Essentially I'm looking for a Ukrainian equivalent to "sir" or "ma'am" that would be used to address a professor or police officer or someone else in a formal situation.

By "direct address" I mean something that would be used almost exclusively with the vocative case.

  • I think, there is no such thing that would be used exclusively with vocative case. For example, such word as пані, which can be used as title (пані Валентино, …), simply means something like "lady" and can be used in non-vocative cases (I saw a pretty lady in the restaurant hall) — i.e. it's more like "lady" or German "Frau" than like "ma'am". (Additional problem with Ukrainian titles is that their usage highly depends on region and social group.)
    – Sasha
    Mar 14, 2017 at 5:42

1 Answer 1


As @Sasha mentioned in their comment, there's no word that is used only when addressing. Likewise in English, historically, "sir" used to mean, "owner, master, landlord". However, you no longer say, "this sir did X". The same applies to Ukrainian.

Also, one should keep in mind that the perception of bourgeoisie was spoiled during the centuries of effective occupation of Ukraine.

Having this said, the words you're looking for are,

Пан, пані

and its corresponding Vocative forms, пане and пані.

СУМ gives the following meaning to пан:

  1. In old Poland, Lithuania, before-revolution Ukraine, and Belarus — a respectful/noble form of addressing or referring to men of higher segments of society.
    // Nowadays — respectful form of referring or addressing, usuially to an official person or a foreigner.
    // (ironical) A person who is not respected or their behavior is contempted

Mind the latter item.

The dictionary article for the corresponding feminitive, пані, is essentially the same.

The usage is pretty similar to the English one:

  • Пане поліцейський, дозвольте запитати… — Mr. officer, may I ask… (with known name, profession, or occupation)
  • Пані, чи не могли б ви допомогти… — Ma'am, could you help… (if you don't know the name or occupation)

Update. In their comment, @Sasha and @OksanaGubrenko have listed several other words worth mentioning and worth using in practice:

  • добродій (noun, m.; voc: добродію), добродійка (noun, f.; voc: добродійко);
  • шановний (adj, m.), шановна (adj, f.).
    This is an Adjectival Noun or Nominalized Adjective — an adjective which has come to function as a noun, as in "the rich and the poor"
    The шановн- adjective means "respected" and can be used either per se, or together with пан-/добродій-.
  • also, a relic of Soviet-style, literally "comrade": товариш (noun, m); the fem. can be either товаришка or just товариш; voc: товаришу, товаришко.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.