Overview Of Ukrainian Grammar [UK. GRAMMAR PORTAL]
Ukrainian is an East Slavic language spoken primarily in Western and Central Ukraine by 40 million people making it the third most spoken Slavic language by number of native speakers in the world!
Ukrainian Grammar/Українська Граматика
Ukrainian grammar, is complex but very regular! Ukrainian has three noun genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), seven cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative, vocative) and two numbers (singular, plural). These affect things like adjectives, numbers and even verbs!
Nouns can be one of three genders; Masculine, Feminine or Neuter. It's important to know which gender each word is. But if you get it wrong, don't worry you'll still be understood.
It's very easy to determine the gender of nouns; my personal trick is called Hiya Owen!
- Feminine nouns usually end in -а or -я
- Neuter nouns usually end in -о or -е
- Masculine nouns end in a consonant, example: н
All together; it sounds like: Ah-ya-oh-e-n Which sounds like Hiya Owen
Then there's just one rule to remember:
- Nouns ending in a double consonant followed by -я are neuter
Feel free to share your trick in the comments!
To form the plural there are only a few rules:
- Most nouns just add remove the remove the final vowel (if there is one) and add -и
- Nouns ending in -ж, -ч, -ш and -щ add -і to the end
- Nouns ending in -я, -ь, -е replace it with -і in the plural
- Many neuter nouns ending in -о replace it with -а in the plural
We won't go into the cases in detail (that will be in a later post) but here we will learn the purpose of cases and when to use them! Cases are very important and not using them changes the meaning sometimes slightly:
- Я вчу українську - I learn Ukrainian
- Я вчу українською - I learn through Ukrainian (as in the lessons are in Ukrainian)
But sometimes it can make the meaning very different!
- Мама їсть курку. - Mom is eating the chicken.
- Маму їсть курка. - The chicken is eating mom.
Though I suppose, if you were saying the second one in a calm tone, they might cop on that your mother wasn't really being eaten by a chicken.
Here is the list of cases and there uses
- Nominative Case
The subject/do-er of the action
- Genitive Case
Like 's/of in English, used for ownership
- Dative Case*
Indirect Object/To something
- Accusative Case*
Direct Object/Receiving the action
- Instrumental Case
With/By means of
- Locative Case
In/At, used for location
- Vocative Case
Used to address someone directly
*Don't worry if you don't understand the difference between the Dative and Accusative Cases, it will take a little bit of practice and future posts will show the difference! :)
In Ukrainian, verbs have aspects (like Polish or Russian) and tenses (just like English). There is also moods, but that is a bit complicated so we'll just leave that for now. Let's just focus on two main things:
Verbs conjugate according to number and person (and gender in some tenses). Here is how an example of a verb in the present tense
Читати - To read
- Я читаю
- Ти читаєш
- Він читає
- Вона читає
- Ми читаємо
- Ви читаєте
- Вони читають
Further information on how to conjugate verbs among other things will be in future posts!
In the section on cases, why is Ukrainian in this sentence (Я вчу українську - I learn Ukrainian) written as if it were a feminine/hard noun? According to this website, http://www.ukrainianlanguage.org.uk/read/reference/dictionary.htm the noun "Ukrainian" is masculine/soft (Українець), like "pencil" (олівець). In the Duolingo example sentence, "I" = subject, "learn" = verb, and "Ukrainian" = direct object, placing this noun in the accusative case. The accusative case for masculine/soft nouns has the same form as the nominative case (for inanimate nouns) = Українець.
Why am I so confused?
"Українську" is an adjective and is short for "українску мову" (Ukrainian language). Similar to how the word English, is an adjective. You can't say the English but you can say the English language.
Українець is the noun meaning a male Ukrainian person or just "Ukrainian" e.g. Я - українець = I am (a/the/) Ukrainian. It is a soft animate (animate = living, not dead) masculine noun.
For the accusative, masculine animate nouns go into the genitive case. For example: "Там українець. Я знаю українця" = There is the Ukrainian. I know the Ukrainian.