You may know your basic questions in Ukrainian, but imagine being at a party in Ukraine… What are you going to talk about?
Don’t worry. We’ve prepared a set of questions to break the ice – questions for small talk in Ukrainian 😉
Depending on the situation, people will use one of two pronouns: formal ‘ви’ or informal ‘ти’. Usually, we start with ‘ви’ as a sign of respect or to address a group of people at once. However, when talking to a friend, it can be ‘ти’ from the very start. You’ll have to see for yourself.
When a Ukrainian hears your accent (which is completely fine!), they’ll probably begin with:
1. Where are you from?
“Звідки” stands for “where from,” so the question is basically the same as in English. There are three ways to answer this:
|Я з (COUNTRY).
/Ya z (COUNTRY)/
I’m from (COUNTRY)
|Я приїхала* / приїхав* з (COUNTRY).
/Ya pryihala / pryihav z (COUNTRY)/
I came from (COUNTRY)
*приїхала /pryihala/ is a feminine form, приїхав /pryihav/ is a masculine one.
2. Where do you live?
If you stay in Ukraine, you’ll definitely hear this. As you may have noticed, the verb form changes depending on the person: use ‘zhyvesh’ with ‘ty’ and ‘zhyvete’ with ‘vy’. Depending on the context, you may answer with different locations – a region, a city, a district…
The beginning, however, will always be the same: Я живу (LOCATION). /Ya zhyvu (LOCATION)/
The tricky part is that the location will have to be used in locative case:
- Я живу в Америці. /Ya zhyvu v Amerytsi/
- Я живу в Києві. /Ya zhyvu v Kyievi/
I won’t get into it here, but we have an article to help you with cases. Also, when you stay somewhere, you can just ask the locals how to say this sentence, and they’ll be happy to help 🙂
Check out our ULP Episode 66 from Season 2: Спогади + Місцевий відмінок з місцями ✨
3. What’s your job (occupation)?
Again, apart from the pronoun ‘ty / vy,’ you’ll need to change the verb: ‘zaimayeshsia’ VS ‘zaimayetesia’. In Ukrainian, we usually ask, ‘What do you do?’ that’s why you’ll need to use a verb here.
You won’t necessarily need a verb in the answer, though. For instance, if you’re a student, just say this:
- Я студент(ка). /Ya student(ka)/ – I’m a student.
The suffix in brackets stands for all of you girls out there – this is one of the ways to make a feminine word form. This simple answer works in all situations, both formal and informal.
4. Can you speak Ukrainian?
We would ask a foreigner, ‘Do you know Ukrainian?’, as if the language were a person you may have met before (“Ви знаєте (PERSON’S NAME)?”). It’s always a pleasure to meet a person from abroad who has made an effort to learn Ukrainian, so you can proudly answer ‘так’ (‘tak‘) and get into a conversation.
If you’re not confident about your language skills, you can go with ‘ні’ (‘ni’) and speak in English. You may also go for ‘ще ні’ (‘shche ni‘), meaning not yet. This will sound more optimistic 😉
5. How long have you been studying Ukrainian?
If you have answered ‘так’ to the previous question, this is likely to come next. The answers vary, depending on you, dear learner:
For a little while.
|Кілька місяців. /Kil’ka mis’atsiv/
For a few months.
For a year.
6. Have you been here before?
*as you might have guessed, була /bula/is a feminine form, був /buv/ is a masculine one, були – plural. This is a useful question, as тут (‘tut’) can stand for any place: from this particular party to the country where you are. Basically, you have two answers:
|Ні, це вперше. /Ni, tse vpershe/
No, this is my first time.
|Так, я тут уже був / була. /Tak, ya tut uzhe buv / bula/
Yes, I’ve been here before.
7. Do you like it here?
Again, we have this little тут (‘tut’) which you may replace with any location, e.g., ‘Тобі подобається цей ресторан?‘ (/’Tobi podobayetsia tsei restoran?’/) – ‘Do you like this restaurant?’
You can answer with the basic так or ні, but then you’ll probably get into more detail. That’s why you need to remember the next structure:
8. Do you like the … (weather / food / music)?
You can use anything that you want to talk about and just put it at the end of the question. This will also allow you to ask about any hobbies a person might have: ‘Тобі подобається плавання?’ (/’Tobi podobayetsia plavannia?’/) – ‘Do you like swimming?’
Listen to the Episode 14 of the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast and learn how to talk about your hobbies and things you like in Ukrainian.
9. What would you recommend?
* remember, порадив is a masculine form, порадила is a feminine one, порадили – plural.
Maybe you’re standing in front of a buffet and cannot choose an appetizer. Maybe you’re talking to a local who knows all the sights around the city. Maybe you’ve found a TV series fan. You never know when you may need to ask for a recommendation.
The answer will sound something like this:
|…скуштувати деруни. /…skushtuvaty deruny/
|Я раджу… Ya radzhu…
|…відвідати Софію Київську. /…vidvidaty Sofiyu Kyivs’ku/
…visiting Saint Sophia Cathedral.
|…подивитися “Украдене щастя”. /…podyvytysia “Ukradene shchastia”/
…watching “Stolen Happiness”
We recommend to listen to українські радіостанції: Listen to Ukrainian Radio Stations Online to Improve Your Ukrainian!
10. How can I find you on … (Facebook)?
If you find someone interesting you’d like to stay in touch with, ask for their contact information. You may change ‘Facebook’ to the social media you prefer. To make the question perfect, remember to use the locative case of the noun at the end!
I hope you feel more confident now. Small talks shouldn’t be scary! It’s a perfect opportunity for you to test and show off your language skills. So, what are you going to talk about at that Ukrainian party? 😉
Are you learning 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! If you would like to receive weekly emails with the latest blog posts and podcast episodes, subscribe here.