Russian cursive is one technique for writing the letters of the Russian alphabet by hand. In this system of writing, as in most types of cursive writing, the majority of letters are connected to one another, allowing for a single line to be used to write many words. This style of writing can be somewhat difficult for a non-native speaker to read, as some cursive letters look quite different from their printed equivalents, and some writers further cut corners by omitting parts of written letters.
The Russian Cyrillic alphabet contains 33 letters, two of which are signs that change the pronunciation of other letters but have no sound themselves. This alphabet is descended from an older alphabet, invented by Cyril and Methodius, which was largely based on Greek. This early alphabet was quite unwieldy and contained many more letters than modern Cyrillic. It also relied on block letters printed by hand rather than on a cursive system of writing. Russian cursive emerged in something like its modern form as part of the reform campaigns of Peter I during the 17th century.
Most letters in the Russian cursive alphabet resemble the printed block letters on which they are based, but there are a few exceptions. The uppercase cursive "D" resembles its printed uppercase equivalent. The lowercase version of the same letter resembles an English cursive "g," however, and bears no real resemblance to the lowercase printed letter "d," which is simply a smaller version of the capital letter. The cursive form of the letter "T" is also much different from the printed form and more closely resembles an "M".
A large majority of the handwriting done in Russian is in Russian cursive instead of hand-printed block letters. Cursive is learned early by Russian schoolchildren, who master this form of writing much sooner than English-speaking students typically learn cursive handwriting. Native speakers of Russian often cut corners when using Russian cursive, which can make reading this script difficult for non-native speakers.
Several groups of letters, such as "m" and "l" or "p" and "t" are difficult to distinguish from one another in Russian cursive script. Special marks are used to indicate these letters, and some other often-confused pairs, in writing. Native speakers generally find these additional markings to be superfluous and are apt to omit them when writing in cursive. Foreign speakers of Russian are less able to make do without these additional markings, and may have a difficult time reading hastily-written Russian cursive handwriting.