Ukrainian grammar

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The grammar of the Ukrainian language describes the phonological, morphological, and syntactical rules of the Ukrainian language. Ukrainian contains 7 cases and 2 numbers for its nominal declension and 2 aspects, 3 tenses, 3 moods, and 2 voices for its verbal conjugation. Adjectives must agree in number, gender, and case with their nouns.

In order to understand Ukrainian grammar, it is necessary to understand the various phonological rules that occur due to the collision of two or more sounds. Doing so markedly decreases the number of exceptions and makes understanding the rules better. The origin of some of these phonological rules can be traced all the way back to Indo-European gradation (ablaut). This is especially common in explaining the differences between the infinitive and present stem of many verbs.

This article will present the grammar of the literary language, which is in the main followed by most dialects. The main differences in the dialects are vocabulary with occasional differences in phonology and morphology. Further information can be found in the article Ukrainian dialects.

Phonology[edit]

The following points of Ukrainian phonology need to be considered in order to properly understand the grammar of Ukrainian.

Classification of vowels[edit]

Two different classification of vowels can be made: a historical perspective and a modern perspective. From a historical perspective, the Ukrainian vowels can be divided into two categories:

  1. Hard vowels (in Cyrillic: а, и (from Common Slavic *ы), о, and у or transliterated as a, y (from Common Slavic *y), o, and u; )
  2. Soft vowels (in Cyrillic: е, і and и (from Common Slavic *и) or transliterated as e, i and y (from Common Slavic *i)). The iotified vowels are considered to be soft vowels

From a modern perspective, the Ukrainian vowels can be divided into two categories:

  1. Hard Vowels (In Cyrillic: а, е, и, і, о, and у or transliterated as a, e, y, i, o, and u). This category as can be seen from the table is different from the historical hard category
  2. Iotified Vowel (In Cyrillic: я, є, ї, and ю or transliterated as ja, je, ji, and ju). To this category can also be added the combination of letters йо (transliterated as jo)

Classification of consonants[edit]

In Ukrainian, consonants can be categorised as follows:

  • Labials (in Cyrillic: б, в, м, п, and ф or transliterated as b, v, m, p, and f): These letters are almost always hard in Ukrainian (there are orthographic exceptions), can never be doubled, nor can they in general be followed by an iotified vowel (exception: in combinations CL where C is a dental and L is a labial, a soft vowel can follow, e.g., svjato/свято).
  • Post-alveolar sibilants (in Cyrillic: ж, ч, and ш or transliterated as ž, č, and š. The digraph щ (šč) should also be included). These letters were in Common Slavic all palatal (soft). In Ukrainian, these harden, leading to the creation of the mixed declension of nouns. None of them can be followed by a soft sign (in Cyrillic: ь; transliterated as apostrophe (’)) or any iotified vowel. All but the digraph can be doubled, in which case they can be followed by a soft vowel, e.g., zbižžja/збіжжя.
  • Dentals (in Cyrillic: д, з, л, н, с, т and ц or transliterated as d, z, l, n, s, t, and c): In Ukrainian, as in Common Slavic, these letters can be both hard and soft. These letters can never (unless they are the last letter in a prefix) be followed by an apostrophe. Furthermore, these letters can be doubled.
  • Alveolar (in Cyrillic: р or transliterated as r): This letter can be either hard or soft. It is always hard at the end of a syllable. Therefore, r is always hard at the end of a word and is never followed by a soft sign. r can never be doubled, except in foreign words (such as сюрреалізм).
  • Velars (in Cyrillic: г, ґ, к, and х or transliterated as h, g, k, and x): In both Ukrainian and Common Slavic, these letters are always hard. Should they ever be followed by an iotified or soft vowel, then they undergo the first and second palatalisations. Hence, these letters can never be doubled or followed by an apostrophe.

Historical changes[edit]

In the Ukrainian language, the following sound changes have occurred between the Common Slavic period and current Ukrainian:

  1. In a newly closed syllable, that is, a syllable that ends in a consonant, Common Slavic o and e mutate into i if the next vowel in Common Slavic was one of the yers (ǐ (ь) or ǔ (ъ)).
  2. Pleophony: The Common Slavic combinations, ToRT and TeRT, where T is any consonant and R is either r or l become in Ukrainian
    1. TorT gives ToroT (Common Slavic *borda gives Ukrainian boroda)
    2. TolT gives ToloT (Common Slavic *bolto gives Ukrainian boloto)
    3. TerT gives TereT (Common Slavic *berza gives Ukrainian bereza)
    4. TelT gives ToloT (Common Slavic *melko gives Ukrainian moloko)
  3. The Common Slavic nasal vowel ę is reflected as ja except after a single labial where it is reflected as "ja (’я), or after a post-alveolar sibilant where it is reflected as a. Examples: Common Slavic *pętĭ gives in Ukrainian p"jat' (п’ять); Common Slavic *telę gives in Ukrainian telja; and Common Slavic kyrčę gives in Ukrainian kyrča. This Common Slavic nasal vowel is derived from an Indo-European *-en, *-em, or one of the sonants n and m.
  4. The Common Slavic letter, ě (ѣ), is reflected in Ukrainian generally as i except:
    1. word-initially, where it is reflected as ji: Common Slavic *ěsti gives the Ukrainian jisty
    2. after the post-alveolar sibilants where it is reflected as a: Common Slavic *ležěti gives the Ukrainian ležaty
  5. Common Slavic i and y are both reflected in Ukrainian as y
  6. The Common Slavic combination -CǐjV, where C is any consonant and V is any vowel, becomes in Ukrainian the following combination -CCjV, except
    1. if C is labial or 'r' where it becomes -C"jV
    2. if V is the Common Slavic e, then the vowel in Ukrainian mutates to a, e.g., Common Slavic *žitĭje gives the Ukrainian žyttja
    3. if V is the Common Slavic ĭ, then the combination becomes ej, e.g., genitive plural in Common Slavic *myšĭjĭ give in Ukrainian myšej
    4. if one or more consonants precede the 'C' then there is no doubling of the consonants in Ukrainian
  7. Common Slavic combinations dl and tl are simplified to l, for example, Common Slavic *mydlo gives Ukrainian mylo
  8. Common Slavic ǔl (voiced ) and ǐl (voiced ĺ̥) became ov, while word final *lǔ became v. For example, Common Slavic *vĺ̥kǔ becomes vovk in Ukrainian

Current changes[edit]

  1. The first palatalisation concerns the velars and the following vowels: e, y from Common Slavic i, a/i from Common Slavic ě, that is derived from the Indo-European ē:
    1. h/g before these vowels mutates into ž
    2. k before these vowels mutates into č
    3. x before these vowels mutates into š
  2. The second palatalisation concerns the velars and the following vowels: y from Common Slavic i that is derived from an Indo-European diphthong and a/i from Common Slavic ě that is derived from an Indo-European diphthong:
    1. h/g before these vowels mutates into z
    2. k before these vowels mutates into c
    3. x before these vowels mutates into s
  3. The iotification concerns all consonants and the semi-vowel j (й). The following changes occur:
    1. The labials insert an l between the labial and the semivowel: Common Slavic *zemja give Ukrainian zemlja.
    2. The velars followed by a semivowel mutate as in the first palatalisation. The semivowel is dropped. This change can be traced back to Common Slavic.
    3. ktj becomes č
    4. tj becomes č
    5. dj becomes ž, except in verbs where it becomes
    6. sj becomes š
    7. stj and skj become šč (щ)
    8. zdj and zhj become ždž
    9. zkj becomes žč
    10. lj, nj, rj becomes l, n, r (that is, ль, нь, рь)
  4. In Ukrainian, when two or more consonants occur word-finally, then a float vowel is inserted under the following conditions.[1] Given a consonantal grouping C1(ь)C2(ь), where C is any Ukrainian consonant. The fill vowel is inserted between the two consonants and after the ь. A fill vowel is only inserted if C2 is one of the following consonants: k, v, l, m, r, n, and c. In this case:
    1. If C1 is one of the following h, k, or x, then the fill vowel is always o
    2. If C2 is k or v, then the fill vowel is o. No fill vowel is inserted if the v is derived from a voiced l, for example, vovk
    3. If C2 is l, m, r, or c, then the fill vowel is e
    4. The only known exception is vid’om, which should take e as the fill vowel, but instead adds an o.
    5. The combinations, -stv and -s’k are not broken up
    6. If the C1 is j (й), then the above rules can apply. However, both forms (with and without the fill vowel) often exist

Assimilation[edit]

The following assimilations occur:

  • Before the с of a suffix (-ський or -ство)
    • If the root ends in г(ґ), ж, or з, then it mutates to з and the с of the suffix is lost.
    • If the root ends in к, ч, or ц, then it mutates to ц and the с of the suffix is lost.
    • If the root ends in х, с, or ш, then it mutates to с and the с of the suffix is lost (or the last letter of the root drops out).
  • The following combinations of letters are changes:
    • {ж, з} + дн is contracted to {ж, з} + н.
    • ст + {л, н} is contracted to с + {л, н}.
    • {п, р} + тн is contracted to {п, р} + н.
    • {с, к} + кн is contracted to {с, к} + н.

Dissimilation[edit]

The most common dissimilation is encountered in the infinitive of verbs, where {д, т} + т dissimilates to ст, for example, крад + ти gives красти and плет + ти gives плести.

Morphology[edit]

Nominal[edit]

Nouns[edit]

The nominal declension has seven cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative, and vocative), in two numbers (singular and plural), and absolutely obeying grammatical gender (masculine, feminine and neuter). Adjectives, pronouns, and the first two cardinal numbers have gender specific forms.

A third number, the dual, also existed in Old East Slavic, but except for its use in the nominative and accusative cases with the numbers two, three and four, e.g. dvi hryvni/дві гривні vs. dvoje hryven' /двоє гривень (recategorised today as a nominative plural), it has been lost. Other traces of the dual can be found when referring to objects of which there are commonly two: eyes, shoulders, ears, e.g. plečyma. Occasionally, dual forms can distinguish between meanings.

In Ukrainian, there are 4 declension types. The first declension is used for most feminine nouns. The second declension is used for most masculine and neuter nouns. The third declension is used for feminine nouns ending in ь or a post-alveolar sibilant. The fourth declension is used for neuter nouns ending in я/а (Common Slavic ).

Most of the types consist of 3 different subgroups: hard, mixed, and soft. The soft subgroup consists of nouns whose roots end in a soft letter (followed by iotified vowel or soft vowel). The mixed subgroup consists of the nouns whose roots end in a post-alveolar sibilant or occasionally r. The hard group consists of all other nouns.

If the hard group endings are taken as the basis, then the following rules can be used to derived the corresponding mixed and soft endings:

  • Mixed subgroup
    1. All o following a post-alveolar sibilant change to e.
    2. All и following a post-alveolar sibilant change to i.
  • Soft subgroup: Whenever a soft sign or the semi-vowel encounters the vowel of the ending, the following changes occur (These are mainly orthographic changes, but same can be traced to similar changes in Common Slavic):
    1. ьа and йа gives я
    2. ьо gives е
    3. йе gives є
    4. ьи gives і
    5. йи gives ї
    6. ьу and йу gives ю
    7. ьі gives і
    8. йі gives ї

Nouns ending in a consonant are marked in the following tables with -0- (thus no ending).

First declension[edit]

This declension consists of nouns that end in а or я. It consists primarily of feminine nouns, but a few nouns with these ending referring to professions can be either masculine or feminine. In these cases, the genitive plural is often formed by adding -ів. Nouns referring to people can also take this ending.

First declension: Feminine nouns
Singular
Hard Mixed Soft (ь) Soft (й)
Nominative
Genitive
Dative (1)
Accusative
Instrumental -ою -ею -ею -єю
Locative (1)
Vocative
Plural
Hard Mixed Soft (ь) Soft (й)
Nominative
Genitive (2) -0- -0-
Dative -ам -ам -ям -ям
Accusative (3) -и /-0- -і / -0- -і /-ь -ї / -й
Instrumental -ами -ами -ями -ями
Locative -ах -ах -ях -ях
Vocative
  • (1) A velar consonant undergoes the appropriate second palatalisation changes
  • (2) If two or more consonants are left at the end of the word, then a fill vowel may be inserted.
  • (3) The genitive form is used for all animate nouns, while inanimate nouns take the nominative form.
Second declension[edit]

The second declension consists of masculine and neuter nouns.

Masculine nouns: This group consists primarily of nouns, which end in a consonant, a soft sign, ь, or й. In the masculine declension, nouns that end in р can belong to any of the three declension subgroups: hard, mixed, and soft. There is no way of knowing from the nominative form, to which group the noun belongs.

Second declension: Masculine nouns
Singular
Hard Mixed Soft (ь) Soft (й)
Nominative -0- -0- -ь /-0- (1)
Genitive (2) -а / -у -а / -у -я / -ю -я / -ю
Dative (3) -ові/-у -еві/-у -еві/-ю -єві/-ю
Accusative (4) -0- / -а -0- /-а -ь / -я -й / -я
Instrumental -ом -ем -ем -єм
Locative (5) -ові /-і/ -у -еві /-і -еві /-і -єві /-ї
Vocative (6) -у/-е -е/ -у
Plural
Hard Mixed Soft (ь) Soft (й)
Nominative
Genitive -ів -ів -ів / -ей (7) -їв
Dative -ам -ам -ям -ям
Accusative (8) -и/ -ів -і / -ів -і / -ів -ї / -їв
Instrumental -ами -ами -ями -ями
Locative -ах -ах -ях -ях
Vocative

Notes:

  • (1) Only with soft nouns ending in р.
  • (2) The ending to be used depends on the nature of the noun. The following rules are given in Ukrainian Orthography:[2]
    • Use the ending -а with
      1. Names of professions, people's names (first and last)
      2. Names of plants and animals
      3. Names of objects
      4. Names of settlements and geographic places
      5. Names of measuring units
      6. Names of machines
      7. Words of foreign origin, which describe geometric parts, concrete objects.
    • Use the ending -у with
      1. Chemical elements, materials (note a few exceptions)
      2. Collective nouns
      3. Names of buildings and their parts
      4. Names of organisations and their places
      5. Natural phenomena
      6. Feelings
      7. Names of processes, states, phenomena of social life (both concrete and abstract)
      8. Names of foreign origin that denote physical or chemical processes
      9. Names of games and dances
  • (3) The ending in -ові is preferred.
  • (4) The accusative case for animate nouns is identical to the genitive case; for inanimate nouns, it is identical to the nominative.
  • (5) In order to avoid the palatalisation, velar root nouns take the -у ending. The other forms are all acceptable. Nouns that take the -і ending undergo the first palatalisation.
  • (6) If the ending -е is used, then the first palatalisation occurs. However, it can be avoided by using the -у form.
  • (7) The second ending occurs is a small group of nouns.
  • (8) The genitive form is used with animate objects, while inanimate objects take the nominative forms.

Neuter nouns In this category belong neuter nouns ending in о, е, and those substantives ending in я, preceded by either a double consonant, apostrophe, or two consonants, which primarily are derived from verbs. This last category once did end in *ĭjе, but due to the sound change given above developed an я ending.

Second declension: Neuter nouns
Singular
Hard Mixed Soft Soft (*ĭjе)
Nominative
Genitive
Dative
Accusative
Instrumental -ом -ем -ем -ям
Locative (1)
Vocative
Plural
Hard Mixed Soft Soft (*ĭjе)
Nominative
Genitive -0- -0- -ь / -0- (2)
Dative -ам -ам -ям -ям
Accusative
Instrumental -ами -ами -ями -ями
Locative -ах -ах -ях -ях
Vocative
  • (1) As necessary, the second palatalisation occurs, except for the *ĭjе nouns.
  • (2) The double consonant is made single if the ь is used. However, if a post-alveolar sibilant is the last consonant, then no ь is used, but a single consonant is also written. For a labial final consonant, the ending is -'їв. Finally, monosyllabic nouns take the ending -ів. If two or more consonants appear word finally, then it is possible that a fill vowel must be inserted.
Third declension[edit]

This declension consists solely of feminine nouns that end in a consonant. This declension has only 2 subgroups: a mixed and soft group.

Third declension
Singular
Soft Mixed
Nominative -0-
Genitive
Dative
Accusative -0-
Instrumental (1)
Locative
Vocative -e -e
Plural
Soft Mixed
Nominative
Genitive -ей -ей
Dative -ям -ам
Accusative
Instrumental -ями -ами
Locative -ях -ах
Vocative
  • (1) Since this ending is derived from the Common Slavic ending *-ĭjǫ, doubling of the consonant occurs as per the rules outlined above. Furthermore, if in the nominative form the noun has an -і for an -о, then so will the instrumental form, for example, ніччю (instrumental singular) and ніч (nominative singular)
Fourth declension[edit]

This declension consists of solely neuter nouns that are derived from Common Slavic . There are two subgroups: those with an н insert, and those with a т insert.

Fourth declension
Singular
(н) (т)
Nominative ім'я теля
Genitive імені теляти
Dative імені теляті
Accusative ім'я теля
Instrumental (1) ім'ям телям
Locative імені теляті
Vocative ім'я теля
Plural
(н) (т)
Nominative імена телята
Genitive імен телят
Dative іменам телятам
Accusative імена телята (телят)
Instrumental іменами телятами
Locative іменах телятах
Vocative імена телята

Adjectives[edit]

Ukrainian adjectives agree with the nouns they modify in gender, number, and case.

In Ukrainian, there exist a small number of adjectives, primarily possessives, which exist in the masculine in the so-called short form. This "short" form is a relic of the indefinite declension of adjectives in Common Slavic. Common examples of this anomalous declension are бабин (masculine) compared to бабина (feminine); братів (masculine) compared to братова (feminine); and повинен (masculine) compared to повинна. This short form only exists in the masculine nominative form. All other forms are regular.

Declension[edit]

In Ukrainian, there are 2 different declension types: hard and soft. The soft type can be further subdivided into two types. Unlike for the nouns, the post-alveolar sibilants are counted as hard. There also exists a special mixed declension for adjectives ending in -лиций. These adjectives are derived from the noun лице, describing types of faces, for example, білолиций.

Hard Declension (-ий) of Adjectives
Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative -ий
Genitive -ого -ого -ої -их
Dative -ому -ому -ій -им
Accusative (1) -ий / -ого -і / -их
Instrumental -им -им -ою -ими
Locative (2) -ім / -ому -ім / -ому -ій -их
Soft Declension (-ій) of Adjectives
Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative -ій
Genitive -ього -ього -ьої -іх
Dative -ьому -ьому -ій -ім
Accusative (1) -ій / -ього -і / -іх
Instrumental -ім -ім -ьою -іми
Locative (2) -ім / -ьому -ім / -ьому -ій -іх
Soft Declension (-їй) of Adjectives
Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative -їй
Genitive -його -його -йої -їх
Dative -йому -йому -їй -їм
Accusative (1) -їй / -його -ї / -їх
Instrumental -їм -їм -йою -їми
Locative (2) -їм / -йому -їм / -йому -їй -їх
Mixed Declension (-лиций) of Adjectives
Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative -лиций -лице -лиця -лиці
Genitive -лицього -лицього -лицьої -лицих
Dative -лицьому -лицьому -лицій -лицим
Accusative (1) -лицій / -лицього -лице -лицю -лиці / -лицих
Instrumental -лицим -лицим -лицьою -лицими
Locative (2) -лицім / -лицьому -лицим / -лицьому -лицій -лицих

Note about the declensions:

  • (1) In the accusative case (except the feminine singular), a difference is made between animate (=genitive) and inanimate (=nominative) adjectives.
  • (2) The ending in -ому is more often encountered. The other form is a relic of the indefinite declension of adjectives in Common Slavic.
Other forms of the adjective[edit]

In Ukrainian adjectives also have a comparative and superlative forms.

The comparative form is created by dropping ий and adding the ending -(і)ший. The resulting form is declined like a regular hard stem adjective. As usual, some adjectives have irregular forms.

The superlative form is created by prefixing най- to the comparative form. Words associated with religion often prefix пре- (very) to the comparative form. As usual, some adjectives have irregular forms.

Adverbs[edit]

In Ukrainian, adverbs are formed by taking the stem of the adjective and adding the ending

  • , if the stem is hard,
  • , if the stem is a soft consonant, and
  • , if the stem is a vowel.

For example, гарний gives гарно.

Adverbs can also be derived from the locative or instrumental singular of a noun, for example, ввечері (from в plus the locative of вечера), нагорі (from на plus the locative of гора).

Pronouns[edit]

Personal pronouns[edit]

The personal pronouns are declined as follows.

1st sing 2nd sing 3rd sing masc 3rd sing fem 3rd sing neut 1st pl 2nd pl 3rd pl
Nominative я ти він вона воно ми ви вони
Genitive мене тебе його / нього її / неї його / нього нас вас їх / них
Dative мені тобі йому їй йому нам вам їм
Accusative мене тебе його її його нас вас їх / них
Instrumental мною тобою ним нею ним нами вами ними
Locative мені тобі ньому / нім ній ньому / нім наc вас них
Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

The demonstrative pronoun, той, is declined as follows.

masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative той те та ті
Genitive того того тієї тих
Dative тому тому тій тим
Accusative N or G те ту N or G
Instrumental тим тим тією тими
Locative тому / тім тому / тім тій тих
Possessive pronouns[edit]

The first (мій) and second person (твій) singular possessive pronouns are declined similarly as can be seen from the table below.

masculine neuter feminine plural masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative мій моє моя мої твій твоє твоя твої
Genitive мого мого моєї моїх твого твого твоєї твоїх
Dative моєму моєму моїй моїм твоєму твоєму твоїй твоїм
Accusative N or G моє мою N or G N or G твоє твою N or G
Instrumental моїм моїм моєю моїми твоїм твоїм твоєю твоїми
Locative моєму моєму моїй моїх твоєму твоєму твоїй о твоїх

The first (наш) and second (ваш) person plural possessive pronouns are declined as below. The masculine nominative forms are the short forms.

masculine neuter feminine plural masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative наш наше наша наші ваш ваше ваша ваші
Genitive нашого нашого нашої наших вашого вашого вашої ваших
Dative нашому нашому нашій нашим вашому вашому вашій вашим
Accusative N or G наше нашу N or G N or G ваше вашу N or G
Instrumental нашим нашим нашою нашими вашим вашим вашою вашими
Locative нашому нашому нашій наших вашому вашому вашій ваших

The third person plural possessive pronoun, їхній, is declined as a normal soft adjective.

Interrogative pronouns[edit]

The interrogative pronouns, хто and що, are declined as follows.

Nom. Gen. Dat. Acc. Inst. Loc.
хто кого кому кого ким кому
що чого чому що чим чому

The interrogative pronoun, чий, is declined as given in the table below.

masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative чий чиє чия чиї
Genitive чийого чийого чиєї чиїх
Dative чиєму чиєму чиїй чиїм
Accusative N or G чиє чию N or G
Instrumental чиїм чиїм чиїй чиїми
Locative чийому чийому чиїй чиїх

Numbers[edit]

Symbol Cardinal Ordinal Counting
0 нуль нульовий --
1 один, одна, одне перший раз
2 два, дві другий двічі
3 три третій тричі
4 чотири четвертий чотири рази
5 п'ять п'ятий п'ять разів
6 шість шостий шість разів
7 сім сьомий сім разів
8 вісім восьмий вісім разів
9 дев'ять дев'ятий дев'ять разів
10 десять десятий десять разів
teens (1) cardinal+надцять cardinal+надцятий cardinal+надцять разів
20 двадцять двадцятий двадцять разів
21 двадцять один двадцять перший двадцять один раз
30 тридцять тридцятий тридцять разів
40 сорок сороковий сорок разів
50 п'ятдесят п'ятдесятий п'ятдесят разів
60 шістдесят шістдесятий шістдесят разів
70 сімдесят сімдесятий сімдесят разів
80 вісімдесят вісімдесятий вісімдесят разів
90 дев'яносто дев'яностий дев'яносто разів
100 сто сотий сто разів
200 двісті двохсотий двісті разів
300 триста трьохсотий триста разів
400 чотириста чотирьохсотий чотириста разів
500 п'ятсот п’ятисотий п'ятсот разів
600 шістсот шестисотий шістсот разів
700 сімсот семисотий сімсот разів
800 вісімсот восьмисотий вісімсот разів
900 дев'ятсот дев’ятисотий дев'ятсот разів
1000 тисяча тисячний тисяча разів

Comments:

  • (1) Any soft signs are dropped if they occur word finally in the original cardinal number.
  • (2) This is a dual construction.
  • (3) This is a plural nominative construction.
  • (4) This is the genitive plural construction (All hundreds after 500 are so created.).

In general, the following rules are used to determine agreement between the cardinal number and a noun. In the nominative case, the nouns agree with the last number in any compound number. Nouns that must agree with a number ending in 2, 3, or 4 are in the nominative plural, but retain the stress of the dual, that is the genitive singular. Nouns, which must agree with a number ending in 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, and all the teens are in the genitive plural. In any other case, the nouns and numbers are in the same case.

Verbs[edit]

Grammatical conjugation is subject to three persons in two numbers and three simple tenses (present/future, future, and past), with periphrastic forms for the future and Conditional, as well as imperative forms and present/past participles, distinguished by adjectival and adverbial usage. There are two voices, active and middle/passive, which is constructed by the addition of a reflexive suffix -ся/сь to the active form. An interesting feature is that the past tense is actually made to agree in gender with the subject, for it is the participle in an originally periphrastic perfect formed with the present of быть (moderen: бути) /bɨtʲ/,"to be." Verbal inflection today is considerably simpler than in Common Slavic. The ancient aorist, imperfect, and (periphrastic) pluperfect have been lost. The loss of three of the former six tenses has been offset by the reliance, as in other Slavic languages, on verbal aspect. Most verbs come in pairs, one with imperfective or continuous connotation, the other with perfective or completed, usually formed with a (prepositional) prefix, but occasionally using a different root.

The present tense of the verb бути, "to be", today normally has the form, є used for all persons and numbers. Previously (before 1500) and occasionally in liturgical settings, aspects of the full conjugation, can be found. The paradigm shows as well as anything else the Indo-European affinity of Ukrainian:

English Ukrainian IPA Latin PIE
"I am" я єсьми* /(je)smɪ/ sum éǵh₂om H₁ésmi
"you are" (sing.) ти єси /(je)sɪ/ es túh₂ H₁ési
"he, she, it is" він, вона, воно єсть, є /jestʲ, je/ est khī H₁ésti
"we are" ми єсьмо* /jesmɨ/ sumus wéy H₁smés
"you are" (plur.) ви єсьте* /jeste/ estis ju H₁ste
"they are" вони суть* /sutʲ/ sunt tō H₁sónti

Note: Ukrainian forms followed by * are considered archaic in Standard Ukrainian (albeit those are still used in dialects) and are replaced by є. In the present tense, the verb бути is often omitted (or replaced by a dash "—" in writing), for example, Я — студент.

Classification of verbs[edit]

There exist two different classification of verbs: traditional and historical/linguistic.

The traditional classification of verbs subdivides the verbs into two categories based on the form of the 3rd person singular present indicative form of the verb.

  1. The е stems, which have the ending or in the 3rd person singular.
  2. The и stems, which have the ending -ить in the 3rd person singular.

The historical/linguistic classification of verbs subdivides the verbs into 5 categories. Classes 1,2 and 3 correspond to the е stems of the traditional classification, while class 4 corresponds to the и stems. Class 5 consists of the athematic verbs.[3]

  1. Class 1: Stems in
    • The same stem in the Present and the Infinitive
      • The same consonantal stem (the last three examples do not quite resemble the first example or the classification name due to various sound changes (palatalisation) in Ukrainian):
          • нести / несе
          • пекти / пече
          • умерти / умре
          • почати / почне
      • The same vowel stem
          • плисти / пливе
    • Infinitive in -ати
      • Consonantal stem
        • брати / бере
      • Vowel stems
        • рвати / рве
  2. Class 2: "n" verbs (mostly perfective verbs)
    • двигнути / двигне
  3. Class 3: Presents in є (undergo changes associated with iotification)
    • Primary verbs
      • Same stem in the Present and Infinitive
        • Same vowel stem
          • знати / знає
        • Same consonantal stem (these stem often have a pleophonic form for the infinitive)
          • молоти (Common Slavic *melti) / меле (мелю)
          • полоти (Common Slavic *polti) / поле (полю)
      • Infinitive in -ати
        • Same vowel stem (-я)
          • сіяти / сіє
        • Same consonantal stem
          • орати / оре (орю)
        • Stems that undergo the changes associated with the doubling of the consonants (the result is slightly regularised in that -ĭje does not mutate into as would be expected)
          • бити: б'ю, б'єш ... (Common Slavic: *biti: bĭjǫ, bĭješĭ ...)
          • пити
          • лити: ллю, ллєш ...
    • Derived Verbs (all vowel stems)
      • a-stems
        • думати / думає
      • ě-stems
        • жовтіти / жовтіє
      • uva-stems
        • купувати / купує
  4. Class 4: i-stems in the Present (undergo changes associated with iotification)
    • i-stems in both the Present and Infinitive
      • хвалити / хвалить
    • ě-stems
        • вертіти / вертить
        • лежати / лежить
  5. Class 5: Athematic Verbs (-m presents)
    • їсти
    • дати
    • -вісти
    • бути

Voices[edit]

Ukrainian had 2 voices: (1) active voice and (2) passive voice. The active voice is the only voice with a complete set of conjugations. The active voice, in general, shows a direct effect of the verb on its subject.

Indicative active mood[edit]

The indicative mood is used to describe events, which have occurred, are occurring, or will occur. In Ukrainian, the indicative mood contains the present, future, and past tenses.

Present tense[edit]

Historically, this is derived from the Indo-European present tense. In Common Slavic and later Ukrainian, it retained its present meaning only for imperfective verbs and developed a future meaning for perfective verbs.

For the е stems (Classes 1, 2, and 3), the endings are:

е stem endings
singular plural
First Person -у / -ю -емо / -ємо
Second Person -еш / -єш -ете / -єте
Third Person -е / -є -уть / -ють

All verbs whose roots end in a velar undergo the first palatalisation in all forms of the present (even though historically speaking the first person singular should not). The endings in є are used for roots whose stem ends in a vowel. All verbs in Class 3 and those that end in a vowel use and -ють. Furthermore, Class 3 verbs undergo iotification in those forms that use -ю-. For reflexive verbs, in the third person singular, the ending has its historical -ть restored before the participle -ся / -сь is affixed. Thus, the ending becomes -еться.

For the и stems (Class 4), the endings are:

и stem endings
singular plural
First Person -ю / (-у) -имо / -їмо
Second Person -иш / -їш -ите / -їте
Third Person -ить / -їть -ать / -ять

All Class 4 verbs undergo iotification in the first person singular. Thus, there is really only one ending, which due to orthographic reasons is given 2 different forms. Verbs ending in a vowel take the endings in the second column. In the third person plural, verbs ending in a labial insert an л before the ending, -ять. The ending -ать is used after the sibilants ж, ш, щ, or ч.

Examples[edit]
нести (stem: нес-) (Class 1 verb)
singular plural
Ukrainian English Ukrainian English
First Person несу I am carrying несемо We are carrying
Second Person несеш You (sing.) are carrying несете You (pl.) are carrying
Third Person несе He/She/It is carrying несуть They are carrying
вернути (stem: верн-) (Class 2 verb)
singular plural
Ukrainian English Ukrainian English
First Person верну I will return вернемо We will return
Second Person вернеш You (sing.) will return вернете You (pl.) will return
Third Person верне He/She/It will return вернуть They will return
читати (stem: чита-) (Class 3 verb)
singular plural
Ukrainian English Ukrainian English
First Person читаю I read читаємо We read
Second Person читаєш You (sing.) read читаєте You (pl.) read
Third Person читає He/She/It reads читають They read
говорити - (stem: говор-) (Class 4 verb)
singular plural
Ukrainian English Ukrainian English
First Person говорю I talk говоримо We talk
Second Person говориш You (sing.) talk говорите You (pl.) talk
Third Person говорить He/She/It talks говорять They talk
Athematic verbs[edit]

Ukrainian inherited from Indo-European through Common Slavic, the following 3 athematic verbs. These verbs have their own conjugation in the present. Everywhere else they are regular.

дати - to give (perfective)
singular plural
First Person дам дамо
Second Person даси дасте
Third Person дасть дадуть
їсти - to eat (imperfective)
singular plural
First Person їм їмо
Second Person їси їсте
Third Person їсть їдять
Compounds ending in -вісти
singular plural
First Person -вім -вімо
Second Person -віси -вісте
Third Person -вість -відять
Past active tense[edit]

The past tense in Ukrainian has the peculiarity of being originally an adjective, since it derives from the original compound perfect (corresponding to, for example, the Latin first conjugation participle ending -atus). Thus, the past tense agrees in number and gender with the subject of the verb. The following endings are added to the infinitive with the ending -ти removed (Most root final д and т are dropped):

  • masculine singular:
    • Note: It is lost after с, з, к, г, б, р.
  • feminine singular: -ла
  • neuter singular: -ло
  • plural: -ли

These forms are often called the active past participle I. The masculine singular evolved from an earlier that delingualized (cf. Polish ).

Future active tense[edit]

In Ukrainian, there are 2 different future tenses for imperfective verbs. The first form, called simple (проста форма), formed by adding to the infinitive of the verb the following endings, which are derived from the Common Slavic verb *jęti (Present stem: jĭm−):

Future Tense: First Form
singular plural
Ending Example Ending Example
First Person -му їстиму -мемо їстимемо
Second Person -меш їстимеш -мете їстимете
Third Person -ме їстиме -муть їстимуть

The second form, called compound (складена форма), is to take the present tense conjugation of the verb бути and use it with the infinitive of the verb. Thus,

Future Tense: Second Form
singular plural
First Person буду їсти будемо їсти
Second Person будеш їсти будете їсти
Third Person буде їсти будуть їсти

This will translate as will eat with the appropriate personal pronoun.

Imperative active mood[edit]

The imperative mood is used to give commands. It exists in only the present tense in Ukrainian. There are no forms for the 1st person singular. In Ukrainian, the imperative mood is formed from the stem of the verb plus the following endings (The example is based on Ukrainian пити):

Imperative Mood in Ukrainian
singular plural
First Person none -ьмо / -ймо / -мо / -імо (пиймо)
Second Person -ь / -й / -0- / -и (пий) -ьте / -йте / -те / -іть (пийте)
Third Person хай or нехай + 3rd person present singular (хай п'є or нехай п'є) хай or нехай + 3rd person present plural (хай п'ють or нехай п'ють)

The first set of endings is to be used for stems that end in a dentals (з, д, т, с, н, and л). The second set of ending is used for stems that end in a vowel. The third set of endings is used for stems that end in labials or post-alveolar sibilants (б, в, м, п, ф, ш, щ, ч, ж, and р). The fourth set of endings is used with verbs whose unaffixed form (no prefixes or suffixes) have the stress on the ending in the first person singular of the present tense. Thus for example, бери and вибери.

Finally note that all verbs with stems that end in к and г undergo the first palatalisation. Class 3 verbs with stems in к, г, and с undergo iotification (as do their present conjugation).

Conditional active mood[edit]

The conditional mood is used to state hypothetical states, wishes, and desires. It has 2 tenses in Ukrainian: a present and a past.

Present tense[edit]

The present conditional is formed in Ukrainian from the participle би or the short form б, which is derived from the archaic aorist conjugation of the verb, бути, and the active past participle I, which is the same as the past indicative participle. Thus, there is agreement between the subject and the participle. An example of this construction would be я би хотів ... (I would like...).

Past tense[edit]

The past conditional is formed in Ukrainian from the participle би or the short form б followed by the active past participle I form of the verb бути (був, була, було, були) and then the active past participle I of the verb. Both participles must agree with the subject. An example of this construction would be як я би був знав... (had I (had) known...). Alternatively, the past conditional can be formed by using the form якби and the active past participle I form of the verb, for example, якби я знав….

Passive voice[edit]

The passive voice has 2 different functions. It shows either that the subject has had something done to itself or that something indeterminate has occurred to the subject. In Ukrainian, the passive voice is formed as follows:

  1. Use of a reflexive verb: митися (to wash oneself or in French se laver)
  2. Use of the verb to be and the past passive participle: Він був вбитий (He was killed).
  3. An impersonal use of the third person plural past active participle I: Його вбили (He was killed).
  4. The following construction: Було + neuter singular of past passive participle, the "-но/-то" form: Місто було захоплене (The town was captured.).

Participles and verbal nouns[edit]

In Ukrainian, there exist traces of all five Common Slavic participles.

Present active participle[edit]

This participle is formed by taking the third person plural form, dropping the ть, and adding чи(й). Most commonly this participle is used as gerund with the form чи with a meaning approaching the equivalent English construction with -ing. Occasionally, it is used as an adjective. In this case its form is чий. Examples of this participle are несучи, знаючи, and хвалячи.

Present passive participle[edit]

This participle does not exist in Ukrainian as a separate form. However, it is commonly encountered as an adjective in -мий. Common examples of this participle are відомий and знайомий.

Past active participle I[edit]

This participle is encountered in forming the past tense in Ukrainian. Occasionally, it is found as an adjective for intransitive verbs. It is formed by taking the infinitive stem and adding the ending -в, -ла, -ло, and -ли to form the past tense participle (in reality the indefinite form of the adjective) and the ending -лий to form the regular adjective. An example of the adjectival form is почорнілий.

Past active participle II[edit]

This participle is most commonly encountered as a gerund, while it is only used occasionally as an adjective. It is formed by taking the masculine past participle I and adding the ending -ши(й). An example of the gerund is знавши, while a common (dialectical) adjective would be the word бувший.

Past passive participle[edit]

This participle is the only participle that is commonly used as an adjective. It has 2 different methods of formation. Take the infinitive stem, add а/е, and then either add -тий or -ний. Class 4 verbs undergo iotification. There does not seem to be any difference between the 2 methods of forming the participles. This participle can roughly be translated using the English past participle. Examples of this participle are жатий, посланий, печений, and лишений.

Verbal noun[edit]

The verbal noun is created by taking the past passive participle, dropping ий, doubling the consonant if permitted by the rules under -ĭjV, and adding a я. This will be a neuter noun declined like all neuter nouns in *ĭjе. It should be noted that if the -е- of the past passive participle is stressed then the е will mutate into an і. Examples include питання from питати and носіння from носити.

The verbal noun in Ukrainian is derived from the Common Slavic verbal noun, where it was formed by adding *-ĭjе to the past passive participle without the ending. Thus, in Ukrainian, the consonant is doubled if possible.

Word formation[edit]

Ukrainian has a rich set of prefixes, both prepositional and adverbial in nature, as well as diminutive, augmentative, and frequentative suffixes. All of these can be stacked one upon the other, to produce multiple derivatives of a given word. Participles and other inflexional forms may also have a special connotation. For example, the word напіввідкритий can be split into the following prefixes and suffixes:

на + пів + від + кри (root) + тий.

Prefixes[edit]

In Ukrainian, prefixes can be added to a root and stacked on top of each as in the above example. The most common prefixes are given in the table below. Although the prefixes have the given meaning, when attached to a root, it is possible that the resulting new word will have a unique meaning that is distantly related to the original meaning of the prefix. If possible the example is given using the verbal root ходити or the nominal root хід.

Common Ukrainian Prefixes
Prefix English Translation Example
пере- again, re- переходити
в-/у-, во- into, in, en- входити, вхід
ви- out, ex- вихід, виходити
з-, с-, (зі-, зу-, со-, су-, із-, іс-) (1) together (with), con- сходи
за- beyond, trans- заходити, захід, Закарпаття
спів- co- співробітник
пів- half, mid- південь
під- under-, sub- підходити
від-/од- away from відходити
проти- against, contra- протилежний
не- not, un-, non-, in- неходити
об- circum-, around обходити, обв'язковий
про- through проходити, продати
при- closer, cis- приходити, Придністров'я
пре- more than прекрасний
без- without безробітний
до- to, ad- доходити, додати
на- on надати
роз- across роздати, розходити
перво- first- первонароджений
пра- before, pre-, fore- прадід
над- on, above, extra- надзвичайний
між- between, inter- міжнародний

(1) The multitude of forms in Ukrainian for the Common Slavic *sŭ(n) (*съ(н)) is a result of the fact that the initial s could assimilate (or dissimilate) with the root's initial consonants. As well, since a ь followed there was the potential for further sound changes. Finally, words entered Ukrainian from different Slavic languages with their own peculiarities or that the original origin of the word was lost. The following are examples of all the given possibilities:[4]

  • збирати < *събирати
  • спекти < *съпекти
  • зіприти < *съприти
  • ізпит < съпитъ
  • ісп'яти < *съпѧти
  • зошит < *съшитъ = bound/sown together [4]
  • зустріч < *състрѣчь [4]
  • сусід < *сѫсѣдъ < *сънсѣдъ = sit together
  • союз < *съюзь = yoke together

In Ukrainian, the normal form is з except before к, п, т, ф and х where the normal form is с.[2]

The following rules are followed when adding a prefix to the root:

  1. If the prefix ends in a consonant and the root starts with an iotified vowel, then an apostrophe is added between the prefix and the root, for example, з'їсти.
  2. If a prefix ends in a consonant and the root starts with two or more consonants, then the vowel і is inserted between the prefix and the root, for example, розібрати.

Suffixes[edit]

In Ukrainian, suffixes can be added to a root and stacked on top of each to produce a family of words. The most common suffixes are given in the table below. The curly brackets {} denote the various possible different suffixes with a similar meaning

Common Ukrainian Suffixes
Root Type + Suffix = Resulting Word Type English Translation Example
Noun + {-ар(ь), -ач, -ць, -ак, -ик, -аль, -ист (from Latin -ist), -ух} = Noun one who does, -er, often male школяр, ткач, коваль, бандурист, пастух
Noun + {-иця, -иня, -(а)ха, -аля, -ка} = Noun female version of a noun княгиня
Adjective + {-ець, -ак, -ик, -ко, -ун} = Noun a male with the given attribute of the adjective грішник
Noun of a city/nation + {-ин(я), -як(а), -ець/-ця} = Noun citizen/inhabitant of the city/nation (male/female) українець
Noun + {-енко, -ич, -юк, -чук, -івна} = Noun descendant of, son/daughter of Шевченко (from швець), Ткачук (from ткач)
Noun + -иха often a negative female noun (female pejoratives) сторожиха
Noun + -ня place where noun can be done/found читальня, книгарня
Adjective + -ота being in the state described by the noun біднота
Noun/Verb Stem + -ство abstract form of the noun, -dom, -ship, -edness царство, товариство, жіноцтво
Adjective + -ість possessing the qualities expressed by the adjective, -ness радість, старість
Any Word + {-ок/-ка/-ко, -енько, -ць/-ця/-це, -ятко (< Common Slavic *-ętko/*-ятко)} = Noun diminutive, of various shades of positive meaning (masculine/feminine/neuter forms given) млиночок, телятко, вітерець
Any word + {-ака, -сько, -ище, -ура, -уга, -ука} = Noun augmentative with a negative connotation хлопчисько, дідище
Masculine Noun + -ів = Possessive Adjective Possessive adjective братів
Feminine Noun + -ин = Possessive Adjective Possessive adjective бабин
Nouns + {-овий/-ський} = Adjective belonging to, containing the noun дубовий, сільський
Nouns + -ячий (< Common Slavic *-ętjĭ) = Adjective belonging to курячий, риб'ячий
Nouns + -яний (< Common Slavic *-ęnjĭ/-) = Adjective made of, consisting of дерев'яний, гречаний
Nouns + -ний = Adjective made of молочний
Adjective + -ісіньк-/-есеньк- = Adjective 'absolutely, most highly, extremely' чистесенький/чистісінький
Adjective + -нький = Adjectival Noun diminutive чорненький
Adjective in -ський + -щина (drop -ський) = Noun The noun refers to the region Київщина
(Foreign) Word + -увати = Verb creates a verb from any other word купувати

Adjectives[edit]

Two or more adjectives can be combined into a single word using an о as the linking vowel, for example, сільськогосподарський, which consists of the adjectives сільський and господарський. If the second adjective starts with a vowel, then a dash can be used to separate the linking vowel and the second adjective, for example, середньо-європеський.

Verbs[edit]

In addition to the suffixes and prefixes that can be added to verbs, Ukrainian verbs have inherited occasional traces of the Indo-European ablaut. The primary ablaut is the difference between long and short Indo-European vowels. In Ukrainian, due to the fact that the long and short vowels experienced different reflexes, this ablaut is reflected as a change in vowels. The resulting verbs are often imperfect-perfect pairs. For example, we have скочити and скакати (simpified Indo-European *skoki- and *skōka-).

Fundamental sentence structure[edit]

Coordination[edit]

The common Ukrainian coordinations are:

  • і / й / та(and)
  • а (and, but)
  • але (but)

Subordination[edit]

Common Ukrainian subordinations are:

  • як (how, if)
  • коли (when)
  • якщо (if)

Syntax[edit]

The basic word order, both in conversation and the written language, is subject–verb–object. However, because the relations are marked by inflexion, considerable latitude in word order is allowed, and all the permutations can be used. The word order expresses the logical stress, and the degree of definiteness.

Negation[edit]

Unlike English, Latin, and various other languages, Ukrainian allows multiple negatives, as in “nixto nikoly nikomu ničoho ne proščaje” (‘no-one ever forgives anyone anything’, literally ‘no-one never to no-one nothing does not forgive’).

Objects of a negated verb are placed in the genitive case, where they would be accusative if the verb were not negated.

Inflectional usage[edit]

Case[edit]

The use of cases in Ukrainian can be very complicated. In general, the nominative, genitive, accusative, and vocative cases can be used without a preposition. On the other hand, the locative and instrumental cases are used primarily with a preposition. Furthermore, and much like in Latin, different prepositions can be followed by nouns in different cases, resulting in different meanings.

Aspect[edit]

Ukrainian verbs can have one of two aspects: imperfective and perfective. The imperfective form denotes an action that is taking place in the present, is ongoing, is repetitive, or is habitual. The perfective form indicates an action that is completed, is the result of an action, is the beginning of an action, or is shorter or longer than usual. For example, spaty (спати) is imperfective, while pospaty (поспати) is perfective.

See also[edit]

Translation of words[edit]

Note: All Common Slavic words quoted are translated faithfully by their Ukrainian forms. Abbreviations used:

  • m: masculine noun
  • f: feminine noun
  • nt: neuter noun
  • n: noun declined like an adjective, with different forms for each gender
  • v: verb
  • adj: adjective
  • adv: adverb
  • ger: gerund
  • pr: pronoun
  • co: conjunction

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carlton, T. R. (1972). A Guide to the Declension of Nouns in Ukrainian. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: University of Alberta Press. 
  2. ^ a b Український Правопис (4th ed.). Kiev, Ukraine: Наукова думка (Naukova Dumka). 1993. 
  3. ^ De Bray, R. G. A. (1951). Introduction to Slavonic Languages. London. 
  4. ^ a b c Панейко, Олександер (1950). Граматика Україньської мови. Augsburg. 

External links[edit]