All of these questions were already asked so many times, but it was mostly in the comment section for sentences, so people ask them again and again. I think it would be really nice to have them all gathered in one place
There are some letters in Ukrainian that denote not one sound, but two: й and some vowel. These letters are:
- я = й + а (ya)
- ю = й + у (yu)
- є = й + е (ye)
- ї = й + і (yi)
When they are in the beginning of the word or after a vowel you pronounce them just as I wrote them in Latin characters. But! Situation changes when they are after a consonant. Instead of being a combination of two sounds they become one - the vowel one - and the consonant before them becomes palatalized. Compare:
But, there's a snag! There are some consonants (they are called labial) that can never be palatilized. And still want to have one those letters after them. That's when apostrophe comes in handy.
Labial consonants in Ukrainian are: б, п, в, м, ф. We have mnemonics for remembering those: "Мавпа Буф", but I doubt that it will make any sense for any of you. (мавпа is monkey, Буф is like a monkey's name)
You should put apostrophe between a labial consonant and one of those (я, ю, є, ї). And between "p" and one of those. Р isn't labial but it clearly had an affection to the apostrophe.
Oh, and when there's another consonant before labial consonant you don't put an apostrophe. "How," - you can ask youself, - "we thought they can't be palatilized!". Yep, that's still true. Please, don't ask any further questions. You have to deal with it - свято (holiday) Oh! And if that another consonant is р you still put the apostrophe (because it has an affection to him, remember?) - черв’як (worm).
There're some other rules about apostrophe, but I think these are more than enough. Just think of an apostrophe as a part of the word's spelling and try to memorize where to put it in a particular word.
Soft Sign (ь)
The soft sign is used to indicate the palatalization of a consonant. It's hard to explain how that palatilized consonant should sound, you just have to learn and listen. I'll just give you some soft sign rules for using it.
The rules say that you have to use it after д, т, з, с, ц, л, н (another cool meaningless mnemonics: Де ти з’їси ці лини) when they are soft. So you need to hear that a consonant is soft in order to spell a word correctly. But sommon "places" for soft sign are:
- suffixes ськ, зьк, цьк (these suffixes make an adj. from a noun)- український (Ukrainian)
- diminutive suffixes -еньк-, -оньк-, -есеньк-, -ісіньк-, -юсіньк- - малесенький (tiny)
- in verbs that end in ться - збирається (getting ready, going to)
- in verbs before ся - станься (imperative of happen)
Soft sign can never be put:
- after б, п, в, м, ф, р, ж, ч, ш, щ
- between doubled consonants - волосся (hair)
і, й / та
As someone mentioned in one of the discussions, "euphony is a grammatical category in Ukrainian". I couldn't say any better. We have a tonne of things just for the sake of euphony. One of those things is 3 words to say and (actually 4, but the fourth one has a different meaning).
These 3 words for and are interchangeable, you should choose what sounds better, i.e. try to avoid many successive consonants (or vowels). Use i:
- on the beginning of the sentence before a consonant
- after a consonant
- before 2 consonants
For other cases you have й.
Та is a special word that can mean either and or but. You usually use it if there's already і/й in the sentence and you want something different. Or between a consonant and a vowel. Just try not to use it near words that already have lots of t's (тато та тітка - not cool)
This also caused a lot of confusion. You just got used to a thought that there are 3 conjunctions that you can interchange and than Whoa! There's even another one. And this time you can't just interchange them freely.
і implies similarity. а is used for contrast, to compare two things. Something like English while, but lighter. There's a fancy term juxtaposition for this
Here's a fancy scheme for ye:
- 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/can do X, and B does/can do Y : Вона спить, а він читає.
It's another euphony thing. We have 2 words two say in. All the rules for і/й apply here. Just substitute i for у and й for в and you have rules for в/у
But that's not all, we came even further and decided why not do this в/у thing in prefix. And there you have it.
Most (there are some exceptions) words in Ukrainian that start with в+consonant have their у+consonant counterpart (for the sake of euphony): вчитель-учитель, вже-уже, вночі-уночі, впасти-упасти.
You should try to avoid congestion of consonants and use у-versions after a consonant and at the beginning of a sentence. But this rule is sometimes neglected and because of that в-versions of some words became much more common.
Bear in mind, that й is such a wonderful soft consonant that you can have another 2 consonants next to it and raptor won't get sad.
Be sure to post any further questions below and I'll try to do my best to satisfy your interest.
Regarding the apostrophe, I can't seem to get one anywhere on my Windows Ukrainian keyboard layout and often have to switch back into English to type it or my response is counted as misspelled and wrong... I read about solutions in Ukrainian forums but they were mostly for Word and other MS Office programmes...any suggestions?
I learned a little bit of Russian before, so I was somehow used to the general cyrillic alphabet; but what I just don't get is the difference between и and і in the Ukrainian version? When do I use which? How can I remember the words with и/і correctly? Is there a trick? Please enlighten me!