Ukrainian is spoken by over 40 million people in Ukraine and other countries. Among Ukrainian citizens there are a very few who speak only Ukrainian, a very few who speak only Russian, and virtually everyone speaks both. In general the Western part of Ukraine speaks mostly Ukrainian, usually around L'viv (L'vov is the Russian version, and Lwów [lvuf] the Polish), while Russian is more commonly used in eastern part of Ukraine and Kiev, the capital, but the country has always been bilingual throughout its history as Russian and Ukrainian speakers understand each other without the need of a translator. One common trait of Ukrainian is that it often replaces Russian e/ye and o/yo with i/yi. For instance, the patronymic suffixes -ov or -yov in Russian are -iv/-yiv in Ukrainian.
Ukrainian is an East Slavic language most similar to Russian and Belorussian, with strong similarities with Polish. It uses a variation of Cyrillic alphabet (some cosmetic [there are some false friends and letters that are used in only one of the languages] differences from Russian), but there are many words that are more similar to Polish than to Russian. The Russian hard sign is not used but rather an apostrophe is put in its place. Either way, the apostrophe and the hard sign it represents are quite rarely used in Ukrainian since the 1918 spelling reform.
Ukrainian is comparatively very similar towards Russian: much of the vocabulary is similar to Russian, the grammar is very similar, but the differences include easier pronunciation and the addition of one other case: The Vocative.
Ukrainian has a grammar that is slightly more complex than Russian, but Ukrainian still acts in a similar way to Russian. For trivia bluffs, 90% of Russian vocabulary is similar to Ukrainian, giving native Russian speakers, or a speaker of a Slavic language, a great advantage. A large amount of foreign words come from English, Russian, Polish and Bulgarian.
Unfortunately, stress in Ukrainian is not fixed; The stress can fall anywhere within a word, either at the beginning, end or in the middle of a particular word. The good news is that, in most learning material for Ukrainian, the stress is always indicated by a diacritic mark above a vowel. Note that in all forms of Ukrainian media, either newspapers, books, etc. The diacritic never appears. However, they may appear on the names of places and people where necessary.
Ukrainian has about three grammatical genders: Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. Indicating the gender of a word is generally very simple: Masculine nouns end in a consonant, the Feminine nouns end in -а or -я, and neuter nouns end in -о, -е and -ння. Note that indicating a gender is very simple, but nouns that end in a 'soft sign' (See Below) can either be masculine or feminine. These nouns will have to be memorized, if you are seriously considering to study Ukrainian.
Ukrainian has seven grammatical cases for both nouns and adjectives, which in turn makes Ukrainian a slightly more complicated language than Russian.
Nominative = In simplest form, the subject of the sentence.
Accusative = The case of the direct object, or simply put the object of the verb.
Genitive = The case for showing ownership of the direct object, or simply put to show "of"
Dative = The case to show the indirect object, usually a recipient, or to show to whom the action is directed towards.
Instrumental = The case to show how a subject accomplishes or carries an action by the means of an object.
Locative (or prepositional) = The case to show location.
Vocative = The case used to address someone.
А Б В Г Ґ Д Е Є Ж З И І Ї Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ь Ю Я
а б в г ґ д е є ж з и і ї й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ь ю я
In Ukrainian, vowels tend to suffer vowel reduction due to the fact that the stress isn't fixed. The good news is that there are only a few vowels that need special attention towards, making Ukrainian easier to speak than Russian.
"ah" like "arrive" if stressed; "u" like hut if unstressed.
"Ya" like the 'ya' in "yard" ( middle or end of word 'ia' as in "mia")
like 'e' in "Lenin" if stressed; "ih" like the 'i' in "bit" if unstressed.
like 'ye' in "yet" ( middle or end of word 'ie' as in "miedo") Rarely used after a consonant.
"ih" like 'i' in "bit" if stressed; 'e' in "Lenin" if unstressed.
"y", as in boy
like 'ee' in "seen" if stressed; "ih" like 'i' in "bit" if unstressed.
"yee" like in "Yield"
like 'oo' in "hoop"
'yu' like you ( middle or end of word 'iu' as in "viuda")
like "o" in obey if stressed- but never spoken as "ou"; the unstressed "o" is less reduced than it is in Russian. If unstressed, pronounced it like the 'oo' in "hoop".
'b' as in "bite"
'v' as in "violin"
'h' as in "hello"; [usually aspirated] sometimes pronounced like 'g' as in 'go'.
'g' as in "go"; VERY rarely used
'd' as in "do"
'zh' as in "pleasure"
'z' as in "zone"
'c' as in "cat"
'l' as in "love"
'm' as in "mother"
'n' as in "nice"
'p' as in "piano"
'r' is always rolled like Spanish or Scottish
's' as in "sing"
't' as in "top"
'f' as in "fling"
Hard "H". Tough for English speakers. Like Scottish "loch or German "Bach".
'ts' as in "sits"
'ch' as in "chip"
'sh' as in "shut"
'shch'. Tough for English speakers. Hard 'sh'. Halfway between 'sh' and 'ch'. Say: "fresh cheese" or "fish chowder".
Unlike Russian, Ukrainian is written as it is pronounced but stress is very unpredictable that stressing the wrong syllable (or even missing a soft/hard sign) CAN lead to misinterpretation; for that reason, almost every book and dictionary concerning Ukrainian put an accent on the tonic syllable. Read the phrases carefully, and then try to re-write them by putting an accent mark. The same rule applies for others that use the Cyrillic script such as Russian, Belorussian and Bulgarian.
And like Russian, the pronoun is usually omitted in the present and future tenses (both imperfective and perfective) due to context, used only for emphasis, the past and conditional tenses.
обмеження швидкості (ohb-meh-SHEHN-nyah shvihd-KOHS-tee)
gas (petrol) station
I haven't done anything wrong.
Я не зробив нічого поганого. (yah neh ZROH-bihf nee-CHOH-hoh poh-hah-NOH-hoh)
It was a misunderstanding.
Це було непорозуміння. (tseh BOO-loh neh-poh-roh-zoo-MEE-nyah)
Where are you taking me?
Куди ви мене берете? (KOO-dih vih MEH-neh beh-REH-teh?)
Am I under arrest?
Я заарештований? (yah zah-ah-rehsh-TOH-vahn-nihy)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
Я американський/австралійський/Великобританії/канадський громадянин.(yah ah-meh-RIH-kah-noh/ows-TRAH-leeys'kihy/veh-lih-koh-BRIH-tah-nee-yee/kah-NAHDS'kihy hroh-mah-DYAH-nihn)
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
Я хочу поговорити з американським /австралійським/британським /канадським посольством/консульством. (yah KHOH-choo poh-hoh-voh-RIH-tih z ah-meh-rih-KAHNS'kihm/aws-trah-LEE-yes'-kihm/brih-TAHNS'-kihm/kah-NAHDS'kihm poh-SOHL'stvohm/KOHN-sool'stvohm)
I want to talk to a lawyer.
Я хочу поговорити з адвокатом. (yah KHOH-choo poh-hoh-voh-RIH-tih zuh ahd-voh-KAH-tohm)
Can I just pay a fine now?
Можна просто сплатити штраф зараз? (MOSH-nah PROHS-toh splah-TIH-еih shtrahf ZAH-rahz)