The words which sound similar but have different meanings in Ukrainian and English might cause a bit of confusion. To avoid awkward situations, check if you truly understand what these English-looking words mean.

False friends in Ukrainian are the words that look and sound similar to words in other languages, but have a different meaning. These are 10 most common “friends” in Ukrainian and English.

Магазин

It is tempting to translate магазин as a magazine, but do not rush! Магазин is a place where we go to shop, a store. A magazine in Ukrainian is журнал.

  • Я йду в магазин, тобі щось купити? – I’m going shopping, do you need anything?

Акуратний

Акуратний is neat, tidy or careful. To say accurate in Ukrainian, use точний, правильний, достовірний.

  • Андрій – симпатичний юнак з акуратною борідкою. – Andrii is a cute guy with a neat beard.

Актуальний

Ukrainians use актуальний to describe a trending topic or a relevant piece of news. The English word actually may be translated as насправді.

  • Турбота про своє здоров’я як ніколи актуальна. – Taking care of your health is more relevant than ever.

Вчитель чи викладач? Зараз чи тепер? Find out the difference between similar Ukrainian words in this article!

Роман

Роман is a type of book; it’s the word Ukrainians use to describe long complex stories, such as The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick. For English Roman we have two words: римський (an adjective) or римлянин (a noun).

  • “Непрості” – найвідоміший роман Тараса Прохаська. – Neprosti is Taras Prokhasko’s most known novel.

In Ukrainian, Роман is also used as a male name. The short version (nickname) for Роман is Рома 🙂

Інсульт

Ukrainian інсульт, a stroke, is much more serious than the English insult – образа.

  • Раптовий головний біль може бути симптомом інсульту. – A sudden headache may be a sign of stroke.

Інтелігентний

In Ukrainian, інтелігентний is an adjective to describe a cultured and well-educated person. Intelligent is розумний

  • Як правило, поети доволі інтелігентні. – As a rule, poets are rather cultured.

Екзамен

Екзамен is one of those false friends which may lead to serious translation mistakes, as it is similar to the English verb examine but it is actually a noun. It is translated as an exam or a test, while to examine is досліджувати, обстежувати, вивчати

  • Щоб отримати права, вам необхідно здати практичний і теоретичний екзамен. – To get a driver’s license, you have to take practical and theoretical exams. 

Chicken or… jacket? 🤔 Check out confusing Ukrainian words that sound alike!

Батон

Ukrainian батон is a specific kind of white bread. It has nothing to do with English baton жезл, паличка.

  • Я була така голодна, що їла батон без нічого! – I was so hungry that I was eating plain white bread!

Дата

Дата is a date meaning the time. To describe factual information, say дані.

  • Яка в нас сьогодні дата? – What is the date today?

Кабінет

The word кабінет is another example of false friends in Ukrainian. It looks similar to English cabinet, but let’s not jump to conclusions. The best translation would be an office or a study, we use this word to describe a room where one works. When talking about a cupboard, the word cabinet is translated as шафа. 

  • Сергію, зайдіть у мій кабінет, будь ласка. – Serhii, come to my office, please.

Want to know more about Ukrainian homonyms? Check out this article!

To summarize,

here is the list of all the false friends in Ukrainian mentioned in the article with their best translation:

  1. Магазин a shop
  2. Акуратний neat, tidy
  3. Актуальний trending, topical
  4. Роман a novel
  5. Інсульт a stroke
  6. Інтелігентний cultured
  7. Екзамен an exam
  8. Батон white bread
  9. Дата a date
  10. Кабінет an office

***

We hope that this article provided some clarity, and now you won’t mistake these 10 Ukrainian words with their English look-alikes 😉

The only thing left is to learn these “false friends”! Would you like to find the best ways to memorize new words faster? This article can help you!


Looking for more resources to improve your Ukrainian vocabulary? Check our 1000 most common words in Ukrainian with interactive flashcards.

Also, you can learn Ukrainian step by step with our free Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.

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Ivanna Voitsekhovych

Hi! My name is Ivanka, I'm 27 and I'm a teacher based in Kyiv. My passions are reading and writing. When I get tired of words and letters, I go cycling or dancing with my friends.

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