How are the Russian letters written and read? Where do I find them on the keyboard? How do I write them by hand? Will I ever be able to remember and understand them? Today we will answer all the questions related to the Russian alphabet.

About the Russian alphabet

The Russian alphabet has 33 letters:

  • 21 consonant — б, в, г, д, ж, з, й, к, л, м, н, п, p, c, т, ф, x, ц, ч, ш, щ;
  • 10 vowels — a, y, o, ы, э, я, ю, ё, и, e;
  • 2 characters — ь (soft) и ъ (hard), they are not pronounced and do not indicate any sound on their own.

The Russian alphabet became this way in 1918, after a major writing reform, but then there were only 31 letters, because the ‘ё’ and ‘й’ were considered a variant of the letters ‘e’ and ‘и’ respectively. And it was in 1942 that the alphabet took over its modern form completely.

There are some more interesting facts about the Russian language.

  1. Vowels are used more often than consonants.
  2. The letter “о” [o] is used most often, followed by “а” [a] and “и” [i].
  3. The most common consonant letter is “н” [en].
  4. Most often, Russian words begin with the letter “п” [pe].
  5. The least common consonant in Russian is “ф” [fe].

How to pronounce Russian letters

 Russian alphabet and world famous brands



Word example

А а


Адидас  — Adidas

Б б


Бонд — Bond

В в


Виза — Visa

Г г


Гугл — Google

Д д


Делл — Dell

Е е


Ксерокс — Xerox

Ё ё


pronounced as in York 

example in Russian: «ёлка» [йолка/yolka]

Ж ж


Джин — Gin

З з


Зара — Zara

И и


Интел — Intel

Й й


Толстой — Tolstoy

К к


Кока-Кола — Coca-Cola

Л л


Липтон — Lipton

М м


Мак — Mac

Н н


Нескафе — Nescafe

О о


Опера — Opera

П п


Пепси — Pepsi

Р р


Марс — Mars

С с


Сити — Citi

Т т


Тиффани — Tiffany

У у


Кенвуд — Kenwood

Ф ф


Форд — Ford

Х х


Хонда — Honda

Ц ц


Пицца Хат — Pizza Hut

Ч ч


Гуччи — Gucci

Ш ш


Шелл — Shell

Щ щ


pronounced as in shoes 

example in Russian: «щи» [щи/shshi]





Крылов — Krylov



Э э


Бренд (say брэнд) — Brand

Ю ю


Ютьюб — YouTube

Я я


Яху — Yahoo

The letters я, е, ё, ю at the beginning of a word or after soft and hard signs denote two sounds at once: [йа/ya], [йэ/ye], [йо/yo] and [йу/yu], respectively.

For the convenience, you can, for example, group all the letters of the Russian alphabet in four rows:

  • true friends (look same as in English, sound like in English): A, K, M, O, T,
  • new friends (look new but sound similar): Б, Г, Д, З, И, Л, П, Ф, Э,
  • false friends (look same but sound different): В, Е, Н, Р, С, У, Х,
  • strangers (tricky once – look different, sound different): Ё, Ж, Й, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ъ, Ь, Ы, Ю, Я.

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Written and printed Russian letters

Each letter has two types of lettering: printed and written. Printed letters are used in books, on websites, when you are just learning the alphabet. Written letters are written by hand, they will be useful to you in further training, when you write texts, do exercises. In Russian, it is customary to write by hand in written letters.

Letters a number in the written version differ from the printed type. To master written letters, it is worth training in special words.

                           Russian alphabet

The Russian alphabet letters on the keyboard

The letter layout on the computer keyboard is not made randomly, but obeys certain rules. Therefore, the most frequently used letters are located in the keyboard central part and those that are less common are located along the edges. But there are some subtleties that foreigners who study Russian should know.

The standard layout in the Microsoft Windows operating system on the Russian computers keyboards  looks like this:Russian computers keyboards

If you prefer Apple, then the layout may be a little different:

In addition, there is a phonetic layout option, where Russian and Latin letters, similar in sound, are connected on the same key: S and C, D and Д, R and Р. This option is often used for those unfamiliar with the traditional Russian keyboard:

Russian keyboard

However, since the letters number in Russian and languages using the Latin alphabet does not match, the keys number in the second case is less. Therefore, special signs can “change” their location when switching layouts.

From the very basics, getting to know the alphabet, learning Russian seems to be a difficult task. However, if you do not give up at this moment, it will not be easier, but much more exciting.

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