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Pronunciation of the vowels Е, Ё, Ю, Я

There are several vowels in Russian which do not have their own sounds. These are the letters "Е" - [E], "Ё" - [YO], "Ю" - [YU], "Я" - [YA]. They are denoted either with the combination of two sounds or with the soft sound "й" - и краткая [i kratkaya] or they sound like [э] - [eh], [о] - [o], [у] - [u], [а] - [a], accordingly.

1. They denote two sounds [й'э] - [ye], [й'о] - [yo], [й'у] - [yu], [й'а] - [ya] in the following cases:

In the beginning of a word.
Юла [yula], ель [yel'], ёж [yozh], яблоко [yablaka].

After a vowel.
Таяние [tayan'ie], каюта [kayuta], маёвка [mayofka], поединок [payed'inak].

After separating letters "ъ" and "ь".
Подъёмник [padyomn'ik], серьёзный [sir'yoznyy], вьюга [v'yuga], пьяный [p'yanyy].

Note. If the letter "И" is after soft sign "ь", it is also pronounced like the combination of the sounds [й'и] - [y'i].
Муравьи [murav'y'i], воробьи [varab'y'i], ничьи [nich'y'i].

2. They denote the sounds [э] -[eh], [о] - [o], [у] - [u], [а] - [a], if they stand after the consonant sound which is a part of the sound-pair according to hardness-softness. Then the letter "е" [e] expresses the softness of a previous consonant and sounds like "э" [eh].

День - [D'ehn']

It might be difficult for you to pronounce words with the letters "е", "ё", "ю", "я" depending on your native language. Not everybody can convey the sound "й" [y] which softens the sound "э", "о", "у", "а" so you get "лублу" [lublu] instead of "люблю" [l'yubl'yu] (love).

To pronounce these sounds, you should practise the hardness-softness of consonants.

Бук - бег [buk- b'eg], дань - день [dan' - d'ehn'], заяц - земля [zayats - ziml'ya], нос - нёс [nos - n'yos], топор - тяжба [tapor - t'yazhba], тулуп - тюлень [tulup - t'yulen'], рысь - рис [rys' - r'is].

After you pronounce soft consonants successfully, you will easily pronounce the letters "е" - [ye], "ё"- [yo], "ю" - [yu], "я" - [ya].

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