Free Ukrainian Course. Lesson 11

Free Ukrainian course - Lesson 11

Free Ukrainian Course
Ukrainian lessons for beginners

Lesson 11: Не кажи́, що ти роби́в, скажи́, що ти зроби́в.
Don’t say what you were doing, but say what you finished.

In this lesson you will learn:

  • The verbal aspect: imperfective and perfective verbs in Ukrainian

In this lesson we will see that imperfective and perfective verb forms in Ukrainian not always have the same tense in English. Let’s have a look at the differences!

Useful phrase in Ukrainian

Useful phrase in Ukrainian

Listen and repeat the following sentence:

Не кажи́, що ти роби́в, скажи́, що ти зроби́в.

Don’t say what you were doing, but say what you finished doing.

The verbal aspect

Attention: In this lesson you will learn something very important, the verbal aspect.

In Ukrainian there are two kinds of verbs:

  • verbs which mean “to be doing something” (imperfective verbs)
  • verbs which mean “to have done something / to have finished doing something” (perfective verbs)

The concept of “verbal aspect” doesn’t exist in English, but it exists in other Slavonic languages like Polish and Russian.

Ukrainian vocabulary

Ukrainian vocabulary

Read, listen and repeat the basic vocabulary of this lesson.

Втоми́вся (masc.) / втоми́лася (fem.)

to be tired

весь (masc.) / вся (fem.) / все (neuter)

all, every, everything







дім / вдо́ма

home / at home




yummy, delicious

як шко́да!

what a pity!


long, for a long time







In this lesson you will learn that Ukrainian verbs come in couples.

Each couple of Ukrainian verbs (usually) has only one English equivalent.

In the grammar section at the end of this lesson, you have an explanation on this topic.

Ukrainian (imperfective verb / perfective verb)


роби́ти / зроби́ти

to do

чита́ти / прочита́ти

to read

диви́тись / подиви́тись

to watch, to look

писа́ти / написа́ти

to write

готува́ти / приготува́ти

to cook

каза́ти / розказа́ти

to tell

подо́батися / сподо́батися

to like, to please

ду́мати / поду́мати

to think

Ukrainian dialogues


With extra help for verbs!

Now you are going to see a series of short dialogues which include perfective and imperfective verbs. In the grammar section (after the dialogues) you will learn more about these verbs.

We are going to help you:

  • Perfective verbs will be highlighted like this.
  • Imperfective verbs will be highlighted like this.
Ukrainian grammar

Ukrainian grammar

Read the following grammar explanations for this lesson:

The aspect: imperfective and perfective verbs

In this lesson we have seen something VERY IMPORTANT regarding Ukrainian, which we will now explain in a way that is easy to understand:

In English we can talk about imperfect actions (ongoing or unfinished actions) and perfect actions (= finished actions):

  • Imperfect actions: Yesterday Anna was reading when I came home. This morning I was cooking when you called me.
  • Perfect actions: Yesterday Anna read a book. This morning I have cooked soup.

The “verbal aspect” is this comparison between “what is finished” and “what is happening”. Thus, we will have:

  • Imperfective aspect: when we express an imperfective (unfinished) action.
  • Perfective aspect: when we express a perfect (finished) action.

In English, the same verb (“to cook”) is used to express both an ongoing action (I was cooking, I have been cooking) and a finished action (I cooked, I have cooked). That is why, when learning English, we don’t talk about “verbal aspect”.

In Ukrainian, the contrast between imperfect and perfect is expressed with two different verbs:

  • The imperfective verbs are those which only express imperfect actions (= ongoing and unfinished actions).
  • The perfective verbs are those which only express perfect actions (= finished actions).

So when learning Ukrainian we MUST take into account the concept of “verbal aspect”.

Imperfective: when we talk about and ongoing/unfinished action готува́ти / чита́ти to cook / to read
Perfective: when we talk about an already finished action приготува́ти / прочита́ти to cook / to read

When you learn a new verb, try to memorize the pair imperfective / perfective. In the vocabulary section, at the beginning of this lesson, we show you some pairs of verbs, so you start getting used to this way of learning them.

When do we use an imperfective verb?

1. To explain what we usually do, repeated actions, habits, etc…

…in the present

Я чита́ю ко́жен день. I read every day.
Він готу́є ду́же до́бре. He cooks very well.
Ми ди́вимось тíльки украї́нські фíльми. We only watch Ukrainian movies.

…or in the past

Ранíшен я чита́в ко́жен день Before I used to read every day.
Коли́ я жив в Украї́ні, я ча́сто готува́в суп. When I was living in Ukraine, I would often cook soup.

2. To explain a process while it’s happening…

….in the present (what are we doing?)

Я чита́ю I am reading
Він ро́бить щось He is doing something
Ми готу́ємо вече́рю We are cooking dinner

…or in the past: (what were we doing?)

Я диви́вся телевíзор, коли́… I was watching TV, when…
Вчо́ра я чита́в рома́н. yesterday I was reading a novel

When do we use a perfective verb?

To explain a finished action (in Ukrainian it is always in the past).

Я прочита́в рома́н I have read the novel / I finished reading the novel.
Він приготува́в вече́рю. He has cooked dinner / He finished cooking dinner.

Perfective verbs don’t exist in the present: when you finish something, it is already in the past (even if only one second in the past).

NOTE: The future of perfective and imperfective verbs will be studied in lesson 13 of this course.

Ukrainian test


Check if you know this lesson:

1. How would a woman say “I’m tired”?
я втоми́вся
я втоми́лась
я втоми́лось

2. What kind of verb describes what you have been doing?

3. How do you say “to cook”?
both answers are correct

4. How do you say “yesterday I was reading”?
Вчо́ра я чита́в
Вчо́ра я чита́ю
Вчо́ра я прочита́в

5. Say “I have read (and finished) the novel”.
я чита́в рома́н
я прочита́в рома́н
я чита́ю рома́н

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