"She knows Ukrainian and I know English."
Translation:Вона знає українську, а я знаю англійську.
і implies similarity. а is used for contrast, to compare two things.
Knowing Ukranian is not knowing English, so а is WAY better (after all, it makes little sense to say "She knows Ukranian and I know English, too" if you just know English).
There are certain patterns to the usage of а but I do not feel qualified to give much advice on its use outside Russian. As for Ukranian, at least the following types of sentences work:
- A is an X, not an Y: Він письменник, а не директор.
- A does X, not Y : Вона готує, а не спить.
- A is an X, and B is an Y : Вікторія — викладач, а я ні.
- A does X, and B does Y : Вона спить, а він читає.
Contrast is not the same as contradiction: after all, her knowledge of Ukranian does not contradict my knowing English. It is just that she and I know different things.
So а is like "but"?
The nuances in English are already a bit difficult. I think in English "She knows Ukrainian and I know English" is more likely to mean that we have different skills and could work together for some language related goal. And I think that "She knows Ukrainian, but I know English" is more likely to mean that we don't understand each other, because we speak different languages.
It is a bit like "but", but I'd say it is much closer to and (of course, when you use "and" to link different stuff together). The important thing is, "Вона знає українську, а я знаю англійську." is a juxtaposition, not an explicit attempt to show the conflict between the two parts.
You may very well be two Italian students—one knows English, and the other knows Ukranian. The sentence describes this situation, too. Or you might be people who speak different languages and cannot understand each other.
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
Strictly speaking, there are certain rules when to use which, but we do not impose them in this course to make it easier for beginners. Therefore, it is really up to you when to use which. :)
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 танцюєш - I work and/whereas you work
- Мене звати Віктор а вас звати Віра - My name is Victor and/whereas your name is Vira
Here are my 50 cents
It's all about the agreement between the subjects, verbs and objects of the two sentences you want to connect:
Ти любиш макарони, і ти любиш/ненавидиш рис (the subject is the same, so nothing else matters)
Ти любиш макарони, і вона любить макарони (both love; both love pasta)
Ти любиш макарони, а вона ненавидить (hate) макарони (both are about pasta, but the action is different)
Ти любиш макарони, а вона любить рис (the action is the same, but the object is different)