About Declension of Nouns in Ukrainian
I didn't really want to write this post as I wasn't sure that anyone would bother to read it and try to understand it. But eventually someone have asked me about it, so here I am.
There are 7 grammatical cases in Ukrainian:
- Називний (Nominative) - a subject of verb
хлопчик читає - a boy reads
- Родовий (Genitive) - shows relationship or possession.
двері будинку - doors of the house
- Давальний (Dative) - shows direction or recipient.
дати книгу хлопчикові - give a book to a boy
- Знахідний (Accusative) - patient.
він штовхнув двері - he pushed the door
- Орудний (Instrumental) - using which thing?
писати ручкою - to write with a pen
- Місцевий (Locative) - location. This case is used with prepositions на and у (в)
в будинку - in the house
- Кличний (Vocative) - used for addressing someone
In order to be the master of declension of Ukrainian nouns you should know about different declension groups. There are four of those.
1 First declension group (Перша відміна)
- nouns of feminine, masculine and common gender that end in "а" or "я" (in nominative)
книга (book), тесля (carpenter), сирота (orphan)
2 Second declension group (Друга відміна)
- masculine nouns that end in "о"(in nominative) or which have a stem that ends in consonant
Дніпро (Dnieper), Петро (masc. name), завод (plant), майстер (master)
- neuter nouns that end in "о", "е" or "я"
вікно (window), життя (life)
- all nouns that have suffixes "ищ", "иськ" (these sufixes give a noun a scent of vulgarity)
вітрище (wind) - from вітер
3 Third declension group (Третя відміна)
- feminine nouns which have a stem that ends in a consonant
любов (love), річ (thing)
- the word "мати" (mother)
4 Fourth declension group (Четверта відміна)
This group includes neuter nouns that:
- end in "а" or "я" and have suffixes "ат", "ят" when declined. These are mostly the words for baby animals
лоша (foal) - because лошати, теля (calf) - because теляти
- end in "я" and have suffix "ен" when declined
ім’я (name) - because імені
Common gender: when gender depends on gender of a person it is referring to
But if you think that's all, oh how wrong you are. There is also such thing as hard, soft and mixed groups. These are like subgroups for nouns of first and second groups.
1 Hard group (Тверда група) - nouns that have a stem that ends in a hard consonant
2 Soft group (М’яка група)
- nouns that end in soft consonant
- neuter nouns that end in "e", "я"
- masculine nouns that have suffixes "ар", "ир" and have a stress on a root
- masculine nouns that have suffixes "ар", "ир" and have a stress on suffix in nominative and on ending when declined
вівчАр (shepherd) - вівчарЯ
3 Mixed group (Мішана група) - nouns that have a stem which ends in a sibilant consonant
Sibilant consonants in Ukranian are: ш, ч, ж, дж. . This also includes letter щ which is a combination of 2 consonants: ш and ч.
The consonant becomes soft if followed by ь, і or ю, я, є (if there's no apostrophe before them)
Now that you have mastered all of those pretty exciting things, here are some even more exciting patterns that you can follow when declining any noun you like.
Order of cases as on the top of this post. Однина - singular, множина - plural. In red - stress
Well...this is about as confusing as ever could be. I won't lie, I understood next to none of it so far, but it certainly explained why I've been confused in the lessons. I'll refer back to this, then. Printing this out so I can reference it easily! Thanks for writing it out!
haha, I could not agree more. I thought I was confused before, but now I understand why
Questions, remarks, corrections, constructive criticism are much welcome and appreciated.
Thanks. The charts are useful. I'm afraid of frightening people even more by expanding them, but the main thing I can see which is missing is a discussion of which prepositions require which cases. You've included that for на and у, but not for the others.
Тому й не хотіла писати насправді. Та мене попросили. Якщо принаймні дві-три людини це таки прочитають, то я вважатиму це за "успєх" :) Комусь та й стане у нагоді. Тут он росіян до речі немало :)
:) Якщо зірки запалюють, значить це комусь потрібно :) Я впевнений, що ваша робота не даремна і комусь-таки обов'язково знадобиться.
До речі про росіян. Може, створимо курс української для російськомовних? Як гадаєте? :) І так, дякую за пост: я не можу бачити діаграм, але текст дійсно крутий! Я вважаю, що хто хоче, той розбереться, тим паче, що можна запитати, якщо щось не зрозуміло :).
This is why I prefer Duolingo to formal language education. When I studied Russian in college I could never memorize all the charts I needed. I think Duolingo's use of positive reinforcement makes it easier to internalize the rules of the language over time.
The idea of the charts isn't really to memorise them, but rather to have something to refer back to when you can't figure out why something you've just seen or read is correct, or why something you've just written or said is incorrect. They're organised to make it easy to find the particular form you're looking for rather than to make them easy to read through from beginning to end.
Exactly. It would be great if Duo had some button or pulldown or other "repository" to place rules like these, to make it easier to refer-back and check on a mistake.
Even natives aren't always sure how to decline some given noun! There's a big list of rules about what ending should masculine nouns have in genitive: "a" or "у" which seems impossible to memorize. So instead you just remember how to write some certain words and when it comes to rare words you check it in dictionary (if you actually care. Otherwise, you just write whichever ending you like :)
It's like learning Latin all over again, except the pronunciation is weird and it's written in Cyrillic.
When I studied German in school, the teacher gave us a 'megachart' to help with noun and adjective endings by case. This looks to be every bit as helpful, without the uncertainty that comes with German gender. Спасибі!
Just a quick question about the word "секретар" (second soft group). Should the ending -ю of Dative be stressed or not? Because it is not stressed here. And by the way, is this ending really not used nowadays, being completely replaced by -ові?
That must be a mistake, as you want be able to stress "е" were you to choose "ю" ending ;)
The linguists suggest that if you have two consecutive masculine nouns in dative you use -ові for the first one and -у/-ю for the second: Андрієві Олексійовичу, товаришеві Бондаренку.
Also there are some last names that end in -ов, -ев, -єв, -ів, -їв: Петров, Андрухів. You should use only -у with those (Петрову, Андрухову)
Wow! Thank you for posting this. This set of rules is so complex that it might as well be random. It seems like it's essential to communicating in Ukrainian, but I doubt I'll ever learn it. :-(
One of the biggest problems I'm finding with the Duolingo approach is that we only see a new noun in its nominative case a couple of times before we start using it in other cases. Then, when I have to choose between two cases, I can't remember which one is the nominative case. (Sometimes, they're so different, I don't even realize they're the same word!) This list might help me to at least recognize the cases, even if I can't remember how to form them.
One more comment: Before seeing this list, I had assumed that, like Spanish, words of particular genders had particular endings, with maybe a few exceptions. It seems like there is so much overlap of endings in Ukrainian that there's no way to tell the gender of a noun by its ending. You just have to know.
And, one question: What is a "stem" as referred to in your post? (E.g.: ". . . or which have a stem that ends in consonant.")
Thanks for the post.
I have a question about hard/soft consonants.
According to Ian Press' "A comprehensive grammar", ш is considered a hard consonant when followed by -а.
However, words like миша or душа decline following the soft or the mixed patterns of the first group.
What am I missing?
Is there a way to always tell the kind of consonant (ie. hard, soft or mixed) that the stem of a feminine word of the first group ends with, if you have never heard that word before? (This is making learning much harder for me, I'm trying to read books).
You need to distinguish between hard/soft consonants and hard/soft/mixed groups. Groups are for words, not consonants (the rules for groups are in the post).
Than all consonants can be either soft or hard, that depends on the letter after them. If it's А, Е, И, О, У, apostrophe or another consonant, your consonant is hard.
Then all consonants have different groups depending on the manners of articulation (not just in Ukrainian, any language has it). You don't need to bother with the majority of those, one group that should interest you in relation to declension is hushing sibilants: ш, ч, ж, дж.
So is Ш hard when followed by A? Of course it is. Is it sibilant? It's always sibilant, that's just about the way it's pronounced, you make some hissing sounds when pronouncing it. That's why it follows mixed group.
Thanks, this is really helpful.
I was finding the Duo way frustrating as it didn't explicate the patterns. I know that probably works for non-linguists but I've learnt a lot of this from other (classical) languages so it helps me relate it to what I already know.
Thanks, I think. It's a frustrating subject to learn, largely because all the explanations and charts one can find online disagree with each other, are badly translated, are missing important contexts and have only partial information. I guess that's because instructors try to simplify the subject. One result is charts that do not include plural versions and others that ignore gender. One tries to make it user friendly by saying each case "answers a question." But, the question words are confusing, for example "кого?" is the question for two different cases.
Thanks for providing this thorough information. I haven't tried to study it all yet, but it seems like it's better to have ALL the information in a chart like this, than "simplified" versions.
The subject should be turned over to a good graphic designer. who could organize it as a wall chart.