I'm having a very hard time understanding this pronunciation. Is it safe to assume that ый sounds like ey in hey ?

Take the word сильный for instance, the pronunciation on forvo is slightly different than the one on wiktionary, which one is correct?

  • 2
    Wiktionary uses speech engine and at forvo you listen to live humans. Forvo's records sound more natural.
    – AlexVB
    Nov 29, 2017 at 21:56
  • @AlexVB are you sure? It doesn't sound robotic at all
    – Trey
    Nov 29, 2017 at 22:24
  • The way it pronounce "ый" made me think this. But now I think I was wrong. There are articles which have a transcription, but don't have a sound sample.
    – AlexVB
    Dec 1, 2017 at 13:59
  • Wiktionary's audio has a weird noise at the end. Forvo pronunciations are cleaner and sound more natural.
    – Olga
    Dec 1, 2017 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


All three of forvo are correct, while Wiktionary sounds as сильний.

Hey does not sound to me as a safe replacement of ый. As far as I know, the sound Ы does not exist in English. Have a look at this nice lesson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB61Fi1LluY

  • 1
    That's what I thought, it's very similar to сильний indeed, thank you!
    – Trey
    Nov 29, 2017 at 22:08
  • 1
    For me, Wikitionary sounds OK.
    – Anixx
    Nov 30, 2017 at 7:30

Only the last phoneme in -ый is similar to ey in hey, but not the entire syllable.

I'm not entirely clear what part of the syllable is a problem.

The divergence may be due to difference in expression of different speakers, without proper effort in articulation (like in fluent speech) it may sound as just without , which at this position is very short anyway (not without a reason the letter is named "short И"), getting reduced because the word stress is far removed from it.

I didn't notice it being pronounced as -ий in the clips.

The word contains both vowels сИльнЫй and in the Wiktionary clip difference in their pronunciation is apparent. И softens consonants which precede it (save for Ц/Ж/Ш, which in combination ЦИ/ЖИ/ШИ are pronounced as ЦЫ/ЖЫ/ШЫ) whereas in the clip Н before -ый isn't softened, which would be the case had the ending been pronounced as -ий.

If you're trying to understand how ы is to be properly pronounced, i'd suggest taking notice of how English duh interjection is pronounced, because its vowel is quite close.

  • 1
    жи and ши are also pronounced as if they had ы, not only ци.
    – Viridianus
    Nov 30, 2017 at 12:51
  • 1
    thank you for a totally valid remark, i overlooked this case, the reply has been updated Nov 30, 2017 at 12:54

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