About Ъ And Ь

hard sign and soft signToday I would like to tell you about two very special letters in the Russian alphabet. We call them:

  • твёрдый знак – the hard mark (sign)
  • мягкий знак – the soft mark (sign)

These two letters are silent. They don’t make any sound. So probably you want to ask me – why do we need them ?

To be completely honest we really need the soft sign (ь) only.  It’s much more frequent than the ъ. We use the soft sign in two cases:

1) to make softer a consonant followed by ь . Look at the example:

угол  /`oo-gal /  – corner, angle
уголь /`oo-gal’/– coal ( the “л” became really soft like in the french word “elle“).
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NUMBERS  0-12 / ЧИСЛА 0-12

NUMBERS 0-12 / ЧИСЛА 0-12

1 – один   – /a-`deen/
2 – два – /`dva /
3 – три – /`tree /
4 – четыре – /chee-`tee-ree/
5 – пять – /`pyat/
6 – шесть – /`shest/
7 – семь   –  /`sem/
8 – восемь  –  /`vo-sem/
9 – девять – /`de-vyat/
10 – десять  –  /`de-syat/
11 – одиннадцать – /a-`dee-na-tsat /
12 – двенадцать  – /dvee-`na-tsat /

The grey colored text shows you how to pronounce these words. Pay attention to the signs:

` – stress syllable
I was trying to show you with this that a consonant before softer because we have a soft sign.

Future tense

To make the future tense you need to use the verb “быть” in the future tense + infinitive
The verb “быть” changes for persons in the future tense. But conjugation is very simple. It is the same with the 1st type conjugation for the present tense.


я буду работать завтра – I will work tomorrow
ты будешь пить кофе? – will you drink coffee?
она будет знать это – she will know this
мы будем готовить ужин – we will cook the dinner
вы будете завтра дома – you will be home tomorrow*
они будут читать книги – they will read books

* We never use the verb to be (быть) twice for future:
I will be at home Я буду дома (I will at home)
NEVER!!! Ты будешь быть дома


Past Tense

We change verbs to describe actions in the past (went, bought, did). The same thing occurs in the Russian language as well .

We make the past tense by replacing the infinitive ending -ть with:

1.    (for masculine gender)
Он работал вчера – He worked yesterday.

2.  -ла (for feminine)
Она работала вчера – She worked yesterday.

3.    -ло ( for neutral)
Это хорошо работало – it worked good.

4.       -ли (for plural: мы, вы, они)
Мы работали вместе – we worked together.

It is easy to remember for he (он) you need to use, for she (она) you need -ла.

Pay attention for I (я) and for singular you (ты) you may use both:

or -ла. It depends on who made this action in past: male or female.
Я думалI thought (if I am a man)
Я думала – I thought (if I am a woman)


How to write cyrillic letters

If you already know how to read printed letters that means you already can write. But if you write all letters in the same way as they are printed probably it is taking too much of time to write such letters like: я, ж, ы, б, щ, ц, ч
If you learn Russian hand-writing  you will be able to write  faster and to understand other people’s handwritten letters.

Look how it looks

как писать кирилицей

Pay attention that handwritten д, и, п,  т, ш can be really confusing.

If you want to practice writing the Cyrillic letters, you can download the page from here, print it out and improve your writing.

Let’s do a little test on your undesrtanding the Russian handwritten letters. Try to read these sentences. What do they mean?

how to understand the russian coursive

Did you do it right? Write in comments below the phrases you could figure out. You homework is to write phrases about yourself.