Are you going to Ukraine for travel or business? Don’t underestimate the power of the native language, learn at least 14 basic Ukrainian phrases and make Ukrainians fall in love with your accent! 😉
We’ll focus on the expressions and words you are most likely to use during a couple of days or weeks in Ukraine. You don’t even need to know Cyrillic alphabet to remember them. Just read the explanations, listen and repeat. (The word stress is marked with red).
Save these Ukrainian phrases to your phone or print them and I guarantee you will have an amazing Ukrainian experience using them. Be confident and smile – people will highly appreciate your effort!
1. Добрий день /dobryj den’/ = hello
Ukrainians use different phrases to say “hello”, depending on the time of the day. However, “добрий день” is universal and the most used. It can be translated as “Good afternoon”, but you can use it at any time. This is a formal greeting, you would use “добрий день” saying “hello” in the airport, in a shop, in the market, talking to people you don’t know.
2. Привіт /pryv’it/ = hi
“Привіт” is “hi” between friends and people you know well. You could also use “привіт” to greet people you don’t know in an informal situation, for example, at a party.
Learn more informal Ukrainain greetings with the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast Episode 1!
3. Дякую /d’akuju/ = thank you
Be grateful! Say “дякую” whenever you feel like you want to thank people.
4. Будь ласка /bud’ laska/ = You’re welcome or Please
1) Did someone just say “дякую” to you? Be polite and say “будь ласка” (=you’re welcome) in response!
2) Also, “будь ласка” has a different meaning – “please” – like in the phrase “Скажи, будь ласка…” – “Tell me, please…”
5. Як справи? /Jak spravy/ = How are you?
This one is a good conversation starter. Yes, I agree, you cannot keep the conversation alive in Ukrainian so far, but why not to start, asking “how are you?” in Ukrainian? “Як справи?” literally means, “How are your things?”, but we use it to ask about how the person is doing. It’s for both formal and informal situations.
6. Дуже добре /Duzhe dobre/ = Very good
And here are two typical answers for “Як справи?” for you: “добре” (=fine) or “дуже добре” (=very well). I hope you won’t be doing worse than that in Ukraine! 😉
7. Вибачте /vybachte/ = Excuse me
“Вибачте” is used for unpleasant situations 🙁 If you step on the foot of a man in the subway, or if you try to pass through a crowd at a concert, you should say “Вибачте” – I’m sorry, Excuse me…
8. Де? /de/ = Where is…?
First word to know to find places in Ukraine. “Де?” (=where is/are). “Де метро? Де ресторан?” (Where is the subway? Where is the restaurant?)
Learn more short, simple, and very useful questions that will save you during your trip in Ukraine here (there is a cheat sheet too!)
9. Скільки? /skilky/ = How much…?
A simple must-know question if you are going to buy or pay. Simply say “Скільки?” = “how much?” and people will name the price.
10. Ви говорите англійською? /vy hovoryte anhlijs’koju/ = Do you speak English?
Yes, at some point you will have to switch to English. First ask politely: “Ви говорите англійською?” /vy hovoryte anhlijs’koju/ to know if the person speaks English.
11. Так /tak/ = Yes
“Так” means yes. Sometimes you can hear “da” (it’s Russian, but Ukrainians like to use it too) as well.
12. Ні /ni/ =No
“Ні” means no. Sometimes you can also hear “нє” /nye/ (it’s a colloquial way to say “no”).
13. До побачення /do pobachen’:a/ = Good bye!
Oh no! Time to say good bye? Choose one according to the situation. Use “До побачення” if you are in a formal situation (airplane, supermarket, business meeting).
14. Па-па /pa-pa/ = Bye!
For informal farewell you can use a Western Ukrainian funny “па-па“ or a Russian-like “пока” (“пака“) /paka/, common in Kyiv and Eastern Ukraine.
Download this cheat sheet to your phone. It can be helpful while traveling to Ukraine!
For the time being we don’t know when travels will resume. But we sure can hope that one day you can visit Ukraine. And it is better to be prepared with our list of phrases 🙂
Are you beginning to learn Ukrainian?
Check our Ukrainian Lessons Podcast! It’s a free series of audio lessons that take you step by step through your Ukrainian language journey!