: Different letters with familiar sounds

Click on the letter for sound:








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Pronunciation tips

  1. Don't forget that Russian consonants are generally formed with less tension and without a puff of air, as opposed to their English equivalents. 
  2. "Д" is produced by the tip of the tongue pressed against the upper teeth (like Russian "T", but it is voiced).
  3. Many voiced consonants will become voiceless (like their voiceless counterparts) at the end of a word or before a voiceless consonant (for ex. “авто́бус”-- bus, "вcегда́”- always).
  4. Do your best to listen to the tape as many times as you can and imitate the pronunciation. Concentrate on the meaning as well (of words in bold), since most of them are of high priority. You will gradually memorize them through repetition alone. They will be used intensively in exercises and texts below.



Russian letter Sound, as in

Words, audio and translation


Бб b бар соба́ка брат бу́ква авто́бус
  /bad/ bar dog brother letter bus
    work, job        
Гг g гора́ Бог бе́рег нога́ а́вгуст гро́мко
  /gun/ mountain God shore leg august loudly  
Дд d да дом до́ма год доска́ вода́  
  /dog/ yes house at home year board water  
    обе́д друг го́род дива́н где вход  
    dinner friend city sofa where entrance  
Ёё yo всё мёд лёд        
  /yogurt/ everything honey ice    
Зз z зонт за́втра зима́ за́втрак газе́та звоно́к  
  /zoo/ umbrella tomorrow winter breakfast newspaper bell  
Ии ee и они́ кни́га рис кино́ кинотеа́тр  
  /eel/ and they book rice movie cinema  
    карти́на магази́н кабине́т ква́ртира библиоте́ка  
    picture store office study apartment library  
    университе́т вино        
    university wine        
Йй y ой ма́й да́й ру́сский трамва́й  
  /boy/ ouch may give (me) Russian (m.) street car yogurt  

Open Cyrillic Keyboard on the left. Type the answers, copy and paste them into the puzzle. To see word clues, click on number in box

Note: As you can see and hear, “И” and “Й” are different letters (and sounds). “И” is a vowel, whereas “Й” is a consonant. Never forget to put the extra mark above “Й.”

Reminder: Listen and read the lines above as many times as you need for smooth pronunciation.

While you have seen a lot of new words already, and there will be more, don’t feel overwhelmed by them. They will be repeated over and over again, and with some effort on your part they will stick. Here are a few tips on how to make this task easier:

  • First, listen and read the words out loud as many times as it takes to become familiar with them.
  • Analyze the new words. You will find some cognates that are easy to remember: три (three), май (May), такси́ (taxi), etc. You will also find some false cognates, like кабине́т (office), магази́н (store), etc. Single out those words. When memorizing vocabulary and structures, you should try to use all types of memory: visual, auditory, etc. Listen to the tapes. Read out loud whenever you can.
  • Do exercises in writing.
  • Make flash cards and write the translations on the other side. Work with them.
  • Find associations of your own for harder vocabulary.
  • As soon as you learn how to combine words correctly, use them in context.
  • Memorize set phrases and idioms as units; don’t break them into components, even if the literal translation is provided.
  • When looking around you, check if you know the Russian names for things.
  • Be patient. You know that practice makes perfect. ...And know yourself: Use every trick that works well for you.
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