Sometimes, a consonant will not be followed by any vowels at all, but will still be pronounced soft. To show that this consonant should be pronounced soft, a soft sign (ь) will be placed after it. The Russian language is full of soft signs. In fact, the vast majority of verbs are written with a soft sign in their infinitive form (e.g., читать). Because soft signs are so prominent in Russian, it is important to know how this soft signs affect pronunciation of words.
|Words with Soft Signs (ь)||Meaning|
|говорить||to speak, talk, say|
Russian also has hard signs (ъ), because sometimes a consonant will maintain its hardness even when it is followed by a soft vowel. For example, in the word объяснить (to explain), the hard sign (ъ) indicates a hard б. If there were no hard sign (
обяснить), this б would be pronounced softly because of the я. Remember this rule: Soft signs make the consonant soft; hard signs make the consonant hard. See examples of words with hard and soft signs below.
|Words with Hard Signs (ъ)||Meaning|
|объём||volume (geometric term)|