Russian Alphabet

The Russian alphabet was initially a variant of the Bulgarian alphabet, derived from Cyrillic script. During the 10th century, it was used in the Kievan Rus’ or Kyivan Rus’, a loose federation of Slavic and Finno-Urgi peoples in Eastern and Northern Europe, and would soon become the Russian language.

The Russian alphabet has 33 letters: 20 consonants, ten vowels, one semivowel, and two modifier letters. A semivowel is a sound that phonetically sounds like a vowel but functions as a syllable boundary. The Russian alphabet’s semivowel is й. The modifier letters, ь and ъ, alter the pronunciation of a preceding consonant and/or following a vowel.

Some of the Russian alphabet’s eaters were dropped in the 18th century and 1918. This includes ѯ and ѱ, derived from the Greek letters xi and psi. Additionally, I, ѣ, ѳ, and ѵ was discontinued in 1918.

Upper/Lower
Letter Name
Pronunciation
English Equiv.
А аalike ar in farA
Б бbelike b in boxB
В вvelike v in voiceV
Г гgelike g in goG
Д дdelike d in dayD
Е еyelike ye in yet or e in exitYe
Ё ёyolike yo in yourYo
Ж жzhelike s in pleasureZh
З зzelike z in zooZ
И иeelike ee in meetEe
Й йee kratkoye (short i)like y in boyI or Y
К кkalike k in key or c in catK
Л лellike l in lampL
М мemlike m in manM
Н нenlike n in noteN
О оolike o in notO
П пpelike p in petP
Р рerlike r in rock (but rolled)R
С сeslike s in sunS
Т тtelike t in tableT
У уoolike oo in moonU
Ф фeflike f in foodF
Х хkhalike ch in Scottish lochH or Kh
Ц цtselike ts in bootsTs
Ч чchelike ch in chatCh
Ш шshalike sh in shortSh
Щ щshchalike sh_ch in fresh_cheeseSh
ъtviordiy znak (hard sign)has no soundhard sign
ыih*like i in illI
ьmyagkiy znak (soft sign)has no soundsoft sign
Э эelike e in endE
Ю юyoolike u in useYu
Я яyalike ya in yardYa