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Simple Russian Pronunciation Guide

July 21, 2023

Understanding the sounds of Russian can significantly enhance your communication skills in the language. This guide introduces you to the key elements of Russian pronunciation.


In Russian, there are six vowel sounds, each with a unique pronunciation.

  • а: Like ‘a’ in “father”.
  • е: Like ‘ye’ in “yes”.
  • и: Like ‘ee’ in “see”.
  • о: Like ‘o’ in “bore”. When unstressed, it sounds more like ‘a’ in “sofa”.
  • у: Like ‘oo’ in “boot”.
  • я: Like ‘ya’ in “yard”.


Many Russian consonants have a hard and soft version. Here are a few notable consonants:

  • г: Like ‘g’ in “go”.
  • ж: Like ‘s’ in “measure”.
  • х: Like ‘h’ in “hello”.
  • ц: Like ‘ts’ in “bits”.
  • ш: Like ‘sh’ in “she”.
  • щ: Similar to ‘sh’ in “she” but softer, with the tongue raised toward the roof of the mouth.
  • й: Like ‘y’ in “yes”.


In Russian, stress can fall on any syllable and can significantly change the meaning of the word. Unfortunately, there are no concrete rules for stress, so it's best learned through hearing and practice.

Practicing Pronunciation

Pronunciation improvement requires practice. Listen to native Russian speakers and repeat the sounds, words, and sentences they use to help refine your pronunciation skills. Remember to be patient with yourself and continue to practice!This guide is a simplified overview and is not exhaustive. Pronunciation can vary widely across different Russian-speaking regions.

For Teachers

Learn how to link this guide to your speakable speaking assignments: Setting Students Up for Success: Guide to using Text Cards for Instructions.

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