Have you ever noticed strange subjectless sentences – безособові речення in Ukrainian? Let’s learn some common impersonal expressions in Ukrainian!

Here are some examples:

Мені холодно.

Йому треба йти.

Можна зайти?

If you translate them literally, you’ll get confused. Nevertheless they are very common in Ukrainian, so let’s figure out when and how to use them.

As you can see, there are no subjects in these sentences, that’s why we call them impersonal.

Impersonal sentence Literal translation Translation
Мені холодно To me it is cold I’m cold
Йому треба йти To him is it necessary to go He must go
Можна зайти? Am I allowed to come in? May I come in?

 

Impersonal expressions are quite easy to build. All you need is one of unchanging adverbs, a noun or a pronoun in Dative case (not always), and an infinitive verb (not always).

1. Impersonal expressions to convey the feelings

Here are some impersonal expressions to convey the feelings:

impersonal expressions in Ukrainian

Мені сумно. – I’m sad.

Мені легко читати українською, але важко говорити. – It is easy for me to read in Ukrainian, but it’s difficult to speak.  Pay attention, in the second part of this sentence there is no “мені”. We can skip it as we already know who we are talking about.

Тобі погано – you’re ill

Їй нудно – she is bored

Йому страшно – he is scared

Нам холодно – we are cold

Вам цікаво – you are interested

Їм весело – they are having fun

To form a negative sentence just add “не” before the adverb: мені не сумно, їм не страшно.

After unchanging adverbs we use an infinitive verb:

Мені цікаво вивчати нові слова. – I’m interested in learning the new words.

2. Impersonal expressions for necessity: треба, потрібно

Impersonal expressions in Ukrainian

Мені треба йти. – I need to go.

Треба and потрібно are synonyms.

Марії потрібно більше працювати. – Maria needs to work more.

Negative: Сьогодні мені не потрібно працювати.

impersonal sentences in Ukrainian

Щоб говорити українською, тобі треба вивчити більше слів. – To speak Ukrainian, you need to learn more words.

Learn basic Ukrainian vocabulary with flashcards, audio and examples > 1000 most useful Ukrainian words

3. Impersonal expressions for permission: можна

Можна has two meanings: “it is possible” and “it is permitted”.

Можна зайти? – May I come in? 

We skip “мені” as it is understood that I am talking about myself. What if I want to ask if my friend may come in?

Моєму другові можна зайти?

Можна купити квиток? – May I buy a ticket?

Тобі можна вживати алкоголь? – Are you permitted to drink alcohol?

Не правда, що чоловікам не можна плакати. – It’s not true that men are not allowed to cry.

Я вірю, що війну можна зупинити. – I believe that it’s possible to stop the war.                                                                      Here we don’t use nouns or pronouns as we speak in general; there is no specific actor. One more example:

Тут можна курити? – Is smoking allowed here?

subjectless sentences in Ukrainian

Negative: Тут не можна курити. – Smoking is not allowed here.

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Would you like to take some time to practice using impersonal expressions in Ukrainian? Write down 3 sentences in the comments below and we will check and comment your work.


Are you beginning to learn Ukrainian?

Check our series of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast and start with our list of 14 most common expressions right now.

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