Some sources say that there are 32 letters in the alphabet, while others say there are 33. The discrepancy seems to be a result of including/excluding ё. They also mention (whether or not they include ё) that ё is frequently rendered as е.

Is ё a distinct letter, or is it just е with a diaeresis?

  • Well, you can tell just by the way it looks that it is a "е" with a diaeresis. There are no two ways about it. That's a cyrillic E with diaeresis. Also known as "yo".
    – RomanSt
    Dec 6, 2012 at 21:28
  • 1
    Here is a video about letter Ё. There is evidence that the sound that this letter denotes existed in XII century.
    – Artemix
    Nov 29, 2013 at 3:51

4 Answers 4


Ё is a distinct letter. You can find ё in children's literature (ёжик, ёлочка, самолёт), but almost all authors will have e replacing it in the business, academic and journalistic literature. This exchange is found only on the letter.

Ё is pronounced like yo in the English word Yoga. Remember: the accent always falls on ё.

Now the problem of the letter ё occurs among all Russian editors, writers and authors. Some scientists believe that we should use ё in the literature, others believe that it should be replaced by е. For example, Arkady Milchin argues that ё is used in literature only if the meaning of the word with е is unclear, such as with "все - everybody" and "всё - everything". There are different meanings in the words with е and ё. For example, Тема is a topic and Тёма is diminutive-hypocoristic name of Артём.

A magazine "За рулём" was published in 1928. It used the letter e in the word "рулем" until 1956. Then, in the years 1956-1975 it used the letter ё. From 1975 to nowadays it used the letter е in the name of the magazine. You can look through the photos.

  • Nice answer, Maria! :)
    – Alenanno
    Dec 2, 2012 at 10:09
  • As your nice question =) Dec 2, 2012 at 10:16
  • The question was not mine. :P Ctype.h asked it. :D
    – Alenanno
    Dec 2, 2012 at 10:17
  • Sorry =) I'm new here. Dec 2, 2012 at 10:21
  • 1
    No problem! And welcome to Russian SE. :) My name in the center says "edited # mins ago"... This means I edited the post. :) If you've got any question, try Russian Language Meta or Ask a Russian moderator in chat. :)
    – Alenanno
    Dec 2, 2012 at 10:23

It is a distinct letter. You can find more details on Wikipedia (Original Russian Wiki)

The letter has a rich history, and is currently somewhat-optional but required in specific cases (translation from Russian Wiki):

According to the Letter of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation of 03.05.2007, № AF-159/03 "Decisions of the Interdepartmental Commission on the Russian language" [17] one is required to write the letter "ё" in cases where there may be confusion in pronouncing the word, such as in proper names; as ignoring the letter "ё" in this case is a violation of Federal Law "On the state language of the Russian Federation."

According to the rules of Russian spelling and punctuation in the regular printed texts the usage of "ё" is optional. However, at the request of the author or editor any book can be reprinted using "ё". (src: "Правила русской орфографии и пунктуации. Полный академический справочник. Под ред. В. В. Лопатина", ЭКСМО, 2006. Стр. 20, § 5)


Use of е instead ё may change the meaning of word. Все means all. Всё has another meaning; the End or death like in joke about the shortest telegram "Изя - всё!", or all ot this "Всё это".

Все собрались?
Everybody here?

Всё собрали?
Did you collect all the stuff?


According to the executive order from Dec 24th, 1942 the letter "ё" is to be used in school education and in litterature, but many people recently have ignored this letter. Actually, it makes reading easier, because we read words as a whole, not by letters, and this letter is very much helpful, especially in fast reading.

  • While I agree that ё is a separate letter, I'd like to see an explanation of how it makes reading easier.
    – Aleks G
    Dec 3, 2012 at 8:45
  • I'll try. As I said, we read each work not by letters but as a whole, and ascending and descending elements like ё's dots (or even capital letters) make the words more recognizable and more easily readable, especially long ones. You may try as well to read some text typed with different typefaces. Even kerning makes difference. It's not so obvious with English because latin alphabet has few such letters, but it's far more obvious in languages with diacritical signs like French. You may write two sentences with those signs and without them and easily read both, but you'll read the former faster
    – user952
    Dec 18, 2012 at 19:29

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