Hello, dear student! If you are the student, who always mixes up the usage of the soft sign "ь" in Russian words, this article is obviously for you. All you need is to learn it carefully and memorize basic principles.
Well, we need the soft sign to divide syllables, when it's before the letters е/ё, ю, я:
Друзья [Druz'ya] Friends - in this case we use the soft sign between the letters -з and -я, according to the rule.
Друзья всегда познаются в беде [Druzya fsigda paznayutsya f bide] - A friend in need is a friend indeed
Ружьё [Ruzh'yo] a Gun - according to the rule, the soft sign is used between the letters -ж and -ё
У старика было старое ружьё [U starika byla starae ruzh'yo] - An old man had an old gun.
We also use the soft sign in borrowed words, which have come into Russian from other languages. To understand whether it is a borrowed word, you need to turn to the dictionary, there it would be written as "заимст". Or "заимствованное слово". Such words include:
Почтальон [Pachtal'yon] a postman
Бульон [Bul'yon] a bouillon
We have already known that we need the soft sign to soften some consonants, for example:
Вонь [Von'] a bad smell
В той квартире стояла жуткая вонь [F toj kvartire stayala zhutkaya von'] - There was a disgusting smell in that flat.
The soft sign is written after the soft consonants - г, к, б, м:
Серьги [Ser'gi] earrings
Какие серьги у этой девушки! [Kakie ser'gi u ekhtaj devushki!] - What rings this lady has!
The soft sign is never used in the combinations of the following letters: нч, чк,чн, щн,нщ, рщ:
Нянчить [Nyanchit'] to look after/to nurse
Сборщик [Sborsshik] a collector
The soft sign is always written in the end of a verb in the infinitive form:
Болеть [Balet'] to be ill
Кричать [Krichat'] to shout