Hard and soft stems

  1. These letters follow hard consonants:
    а, э, о, у, ы
  2. These letters follow soft consonants:
    я, е, ё, ю, и, ь
  3. In Russian grammar, there are many instances when you will need to drop as letter before you add another letter. The general rule is, if you drop a letter from the hard series vowels (а, э, о, у, ы), you add a letter from the hard series vowels, and if you drop a letter from the soft series vowels (я, е, ё, ю, и, ь), you add a letter from the soft series vowels.
  4. Let's look at the example for forming plurals of feminine nouns in Russian.
    1. Feminine nouns in Russian end in (hard series), or (soft series).
    2. The plural endings for feminine nouns in Russian are (hard series) or (soft series).
    3. So, if the noun ends in (hard series), to form the plural we drop that letter and add the letter (hard series): газета - газеты.
    4. If the noun ends in (soft series), we drop that letter and add the letter (soft series): тётя - тёти.
  5. The spelling rules always take precedence over any other rule!
  6. Let's look at an example. The word книга ends in a the hard series vowel -а, and you would expect the plural ending to be , since it is a hard series vowel as well. However, Spelling Rule 1 takes precedence, and therefore the noun will take the plural ending .