On the whole, the spelling of Ukrainian words coincides with their pronunciation. This makes reading and writing quite easy! Letters ‘х’, ‘г’, ‘ґ’ in Ukrainian represent sounds [х], [г], [ґ].

гуска каже ґа-ґа-ґа

This trio in Ukrainian phonetics is not so simple. For most of the students who learn Ukrainian as a foreign language it is difficult to feel the difference in pronunciation of such pairs of the words as голодний – холодний or грам – храм. I mean to differentiate sounds [х] – [г].

Usually, it is more difficult to pronounce [г]. If it is challenging for you too, let’s try to deal with it!

Below you can find examples of Ukrainian words for each of these sounds. Words are accompanied with audio to help you master your pronunciation.

 Ха (Kha) is the 26th letter of the Ukrainian alphabet.  Sound
[х]

Watch out! This is not the English “X” – it’s a Cyrillic letter and this one sounds very different. The pronunciation of the Ukrainian [х] is similar to the pronunciation of [ch] in “loch” or [h] in “hook”.

Ukrainian words with Х:

  •  хата – a house
  •  хвилина – a minute
  •  
    хімія – chemistry
  •  
    хлопець – a boy
  •  
    хобі – a hobby
  •  
    хтось – somebody
  •  
    вихід – an exit
  •  
    дах – a roof

Ukrainian х is romanized as kh:

  •  
    Харків – Kharkiv
  •  
    Херсон – Kherson
  •  
    Христина – Khrystyna

 

Ге (He) is the 4th letter of the Ukrainian Alphabet. Sound  
 
 [г]

The pronunciation of the Ukrainian [г] is similar to the English [h] in ”hot” or ”happy” but voiced and pronounced with greater energy.

Ukrainian words with Г:

  •  
    газета – a newspaper
  •  
    герой – a hero
  •  
    гітара – a guitar
  •  
    година – an hour
  •  
    гуляти – to walk
  •  
    група – a group
  •  
    магазин – a store
  •  
    друг – a friend

Ukrainian г is romanized using the Latin letter h.

  •  
    гривня – hryvnia (national currency of Ukraine )
  •  
    Галичина – Halychyna (Galicia)
  •  
    Буг – Buh (a river in Ukraine)

If you want to write your name in Ukrainian manner you should write Halyna, Olha, Oleh, Serhiy, Bohdan. In modern media it is often neglected and replaced by “g”, it is not correct.

Now pronounce the words in the following pairs:

  •  
    голодний (hungry) 
     
    холодний (cold)
  •  
    грам (gram) –
     
    храм (a temple)
  •  
    маг (a magician) –
     
    мах (a swing)

Hopefully, you got it! 🙂

Learn more about other Confusing words in Ukrainian with pronunciation practice!

Ґe (Ge) is the 5th letter of the Ukrainian alphabet. Sound 
[ґ]

It looks unfamiliar but the pronunciation of Ukrainian [ґ] is like [g] in “golden”.

The letterform of this letter is based on the letterform of the letter Г г, but its handwritten form is different.

Letter Ґ is unique (currently used only in Ukrainian language), that’s why it had to struggle for life. It exists in the Ukrainian language from the XVI century, but during Soviet times it was eliminated (as it was “different”).

Learn more about other Differences between Ukrainian and Russian languages here

Now Ґ is free again, but officially used in about 40 words (most of these words are rarely used or dialects). The most common of them are:

  •  
    ґанок – a porch
  •  
    ґазда – a husbandman, a host (dialect)
  •  
    ґудзик – a button (for clothes)
  •  
    ґрати – a lattice, a grate
  •  
    ґава – a crow
  •  
    ґрунт – soil
  •  
    ґатунок – a sort, a quality
  •  
    дзиґа – a spinning top

Ґ is romanized using the Latin letter G.

”Дзиґa” – ”Dzyga” (Art Gallery and Cafe in Lviv)

Pronounce the words in the following pair:

 грати (to play) – 
 
ґрати (a lattice)

Good job! – Молодці! 🙂


Would you like to learn to understand more Ukrainian? Check our free Ukrainian Lessons Podcast!

Do you want to practice speaking in Ukrainian? Find a conversation partner or book a tutor to practice your Ukrainian online!

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Iryna Podoliak

In 2013, Iryna graduated from Ivan Franko National University of Lviv and got a Master's degree in Philology. She specializes in the methodology of teaching Ukrainian as a foreign language. Iryna worked with students from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Estonia, Poland. She appreciates the opportunity of cultural and worldview interchange during the lessons. Iryna is interested in early learning methods as she has a little son.

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