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Russian Alphabet Exploring From Scratch (with Memrise lesson!)

Russian Alphabet Exploring From Scratch (with Memrise lesson!)
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As you know, the Russian alphabet is different from the Latin one. The Russian alphabet consists of 33 letters.

Some of these letters can seem to be familiar to English-speakers.
So, there are

A Т О М             K O T

yes, these letters are combined into words atom and cat in Russian (superpower cat )

А Т А К А           К О М Е Т А

(an) attack and comet

let’s follow


these letters always make English learners feel confused

P is like R
B is like V
H is like N
С is like S

to memorize it you just need to pronounce words containing these letters and to write it by hand several times, repeating and writing, write it in a big size and in different size of letters, make your special letter style, coloring and painting.

К О С М О С       А Р О М А Т         А Н А Н А С

Т Е К С Т            С Е К Р Е Т             Т Р А К Т О Р (what if it is a text about a secret tractor)

Н О Т А               К О Н В Е Е Р        Т О Н ( imagine a musical conveyer)

than let’s come to some letters that have special writing

Б is like English B it seems to look like a canopy to a street shop, maybe bookstore with a good bibliotheca

Ф is like F it looks like a сenter of а football field, isn’t it?

Ф А Н А Т С Т    А Р Т         Ф Е Н

Л is stronger than L it reminds a bit a lean-to a roof, shelter
it is like part of a port or passage

С П О Р Т К О М П Л Е К С                С А Л А Т

Г this letter resemble turned L, it’s like a registration gate

Д is a house, actually, house in Russian is called дом

З this letter is almost Э or the figure 3 in writing, so let’s imagine when you dial a number on your phone, every time you type the figure 3 you hear resonant sound “Zz-zz-z”

П О З А                Ф Р А Г М Е Н Т                   З О Н А

Э is like English A for example in apple divided apple

И it is similar to an English E it looks like the letter N but exactly from a mirror

У it is a vowel sound, like in the word soon

Ы this sound is quite unusual, it requires practice, not hits to the stomach

А Р Т И С Т               С И Г Н А Л                   А Н А Л И З
У Р И С Т              Э К О Н О М И К А     П О Э Т

Ч is contains the figure 4

Ш is happen when the letter E is fall into sleep, sniffing with “Sh-sh-sh”

Щwhen the letter Ш has a tail

Ж for me it looks like a giant bug, flying with a big noise

Х it is like an English H like in a word hat just imagine huge ice hockey sticks crossed in a harsh play (хоккей)

Б О Р Щ                     Ш О К
Ш О К О Л А Д        Ч Е М П И О Н              М А Ш И Н А

Ц you may say “tss”
in Russian we do say centre as

Й this sound is like in words toy, yo-yo

Я this letter also a personal pronoun I in Russian like sounds Й+А pronounced smoothly, linked and fast

Ю like sounds Й+У

Ё like sounds Й+О

Ъ and Ьthese letter don’t have sounds but they change a bit a sound of a previous letter in a word


That makes all the difference.

you may repeat the words above with memrise

A bit more about pronunciation and reading

  • Probably you’ve noticed that here are some phonemes in Russian language that can be quite unusual and a bit uncomfortable for English speakers as beginners: [Ш] , [Щ] , [Ц] , [Ж] , [Р] , [Ы] , [Л] hard.

Start with training pronunciation of sounds that resemble the sounds in English and after this do works with new sounds.

Here are some good resources for practicing Russian pronunciation
you may choose subtitles.

Here are some great videos about learning Russian [Р] (you can choose English subtitles) and [Ш] and [Щ]

To train sounds [Ш] and [Ж] pronounce the sound [Р]. The position of the tongue in sounds [Ш] and [Ж] is the same as in sound [Р].

So try to say firmly ррржжж and рррршшш and throw away all your doubts about pronouncing these sounds 

To train the sound [Ы] pronounce the sound [У] and the gently stretch your lips and smile :) your tongue shouldn’ t move.

The sound [Л] is harder than in English “small ball-lollipop falls”.
Train this hard consonant with syllables
ал, ол, ел, ул and then ла, ло, лу, ле. You can even try to sing it 

  • There is no reduction of vowels in Russian words – all vowels are pronounced!
  • Another special characteristic in Russian phonetic system is that sounds can be soft or hard and it is very important for word recognition.

бб’, вв’, пп’, фф’, дд’, тт’, зз’, сс’, лл’, мм’, нн’, рр

It seems that all hard consonants sound with [Ы] and soft consonants sound with [И].
Here is a video about soft and hard consonants

To hear the difference in soft and hard consonants pronounce first syllables with а, о, у, ы, э after hard consonants like да, со, но, ту, ра, ло, ры, зу,
я, е, ю, ё after soft consonants like ля, ме, ню, ря, лю, пё.

Well done!
That’s all for now!
Do you know that after reading this article you actually know 40 words in Russian?

Written by Anastasia Nikulina

Обучение в Language Heroes
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    Анастасия Никулина

    Анастасия Никулина

    Любитель изучать языки, с их помощью ищет возможности исследовать новое и строить мосты.
    Преподает английский в китайской школе и поддерживает исследователей,изучающих русский в марафоне LH.