Russian/False Friends

False Friends

False Friends is a linguistics term given to words or letters that have similar appearance, but are pronounced differently. There are 9 such false friends between Russian and English: В, Ё, Н, Р, C', У and Х.


Russian name: вэ, Romanization: ve (veh) Audio:About this sound Listen

This letter looks like a large and small uppercase English B, but represents the same sound as English V. This letter is often devoiced at the end of words or before voiceless consonants, meaning that it's pronounced like an F instead.

Example: Вы (VY) is pronounced VYH. It means "you (plural)". Автор (AFtor) is pronounced AFF-tor, meaning "author".


ё, yo About this sound Listen

This letter represents the sound Yoh, like the greeting Yo without the w-glide at the end. It is always stressed in Russian words. Keep in mind that Russians often write this letter as Е in informal text.

Example: Ёлка (YOLka), pronounced YOLL-kah, means "Christmas tree".


ен, en About this sound Listen

Though it looks like an uppercase English H, it represents the same sound as the English letter N.

Example: Нос (NOS), is Russian for "nose".


эр, er About this sound Listen

Don't mistake this for the English letter P. This letter is usually transliterated with R, but it's not pronounced like the English R. Instead, it's trilled as in Spanish.

Example: Рок (ROK) is the genre "rock" in Russian.


эс, es About this sound Listen

The English letter C has various pronunciations, but the Russian letter С is always like the English S.

Example: Суп (SUP), means "soup".


у, u About this sound Listen

This letter is transliterated with U and represents the oo sound in English tool. Stressed У is only a bit longer than the unstressed counterpart; the pronunciation is the same otherwise.

Example: Утро (UTRO),pronounced Utra meaning is "morning".


ха, kha or ha About this sound Listen

This sound doesn't really exist in English (apart from in loanwords like "loch" and "taoiseach" from Gaelic or names like "Bach" from German or "Don Quixote" from Spanish) and is usually transliterated using two letters: Kh ("Ch" is ambiguous as it could also represent "ч"). It's pronounced as a voiceless velar fricative, meaning that you should put your tongue in position to pronounce a K, but instead make a breathy, voiceless H-sound with the tongue in the same position.

Example: Хвост (KHVOST) means "tail".