Want to learn to learn the Russian alphabet FAST? Well, you can. Under three conditions.
- You skip the slow one character-at-a-time tutorials.
- You immediately jump into reading and writing right after you learn the alphabet. Otherwise, you’ll forget it as fast as you’ve learned it.
- You pay me lots of money. Just kidding. In fact, if you’re a complete beginner and not serious yet… you should should learn for free first – read here why: (Can You Learn Language Online For Free? Or Should You Pay?)
So, first thing’s first.
In this first part, you will learn how to write the Russian Alphabet.
In the second part, you will hear the sounds. Cool? Cool.
Part 1. How to Learn & Write the Russian Alphabet
What you need first is a chart showing all characters. Lots of familiar letters right? Well, a lot of them are false friends. The only letters here you can trust are A, T, M, K and possibly E.
If you’re interested in learning how to read and write in Russian cursive/learn the Russian cursive alphabet, drop me a comment. I’ll write about it. But for now… here’s the learning process to follow to master the Russian alphabet in an hour or less.
- Get a sheet that shows all the hiragana characters all at once.
You already have the picture of the Russian alphabet above. Good. Then, follow these 6 steps.
- The Russian Alphabet is split into four groups just for ease and convenience.
- Memorize the characters’ romanized versions.
- Write them down. Match them up with the Russian characters.
- Keep in mind any similiarites/associations that will help you remember the characters. I will point them out.
- Then write out the Russian characters for quick practice.
- Repeat for every group of letters.
Ready? I’ll walk you throw these steps.
1) Group One: The first 8 Russian letters.
First, memorize the first 8 russian letters in romanized form. Spend three minutes or so.
Ah, Beh, Veh, Geh, Deh, Ye, Yo, Zhe
Now… before we start writing them out and matching them up to the Russian letters… here are some things to remember:
- “A” is exactly the same. Just pronounced “Ah”
- The “B” is not a B. It has a V sound.
- “G” looks like a gun. Easy association to remember.
- “E” is Ye.
- Add two dots on top of “E” and it becomes YO.
- Zhe is nothing but an X with a line in the middle.
Now, lets match them up and write them out. Spend 5 minutes here. Write down the Russian letter, the Roman letter, and the pronunciation, which I’ve had you memorize. FYI, knowing the pronunciation is necessary because that’s how Russians recite the alphabet. The roman letters are there just so you know the equivalent.
2) The Second Group of Russian Letters
Again, first, memorize the Romanized form of the next 8 letters.
Zeh, Ee, Iy, Ka, El, Em, En, O
Things to remember.
- “Zeh” looks like the number 3
- Remember “Ee” as a backwards N.
- “Iy” is just adding a line above that backwards N.
- K, M, and O are exactly the same.
- “En” looks like an H.
Now, lets match them up and write them out.
3) The Third Group of Russian Letters
Next up, memorize these 8.
Peh, Er, Es, Teh, Oo, Ef, Ha, Tse
Things to remember.
- Their R looks like a P.
- Their S looks like a C.
- T is exacly the same.
- Their X is an H.
Again, match them up and write them out for practice. Don’t worry, one more group left.
4) The Fourth and Last Group of Russian Letters
Last one. Though, it’s a bit tough. Once again, take 3 minutes to memorize/recite these.
Che, Sha, Shya, Hard Sign, Yeru, Soft sign,Eh, Yoo, Ya.
Note: The hard sign, soft sign and yeru don’t have actual sounds. They modify the consonants which they follow. It’s a bit complicated, but lets keep it simple and skip it for now… we’re mastering the alphabet first.
Things To Remember:
- Che looks like the number 4
- Sh is a light sh sound, like in bush. Your tongue is all the way on the floor of your lower jaw in the gums as you say this.
- Shya is a more of a sharper sound.. like in Sham. Your tongue is behind your lower teeth as you say this.
- Hard sign, soft sign and yeru aren’t the actual sounds. Just the names of the characters.
- Ya looks like a backwards R.
Match them up and write them out for practice.
Hopefully you’ve managed to do this in under an hour.
Now that you’ve learned the Russian alphabet… you MUST… absolutely MUST start reading and writing. Why? Because easy come easy go. If you don’t use this, you’ll forget it as fast as you’ve learned it.
If not, don’t worry. Everything comes soon enough. You’ll notice that you’ll need to refer back to the alphabet as you read/write. Not to worry. That’s a good thing. You’re only reinforcing what you’ve learned.
Okay, you can write. But you also want to hear the sounds of the letters too, right?
Part 2: The Sounds of the Russian Alphabet
The Russian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script, meaning it’s somewhat different from Roman script, i.e. English.
Therefore, it’s different and letters that you know can and will have different sounds. You might be asking… Is Russian a phonetic language? Russian is 99% phonetic. There are two or three exceptions to pronunciation of the letters. For example, a ‘g’ is usually a hard ‘g’, in the combinations -ego / -ogo the ‘g’ is pronounced like a ‘v’ – evo / ovo.
Let’s take a look at the sounds of the Russian alphabet.
|Russian||Phonetic Sound||English Equivalent|
|А а||A in far|
|Б б||B in box|
|В в||V in voice|
|Г г||G in go|
|Д д||D in day|
If it’s the first letter of a word – Ye in yet Otherwise, it’s like e in exit
|Ё ё||Yo in your|
|Ж ж||S in vision|
|З з||Z in zoo|
|И и||Ee in meet|
|Й й||Y in soy|
|К к||C in Cat|
|Л л||L in lamp|
|М м||M in mom|
|Н н||N in no|
|О о||O in not|
|П п||P in party|
|Р р||Trilled R|
|С с||S in some|
|Т т||T in yet|
|У у||Oo in Poof|
|Ф ф||F in fruit|
|Х х||H in hamster|
|Ц ц||Ts in boots|
|Ч ч||Ch in chin|
|Ш ш||Sh in shirt|
|Щ щ||Sh_Ch in fresh_cheese|
|ы||I in bit or will|
|Э э||E in Eh|
|Ю ю||Sounds like “you” or U in use|
|Я я||Ya in ya’ll|
Got any feedback? Thoughts?
Leave a comment below please.
– The Main Junkie
P.S. If you REALLY want to learn Russian with effective Audio & Video lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at RussianPod101.com (click here) and start learning!