Ukrainian is an East Slavic language closely related to Russian but with some regular differences. The most close language to Ukrainian is Byelorusian. Russian o often corresponds to Ukrainian i, as in pod/pid "under". This also happens when Ukrainian words are declined, such as rik (nom):rotsi (loc) "year". Also, Russian g corresponds to Ukrainian h, which is written with the same letter. (A modified form of the letter is used for g, but not universally. In borrowed words g is regularly transformed to h.) (Russian has no h sound but uses g in such words as gipnotizirovat. Czech also has h corresponding to Russian g. This alternation is old in Slavic.)
Ukrainian case endings are somewhat different from Russian, and the vocabulary includes a large overlay of Polish terminology. Russian na pervom etazhe "on the first floor" is in the prepositional case. The Ukrainian corresponding expression is na pershomy poversi, which to the Russian ear is a mishmash. -omy is the standard locative (=prepositional) ending, but variants in -im are common in dialect and poetry, and allowed by the standards bodies. The x of Ukrainian poverx has mutated under the influence of the soft vowel i (k is similarly unstable in final positions).
The Ukrainian language is currently emerging from a long period of disuse. Although there are almost fifty million ethnic Ukrainians worldwide, including roughly 38-39 million in Ukraine (three-quarters of the total population), only in western Ukraine is the Ukrainian language commonly spoken. In Kyiv and central Ukraine Russian is the language of nearly all city-dwellers, although there is a shift towards Ukrainian; in eastern Ukraine, Russian is dominant and a Russified Ukrainian spoken in some circles, while in the Crimea Ukrainian is almost absent. Use of the Ukrainian language in Ukraine can be expected to increase, as the rural population of Ukraine (still overwhelmingly Ukrainophone) migrates to Ukrainian cities and the Ukrainian language enters into wider use in central Ukraine.
Ukrainian is also spoken by a large emigre population, particularly in Canada. The founders of this population primarily emigrated between the World Wars, some from territories then occupied by Poland. Their vocabulary reflects somewhat less Russification than the modern language of independent Ukraine -- for "store/shop" they might prefer kramnytsya to mahazyn (cf. Russ. magazin, orig. French), whereas in Ukraine mahazyn is much more common and kramnytsya somewhat self-conscious.
Ukrainian language has 6 vowels (a, e, i, y, o, u) and one semi-vowel (j). The combintion of the semi-vowel with each of the vowels produces a new sound (ja, je, ji, jy, jo, ju). jy is used in certain dialects only. This soound as well as jo do not have separate letters in the alphabet and are rendered by two letters.
Most of the consonants come in 3 forms: hard, soft and long, for example, l, lj, ll or n, nj, nn. In writing the vowels change the preceding consonant from hard to soft or vice versa. In special cases, for example, at the end of the word a special soft sign is used to indicate that the consonant is soft. Apostrophy is used to indicate the hardness of the sound in the cases when normally the vowel would change the consonant to soft. The letter is repeated to indicate that the sound is long. Ukrainians tend to pronounce long sounds where the letters are double in other language, English or Russian, for example.
Sounds dz and dzh do not have dedicated letters in the alphabet and are rendered by two letters. Yet, they are single sounds rather than two sounds d z and d zh, pronounced separately. dzh is like English g in huge, dz has no English equivalent, it is pronounced like Japanese z in kamikaze.
Ukrainian alphabet is almost phonetic with the exception of the three sounds that do not have the dedicated letters and complex but intuitive (for a native) rules of the change of softness or hardness of the consonants by the following vowels.
Ukrianian language has 3 tenses: present, past and future. All verbs in Ukrianian fall in either of two categories: perfect or imperfect. In order to express the idea that the action is finished one has to use a perfect verb, an imperfect verb does not have a perfect form and vice versa.
For example, the verb pysaty (write) is an imperfect verb. For the perfect form there exist a number of related verbs each expressing slightly different aspect of have written : napysaty, zapysaty, perepysaty, prypysaty, dopysaty, spysaty, etc.
Verbs are inclined according to the person, number and gender (in the past tense).