5.1 - Ukrainian nouns change their endings

By now you've come across a large number of nouns, i.e. names of objects, places, people and abstract concepts, for example:

карта map
Молдова Moldova
Оксана Oksana (woman's name)
журналіст journalist
північ north / midnight

You've no doubt noticed that the endings of nouns change quite a lot. Until now we've helped you understand how the noun fits into the sentence by means of screentips. The time has come, however, to explain these changes and why they happen. Here are some examples:

Україна – велика країна Ukraine is a large country.
Київ – столиця України Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine.
Одеса – місто в Україні. Odesa is a city in Ukraine.

As the above examples suggest, the endings change depending on the function which the noun has in the sentence. For example, the noun may be the subject of the sentence (i.e. what the sentence is about, the person or thing carrying out the action), for example:

  • Україна – велика країна.

Here "Ukraine" is the focus of the sentence, the subject of "is".

If mention is made of what belongs to Ukraine or is a part of Ukraine, a different ending will be used, for example:

  • Київ – столиця України.

Here "Kyiv" is the subject of the sentence, and we are given the information that it is the capital of Ukraine.

Or if we wish to say that a place is in Ukraine, yet again a different ending is used, for example:

  • Одеса – місто в Україні.

In dictionaries, nouns are listed as, for example, Україна, Київ, Одеса, i.e. in the subject form in the singular. When reading Ukrainian, working out the dictionary form of a noun is an essential skill to acquire. Exercise 5.1A contains some nouns which you will have met in previous units. They have a variety of endings. Write out each noun in its dictionary form.

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Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.org.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala