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Which form of and do I use?
In Ukrainian, there are four words that mean and; і, та, а and й. Three of them; і, та and й are all used to link similar things, the only reason we have so many is so we can switch them around to make the language flow and sound more melodic.
- Мама і тато - Mom and dad
- Та я! - And me!
- Мова й алфавіт - Language and alphabet
It's really up to you when you want to use them :)
But on the other hand, а is used to contrast between two different things. It roughly corresponds to the English whereas.
- Мама там, а тато тут - Mom is there, and/whereas dad is here
- Я працюю а ти танюєш - I work and/whereas you work
- Мене звати Віктор а вас звати Вєра - My name is Victor and/whereas your name is Viera
"A" is a Ukrainian conjunction that has no direct equivalent in English. It's used when two things that have something in common also exist in opposition at some level. Try thinking about it as a combination of "and" and "but."
In this case, we want to know where both people are (the "and" element), but we only know where one of them is (the "but" element). Але, the Ukrainian word for "but" would be too strong.