There are two letters in the Russian alphabet that raise many questions for foreign students. These letters don't have any sound and one can't even distinguish them in the pronunciation of words. They are the soft sign (Ь) and hard sign (Ъ). To avoid spelling mistakes, you need to know the cases when we use the hard and soft signs.
The hard sign is written:
- in the words with prefixes ending with a consonant followed by vowels Е [e] (Ё [yo]), Ю [yu], Я [ya].
ОбЪезжать [ab'yizhat'], изЪян [iz'yan], обЪявление [ab'yavlenie], подЪезд [pad'yezd].
- in compound words with numeral-part: двух- [dvukh], трeх- [tryokh], четырeх- [chityryokh] and the same vowels Е, (Ё), Ю, Я.
- after some prefixes of foreign origin.
Инъекция [in'yektsiya], субъект [sub'yekt].
The situation with the soft sign is a little bit easier because we most often can hear it not like distinct sound but like the softness of a consonant in the end of a word. Here are the examples:
- in the infinitive form of verbs.
Знать, бежать, давать [znat', bizhat', davat'].
Мириться, удивляться, причесываться [mirit'sya, udivlyat'sya, prichyosyvat'sya].
- in the noun of feminine gender. You've already known that according to a general rule, the soft sign in the end of nouns is the index of feminine gender.
Любовь, мать, ночь [Lyubov', mat', noch'].
- in the form of verb "ты делаешь" (you do). In this case we don't hear softness because there is hushing sound [Ш] -[sh] in the end of a word - you should just memorize this rule.
Гуляешь, уезжаешь, ешь [gulyaish, uyizhaish, yesh].