I am presented with a choice between full synonyms within a sentence and I do not know whether to base my answer on 'what sounds better' or 'what is correct'. For instance when considering:

Ми _ _ надво́рі. Choice between: (yжé : вже) Which is most suitable within this sentence?

Ви тепéр _ _? Choice between: (yдóма : вдóма) Which is more suited within this sentence?

Further, is the length of the sentence considered when choosing between full synonyms..


2 Answers 2


Semantics over aesthetics

  • If the synonyms are really full, that means that they're fully interchangeable: i.e. either both semantically fit, or both semantically don't fit. If both fit semantically, aesthetics is the only thing that makes you to choose one or another.

  • If the synonyms are partial synonyms (not absolutely interchangeable, their meanings a bit differ), then of course meaning is more important than aesthetics (it's not a good idea to put semantically-unfitting word just because you like its sound better).

Уже and вже are full synonyms. Удома and вдома are too. So the choice here is to be done simply aesthetically, not semantically.

About aesthetics

In general, if you have two words with truly-identical meaning, it's not a real mistake to choose not the aesthetically-best word as per my opinion. People make such choices intuitively and different people make different choices, because they naturally have different preferences. Never-the-less, there are some official rules for that (actually they are more recommendations than rules as per my opinion, even the greatest writers don't follow them meticulously — but as they're expressed within the official "Orthography" document, some really-pedantic people treat them seriously).

I won't translate these rules in full. The main idea is to avoid combinations of consonants. Because words like "vjrzkhpqnfcdxmlgtbs" are hard to pronounce for every human on the Earth. Even for two consequent words — if the first one ends with several consonants and the second starts with several consonants (like "snatch bread"), they're usually harder to pronounce than if there's some vowel between (like "snatchy bread"). So the main idea is to avoid combinations of consonants.

So, in short, if you have a choice between two semantically-identical words — the one starting with в and the other starting with у — then look at the preceding word (i.e. the word before the placeholder):

  • if the preceding word ends with a vowel, choose the в-starting variant;
  • if the preceding word ends with a consonant, choose the y-starting variant.

The follower's answer translates the official rules (which are more recommendations than rules as per my opinion) in full.

  • 2
    which are more recommendations than rules — for orthography (so, for ЗНО, tests, and etc) is rule, not recommendation. Early it was only recommendation, yeah. Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 18:25
  • 1
    I've added "as per my opinion" near every statement about "more recommendation that rules".
    – Sasha
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 8:21

It’s close to English’s a and an.

Here is orthogragy

  1. In the Ukrainian language alternating both prepositions в, у, and prefixes у-, в-, in words. У is used to avoid consonant consonant, difficult to pronounce:

a) between consonants: Наш учитель; Десь у хлібах кричав перепел;

b) at the beginning of the sentence before the consonant: У присмерку літають ластівки так низько (Павличко); Увійшли до хати; У лісі стояв гамір, пахло квітами;

c) regardless of the termination of the previous word before the next в, ф, and also before the combinations of the letters льв, св, тв, хв and etc: Сидимо у вагоні; Не спитавши броду, не сунься у воду (Приказка); Велике значення у формуванні характеру має самовиховання; Одягнена у хвою, шумить дрімуча тайга;

g) after a pause, which in the letter is marked with a comma, semicolon, colon, dash, bracket, and dots, before the consonant: Стоїть на видноколі мати — у неї вчись (Б. Олійник); Це було... у Києві; До мене зайшла товаришка, учителька із сусіднього села.

  1. В is uded in order to avoid vowel coincidence: / 17 /

a) between the vowels: У нього в очах засвітилась відрада (Панас Мирний); Була в Одесі; Прочитала в оголошенні;

b) at the beginning of the sentence before the vowels: _ В очах його світилась надія; В Антарктиді працюють наукові експедиції;_

c) after a loud voice in front of the majority of consonants (except for,в, ф, льв**, св, тв, хв and etc): Пішла в садок вишневий (Шевченко); Люди врозкид розляглися в траві (Гордієнко).

  1. In - In are not alternating:

a) in words that are used only with in only with в or у: вдача, вклад, вправа, вступ (and удача, уклад, управа, уступ — with other meanings); взаємини, влада, власний, властивість, вплив etc.; увага, ударник, узбережжя, указ, умова, усталення, установа, уява as well as in derivative formations: вступний, владар, уважність, ударницький, умовний etc.;

b) in their own names and in words of foreign origin: Вдовенко, Врубель, Владивосток; Угорщина, Удовиченко, Урал, увертюра, ультиматум, утопія, and others.

Note. In the poetry, along with the usual form Україна is sometimes used Вкраїна.

Just to notice:

  • Usually first 2 rules are not executed;
  • Ukrainian has prepositions not only в and у but also ув, вв, в, уві, ві. They are very rare, but sometimes is constant phrase like: ві Львові, уві or вві сні (in dream).

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