Lesson 1.2 – Basic – Alphabet – Consonants Pt 1

Lesson 1.2 – Basic – Alphabet – Consonants Part 1

Where we are at in the process:

  • Previous lesson: 1.1 Basic – Alphabet – Vowels
  • This lesson:2 Basic – Alphabet – Consonants part 1
  • Next lesson:3 Basic – Alphabet – Consonants part 2

First a quick review.

There are 33 characters in the Russian alphabet.

а, б, в, г, д, е, ё, ж, з, и, й, к, л, м, н, о, п, р, с, т, у, ф, х, ц, ч, ш, щ, ъ, ы, ь, э, ю, я.

The ten vowels are: а, е, ё, и, о, у, ы, э, ю, and я.

hint: it’s important to know the difference between vowels and consonants since that is the main determining factor for how words are broken up into syllables.


Basically, a consonant is a sound that is made with the mouth and throat closing at some point. That means that the sound is stopped by your teeth, tongue, lips, or constriction of the vocal cords.


Things that affect the pronunciation of consonants are:

  1. Is it a voiced or unvoiced consonant?
  2. Is it a hard or soft consonant?

These subtle differences will be explained in further lessons.


You should also note that when you pronounce abbreviations, you use the name of the letter, rather than it’s pronunciation.

For example the “United States of America” (USA)

in Russian is “Соединенные Штаты Америки” (США).

США is pronounced as “es – sha – a” not “s-sh-a”


There are several different ways to group the consonants. And since it will make your practice more interesting, I hope you will learn and explore them all thoroughly. I cannot emphasis enough that you should spend considerable time in working with the individual letters. Thoroughly, and instinctively learn every attribute of each letter. I will introduce them over the next two lessons:

In Part 1:

  • 10 consonants that look similar to English letters:
    • в, к, м, н, п, р, с, т, х, ш

In Part 2:

  • 10 consonants that don’t look similar to English letters:
    • б, г, д, ж, з, л, ф, ц, ч, щ
  • 3 modifiers, that modify the sound of preceding vowel, or consonants
    • й – vowel modifier
    • ъ, ь – consonant modifiers


в – is called ‘ve’. It normally sounds like the ‘v’ in vet. Feel the vibration in your vocal cords? This is the voiced pronunciation. In further levels you’ll discover when to use the unvoiced equivalents. Hint: sounds more like a short ‘f’ as in father.


к – is called ‘ka’. It sounds like the ‘k’ in cat.


м – is called ’em’. It sounds like the ‘m’ in man.


н – is called ‘en’. It sounds like the ‘n’ in never. When it is softened it is more like the ‘ny’ as in canyon.


п – is called ‘pe’. It sounds like the ‘p’ in pet. When it is softened it is more like the ‘p’ in pure. (although not an exact match)


р – is called ‘er’. It is a rolled ‘r’. There is no direct English equivalent sound, but it sounds like the ‘rr’ in word error. when spoken with a strong Scottish accent.


с – is called ‘es’. It sounds like the ‘s’ in sit.


т – is called ‘te’. It sounds like the ‘t’ in tan.


х – is called ‘ha’. It sounds like the ‘ch’ in loch or bach.


ш – is called ‘sha’. It always has a hard sound, and sounds like the ‘sh’ in shut.


Ten letters down, and only 13 more to go!

Catch you on the next lesson.



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