Russians’ vowels: means of pronunciation

Rules that regulate major incidents of pronunciation in Russian language, being compared with the English ones, are quite simple. Russians, for example, haven’t any words sounded the same and simultaneously had different spellings (such as we have in "mite" and the quite different in its sense "might"). In most occasions Russians say their words quite right, simply reading every letter like it’s written.

In this learning material we want to narrate you how to pronounce a dicker of the Russian vowels. Except, here are also described some of the main rules of pronunciation. Here you will grasp: virtually all Russian vowels are quite similar to our English ones. So, all Russian vowels share in 2 main variations: the "soft" kind and the "hard" one. Among them a role of "hard" play the vowels а, о э, у, ы. Practically all "soft" vowels are compiled of "hard" ones with the addition of our English "y" in front (in the beginning). In this way are formed all the "soft" vowels, e.g. - е, ё, и, ю, я.

We’ll name these foreign vowels "soft" and "hard"-indicating sounds because they point to these types of consonants or go before them (e.g., in "та" the letter "т" stands as a solid [t], and at the same time in the sound combination "тя" it’s soft [tʲ]. It is for this reason Russians’ pronunciation is better viewed as a system that makes a single whole in the interaction of vowels and consonants sounds. Of course, right now, from the first time, you’ll be very difficult to understand all this; but do not despair - reread our materials more frequently, study tables, and over some time you will understand everything. Now you ought to catch the pronunciation, you ought to catch what exactly group ("soft" or "hard") belongs to each of those sounds.

If you decide to learn the real, true Russian language, if you’d like speak it without the slightest accent, catch every vowel carefully, often practicing their pronunciation. Below we provide detailed recommendations about how to say the "hard" Russian vowels. All training materials are accompanied by exercises that you should practice directly in real words.

The pronunciation of their sound "a"

"A" sounds very closely to our exclamatory word "Аh":

This vowel is pronounced generally in 2 modes, fully depending on the degree of notional stress. If this letter is stressed, then "a" sounds in the same way as we say word «Ah» in the English (just a little bit shorter). Being unstressed, "a" is like «u» in our word «nut». Here are some exercise - try to practice them:

папа мама раб вода небо
pah-pa mah-ma rab va-dah nee-ba
father mother slave water sky

As you see, the "o" in the Russian "вода" and "небо" is said fully alike to the sound "a" which is unstressed. In Russian such a corking thing carries in their language an extremely important difference – remember it.

The first essential pronunciation rule

The "o", being unstressed, in every case pronounces quite close to the fully unstressed "a". Simply remember it sounds like the letter «u» in our generally known word «but». For details, see "When Russian "o" is pronounced enormously similar to our "а".

The true pronunciation of "o"

The letter "O" can be pronounced enormously close to the generally known English word «more»:

Again, this pronunciation is far similar to the sound "aw" in the well-known word "law" (British version). Americans can pronounce it like the "more", if only "r" in it not to pronounce.

As it already mentioned above, the unstressed character "o" is obligatorily pronounced exactly as the unstressed "a". Otherwise, "o", being under stress, sounds extremely close to «law». Here are some examples for practice:

кот точка хорошо стон окна
kot toch-ka kha-ra-sho ston ok-na
cat dot well groan windows

The true pronunciation of "s"

The Russian vowel "ы" doesn’t have similar sounds in English at all. We propose you to pay special attention to it - just spend on this letter more time than on the other ones. You’ll have to become familiar with its pronunciation and to highlight the sounding among all other sounds. You will receive the exact sound of that letter, putting your tongue bang in the middle between our sounds «i» of the word «bit» and «u» of «sugar». Practice, please, and you will soon get the clean Russian "ы". You’d also be aware that this Russian sound has only miserable resemblance with our English sound «i» in the word «bit». Practice, please, a few examples:

дым мыло мы рыба быт
dim mi-lo mi ri-ba bit
fog soap we fish everyday life

The true pronunciation of "y"

Their letter "y" is extremely similar to "y" in our word «wood»:

If you will just now pronounce in English the words «wood» or «pool», then sounding «oo» in these words will be very close to the Russian "y". Please note only, if this letter is unstressed say it a little faster; when it stands under stress - a little longer. Here are a few exercises:

стул труба музыка звук
stool troo-bah moo-zi-ka zvook
chair tube music sound

The true pronunciation of "э"

"Э" is phenomenally similar to "e" in such common our words as «net» or «let»:

In addition, this Russian letter is very similar to the sound «e» in our word «pet». And now a few examples:

этот Интернет мэр шест
e-tat een-ter-net mer shest
this Internet mer pole

To be honest, there is nothing difficult in the Russian letters pronunciation. With a little practice, you will easily be able to pronounce Russian letters of any difficulty degree quite accurately.