Last modified on 21 March 2014, at 11:01

Ukrainian/Complex Sentences

Grammar in generalEdit

For the beginning learner, it is probably easiest just to remember phrases, rather than concentrating on grammar. But in the long run, learning about the grammar will help you learn faster.

It should be noted that grammars are full of exceptions. A grammar portrays an academic viewpoint of a language - but any language is spoken by many people, in many places, and many times. Artifacts creep in, or the grammarian poorly understands the reality, or takes shortcuts and gets things "mostly right." A grammar is a tool, but it is not "always right".

Most concepts for a tourist, or for rudimentary survival can be conveyed with simple sentences, a simple grammar, and a simple vocabulary. I want this. Jim is tall.

This structure in English is, more or less, the familiar "Subject-Verb-Object" construction. A more robust, more efficient sentence, that can convey complex thought quickly, requires a more complicated grammar. I bought the new magazine at the news stand on the corner.The magazine is new. I bought it at the news stand. The news stand is on the corner.

The same idea is conveyed, but the "simpler" structure is actually quite confusing unless someone is prepared to assemble the ideas.

Notes on VocabularyEdit

Though Ukrainian shares much of its vocabulary with Polish or Russian (all differing in their pronunciation though), there are also many original Ukrainian words that are not to be found in neither Russian nor Polish, as for example Ukrainian koly - when, inkoly, dekoly - sometimes, lyudyna - man, zirka - star, or Traven - May. Ukrainian names for months are Slavic, all connected with natural as phenomenons as blossoming, grass, snow storm, frost, lime, harvesting, leaves-falling (just as in Czech or Slovak): Sichen (January); Lutyi (February); Berezen (March); Kviten (April); Traven (May); Cherven (June); Lypen (July); 8. Serpen (August); Veresen (September); Zhovten (October); Lystopad (November) and Hruden (December). At the same time neighbouring Russian language uses Latin names for months. Ukrainian koly - when (not found in Russian or Polish) is to be found also in Serbo-Croatian. On other hand such nouns as kavun (melon), leleka (stork), maydan (square), kolyba (hut), chaban (sheperd) etc. are of Turkic origin.

Case systemEdit

In English, we use a structure like "subject verb direct-object indirect-object prepositional-phrase..."

The position of a word impacts its meaning in a sentence. Changing the position of a word, can be confusing. The well known phrase "Throw papa down the stairs his hat." illustrates the point.

Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian and most Slavic languages in general, being synthetic languages, employ a different means of illustrating the relationship between words. This is called "case". The ending of a word changes to reflect its function. Case system was present in the Proto-Indo-European language, but some languages have lost it. In Modern English there are only two noun cases (Common and Genitive), though pronouns show a few relics of case (I/me, she/her, who/whom). It is because category of case in the Englsh language is almost lost, while it was present in the past. Loss of case system took place in some Slavic languages as well: in Bulgarian and Macedonian languages thare are only two cases (Nomiative and Vocative).

Ukrainian kept case system. In fact, there are a Vocative case in Ukrainian that is almost fully extinct in very closely-related Russian and Belorussian (the latter two preseve only in old phrases, typically of religious character). While it makes language a bit more complicated, the word order allows you to express different shades of meaning by changing the word order without changing the sense of sentence in general.

Changing the word order only slightly alters meaning of the sentence. Look at these examples:

Ukrainian Englsh
Я чита́ю кни́гу. I read a/the book.
Я чита́ю кни́гу. (Other intonation) I read a/the book (It's the book (or some book) what I read).
Кни́гу чита́ю я. I read the book (It’s me who reads the book).
Кни́гу я чита́ю. I read the book (It’s reading what I do with the book).

Of course, intonation is more important than word order, but it does play an important role. What is the word order in Ukrainian? Usually there is repeating the question first, and then giving the answer.

In English, when we want to swap the object and the subject, we just move them to the proper place. In Ukrainian, we have to change endings of a noun. So, The book reads me. will be Мене́ чита́є кни́га. (or Кни́га чита́є мене́. and other variants). The word я turned into мене́, just like Englsh I became me, and the word книгу became книга. As you can see, nouns change only endings and can still be recognized. Pronouns are typically ommited in the present and future tenses due to context, as the verb stem indicates who performs the action, i.e, я чита́ю ("I Read"), can be shortened to just чита́ю and so forth. This is not the case when talking about the past tense, as these agree with the gander (masculine, femenine, neuter) and number (singular or plural), so the pronoun is necessary here.

What does every case meanEdit

Nominative case (Називни́й ві́дмі́нок) is used for the subject of the sentence. What we consider the subject of a sentence will generally be in "nominative" (naming) case - the form of a word that is found in a dictionary.

The object of a sentence will generally be in accusative case. There are several models for accusative formation. In masculinum and neutrum for things that are not alive the accusative and the nominative is the same form, for things that are alive the accusative and the genetive is the same form. That rule don't work with feminine (and few masculine) nouns. Accusative and nominative cases can be easily confused for the non-native speaker, but it is very important to understand them, because the order of words in the sentence does not indicate what is a subject and what is an object. Anyway, you can say "студент читає журнал" ("A student reads a magazine") or "журнал (pause here) читає студент" ("A magazine reads a student" has to be "журнал читає студента").

Compare:

Я візьму велику цукерку, а ти - маленьку.
I'll get the big candy, and you'll get the small one. "Маленьку" is accusative adjective, so that it refers to the object "сandy". The words "will get", "candy" are clear from the context.
Я візьму велику цукерку, а ти - маленька.
I'll get a big candy, and you are small girl. "Маленька" is nominative adjective, it refers to the subject "you", and it is a predicate "to be small".

When a thing is taking away (whereof? - from me) genitive case is used. Genetive is also used for the direct object of a sentence if we talking about a part of the object, or some number of objects, or its absence.

That case is used with prepositions "from", "since" - "з", "від". There are double prepositions that are used with genitive, "з-під" - "from under".

When a thing is given (to whom? - to me) another case is used - the dative case for show who get it.

When a thing accompanies, or is used, (with whom? - with me) another case is used, called the instrumental (the thing is instrumental in the action.)

Prepositions "under", "behind" - "під", "за" and some other are used with nouns in instrumentalis.

Each preposition has its own quirk, but there is a prepositional (other name locative) case used for locations - "in", "at", "on" - "в", "при", "на". For directions other case (frequently accusative) is used: у будинку - in house, у будинок - into house.

Finally, a vocative case (who should listen? - calling a name) is used rarely in Russian, somewhat more in Ukrainian. The stereotypical phrase is invoking "my god" or "Bozhe Miy", or calling to Victor "Viktore."

A word is modified to reflect whether it is a direct object, indirect object, and so forth.

Boh (God)

The dictionary form of God is Boh, a "masculine" noun - as marked by the consonant ending. Grammatically, God would also be "animate."

  • The Nominative - boh (God)
  • Accusative - boha
  • Genitive - boha (of God)
  • Instrumental - bohom (by means of God)
  • Vocative - bozhe (my God)

Note, for a masuline, ANIMATE object accusative and Genitive HAVE THE SAME FORM

-a
  • Nominative - zhurnal (magazine)
  • Accusative - zhurnal (about the magazine)
  • Genitive - zhurnala (of the magazine)
  • Instrumental - zhurnalom (using the magazine)
  • Locative - zhurnali (on/in the magazine)

Note, for a masuline, lifeless or inanimate object nominative and accusative have the same form, no ending. You see this in an example sentence below.

The dictionary form of book is knyha, a "feminine" noun, as denoted by the -a ending.

I am reading a book (literally, I read book) Ya chytaju knyhu.

The ending -u attached to a feminine noun implies Accusative case (direct object.)

  • Nominative - knyha
  • Accusative - knyhu
  • Genitive - knyhy
  • Instrumental - knyhoju
  • Locative - knyzi

A point of emphasis - my example "I read book" uses SVO order. In Ukrainian it does not have to. "I book read" is equaly valid.

Ya chytaju knyhu. Ya knyhu chytaju.

Changing the word order MAY CHANGE EMPHASIS, but a beginning speaker should not worry greatly about this detail.

You may see tables that reflect this sort of pattern, rather then spelling out the whole word.

  • Nominative knyha
  • Accusative -u
  • Genitive -y
  • Instrumental -oju
  • Locative -i

In the long run, this is important because there are six (or seven) cases, and nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (and some other related things) change ("decline") in varying ways, according to case (function) and gender.

I am reading the new magazine.

Ya chytaju novyj zhurnal.

Subject Verb Object, or Nominative Verb Accusative

The adjective "new / novyj" is in accusative case - but you would not really note that, since for MASCULINE, INANIMATE objects, nominative, and accusative have the same general form.

Pronouns.

In English we see a fairly simple shift in pronouns I - me, he - him, she - her. In Ukrainian, pronouns shift with case much more dramatically. (remember, pronouns when referring to people are ANIMATE.)


  • Nominative - ja, ty, vin, vona, vono, my, vy, vony
  • Accusative - mene, tebe, joho, jiji, vono, nas, vas, jikh
  • Genitive - mene, tebe, joho, jiji, vono, nas, vas, jikh
  • Dative - meni, tobi, jomu, jiji, jomu, nam, vam, jim
  • Instrumental - mnoju, toboju, nym, neju, nym, namy, vamy, nymy
  • Locative - mene, tebe, n'omu, n'ij, n'omu, nas, vas, jikh


It is important for a beginning speaker to remember some basic patterns for LISTENING COMPREHENSION.

Ya (I) in all other cases will wind up begining with an M.. If a speaker says mene, meni, mnoju... the important thing is probably that they are referring to themselves.

Ty (you) in all other cases will wind up begining with an T.. If a speaker says tebe, tobi, toboju... the important thing is probably that they are referring to YOU.

Number - things generally have number, one few many, uncountable.

In English, things like sugar, or milk are considered uncountable. We often use words like "some" or "a bit" to indicate that these things are hard to measure. Ukrainian will treat this a little differently.

Similarly, nouns have grammatical gender masculine, feminine, nueter, and often this "gender" reflects a real gender, the word for a male horse is masculine. However, this grammatical gender is not real. Some words have a grammatical gender that is actually opposite of their real gender. Other words have a gender that cannot be guessed, but rather must be memorized. For the beginning learner, it is probably easiest just to remember phrases, rather than concentrating on grammar. But in the long run, learning about the grammar will help you learn faster.

---Real Sentences (what you probably wanted to read.)


I would like a cup of tea, please.

Ya khochu chashku chayu, proshu.


Where is the bathroom?

De laznychka?


This is my luggage

Tse mij bagazh.


I would like to buy the white tennis shoes.

Ya khochu kupyty bili snikeri.


( This article is a draft. Initially it may make use of poor references, and use latin script rather than cyrillic script. Feel free to make MEANINGFUL changes.

Ukrainian is historically an indo-european, and (east) slavic language, with signifigant Polish, Russian, German, and other influences. In the literary era, French vocabulary may have been adopted. As empires rose and fell other languages influenced. In the television era English vocabulary may have been adopted, and so forth. Modern usage will reflect ALL OF THESE SOURCES to one degree or another.

A beginning learner may find few free resources. For grammar, Russian resources are relevant although there are differences between Russian and Ukrainian.

Russian grammar and vocabulary are widely used and understood. Polish vocabulary may also be consulted for comparison, but generally this is probably an advanced task. )

"Ukrainian case endings are somewhat different from Old East Slavic, and the vocabulary includes a large overlay of Polish terminology. Russian na pervom etazhe "on the first floor" is in the prepositional case. The Ukrainian corresponding expression is na pershomu poversi. -omu is the standard locative (prepositional) ending, but variants in -im are common in dialect and poetry, and allowed by the standards bodies. The x of Ukrainian poverx has mutated into s under the influence of the soft vowel i (k is similarly mutable into ts in final positions). Ukrainian is the only modern East Slavic language which preserves the vocative case." from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_language

Declination modelsEdit

1st substantive declinationEdit

Feminine and masculine.

N. -а (-я)

A. -у (-ю)

G. -и (-і, -ї)

D. & L. -і (-ї)

I. -ою (-ею, -єю)

V.:

  1. -о (-е, -є)
  2. (caressing) -ю

2nd substantive declinationEdit

Masculine and neutral.

N. & A. - (-о, -е, -я)

G. & A. -а (-я)

G. (amorphous) -у (-ю)

D. & L.:

  1. (long) -ові (-еві, -єві)
  2. (short) -у (-ю)

L. -і (-ї)

I. -ом (-ем, -єм, -ям)

V.:

  1. -у (-ю)

3rd substantive declinationEdit

Feminine

N. & A. -

G. -і (often pronounced as -и)

D. & L.

I.

V.

4th substantive declinationEdit

Neutral with suffixes -ен-, -ят- (-ат-) being able to be missing.

N., A. & V. -я (-а)

G. -ен-і, -ят-и (-ат-и)

D. & L. -ен-і, -ят-і (-ат-і)

I. -ен-ем, -ям (-ам)

Plural substantive declinationEdit

N., A. & V. (feminine & masculine) -и (-і, -ї)

N., A. & V. (neutral) -а (-я)

G. & A.:

  1. (feminine & neutral) -
  2. (masculine) -ів (-їв)
  3. (3rd declination) -ей

L. -ах (-ях)

D. -ам (-ям)

I. -ами (-ями, some words have -има)

Nonfeminine adjective declinationEdit

N. & A.:

  1. (masculine) -ий (-ій, -їй)
  2. (neutral) -е (-є)

G. & A. -ого (-ього, -його)

D. & L. -ому (-ьому, -йому, pronouns also with -єму)

L. -ім (-їм)

I. -им (-ім, -їм)

Feminine adjective declinationEdit

N. -а (-я)

A. -у (-ю)

G. -ої (-ьої, -йої, pronouns also with -єї)

D. & L. -ій (-їй)

I. -ою (-ьою, -йою, pronouns also with -єю)

Plural adjective declinationEdit

N. & A.

G., A. & L. -их (-іх, -їх)

D. -им (-ім, -їм)

I. -ими (-іми, -їми)

Declination of the cardinal numeralsEdit

For most of the numerals.

N. & A. -

G., A. & L.

  1. -ох (-ьох)

D.

  1. -ом (-ьом)

I.

  1. -ома (-ьома)
  2. -ма (-ьма)

VerbEdit

AspectEdit

The aspect is an important property of Ukrainian verbs. Unlike English the Ukrainian aspect is not a form of the verb. Probably you never say "he is knowing" but formally this form is correct, any English verb may be in indefinite, continuous, or perfect form ("to do", "to be doing", "to have done", moreover "to have been doing"); in Ukrainian each verb (almost each, actually there are few unmarked verbs) is either perfective or imperfective verb. Just like any Ukrainian noun has the gender: you can't say "he is a cow" - the cow is "she", the bull is "he" (N.B.: not "it"!). Thats why you can see in a Ukrainian dictionary two translations for one English verb. They are actually translations for "to be doing" and "to have done". Another important difference is that Ukrainian perfective is not English perfect, it is an aoristic perfective. The imperfect verbs in Ukrainian are state-words. Action, inactivity, periodical activity... and a result of action too. The perfect verbs are event-words. State changed. And this moment when it changes is the meaning of the word. That's why perfect verbs have not present tense! If something is changed right now it's a state of changing, not an event.

Ukrainian verb has two stems. For not to be confused which one is first, which one is second, lets call they a personal and an impersonal stem (you'll see why). The impersonal stem is the basis for infinitive, past and conditional forms. The personal stem is the basis for imperative and imperfect present or perfect future form. Finally imperfect future is a synthetic form that combines the significant infinitive with the auxiliary verb. Only one imperfect verb has a simple future form, the verb "to be" - "бути", and that is the auxiliary verb we have talked.

Let's add the endings to the stems...

ReferencesEdit

Ukrainian Grammar in Wikipedia

A website dedicated to Ukrainian Grammar

Ukrainian language

UFL