Just like “dessert” and “desert” in English, there are some confusing Ukrainian words that drive learners crazy. Sometimes it is not only about memorization (вистава vs. виставка) but also about hearing the difference in pronunciation that is obvious for Ukrainians but not so much for language learners (голодний vs. холодний, грип vs. гриб).
Take a look at the difference between those common confusing Ukrainian words that sound alike, but most importantly, listen to my pronunciation and repeat them many times. Then, start using them!
1. Курка і куртка
This is the reason this article was created. All thanks to the funny story of my student who wanted to buy куртка in the food market in Ukraine. 🙂
2. Квітка, квіти — квиток, квитки
These are the words you must practice pronouncing, especially in the plural (pay attention to the word stress!):
Having trouble pronouncing Ukrainian sound И? Try our pronunciation trainer in the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast Episode #5: Numbers in Ukrainian + И Pronunciation trainer
3. Вхід і вихід
This is one situation when just one vowel sound can turn the word into its opposite. Moreover, these two are very important in the cities in Ukraine. Memorize the spelling and pronunciation and pay attention next time you are in Kyiv’s subway:
4. Місце і місто
So similar at first but different at the end. Listen and repeat:
Are you going to місто Львів? Check out our selection of the best місця у Львові — our Cultural Guide to Lviv here.
5. Схід і захід, східний і західний
Above you can see a photo from a beautiful project, “Схід та Захід – разом” by Володимир Кисіль. Two girls represent two parts of Ukraine that are different but similar at the same time, as they belong to one nation.
The girl from Захід (West) is on the left, and the girl from Схід (East) — on the right. “Схід та Захід — разом” has been a popular Ukrainian slogan during the revolutions, protests, and national holidays.Pay special attention on the word stress:
6. Гриб і грип
In Ukrainian, the consonants at the end always sound as they are; they don’t become unvoiced, so hear the difference:
7. Вистава і виставка
8. Грам і храм
Г and Х are quite a confusing couple of Ukrainian sounds. So, with the following similar words, you can try and practice pronouncing them distinctively:
9. Холодний і голодний
This is a classic foreigners’ mistake that makes Ukrainians smile.
If you are hungry, make sure to pronounce your ггг, do not say: “Я холодний” which means something like “My body is cold” and sounds funny. In case you are cold, say: “Мені холодно.”
The difference between голодний і холодний might seem impossible to catch at first, so be sure to practice:
- Вода холодна. — The water is cold.
- Я голодна. — I am hungry (feminine).
- Мені холодно. — I am cold.
Are there other confusing Ukrainian words you are having trouble with? Share them on our social media!
Бажаю успіхів і веселого навчання! I wish you good luck and fun studies!
Learning Ukrainian and looking for great resources? Check out our list of the 1000 most common words in Ukrainian with interactive flashcards. You can also learn Ukrainian step by step wherever you are with our free Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.