Pronunciation of the soft sign [ь] in the Russian language

The soft sign is something new for foreigners. Popular languages don't have this letter in their alphabets.

Here are some examples:

ел – ель
шест – шесть
кон – конь

Listen to the audio to feel the difference:



Can you feel the difference now? That's why we need that weird-looking letter in our alphabet.

If you understand now how this letter changes the way the consonants sound, practice some other examples:

дверь
нить
Русь
верфь
соль

The end of the word is not the only location of the soft sign. You might have noticed that ь can be also found in the middle of some Russian words. The soft sign is mostly used to soften the preceding consonant, it's not necessary should be at the end of the word.

сельдь
свадьба
просьба
меньше

Another use of the soft sign is for separation.

вьюга
карьера
ружьё
чья

In this case the soft fign is used to separate the consonants from the vowels ю, е, ё, я, so they don't merge.

Listen to the audio, so you can understand how we pronounce such words.

There are also some foreign words in which we use the soft sign before the vowel "o":

почтальон
шампиньон
бульон
павильон