Letters х, г, ґ in Ukrainian

Letters х, г, ґ in Ukrainian

The sounds [х], [г] and [ґ] may seem similar at first glance, so let’s take a closer look at the difference between them.

Letter Х

The pronunciation of the Ukrainian [х] is similar to the pronunciation of [h] in “hello”

  • хто – who
  • ха́та – a house
  • хло́пець – a boy
  • худо́жник – an artist
  • хвили́на – a minute
  • ходи́ти – to go
  • вхід – an entrance
  • дах – a roof

Letter Г

The pronunciation of the Ukrainian [г] is similar to the English [h] in ”hood” or ”happy” (but pronounced with more energy)

  • годи́на an hour
  • гіта́ра – a guitar
  • гра – a play, game
  • геро́й – a hero
  • гімн – an anthem
  • друг – a friend
  • магази́н – a shop

Letter ґ

Letter «ґ» is unique and used only in Ukrainian language. This letter has long and difficult history. 
The special spelling «ґ» is first used in the Peresopnytsia Gospel (1556-1561).
In 1907-1909, the Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language compiled by Borys Hrinchenko contained almost 300 words with the letter «ґ».
Later, the Soviet government banned the printing of anything in Ukrainian, and the letter g was also tabooed. However, the ban was eventually lifted, as evidenced by the Ukrainian spelling book of 1928.
The letter g was used until 1933. In the year of the Holodomor, during the terrible repressions against the Ukrainian people, this letter was branded as nationalist and removed from the Ukrainian alphabet.
The repressed letter «ґ» was restored to its rights only on the eve of Ukraine's independence, in 1990, in the third edition of the Ukrainian spelling.

Ukrainian [ґ] sounds like hard [g] in “go”

  • ґу́дзик – a clothing button
  • ґа́нок – a porch
  • ґа́зда – a host
  • ґра́ти – a lattice, a grate
  • ґа́ва – a crow
  • ґату́нок – a sort, a quality
  • дзи́ґа – a spinning top

Let’s pronounce the following words in pairs

  • голо́дний (hungry) – холо́дний (cold)
  •  грам (gram) – храм (a temple)
  •  гра́ти (to play) – ґра́ти (a lattice, a grate)

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