How do you pronounce the "ое" sound {IPA: [əjə]} at the end of a neuter nominative adjective such as "лёгкое"? I notice three different pronunciations:

ое {with a weak "о" sound}

е {with the "о" sound dropped}

оjе {with the "j" sound included}

Perhaps, the same goes for "прошлое", because the IPA is the same "[əjə]".

2 Answers 2


Examples in the Wiktionary: лёгкое, прошлое

The examples differ a bit with прошлое being pronounced with a more open А in -ае and audible Й -айэ, but this is idiosyncrasy of the speaker, i second the first example in your list

ое {with a weak "о" sound}

Technically O must be reduced to A but due to the stress being a bit distant it's further reduced to something amorphous between Э and Ы, while Й of -йэ is reduced to short И-иэ to keep final Е from devolving into Э

  • I am confused. Which й are you talking about? There is no such letter in the two examples. Are you talking about the sound [j] ? Oct 25, 2019 at 3:51
  • Also, what "-кое {with a weak O sound}" means in IPA? [kɘː] ? Oct 25, 2019 at 3:53
  • @Alan Evangelista yes i'm talking of [j] which can be represented by [й] of the Russian alphabet, i unfortunately am not versed in IPA system, so can't tell Oct 26, 2019 at 11:53
  • Minor: AFAIK you can use /й/ (phonemic transcription), but not [й] (phonetic transcription). You can only use IPA symbols in the latter. Anyway, my point is that I'm unable to hear two distinct vowels OE in the Wiktionary audios of лёгкое and прошлое , just a single sound between [ɛ] (an open E) and [e] (a closed E). Am I hearing it wrong? By the way, I'm not sure what a weak O means exactly, AFAIK either a vowel is pronounced or not. Oct 26, 2019 at 13:33
  • @Alan Evangelista OK, i don't care too much about transcription systems as practically speaking they're useless in language learning as far as i'm concerned, an O in Russian is, as you may know, habitually reduced to A, and can easily be reduced to Э and Ы or something in between when not under stress, so i'm basically regurgitating now my formal response, vowel reduction is a recognized phonetic phenomena, but i agree that matter-of-factly what you get in reduction is replacement of the original sound and in this sense it's either pronounced or not Oct 27, 2019 at 14:22

I'm not sure there is a "correct" pronunciation for those.

On paper, it's still [əjə], suggesting that it would be more "standard" to articulate the [j], but that seems fairly outdated because, by and large, nobody does, and dropping the [j] doesn't strike one as markedly colloquial the way, for example, dropping the [dʲ] in будет does. It's more of this ivory-tower approach of Russian academic linguistics, which often results in learners hearing different pronunciations from the ones they've been taught to expect, while rank-and-file native speakers are at a bit of a loss to explain what happened there.

I'd say the first one you listed is the most common and "neutral" one, but generally it's free variation.

  • Hi. What about the word "остальное" in which the accent is placed on "о"? In this case, is it more like: -коjе {with the "j" sound included}? Feb 16, 2018 at 22:15
  • @alone-Zee I suppose. [оэ] is fine too, though. Feb 17, 2018 at 12:13
  • @alone-Zee i don't think [оэ] is accurate as we don't say оЭ, just imagine, Nikolay, how ugly that would sound, the E is more close than the Э, it's basically the standard E devoid of initial [j], that is the vowel part of the phoneme by itself Feb 17, 2018 at 12:58

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