I know that pronouncing “щ” as “ш + ч” is outdated, but can I still pronounce it like that? Will people understand me?

  • 1
    "pronunciation of Щ is outdated"? What? Or did you mean "pronunciation of Щ as “ш + ч” is outdated", as in the title? If so, it will sound a bit Byelorussian; people will understand in the sense that it should not cause confusion. I'm not sure it was ever normative in Russian, in order to be called "outdated"...
    – Zeus
    Aug 26, 2022 at 0:57
  • Why not learn to say it the proper way? Aug 26, 2022 at 7:27
  • You can say “ш + ч” (or “с + ч”) and still be understood - if you pronounce that quickly.
    – Alexander
    Aug 29, 2022 at 17:04
  • Yes you can, and yes they will Sep 8, 2022 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


My guess is that your ability to be understood wouldn't be greatly affected if you pronounced щ as [шч]. In fact, this pronunciation is a variant of the norm in words like счастье and счёт. Sometimes the listener might be confused as to whether you said щека or чека, for example.

If you're learning Russian, I suggest you try and learn the proper smooth pronunciation from day one. To my ear, the English sh is closer to щ than ш. If you think about it, щ is a palatalized and geminated (doubled) version of ш. The gemination is at least as important. It's probably best to practice saying minimal pairs like чаша - чаща, шит (sewn) - щит (shield). Keeping a straight face is part of the challenge!


In the rural middle Volga region, they tend to not pronounce щ, instead using composite consonants, but different ones.

Тысяча becomes [тышша], щи become [счи]. It's also a hard consonant: нищий is [нишшый].

(And no, they don't pronounce it quickly)

This doesn't cause any intelligibility issues, so the (West Slavic) [шч] should work, too. South Slavic [шт] much less so.

Nevertheless, if you don't make some other sounds just right, you'll be heading into "huh?" territory really fast.


Here's what I usually do to explain how "щ" is pronounced: imagine "ч" (or English "ch") is "ть+щ". So when you drop the beginning "ть" from "ч", you get a perfect "щ".

  • 1
    You also have to double it. Two ch's without t's. Or maybe un-aspirate the s in measure
    – alamar
    Sep 6, 2022 at 22:45

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