2.2 - How the soft vowels interact in syllables

In a similar way to the soft sign (page 1.9), a soft (iotated) vowel changes the sound of the consonant which comes before it. To listen to the difference in sounds between syllables containing hard and soft vowels, click on each button.

On this page you will meet the apostrophe for the first time (e.g. as in з'я). Its function in Ukrainian is different from that in English and other languages. For the time being, however, we will not go into the details of this.

Consonants followed by а, я

лаля татя дадя
зазя (з'я) цаця сася

Consonants followed by е, є

тетє дедє зезє (з'є)
лелє ненє сесє

Note: syllables consisting of a consonant + є don't often occur in standard language (with a few exceptions, usually derived from nouns, e.g. мить – миттєвий, життя – життєвий).

Consonants followed by у, ю

дудю лулю нуню
сусю тутю цуцю

The soft vowel ї

The letter ї does not have a softening function (this is already done by і). It usually forms a syllable on its own, after another vowel (e.g. мої, її).
If ї occurs after a consonant plus apostrophe, it does not have a softening function (e.g. в'їзд, з'їсти).
Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.org.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala