Just like “dessert” and “desert” in English, there are some confusing Ukrainian words that drive learners crazy. Sometimes it is not only about memorization (вистава vs виставка), but also about hearing the difference in pronunciation that is obvious for Ukrainians, but not so much for the language learners (голодний vs холодний, грип vs гриб).

So, take a look at the difference between those common confusing Ukrainian words that sound alike, but most importantly, listen to my pronunciation and repeat many times. Then, start using them!

1. Курка і куртка

confusing Ukrainian words: куртка і курка

Курка в куртці

This is the reason this article was created. All thanks to the funny story of my student who wanted to buy куртка in the food market in Ukraine. 🙂

So, remember:

Курка – 1) a hen (an animal); 2) chicken (meat)
Куртка
– a jacket

2. Квітка, квіти – квиток, квитки

These are the words you must practice pronouncing, especially in the plural (pay attention to the word stress!):

Квітка – a flower
Квіти
–  flowers
Квиток
– a ticket
Квитки
– tickets

Having trouble pronouncing Ukrainian sound И? Try our pronunciation trainer in the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast Episode #5: Numbers in Ukrainian + И Pronunciation trainer

3. Вхід і вихід

різниця між словами вхід і вихід

A situation when just one vowel sound can turn the word into its opposite. Moreover, these two are so important in the cities in Ukraine.

Memorize the spelling and pronunciation and pay attention next time you are in the Kyiv’s subway:

Вхід – entrance
Вихід
– exit

4. Місце і місто

So similar at first, but different at the end. Listen and repeat:

Місце – a place
Місця – places

Місто – a city, a town
Міста – cities, towns

Are you going to місто Львів? Check out our selection of the best місця у Львовіour Cultural Guide to Lviv here.

5. Схід і захід, східний і західний

різниця між словами схід і захід

Above you can see a photo from a beautiful project “Схід та Захід – разом” by Володимир Кисіль. Two girls represent two parts of Ukraine which different buy similar at the same time, as they belong to one nation. The girl from Захід (East) is on the left, the girl from Схід (East) – on the right.

“Схід та Захід – разом” has been a popular Ukrainian slogan during the revolutions, protests, and national holidays.

Pay special attention on the word stress:

Схід – East
Східний
– Eastern
Захід
– West
Західний
– Western

6. Гриб і грип

In Ukrainian, the consonants at the end always sound as they are, they don’t become unvoiced, so hear the difference:

Гриб – mushroom
Грип
–  a flu

7. Вистава і виставка

These two words are confusing because they both mean certain artistic events. However, try to see the difference in the афіші – posters below:

confusing Ukrainian words: виставка і вистава різниця між словами вистава і виставка

Вистава – a play, a performance;
Виставка
– an exhibition.

8. Грам і храм

Г and Х are quite a confusing couple of Ukrainian sounds. So, with the following similar words you can try and practice pronouncing them distinctively:

Грам – a gram
Храм
– a temple

9. Холодний і голодний

difference between голодний і холодний in Ukrainian

Я голодний!

Classic foreigners’ mistake that makes Ukrainians smile.

If you are hungry, make sure to pronounce your ггг, do not say: “Я холодний” which means something like “My body is cold” and sounds funny. In case you are cold, say: “Мені холодно”.

The difference between голодний і холодний might seem impossible to catch at first, so get to practice:

Холодний  – cold (masculine);
Голодний
– hungry (masculine);

  • Вода холодна. – The water is cold.
  • Я голодна. – I am hungry (feminine).
  • Мені холодно. – I am cold.
різниця між словами голодний і холодний

Мені холодно!

***

Are there other confusing Ukrainian words you are having trouble with? Share them in the comments below!

Бажаю успіхів і веселого навчання! I wish you good luck and fun studies! 


Looking for more resources to improve your Ukrainian vocabulary? Check our 1000 most common words in Ukrainian with interactive flashcards.

Also, you can learn Ukrainian step by step with our free Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.

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Anna Ohoiko

Привіт! Мене звати Анна. I am a Ukrainian linguist, teacher, and the Ukrainian Lessons founder. My biggest hobby is to learn foreign languages and my passion to teach the most beautiful one. I also enjoy traveling, cooking and being with my friends and family.

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