"Mom is there, and what about dad?"
Translation:Мама там, а тато?
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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
Another comment to this nice description: і can connect both words (кіт і пес) and sentences (у мене є кіт, і в тебе є кіт), while а connects only sentences (у мене є кіт, а в тебе - пес).
Kind of implied from the post, but wanted to mention. A quick way to first sort it out to see whether you need to consider а at all.
The difference between а and і
І connects sentences or words. А connects only sentences. E.g. Мама і тато - correct, мама а тато - meaningless.
І connects sentences that talk about things that are alike e.g. Я люблю чай, і він любить чай (I like tea, and he likes tea). А connects sentences that talk about things that are opposite or not alike e.g. Я люблю чай, а він любить каву (I like tea, and/but he likes coffee).
The meaning of а is kind of between "and" and "but" in English. Very often you can translate а as either "but" or "and".
As a general rule, if you need to translate from English to Ukrainian and see "and" connecting two sentences, check if they talk about the same things or contrasting things, and translate as "і" or "а" respectively (in this case, we know where mom is, but don't know where dad is --> using "а"). If you are translating from Ukrainian to English and see "а", translate it as "and", should be no problem :)
The difference between і, й and та
І, й and та are equivalent grammatically. More on the differences in a separate comment :)
І, й and та mean "and" and are technically interchangeable.
In spoken language people seldom pay attention which one they use. As a general rule, use them freely based on your feeling.
In written language, in important speeches, theater, in more "literary" occasions they are used depending on the words before and after "and" to create a melodic sound. General rules are, priority #1: avoid two vowels in a row, priority #2: avoid two consonants in a row.
Let's say we want to say X and Y.
Case 1: X ends with a consonant, Y begins with a consonant --> use і (кіт і пес)
Case 2: X ends with a vowel, Y begins with a vowel --> use й (Аня й Оксана)
Case 3: X ends with a vowel, Y begins with a consonant --> use та (мама та Марія)
Case 4: X ends with a consonant, Y begins with a vowel --> use й; the general rules above tell us that "saving the vowels" has more priority, therefore we prefer "Дід й Оксана" to "Дід і Оксана".
As I said, in daily life nobody does this. It depends on your own preference. If you feel like "Дід й Оксана" sounds ugly or is not easy to pronounce, you say "Дід і Оксана" or even "Дід та Оксана" even though the last one is breaking all the rules :) Sometimes following the rules actually makes it less melodic! E.g. "Я у школі" (I'm at school) would sound horrible if you said "Я в школі" (three consonants in a row + not easy to pronounce).
Duolingo (as well as spoken language) accepts all these interchangeably and rightly so :)
P.S. I don't know other languages doing this kind of stuff apart from Italian: tu ed io VS io e tu (you and me, me and you), a Roma VS ad Alba (in Rome, in Alba)