Ukrainian as Foreign: Sentence Structure
Today’s ALMA Tip is all about word order in Ukrainian. So, reading on you must keep!
- The ‘m’ dash
One punctuation mark you will come across a lot more in Ukrainian or Russian, than in English is “–”. That is because we omit “to be” (є) in present tense: він – студент (he is a student); вони – студентки (they are students); ми – лікарі (we are doctors).
“Є” also disappears after “це” (that): це – стіл (that is a table).
Adjectives, as a rule, go before the nouns they describe. And change depending on that noun’s case, grammatical number and gender: зелений ліс (green forest), зелена трава (green grass), зелені яблука (green apples).
The predicate (verb) usually goes after the subject and also changes accordingly:
- The case of the object, however, is determined by the verb: Художник малює картину (Acc.). (An artist is doing a painting.)
That link is the reason why word order can change: Малює художник картину. or Картину художник малює. – have exactly the same meaning.
The prepositions, however, go strictly before the object they are linked to: у мене є кава, кава є у мене (I have coffee); дівчина грає на скрипці, на скрипці грає дівчина (a girl is playing the violin)
If word order is so changeable, how do we form questions, you ask. Using intonation!
Сестра поїхала до Львова. (Sister went to Lviv.)
Сестра поїхала до Львова? (Did sister go to Lviv?)
In the second sentence the intonation would go up on the word we want to clarify.
In some dialects of Ukrainian the particle “чи” in the beginning will indicate a question: Чи твій батько ще викладає українську мову? (Does your father still teach Ukrainian?)
That was all on that topic for today :)