Looking for the best way to learn basic Ukrainian phrases before your leisure or business trip to Ukraine? It is not a lie that Ukranian language can be a very difficult language to learn for a lot of people. It depends on your background, on how easy it is for you to grasp new languages, your age, and even what languages you currently speak. It is not surprising that, for someone who already speaks a slavic language, it is easier to learn Ukrainian than maybe it is for someone who only speaks a fluent level English and Spanish (like me). Even if it is intimidating, I promise you that learning essential Ukranian language phrases before traveling to Ukraine will totally improve your experience.
In other words, it is not impossible to learn essential Ukrainian language phrases, or even to get close to mastering the language, since it is always about your determination, effort, resources and tools. Of course, if you are taking classes or speaking with a native Ukrainian, it might help you to learn the language faster. But the real reason for this post is to give you a survival cheat sheet with some basic Ukranian phrases that can help you thrive during your trip to Ukraine.
You might also like reading the following posts before your visit to Ukraine:
- Planning a trip to Ukraine? All you need to know before visiting Ukraine
- Is it safe to travel to Ukraine alone? A Solo Female Travel Guide for Ukraine
- Is it safe to visit Chernobyl today? Exploring the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: Know before you go
- Why you should visit Lviv – It’s the soul of Ukraine
- Insider Travel Tips for Ukraine – An ultimate visitor’s guide to Europe’s most underrated country
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Useful Ukrainian Phrases for your travels around Ukraine
- 2 How to read Ukrainian
- 3 Mobile Apps that can help you during your trip
- 4 Other resources that come in handy in Ukraine
Useful Ukrainian Phrases for your travels around Ukraine
Let’s start with some Basic Ukrainian Vocabulary
1. Hello – (Добрий день) – /Dobryi den’/
2. How are you? – Як справи?/Jak spravy/
3. Very good – Дуже добре/Duzhe dobre/
4. Thanks (Дякую) – /Djakuju/
5. You welcome (Будь ласка) – /Bud’ laska/
6. Ok (Гаразд) – /Gharazd/
7. Sorry! (Пробачте!) – /Probatchte/
8. Excuse me – (Вибачте) /vybachte/
9. Good morning – (доброго ранку) – /dobroho ranku/
10. Good afternoon or Good Day (добрий день) – /dobryy denʹ/
11. Good evening – (Добрий вечір) – /Dobryj vetchіr/
12. Goodbye, formally – (До побачення) – /Do pobatchennja/
13. Goodbye, informally – (Па-па)/pa-pa/
14. See you later (Побачимось) – /Pobatchymos’/
15. Yes (Так) – /Tak/
16. No (Ні) – /Ni/
17. How much…? Скільки? /skilky/
18. Where is… (De) (=where is/are). /“De metro? De restoran?”/
19. I don’t understand (Я не розумію) – /Ja ne rozumiju/
20. I don’t know (Я не знаю) – /Ja ne znaju/
21. Excuse me, where are the toilets? (Скажіть, будь ласка, де туалет?)- /Skaʒit’, bud’ laska, de tualet?/
If the latest sounded too hard, do not worry; most everyone understands the word ‘toilet’ around the world. Or just use this abbreviated version, “De toilets?”
Regardless, locals will appreciate your trying to say any word in their language and might be even more open to helping you.
Bonus: Ukrainian drinking toast
How to say cheers in Ukrainian
In Ukraine, when you are having a meal and drinks, you make a toast by saying the traditional Ukrainian phrase, “Bud’mo!”
“Bud’mo!” means that you are wishing the other person to be and stay healthy and live a long life. Also, it symbolizes the unity of all who are gathered together and wishing each other success, joy, and simply the best!
Note: You will hear people also, very loudly in some places, chanting “Bud’mo!” he, “Bud’mo!” he, “Bud’mo!” he, “Bud’mo!” “Bud’mo!” “Bud’mo!”, he, he, he! It is a cheerful way to toast and celebrate, and it simply fills you with happiness. The chant can be contagious, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself joining in!
How to read Ukrainian
One of the best advice I can give is that, before your trip, you also learn how to read Ukrainian. In order to read Ukranian, you will need to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. Honestly, learning the Cyrillic alphabet is quite easy and only takes a few hours. Use one of the many free resources and tools found online to learn it.
You will thank me for this, since it will really help you a lot during your visit. It will come in super handy and is essential in order to read signs (especially while on the road), and the menus, when they are not available in English.
Note: In bigger cities, you can find most signs translated into English but it’s better not to rely on this and be prepared.
Mobile Apps that can help you during your trip
Apps like Duolingo will help you to build upon the Ukranian basic phrases that I highlighted above. It will help you to master the pronunciation and you can do this while on the way to work, doing laundry, any free time you have; just put on some headphones and start listening to it while on the go. How convenient to have so much help just in the palm of your hand, on your phone.
Google Translate (Online/Offline Version)
Google Translate might not be always accurate but it will come in handy during your trip to Ukraine. I always recommend that you also download the offline version of it, so that you can still translate texts even when you do not have data. I also recommend you install the Ukrainian keyboard on your phone, in case a local needs to type something for you.
Another great thing about Google translate, which you can only use with data, is the camera feature which let you read labels, menus and more. It is great at least to get the basics, like maybe you can differentiate chicken from pork, or dry wine from sweet one. It is a great tool to have at times. This is why I recommend that you to get a SIM card (quite cheap in Ukraine), or to simply have a portable wifi device, like the one I use, Tep wireless (which allows you to connect up to five devices).
Other resources that come in handy in Ukraine
A great resource that has helped me a lot are Phrasebooks. Phrasebooks are really helpful for anyone traveling, but especially to Ukraine. I would suggest the Lonely Planet one since it is a life saver, but there are other options online to pick from.
Lastly, I personally love to have physical travel guides, like the one of Lonely Planet, with me. May seem a little “old school” but it’s nice not to have to rely on wireless data or track phone life for everything. Having an actual paper guide with me has come in handy more often than not, so it’s definitely worth it.
If you are still planning your trip to Ukraine, I do have some extra insider tips and resources here for you.
Overall, I hope these quick survival guide tips, with essential Ukrainian phrases, helps you to be better prepared for your trip to Ukraine. You won’t regret learning some basic survival level Ukrainian before traveling around Ukraine, and it should add to your excitement as you prepare to visit this amazing country!