Essential Phrases in Ukrainian That Everyone Should Know

As we all know, Ukraine is going through a difficult time at the moment. And, while you may sometimes feel frustrated or powerless because you think there is nothing you can do to alleviate people’s pain, there are always ways to reach out to people in need. Whether you have family or friends in Ukraine, have just heard about an online or face-to-face support group for expats or refugees, or are still looking for a platform where you can become a volunteer, there has never been a better time to learn a few essential Ukrainian phrases.

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Yes, most people in Ukraine speak English, and they are very responsive when it comes to interacting in a language other than their own. However, by learning Ukrainian phrases you will gain a better understanding of Ukrainians’ culture and you will bring much-needed joy into their lives.

Below, you’ll find a thorough list of essential Ukrainian phrases for all occasions to offer friendship and support to those who need it the most right now.

Ukrainian phrases for greeting people

Like most languages, Ukrainian has a lot of different words and expressions to greet people. In this section, we will overview the most common ways in which you can say “hello” and “goodbye” in this beautiful language.

  1. Добрий день (Hello) 🔊 /dobryj den’/

This is the most universal way of saying “hello” in Ukrainian. You can use it for both formal and informal conversations at any time of day.

  1. Привіт (Hi) 🔊 /pryv’it/

This one is a slightly more informal word for “hello” in Ukrainian. You can use it between friends, family, or people you know well.

  1. Доброго ранку! (Good morning) 🔊 /’dobroho ‘ranku/

Use this Ukrainian phrase to greet people before noon.

  1. Доброго дня! (Good afternoon) 🔊 /‘dobroho dnya/

Are you looking for the best way to greet people between noon and dusk? Use this Ukrainian phrase.

  1. Доброго вечора! (Good evening) 🔊 /’dobroho ve’chora/

Whether you’ve just arrived at a bar, a home, or the airport, use this phrase if you’re looking for a slightly formal way of saying “hello” after dusk.

  1. до побачення (Goodbye) 🔊 /do pobachennya/

Oh, and make sure you say “goodbye” before you leave. At least, wave!

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Ukrainian phrases making new friends

If you’ve ever interacted with Ukrainians, I don’t have to tell you how friendly and open-minded they are. With these words and expressions, you can move beyond greetings and get to know people.

  1. Дозвольте представитися (Let me introduce myself) 🔊 /dosvolʹte predsta’vytsja/

Have you just met someone from Ukraine? Make the first step, put on a big smile, and politely say who you are.

  1. Мене звати_____ (My name is_____) 🔊 /’mene ‘zvaty/

If you’re looking for a more casual alternative, make sure to write this one down.

  1. Як тебе звати? (What is your name?) 🔊 /jak te’be ‘zvaty/

Oh, and make sure to ask your interlocutor about their name.

  1. Радий познайомитися! (Nice to meet you!) 🔊 /rA-dyj po-zna-jO-my-ty-sja/

Yes, I know. Quite a long phrase. But it will do a lot for your interactions, believe me.

  1. Скільки тобі років? (How old are you?) 🔊 /’skIilky to’bi ‘rokiv/

Come on, don’t be shy. Show that you are interested in the conversation!

  1. Мені 26 років (I am 26) 🔊 /me-nI 26 rO-kiv/

Are you though? You can learn how to say other numbers by watching this video:

  • Де ти живеш? (Where do you live?) 🔊 /de ty zy’vesh)

Use this phrase in Ukrainian only if you’re sure it won’t be a sensitive issue.

Common question words and phrases in Ukrainian

If like me, you are naturally curious, you will want to know everything about your new Ukrainian friends, or about that relative you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Besides, when you’ve just begun your learning journey in a new language, it’s just easier to ask questions than to talk about yourself!

Here are the interrogative Ukrainian phrases you’ll need to learn to keep any conversation going.

    1. Хто? (Who?) 🔊 /khto/
    2. Коли? (When?) 🔊 /ko’ly/
    3. Що? (What?) 🔊 /scho/
    4. Де? (Where?) 🔊 /de/
    5. Чому? (Why?) 🔊 /cho’mu/
    6. Як? (How?) 🔊 /jak/
    7. Скільки? (How much?) 🔊 /’skilky/

Ukrainian phrases for dealing with problems

While getting to connect or reconnect with people in a new language can be a wonderful experience, you can’t expect everything to go smoothly, especially if you’re talking to someone who has been under a lot of stress.

Use the Ukrainian phrases below to solve all kinds of communicative or situational problems.

Oh, by the way: don’t worry too much about your pronunciation. People will be very appreciative of your linguistic efforts even if your accent is not perfect.

  1. Я вас не розумію (I don’t understand you) 🔊 /ja vas ne rozu’miju/

If you feel you cannot follow what the other person is saying at all, it’s just better to be frank and avoid further confusion.

  1. Ви розумієте мене? (Do you understand what I’m saying?) 🔊 /vy rozu’mijete me’ne/

If you switch to English, make sure your interlocutor can follow you.

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  1. Повторіть, будь ласка! (Could you say that again, please?) 🔊 /povto’rit bud ‘laska/

Don’t be shy to ask people to repeat what they’ve said. Remember: Ukrainian people are very friendly. Plus, they will be probably very grateful for the fact you’re trying to communicate in their language.

  1. Що це означає? (What does it mean?) 🔊 /scho tse ozna’chaje/

If there’s a specific word whose meaning you don’t know, ask about it! It might be a great opportunity to learn more Ukrainian phrases.

  1. Ви говорите англійською? (Do you speak English?) 🔊 /vy ho’voryte anh’lijs’koju/

Shame on you if you use this one! No, I’m just kidding. Just make sure you use it as a last resource.

  1. Що з вами? (Are you okay?) 🔊 /scho z ‘vamy/

If you can sense someone is feeling blue or scared, don’t act like everything is fine! Use this Ukrainian phrase to show that you care.

Ukrainian Phrases to express politeness

Yes, I know, you have been very friendly and polite already. But a linguistic masterclass in politeness would never be complete without “thank you”, “please” and “sorry”, would it? So, if you really want to make a great impression, make sure you know how to say these phrases in Ukrainian:

  1. Перепрошую… (Excuse me) 🔊 /pere’proshuju)

As you are about to see, there are lots of phrases in Ukrainian that you can use to apologize. Use this one to ask for permission or if you want to pass someone in the street.

  1. Вибачте! (I’m sorry!) 🔊 /vy’bachte/

This is the best Ukrainian phrase if you’ve made a mistake.

  1. Мені шкода (I’m sorry) 🔊 /me’ni shko’da/

If you’ve done nothing wrong but you want to show sympathy after something bad has happened, say Мені шкода

  1. Нічого (Nevermind) 🔊 /ni’choho/

Use this phrase to express when someone else apologizes to you about a small thing.

  1. Молодець! (Well done!) 🔊 /molo’dets/

Use this Ukrainian phrase to congratulate people on their achievements, even if they’re small. If they smile, it means your pronunciation was clear enough and they understood what you said!

Last but not least…

  1. Дякую (Thank you) 🔊 /’dyakuyu/

One of the most important phrases in Ukrainian and in any language…

  1. просимо (You’re welcome) 🔊 /las’kavo ‘prosymo/

…and its most common reply!

As you can see, it doesn’t take a huge effort to be polite, friendly and sympathetic in Ukrainian if you learn the right phrases. But, instead of just waiting for an opportunity to put them into practice, why not actively look for people who might use a friend at this particular time?

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