Looking for a Russian teacher?

Navigation
Word in focus

чувак  [choo-VAK] (masculine noun) – dude, man, guy

А кто этот чувак? Ты его раньше здесь видел? = Who is that guy? Have you seen him here before?

У тебя что, чувак, совсем крыша поехала? =  Dude, are you nuts?

Some basic pronunciation rules

 

On this page I tried to summarize the basic pronunciation rules for Russian. My aim was to keep them as short and clear as possible. In my opinion, this information is sufficient for someone who's just starting learning the language.

1. Word stress is extremely important, exactly like in English. In Russian we don't say all the syllables of the word with the same strength, but accentuate one syllable. This syllable is pronounced much louder than the others. If you don't stress the right syllable, it can lead to confusion, and native speakers will have difficulty to understand you. Unfortunately, unlike in Italian or Spanish, there're no rules to help you stress a word correctly. It's just something you have to learn for each word.

2. Some Russian vowels are pronounced differently when not stressed. If "o" isn't stressed, it's pronounced almost like "a". The word "молоко" is a good example (click the word to hear it pronounced). The stress is on the last "o", so we actually say "малако".

Another example is "e". When not stressed, it's pronounced somewhere between "е" and "и".  For example,  when we hear the word "телефон" we can't tell if the first "e" is pronounced "e" or "и".

3. "Ь" (soft sign) isn't pronounced. It's used to show that the consonant that precedes it must be softened. Listen carefully to these pairs of words: ел - ель, мат - мать, смешит - смешить, ген - тень.

4. "Ъ" (hard sign) isn't pronounced either. It's used to separate a consonant and a vowel to keep the consonant "hard". For example, the word "въехать" without "ъ" would be pronounced "вехать". "Подъезд" would become "подезд".

5. Some vowels in Russian change the consonant that precedes them. These vowels are "е", "ë", "и", "ю" and "я". The consonants that precede these vowels are "softened". Listen carefully to these syllables:

бэ - бе

то - тë

лы - ли

лу - лю

ма - мя

Now listen to the words and try to pronounce them:

Тëтя, дядя, люди, мясо, лень, тюль, петь, липа.

6. Some consonants (б, в, г, д, ж, з) are pronounced differently at the end of a word.

"б" becomes "п"

"в" becomes "ф"

"г" becomes "к"

"ж" becomes "ш"

"з" becomes "с"

"д" becomes "т"

Listen to the pairs of words:

боб - бобы

готов - готовы

снег - снега

год - годы

падеж - падежи

глаз - глаза