Ukrainian and Russian languages: How Different? How similar?

Ukrainian and Russian languagesHello guys!

We often hear from you that question – what is the difference between Russian and Ukrainian languages? It is not easy to reply to that question while the answer is really time-consuming.

So, we decided to devote the whole post to that issue. Yes, they are different and today, you will find out how exactly.

In this post, you will find out everything about Ukrainian and Russian languages, about their grammar, and main differences. We will also tell you what language do Ukrainian women speak and which of these two languages you should learn in case you want to over the language barrier. 

Are you ready to take a language lesson from Best-Matchmaking right now?

Then let’s start without any delays! 

Is Ukrainian a language?

Salary in UkraineYes, of course! We often hear that question, so do not be surprised we write about it. Lots of you really wonder whether Ukrainian is a language, and the answer is – It definitely is!

It is quite funny but once, one of our western customers asked us to translate some Russian songs for him.

And we were really surprised when we started to listen to it and found out that one of the songs was in Romanian.

When we told him about it he said – Is there any difference? So, some of you do not only know that there is a difference between Russian and Ukrainian language but also do not know that Russian is different from Romanian, for example.

That’s why, yes, guys, Ukrainian is the official language spoken in an independent and sovereign country called Ukraine. So now you should not be surprised that such a language really exists. You can be sure – Ukrainian is a language!

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How similar are Russian and Ukrainian languages?

Well, we can ask you the same – How similar are Spanish and Italian? They are the languages of the same language group but they are very different, right? The same is about Russian and Ukrainian. They both belong to the Slavic group of languages and of course, because of that, have some similarities.

But you may be surprised if we tell you that Ukrainian has more similarities with Polish or Slovak than with Russian. Yes, guys, this is another stereotype. These two Slavic languages are very different. But all Ukrainians can understand Russian because of the Soviet past where Russian was the only widely-spoken language.

However, if you start speaking Ukrainian to Russian people, they will hardly understand you. It is exactly because of the differences between these two languages. And, of course, because no one spoke Ukrainian when in the times of the Soviet Union except for Ukrainians, so naturally, Russians do not understand it. 

Check a FREE gallery of single Ukrainian & Russian women!

Ukrainian vs Russian vocabulary

The vocabulary of Russian and Ukrainian languages have lots of similarities, there are some very similar words that are written the same way. However, most of them are still pretty different and, for example, Ukrainian orthography alters pretty quickly, from one year to another. This is connected with the influence of Western culture.

Ukrainian vocabulary is very close to Belarussian, they have only 16% of differences. And Russian vocabulary is closer to Bulgarian; they have 27% of differences. And if we compare Ukrainian and Russian vocabulary – 38% of Ukrainian vocabulary is different from Russian. Now you can at least imagine that these two languages have less in common than with other Slavic languages.

For example, French and Portuguese have 39% of vocabulary differences, and Spanish and Italian have 33% of differences, so you can understand now what the difference between Russian and Ukrainian is.  

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Let’s compare the words

The Russian language acquired lots of Latin, French, Italian, and German words during and after Peter the Great’s Europeanization campaign while the Ukrainian language developed mostly on the spoken language of Ukrainian writers of the 19th century. Just take a look at the following words to understand some basic and essential differences.

  • May – май {mai} (Russian) – травень {traven’}(Ukrainian) 
  • Morning – утро {utro} (Russian) – ранок {ranok}(Ukrainian)
  • Red – красный {krasnyi}(Russian) – червоний {chervonyi}(Ukrainian)
  • Person, human – человек {cheloviek}(Russian) – людина {liudyna}(Ukrainian)

As you can see, there is nothing similar in such basic Ukrainian and Russian words. However, there are also homonyms – words that sound the same but have a completely different meaning. For example:

  • Час {chas}- time in Ukrainian/an hour in Russian
  • Неділя (Ukr)/Неделя(Rus) {nedielia/nedilia}-Sunday in Ukrainian/a week in Russian
  • Лук {luk}- a bow in Ukrainian/an onion in Russian

Ukrainian vs Russian alphabet

Russian alphabetAlphabet in Ukrainian and Russian languages is also different. Although both of them use Cyrillic letters, some of the Ukrainian letters do not exist in the Russian alphabet and some of the Russian letters do not exist in the Ukrainian language. For example, it concerns letter Ґ in Ukrainian that represents the sound /g/.

There are also other letters, for example, the letter I is Ukrainian and there is no such one in the Russian alphabet. Instead, they use И in Russian for the same sound. Russian letter Ы represents sound /y/ and is written as И in Ukrainian. Ukrainian alphabet contains a letter Є and in Russian, this letter is written as E. They both denote sound /je/.

There are also some letters that do not have analogues in another language, for example, Ukrainian letter Ї or Russian Ё and Ъ (in Ukrainian, they use an apostrophe ‘ instead of that letter). As you can see, even though both alphabets are Cyrillic, there are lots of differences between them.

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Ukrainian vs Russian pronunciation

Lots of sounds in Russian and Ukrainian are pronounced very similarly. But there are some differences when it comes to the combination of sounds. For example, there is a letter Гг in both languages.

However, in Russian, this sound is pronounced as /G/ and in Ukrainian, as /H/. Quite often, you can find out that a person speaking Russian is Ukrainian exactly by this sound.

Also, O in Russian is often pronounced as A. In Ukrainian, O is always pronounced as O. For example, the word “milk” is written as молоко in both languages. But it is pronounced as Malako in Russian and Moloko in Ukrainian. The Ukrainian language also has more soft consonants. Russians and Ukrainians have a very different pronunciation of the same words.

Exactly by the pronunciation, you can see whether the person is Russian or Ukrainian. So these languages have differences not only in grammar or vocabulary but also in the manner of speaking. Of course, the pronunciation of the same language in different parts of both countries is also different. 

Ukrainian grammar vs Russian grammar

If you know one of the Slavic languages, it is pretty easy to learn the second Slavic language. The grammar of both languages is almost the same. Noun cases, verb tenses, genders, etc. are similar in both Russian and Ukrainian. The grammar concept is the same but the endings are quite different though.

For example, let’s look at such a sentence as “He ordered potato with cheese”. In Ukrainian, it is written as “Він замовив картоплю із сиром” and in Russian, as “Он заказал картошку с сыром”. Here you can see the same grammar structure (Nominative case + Past tense + Accusative case + Instrumental case) but the endings in verbs and nouns are very different. 

There is a difference in the use of the vocative and nominative cases in both languages. Also, Ukrainians and Russians use different forms of I have. For example, Russians say I have as У меня есть and Ukrainians say more Я маю (but also, У мене є is used quite often). 

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Ukrainian and Russian Future tense and syntax

The Ukrainian language has three types of future tense. The Russian language has only two of them. For example, if you want to say I will do/ I will be doing in Russian and Ukrainian, you will say as follows:

  • Russian: Я сделаю (Perfective)/Я буду делать (Imperfective).
  • Ukrainian: Я зроблю (Perfective)/Я буду робити (Imperfective analytical form)/Я робитиму (Imperfective synthetic form).

As you can see, there are more future tenses in Ukrainian than in Russian. But if we talk about syntax, we can tell this aspect is one of the most similar for both languages.

It means that the structure of sentences is almost the same both in Ukrainian and Russian, so in that aspect, it is pretty easy to translate and understand both languages. 

What language you should learn in Ukraine?

Martial Law in UkraineQuite often, you want to learn the language of your Ukrainian or Russian woman to overcome the language barrier and understand each other better.

And you frequently ask us from best-Matchmaking about what language you should learn – Russian or Ukrainian? And almost always, we recommend you to start learning Russian.

You may be surprised – why Russian if your woman is from Ukraine? The answer is very easy – in Ukraine, everyone understands Russian. And due to their history, most of the Ukrainian women keep speaking Russian at work and in their everyday life. Yes, Ukrainian is Ukraine’s official language but still, most people speak Russian in Ukraine. 

At least, the situation is like that right now. More and more people start speaking Ukrainian in their country but you will not lose anything if you learn Russian. Moreover, you can use your knowledge of Russian if you ever go to Russia or decide to meet Russian women. If you start speaking Ukrainian in that country, no one will understand you and you will not understand anyone either.  

Check a FREE gallery of single Ukrainian & Russian women!

Conclusion: Yes, they are different!

Ukrainian womenWe hope that we replied to your questions about the differences between these both Slavic languages – Russian and Ukrainian.

Yes, they belong to one and the same language group and have lots of similarities. But they are still different languages, have a different alphabet, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

We will remind you that you can get a free consultation from a professional matchmaker and dating blogger Kate. She will help you choose the right International matchmaking plan or one of the dating membership plan packages at reasonable prices. You can join one of those happiest people who have already found their Ukrainian mail order bride with her help.

Do not forget that Best-Matchmaking arranges Romantic and marriage tour to Ukraine  for you, so you could feel secure during your trip and could enjoy your dates with your future bride. Moreover, we can even arrange a Special event or English classes for your lady, so you would forget about the language barrier and could enjoy each other during your meeting!

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Katrina ElWritten by Katrina El, a practicing psychologist, professional matchmaker and founder of the Slavic marriage agency

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