The Ukrainian alphabet

The Ukrainian language uses the Cyrillic script and has an alphabet consisting of 33 letters. There are 22 consonants (Б В Г Ґ Д Ж З Й К Л М Н П Р С Т Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ), 6 hard vowels (А Е И І О У), 4 soft vowels (Є Ї Ю Я) and a soft sign.

Three of the letters, Ґ, Є and Ї, are unique to Ukrainian.

If you wish to read Ukrainian, you need to learn the alphabet thoroughly. This table will help you to do so.


А а

“a” in “father” or “car”

Áнглія

Б б

“b” in “bit”

Банáн, Бéльгія

В в

“v” in “vine”

Водá, вікнó

Г г

“h” in “hood” (Sometimes like a “g” in “gate”)

Гóра, гімн

Ґ ґ

Hard “g” in “go”

Ґáва

Д д

“d” in “do”

Дáма, дім

Е е

“e” in “met”

Естóнія

Є є

“ye” in “yes”

Єнóт

Ж ж

“s” in “measure”, “pleasure” (As there is no english symbol for this sound, it is usually represented as “zh”)

Жýк, жирáфа

З з

“z” in “zoo”

Зáмок, Зíна

И и

“i” in “ill” (Said with your tongue slightly back in your mouth. There is no English symbol for this sound)

Ти, ми

І і

“ee” in “see”

Іспáнія

Ї ї

“yie” in yield

Їжа

Й й

“y” in “boy”

Йод

К к

“k” in “kitten”

Кóма, кінó

Л л

“l” in “lamp”

Лáмпа, лíжко

М м

“m” in “man”

Мáма, мíсто

Н н

“n” in “not”

Нови́ни, ня́ня

O o

“o” in “folk”

Óпера

П п

“p” in “pet”

Пáва, пíсня

Р р

“r” in roll

Рот, ря́сно

С с

“c” in “city”

Спорт, сíм’я

Т т

“t” in “tap”

Такт, телефóн

У у

“oo” in “root”

Україна

Ф ф

“f” in “fine”

Флот, фінáнси

Х х

“h” in “hello”

Хор, хíмия

Ц ц

“ts” in “its”

Цінá

Ч ч

“ch” in “chips”

Час, чек

Ш ш

“sh” in “ship”

Шкíра

Щ щ

“sh” in “sheer” (with your tongue on the roof of your mouth)

Щу́ка, щі

Ь ь

Soft Sign’ makes preceding consonant soft

Сіль, кінь

Ю ю

“u” in “use”

Ю́нга

Я я

“ya” in “yard”

Я́хта

Basic Ukrainian reading rules.

Most consonants can be either soft or hard in Ukrainian (in the table above you two examples for each of these letters to demonstrate both hard and soft variants).

The consonant is hard before other consonants, or the vowels – а е и і о у.

The consonant is soft before the soft sign (ь) or the vowels – я, ю, є, ї.

However, й is always soft.

Soft sign (м’який знак or знак м’якшeння) we use not only to makes the previous letter softer on harder but also to separate a consonant from a vowel in a word (for example, «семя» [s′ém′ʌ] и «семья» [s′im′jʌ́] are two different words).

There is a special sign in Ukrainian language, the apostrophe (апостроф), that is used after a consonant and before a complex vowel (я, ю, є, ї) to prevent the consonant from becoming mild. (об’єкт, під’їзд).

There are two sounds in Ukrainian that are represented by two letters:

  • дз – like “ds” in “goods” (дзвеніти)
  • дж – like “dg” in “hedge” (джміль)

They are pronounced differently from coincidental combinations of the letters д and з or д and ж.

Ukrainian is written as pronounced, but the stress is very unpredictable and stressing the wrong syllable can lead to misunderstandings. You can check stresses in textbook and dictionary.

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