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Ukrainian i, and Russian и

When does Ukrainian demand и and when does Ukrainian demand і? I've been studying Russian for a while and it seems that sometimes when I would type и in Russian, Uk uses і, but sometimes Uk needs an и. Can anyone explain?

February 15, 2017



Look, Russian "и" = Ukrainian "i" and Russian "ы" = Ukrainian "и" - it's about sounds. About words - you just should learn common differences, for example: Russian "привет" and Ukrainian "привiт" ( an "и" have different sounds). Correct me if i understood you wrong :)

  • 1805

Ukrainian и doesn't sound exactly like Russian ы, and Ukrainian і is not Russian и.
Phonetically they form а sequence ы - (ukr)и - (rus)и - (ukr)і. Ukrainian sounds are closer to English ones in sit and seat respectively, while Russian и is somewhere in between; ы-like sounds exist in Gaelic, Turkish and Korean, but (afaik) not in any of Romance, Germanic or Slavic languages.. So in привіт both Ukrainian vowels are different from Russian и in привет - and, again, Russian е became Ukrainian і.

Well, in the words borrowed from European languages the relation is more straightforward, but then the Ukrainian orthography requires и after certain vowels (д, т, з, с, ц, ч, ш, ж, р) in the words of foreign origin... but not necessarily in Slavic words...

Thus I don't think that there is an easy rule of thumb here. But did anybody say it would be easy ? :)


Maybe a Ukrainian і sounds slightly different from a Russian и—yet to my ear кіт sounds exactly like Russian кит. I think they are the same for any practical purposes (when stressed).


In most cases, you may feel some difference between russian "и" and ukrainian "i" just because Ukrainian is more soft and melodic in pronouncing than Russian. Moreover, in Ukrainian words consonants before "i" become softer than analogically in Russian words before "и", for example: Ukrainian "к" before "i" in word "кілограм" sounds softly than in russian "килограмм", so it just sounds like "к(ь)iлограм", something like this :) This is a feature of the Ukrainian language.

[deactivated user]

    but (afaik) not in any of Romance, Germanic or Slavic languages..

    Romainian â/î, unstressed e in European Portuguese, and Polish y are very close to the Russian ы.

    • 1805

    Romanian â/î was reproduced in 'Moldavian Cyrillic' with ы, and, you are right, it's very similar. Wikipedia gives the same IPA symbol ɨ (barred i) for all of them.

    Also Wikipedia says that unstressed e in European Portuguese is same as /ɯ/ 'ㅡ' in Korean - then it's close, too: I cannot say about European Portugese, but what I heard in Korean sounded like Russian ы, so here you're right, too.

    But Polish y definitely is not like Russian ы, it's closer to Ukrainian и.

    • 1805

    Generally in original Slavic words Ukrainian и corresponds to Russian и, while in the borrowed ones (Greek, Latin, German etc) it's Ukrainian і in the place of i in Latin script, and и in Russian.
    I'd like to add that in many cases Ukrainian і corresponds to Russian е, when it ascends to Old Slavonic letter ѣ (ять), or о, when there is an alternation о-і in Ukrainian

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