Alternation of у-в, і-й, з-із-зі

To achieve greater harmony in Ukrainian we need to avoid the accumulations of consonants. To do this, we use alternating of y – в, і – й and з-із-зі

Alternation of у-в

In the Ukrainian language, both the prepositions у, в, and the prefixes у-, в- alternate in words.

У is used in order to avoid the coincidence of consonants that are difficult to pronounce:

  • between consonants:

Наш учи́тель був у теа́трі. – Our teacher was in the theater.

  • regardless of the ending of the previous word, before the consonants в, ф and combinations of the letters лв, св, тв, хв, зв.:

Він був у Льво́ві. – They were in Lviv.

Вона́ поста́вила кві́ти у во́ду. – She put the flowers in the water.

  • at the beginning of a sentence before a consonant:

У кімна́ті було́ сві́тло. – There was light in the room.


В is used to avoid the coincidence of vowels:

  • between vowels:

А́нна ходи́ла в університе́т. – Anna went to university.

  • after a vowel before most consonants (except в, ф, лв, св, тв, хв, зв.):

Вона́ була́ в теа́трі. – She was in the theater.

! Марі́я ї́хала у ваго́ні метро́. – Maria was riding in a metro car.

  • at the beginning of a sentence before a vowel:

В Украї́ні за́раз те́пло. – It is warm in Ukraine now.


Note: The alternation у-в happens in some words to achieve euphony in Ukrainian (without changing their meaning):

учи́тель – вчи́тель (teacher), уже́ – вже (already), учо́ра – вчо́ра (yesterday)


У-в do not alternate:

  • in words used only with в or only with у, for example:
    • впра́ва (exercise), вступ (introduction), вла́сність (property), вплив (influence), взає́мини (relations), вда́ча (temper), вклад (contribution), вла́да (authority, power, governance);
    • ува́га (attention), умо́ва (condition), уя́ва (imagination), ува́жність (attentiveness), узбере́жжя (coast), удача (luck), устано́ва (institution), ука́з (decree).
  • in proper names and in words of foreign origin, for example:
    • Уго́рщина (Hungary), Владисла́в (Vladislav), уто́пія (utopia)

Alternation of i-й

The conjunction і and the unstressed і at the beginning of a word in a number of cases alternate with й in the same positions as у – в.

І is used to avoid consonant coincidence, which is difficult to pronounce:

  • between consonants:

Джон і Марк працю́ють у шко́лі. – John and Mark work at a school.

  • at the beginning of a sentence and after a pause, which in writing is indicated by a comma, semicolon, colon, dots, parentheses:

І що ти плану́єш роби́ти? – And what are you planning to do?

  • when comparing concepts (opposites):

Дні і ночі – days and nights

Батьки́ і ді́ти – parents and children

  • before a word beginning with й, є, і, ю, я:

Яри́на і Ю́рій ра́зом були́ в Іспа́нії і Іта́лії. – Yaryna and Yuriy were together in Spain and Italy.

Й is used to avoid the coincidence of vowels:

  • between vowels (except when the next word begins with є, і, ю, я):

Поліна й Анна гуляють. – Polina and Anna are walking.

! Поліна і Яна – Polina and Yana

  • after a vowel before a consonant (except when the next word begins with й):

Марі́я й Павло́ вчо́ра ходи́ли в кі́но. – Maria and Pavlo went to the cinema yesterday.

! Марі́я і Йоган Maria and Johan

Note: the conjunction та is used when there is already one і or й in the sentence, for variety.

Оле́г і Степа́н працюва́ли та слу́хали му́зику. – Oleg and Stepan were working and listening to music.


Note: The alternation і-й happens in some words to achieve euphony in Ukrainian (without changing their meaning):

імовірно – ймовірно (probably), іти – йти (go)

Alternation of з-із-зі

З is used to avoid the coincidence of vowels:

  • between vowels:

Вона́ приї́хала з Оде́си. – She came from Odessa.

  • after a consonant before a vowel

Він з Япо́нії. – He is from Japan.

  • after a vowel before a consonant (except when the next word begins with с and ш)

А́нна прийшла́ з дру́гом. – Anna came with a friend.


Із is used to avoid consonant coincidence:

  • between consonants:

Том родом із Канади. – Tom is from Canada

  • between groups of consonants before or after them

Марі́я була́ ра́зом із дру́гом. – Maria was together with a friend.

Він приїхав із Франції. – He came from France.

Лист із Польщі. – A letter from Poland.

  • in front of с, ш

Батько із сином – Father with son

Су́кня із шо́вку. – A dress made of silk.

Зі is used:

  • in front of consonants з, с, ш, щ regardless of the ending of the previous word or pause (to avoid multiple identical sounds in a row).

Це моя по́друга зі шко́ли. – This is my friend from school.

  • зі страху
    out of fear
  • зі студентської бібліотеки
    out of a students library

Watch out! There are two expressions to remember:

  • зі мною
    with me
  • зі Львова
    from Lviv



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