Vowels in Russian

Vowels in Russian

In the Russian language the number of vowel letters and vowel sounds doesn’t coincide. There are 10 vowels in Russian. They are divided into two types, “hard-indicating” and “soft-indicating”, because they indicate whether the following consonant is “hard” or “soft”. So, which one is which? 

The “hard” vowels in Russian are:

as in bUt, 

Э as in mAp, 

У as in mOOd, 

О as in nОt 

and the famous Ы , which doesn’t have an equivalent in any other language of the world. To get the sound closest to Ы , take three fingers, put them in your mouth and try saying the English EE. 

The “soft” vowels in Russian are formed by adding a Y at the beginning of their “hard” counterpart. They are: 

Я spelled as YA, 

Е spelled as YE, 

Ё spelled as YO, 

Ю spelled as YU 

and И spelled as EE or Y. 

Another tricky thing about vowels in Russian is that some of them sound differently when not under stress. For example, the word МОЛОКО (milk) is pronounced as ma-la-kO, because not under stress turns into A. Pronunciation often gives away a foreigner. In our course you can learn how to say vowels in Russian to sound like a native speaker!

Learn more:

Practice reading and pronouncing Russian vowels in the Phonetics section.