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Santiago Diaz
Santiago Diaz

Master the Russian Alphabet with Fun and Easy Exercises

Russian Alphabet: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Have you ever wanted to learn Russian, but felt intimidated by the unfamiliar alphabet? Do you wonder how to pronounce those strange-looking letters and symbols? Do you want to be able to read and write Russian with confidence and ease?

russian alphabet

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If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the Russian alphabet, from its origin and history, to its pronunciation and writing, to its learning tips and resources. By the end of this article, you will have a solid foundation for your Russian language journey.

What is the Russian alphabet and where does it come from?

The Russian alphabet is the script used to write the Russian language. It is based on the Cyrillic script, which was devised in the 9th century for the first Slavic literary language, Old Church Slavonic. The Cyrillic script itself was derived from the Greek alphabet, with some additions from the Hebrew and Glagolitic alphabets.

The origin and history of the Cyrillic script

The Cyrillic script was named after Saint Cyril, one of the two Byzantine brothers who created the first Slavic alphabet, the Glagolitic script, in order to translate Christian texts into Slavic languages. Saint Cyril and his brother Methodius were sent as missionaries to Moravia (present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia) in 863 CE, where they encountered a Slavic people who had no written language.

The Glagolitic script was based on Greek letters, but also included some symbols that represented Slavic sounds not found in Greek. However, the Glagolitic script was not widely adopted by the Slavic peoples, partly because of its complexity and partly because of political opposition from the Latin Church.

After the death of Cyril and Methodius, their disciples continued their missionary work in Bulgaria, where they modified the Glagolitic script into a new one that was more similar to Greek. This new script became known as Cyrillic, in honor of Saint Cyril. The Cyrillic script spread throughout the Slavic world, especially among the Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The modern Russian alphabet and its letters

The modern Russian alphabet consists of 33 letters: 10 vowels (а, е, ё, и, о, у, ы, э, ю, я), 21 consonants (б, в, г, д, ж, з, к, л, м, н, п, р, с, т, ф, х, ц, ч, ш, щ), a semivowel/consonant (й), and two modifier letters or "signs" (ь, ъ) that alter pronunciation of a preceding consonant or a following vowel.

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The table below shows each letter of the Russian alphabet with its name (how you would say it if youre just talking about it), its transcription (how you would write it using Latin letters), its pronunciation (how you would say it using similar English sounds), and some examples of words that contain it.






А а



reduced and dull if unstressed)[ə] (schwa if unstressed and before a stressed syllable)

мама (mama) - motherпапа (papa) - fatherкак (kak) - howда (da) - yes

Б б



[b] (voiced bilabial plosive)

баба (baba) - grandmotherбанан (banan) - bananaбыть (byt') - to beбольшой (bol'shoy) - big

В в



[v] (voiced labiodental fricative)

волк (volk) - wolfвино (vino) - wineвсе (vse) - allвремя (vremya) - time

Г г



[g] (voiced velar plosive)

гора (gora) - mountainгазета (gazeta) - newspaperгод (god) - yearголос (golos) - voice

Д д



[d] (voiced alveolar plosive)

дом (dom) - houseдень (den') - dayдруг (drug) - friendдорога (doroga) - road

Е е

e or ye after a vowel, ь, or ъ

e or ye after a vowel, ь, or ъ

[je] / [e] / [i] / [ə] depending on stress and position in a word. It also palatalizes the preceding consonant.

еда (yeda) - foodсемья (sem'ya) - familyлето (leto) - summerметро (metro) - metro



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