You may know your basic questions in Ukrainian but imagine being at a party in Ukraine. What are you going to talk about? That’s why 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. However, when talking about a group of friends in a bar or a cafe, it can be ‘ти’ from the very start. You’ll have to see for yourself. When a Ukrainian hears your accent, they’ll probably begin with:
1. Where are you from?
Звідки ти? / Zvidky ty?
Звідки Ви? / Zvidky Vy?
“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?
Де ти живеш? / De ty zhyvesh?
Де Ви живете? / De Vy zhyvete?
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 😉
3. What’s your job (occupation)?
Чим ти займаєшся? / Chym ty zaimayeshsia?
Чим Ви займаєтеся? / Chym Vy zaimayetesia?
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 you girls out there – this is one of the ways to make a word feminine. This simple answer works in all situations, both formal and informal.
ULP 1-08 | Jobs and professions in Ukrainian – in this Ukrainian lesson, learn names of professions in Ukrainian.
4. Can you speak Ukrainian?
Ти знаєш українську? / Ty znayesh ukrayinsku?
Ви знаєте українську? / Vy znayete ukrayinsku?
We would ask a foreigner ‘Do you know Ukrainian?’ as if the language were a person you may have met before. 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?
Як давно ти вчиш українську? / Yak davno ty vchysh ukrayinsku?
Як давно Ви вчите українську? / Yak davno Vy vchyte ukrayinsku?
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?
Ти був тут раніше? / Ty buv tut ranishe?
Ти була тут раніше? / Ty bula tut ranishe?
Ви були тут раніше? / Vy buly tut ranishe?
*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 вдруге. Tak, ya tut uzhe vdruhe.
Yes, this is my second time here.
7. Do you like it here?
Тобі подобається тут? / Tobi podobayetsia tut?
Вам подобається тут? / Vam podobayetsia tut?
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 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)?
Тобі подобається … (погода / їжа / музика)? / Tobi podobayetsia … (pohoda / yizha / muzyka)?
Вам подобається … (погода / їжа / музика)? / Vam podobayetsia … (pohoda / yizha / muzyka)?
You can use anything that you want to talk about and just put it in the end of the question. This question will also allow you to ask about any hobbies a person might have: ‘Тобі подобається плавання?’ (‘Tobi podobayetsia plavannia?’) – ‘Do you like swimming?’
ULP 1-14 | Likes and dislikes – common verbs in Ukrainian – listen to the episode 14 of the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast and learn how to talk about your hobbies or just things you like in Ukrainian.
9. What would you recommend?
Що б ти порадив? / Shcho b ty poradyv?
Що б ти порадила? / Shcho b ty poradyla?
Що б Ви порадили? / Shcho b Vy poradyly?
* remember, порадив poradyv is a masculine form, порадила poradyla is a feminine one
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:
10. How can I find you on … (Facebook)?
Як тебе знайти у… (фейсбуці)? / Yak tebe znaity u… (feisbutsi)?
Як Вас знайти у… (інстаграмі)? / Yak tebe znaity u… (instahrami)?
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 in the end.
I hope you feel more confident now. Are there any questions I’ve left out? Is there anything you’d like to hear more about? Have you had any small talks in Ukrainian? Tell me in the comments 🙂
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