I have noticed that the plural of some animate nouns sounds very similar to its plural accusative. Here are some examples from Forvo so you can hear what I mean:






In the following pairings:





I do detect a difference in pronunciation, which makes me wonder if the differences in pronunciation are due to variations in the speaker or variations in the pronunciation of the word itself. Forvo is fantastic, but it is powered by people and though pronunciations are subjected to a voting system that is only open to native speakers, it is not forced to meet any rigorous standards by accredited institutions. In English, I can go to any number of good, free, online dictionaries that will pronounce the word in English and feel reasonably certain that the pronunciation is correct. I don't have that guarantee with Forvo, but based off the English I've heard on it, it's pretty darn good. Not being a native speaker of Russian, I'm taking it on good faith that these pronunciations are as true to the prescribed dictionary pronunciations as they can get. Are there any native Russian speakers who can give their assessment of the Russian recordings at Forvo? Or know of a free, online, authoritative resource that provides pronunciations of Russian words?

This next and final example:


diverges a bit from the above-- it compares the masculine singular with the masculine plural -- but these, too, sound very similar to me. Is there a distinct difference that native Russians hear between these two as well?

So to sum up/recap, do these pairings, including the pair above, also sound the same to native Russian speakers or do they detect a difference between the two and one who is learning the language simply needs to train their ear better to detect the difference? Or, is it possible that these words do have distinctive pronunciations but the speakers in some of these Forvo recordings aren't using precise pronunciation?

  • 1
    No, they do not.
    – shabunc
    Jul 6, 2017 at 20:20
  • depends on the speaker though. There are persons with more sharp polished pronunciation and those with blurry murmuring one. Like English can't and cunt or cap and cup - with some people you can hear the difference, with other you do not.
    – Arioch
    Jul 7, 2017 at 8:48

3 Answers 3


In the second group the ending is stressed and pronounced more clearly. In the first group the ending is not stressed and thus is less discernible. Depending on the speaker, the rate of speech and other factors, unstressed vowels can be weakened to almost nothing. In an extreme case you could get [псатли] for писатели. Also note that an unstressed Е sounds almost like И in Russian which takes an unstressed -ЕЙ even closer to -И.

I have listened to the Forvo readings and they sound like they were done by regular people trying to speak clearly at a normal rate (which may be too fast for a beginner).

Wait, there is an odd one: a recording for королей (by Mshak) clearly says короли. I had to convince myself that it actually says королей. And the ending is stressed too.

So yes, it is quite possible that at some rate of speech -И and -ЕЙ can become indistinguishable even to a native Russian speaker. I guess same can be said of герой/герои.

  • All of these comments have been very helpful. I suppose from a listening/understanding aspect, context will help convey the precise meaning, but what has been added here, especially in this answer, are some important considerations to keep in mind as a learner of Russian attempts to pronounce these subtle differences correctly ... subtle to a learner's ear anyway. I really appreciate those who took the time to listen to the Forvo recordings and provide feedback. Immensely helpful.
    – Lisa Beck
    Jul 7, 2017 at 18:29
  • I suppose some of these differences in pronunciation may be as subtle as the difference between English words such as "chairman/chairmen" and others like it.
    – Lisa Beck
    Jul 7, 2017 at 18:55

The difference between these is usually very clear for native speakers but we get tired by the end of the word sometimes and drop the volume, especially when there is no another word after:) Also, Forvo used to cut recordings short sometimes, at least in the past.


Yes, there is difference in pronunciation; words that have "й" at the end have the [й'] sound at the end (IPA [j]).

As to герой vs герои, their phonetic transcription is [г'ирой'] and [г'ирой'и] respectively, so there is difference again.

  • There's no й in герои... at least not phonetically.
    – Viridianus
    Oct 6, 2018 at 23:05

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