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Repost of a question I had earlier about small words:

I've seen words like на, у/в, о, для, з/зі/із ,and many more yet I don't understand when to use them. Well I know for certain that I use з with instrumental words, and that у/в mean in/at. But I've seen з used differently like for the word "from" and sometimes it'll say я граю на піаніно and then я граю в баскетбол and finally молоко на обід. I guess I'll just remember на acting like "the" for sentences like that, and I play in basketball makes sense, but why does на all the sudden mean for? In summary, I've just seen many one/two syllable words share the same definition, so I'm getting confused for when I use them, help?

August 24, 2015



I believe in English they are called prepositions. For Ukrainian rules and specific use reference here


Don't forget that prepositions sometimes can vary wildly between two languages. You can't just directly translate them word for word. Good luck! :)


на never means 'the'.

Prepositions rarely translate exactly one for one between languages. It's best not to expect them to. Learn the translation and the situation of the given preposition, and if it has a different meaning in a different situation, learn that one also. Don't expect that because a given word means "at" in a given situation it will always be translated to the word "at" in English, because the way English uses prepositions is not the same as the way Ukrainian does. Attempting to map a one to one relationship is not going to help you.

на doesn't 'suddenly' mean 'for'; на just happens to have a different set of meanings which doesn't directly correlate to a single English preposition. The sooner you can let go of trying to make Ukrainian fit into English patterns, the less this will stress you out.

And Ukrainian does not have 'the' or 'a' (aka articles) in common with most(?) Slavic languages. Stop trying to make a preposition into an article, it will only confuse you later on.


As far as I know, out of Slavic languages only Bulgarian and Macedonian have definite articles, but even they lack indefinite articles.


Yes, I only recently found out BG has articles at all, purely from a Bulgarian friend! Like Norwegian, they seem to be stuck to the end of the word. So interesting. I actually had no idea there were any Slavic languages that had any articles! 8-o :-)

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