'Тс' already sounds like 'Ть' so why is there a soft sign there? Do I pronounce them both like a soft T?

  • Is the question about verb endings?
    – Artemix
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 3:38
  • The following is incorrect: "Тс' already sounds like 'Ть' " - these two are pronounced as "цц". Смеются произносится как "Смеюцца", смеяться произносится как "смеяцца"
    – A-K
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 18:39
  • @Artemix: the original question was: "ть" already sounds like "тс" - because unfortunately some sites teach that soft [t] is pronounced [ts]. So the OP's question began with that misconception. Thus your edit makes no sense and his question (in theory) makes no sense. A less confusing questions (that won't confuse new readers) would be: Why does the verb ending -ться have a soft sign, and how is it pronounced?
    – CocoPop
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:45
  • @CocoPop I do not agree with you. I just added dashes to show that question is about endings. In fact it is a common mistake for native speakers as well. Most answers posted prior to my edit are about verb endings. It's a pity that OP does not react nor to comments, nor to answers.
    – Artemix
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 19:35

4 Answers 4


There is no difference in pronunciation but "ь" is kept merely for the sake of consistency.

You see, most infinitives end in "-ть". And the 3rd person singular/plural end in :

  • to love = любить
  • he loves = он любит

And now, the magic! To form a reflexive verb form you add 'сь' after a vowel and 'ся' after a consonant. So....

  • говорить + ся = говориться
  • говорит + ся = говорится
  • женят + ся = женятся

The pair "говориться/говорится" indeed sounds exactly the same because it so happens that 3rd person singular for many "-ить" verbs of the И-conjugation differs from the infinitive only by the hardness of the last consonant.


Actually ь is there to indicate the infinitive. However, there is no distinction in pronunciation between -ться and -тся : they're both pronounced -тца.

смея́ться - [сме•я́т•ца] infinitive

смеётся - [сме•йо́т•ца] 3rd p. sing.

смеются - [сме•ю́т•ца] 3rd p. pl.

  • Thanks. Haven't gotten into verb aspects much but I remember the infinitive part about 'ть'. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 0:06
  • This actually has nothing to do with aspect; it's phonetic, not grammatical - both perfective and imperfective verbs have these endings.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:39

It's mostly grammatical and as correctly stated above "ться" usually indicates the infinitive. It is relatively simple to catch the rule by using the following cheat:

  • If the word answers the "что делать" question use "ться".
  • If the word answers the "что делает / -ют" question you use "тся".

Yes, if there's "ь" in the question word, feel free to use "ться", and the opposite - if there's no "ь" in the question, use тся.

  • 1
    Yes, this is the way how pupils are taught in Russian schools. But it seems to me that such mnemonics are suitable for native speakers only.
    – Artemix
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 7:32
  • I am not native speaker and this "cheat" sounds perfectly suitable for me. ;) Requires certain language proficiency, but still.
    – Rilakkuma
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 7:54
  • 1
    Ah, I see :) In fact there are many native speakers on Russian.SE (including myself) and I thought you may be one of them. It's good that this "cheat" works for non-native speakers, because there are some language features that are intuitive for natives (like pairs of verbs of different aspect) and should be learnt by heart by others.
    – Artemix
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 10:37
  • 1
    This cheat is more confusing that the original question! This looks like it would only work if you were Russian.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:49
  • Well I am not Russian however I learned it during teenager years and find this explanation clear. I am sorry if it does not work for you.
    – Rilakkuma
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 16:00

Some native russian have troubles with "-тся"/"-ться" too. So we have special site for that: http://tsya.ru/

  • Neither your post nor that site you are linking to answers the question in any way. Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 3:18

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