Originally, ти was a singular pronoun ‘thou’, ви as a plural phonoun ‘you’. However, the plural pronoun became used even for one person, to show politeness, so you can use ви when addressing one person, too. In English, ‘thou’ has mostly died out and was replaced by ‘you’. In Ukrainian, this only happened partially: ти is still thriving, but ви has taken on some of its functions.
Unlike the English 'thou', Ukrainian ти is not obsolete. Ти is used when addressing people you know well and percieve as peers, mainly your friends. In some groups of people, it is the default pronoun (e.g. among students in a university), but it can often come off as rude when used to people you don’t know well. Ти is also used when addressing younger relatives, and sometimes all the young people in general. In many regions it is used when addressing older relatives, too. Although in some regions, Ви is preferable for older relatives, so if you have Ukrainian relatives, better ask them what pronouns they prefer! :)
Ви is the plural pronoun ‘you’. When it is used to one person, it conveys politeness. It’s the default pronoun choice when addressing people you don’t know well. This includes most people you meet. When used to friends, ви might sound too cold and impersonal.
When ви is used to one person, it is often capitalised (to add extra politeness), although this is not strictly required.
When unsure, it’s perfectly OK to ask people about their preferred pronouns. Like, ‘do you want me to use ви or ти to you?’. Or, if you’ve used «ти» and don’t want to sound rude, you can ask if the listener is OK with that (e.g., you could ask «Нічо́го, що я на «ти»?» ‘Do you ming me using ти?’).
I’m curious, what’s the difference between supper and dinner? In the U.S., we have either breakfast lunch and dinner, or breakfast dinner and supper. The difference is a cultural one, with the northern states using lunch to mean midday meal and dinner to mean evening meal, and the south using dinner for midday meal and supper for evening meal. Is there a difference in Ukraine or are they different meals? Thanks!
No, we don’t have a similar difference in Ukrainian. We have сніда́нок (breakfast, a morning meal), обі́д (lunch~dinner, a midday meal), and вече́ря (dinner~supper, an evening meal).