Russian Pronunciation: Learn To Say The Russian Consonants

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Written byAlina Sinitcyna

Unlike many other languages, Russian consonants are easy to learn. The Russian language is composed by 42 basic rules that are divided into 36 consonants and 6 vocals. The consonants typically come in plain vs. palatalized pairs, which are traditionally called hard and soft, due to the Russian phonetic is mainly based on palatalization.

Although, like many languages, there may be some differences in pronunciation of these sounds in some Russian regions, there is not much difference. One more thing that we should mention is that Russian consonants are pronounced with less tension than other languages, for example English, it is very important to have a better pronunciation.

The current Russian language contains 32 letters.

10 vowels which are divided into “Hard” and “Soft”

Hard Soft
А а Я я
О о Ё ё
Э э Е е
У у Ю ю
ы И и

One Semivowel:

Semivowel
Й

21 Consonants

Russian Consonants
б к т
в л ф
г м х
д н ц
ж п ч
з р ш
й с щ

Russian consonants, as well as Russian vowels are categorized in two groups: “Soft” or “Hard” Pronunciation only depends on the type of vowel that comes after the consonant. The rule is very simple.

  • One consonant is “soft” if this is following by a “soft” vowel (я, ё, е, ю, и) or sign.
  • One consonant is “hard” if this is following by a “hard” vowel (а, о, э, у, ы) or sign.

Therefore,  almost all consonants can be “Soft” or “Hard

  • Note: We must keep in mind that there are some consonants, which always are hard (ж****, ш and ****ц), as well as consonants that do not have hard counterparts (ч****, щ and ****й).
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