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How to Learn Cyrillic

The Cyrillic alphabet has 33 letters. We will be learning them in 3 groups plus the signs:
  • Old friends: 7 letters that look and sound similar in English and Russian
  • False friends: 5 letters that look like letters you know but sound different in English and Russian
  • New letters: 19 new letters that are only in Cyrillic
  • Signs: 2 letters that affect how other letters are pronounced.
You can see the entire alphabet by going to the Charts section and clicking a letter for details. We will teach you the block (printed) forms first, followed by the cursive (handwritten) forms.

The letters include a Soft Sign and Hard Sign. These two letters have no pronunciation by themselves but they affect how the letters next to them are pronounced.

We will first learn the letters as they appear in printed texts and screens. However, even in this modern age, no educated Russian would ever hand write these letters out individually. They write with the cursive letters we will be learning a little later. Learn to recognize and read the printed forms first.

Note: The transliteration/latinization scheme we use is not one of the "official" ways to represent Cyrillic using the alphabet. Think of it as a temporary crutch to help you learn the Cyrillic alphabet which you should discard as soon as possible.