12.6 - Thinking negative

So far, Unit 12 has concentrated on describing the present tense in a positive way, i.e. what happens or is happening. Now the time has come to think negative, and to talk about what doesn't happen or isn't happening.

To agree or disagree with a statement in Ukrainian, all you need to do is say так (yes) or ні (no). There are, however, a number of other words and phrases which can be used to answer in the negative:

не not (always used with a verb, never on its own)
ні... ні neither ... nor
ніхто no-one
ніщо nothing
ніколи never
ніде nowhere
нікуди to nowhere
нізвідки from nowhere
ніяк in no way
ніякий  none (not one)

Apart from не, the above words have been formed by adding ні to the question words хто?, коли?, де? etc. Remembering this will help you to recognise the negatives when you meet them again.

Another useful word is нема / немає, which is a negative of є, e.g.:

Богдан (є) на роботі? Нема. Is Bohdan at work? No, he isn't.
Нема/немає питань. No problem ("absolutely").
A frequently used set phrase
«Ой чи є, чи нема пан господар вдома?» "Is the master of the house in, or isn't he?"
From a traditional Ukrainian carol
Добре там, де нас нема. The grass is greener on the other side.
(literally: Things are good where we are not.)
A folk saying

To practise the negatives do Exercise 12.6A.

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