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Lesson Number 7. Basic rules of reading Russian vowels.

We started speaking about Russian vowels and got to know that unlike in English, in Russian vowels pretty much sound as they look.

Are there any particular rules, where they sound differently?

For sure there are! It’s Russian, don’t expect anything to be too easy :)

Seriously, these rules are not hard, but you have to remember them well, since you are going to use them reading almost every word in Russian.

А: [а] or [ə]

The Russian vowel A is read as A (English [Ah], as in park, father) only when it is stressed - you can read about what stress is here.

In other situations, being unstressed, Russian А is pronounced as [ə], the so-called “schwa” sound - like the A in about; or the 1st and 3rd A in banana [bəˈnɑːnə]:

Ма́ма [ма́мə]

А́рка [а́ркə]

Во́дка [во́дкə]

О: [о] or [ə]

The Russian vowel О is read as О (AW in law) only if stressed.

If unstressed, it is also a schwa sound [ə]:

Он [он]

Спорт [спо́рт]

Она́ [əна́]

Москва́ [мəсква́]

Росси́я [рəсси́йа]

Е, Я, Э: [йэ],[йа],[э] OR [i]

The Russian vowels Е, Я, Э are read correspondingly only if stressed.

If unstressed, they are pronounced as [i]:

Меню́ [миню́]

Телеви́зор [тиливи́зəр]

Метро́ [митро́]

Ве́на [ве́нə]

Мя́со [мя́сə]

Пятьдеся́т [пиддися́т]

Поэ́т [пəэ́т]

Э́кспорт [э́кспəрт]

Эконо́мика [икəно́микə]

Эта́ж [ита́ш]

Note: if unstressed letters E or Я are in the beginning of the word, they will be read as [йи]:


Евро́па [йивро́пə]

Е́ва [йэ́ва]

Япо́ния [йипо́нийа]

Я́хта [йа́хтə]

These were the basic rules of pronouncing the Russian vowels. You might encounter more on your path of learning Russian, but for now don’t overload yourself with information - you can actually read correctly most of the Russian words!

And if you want to have proper lessons with Russian teacher in Glasgow or by Skype,

Feel free to contact me.


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