What is the difference between Ы and И?

Considering pronunciation: there is only a small difference. The true difference is in the hard/soft consonants preceding the letters.
In Russian, every vowel has two forms:  а/я, э/е, ё/о, ю/у and и/ы. In which the first is soft, the second is hard.

So in быть, the "b" is hard, while in бить, the "b" is soft ;)


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