How do you pronounce the names of those cities in Ukrainian?

This topic is extremely mixed up in the West, and to know the right way to write the names of those cities I wanted to ask, how do you pronounce and spell their names in Ukrainian.

Please, elaborate on this issue, and tell me how to pronounce and spell their names in Ukrainian.

Getting only more mixed up after visiting Wikipedia, where Lviv and Kharkiv are written with iv at the end, and Kyiv has both Kiev and Kyiv, with Kiev being the first option.

Why? Just why?

We need more Ordnung on this matter!


6 Answers 6


English Wikipedia gives correct Ukrainian pronunciation for all cities you've mentioned:

Київ (Kyiv): [ˈkɪjiu̯]
Харків (Kharkiv): [ˈxɑrkiu̯]
Львів (Lviv): [lʲwiu̯]

Wiki just gives common English pronunciation first, and inside of brackets after "Ukrainian:" you can see Ukrainian pronunciation and spelling:

Kiev (/ˈkiːɛf, -ɛv/)[7] or Kyiv (Ukrainian: Київ, Kyjiv [ˈkɪjiu̯]...

IPA for Ukrainian may be useful for basic understanding of how Ukrainian words are pronounced.


Kyiv — Ukrainian language. Kiev — Russian language.

Ukrainian city Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, is pronounced "Kyiv". The name "Kiev" is called Russian-speaking Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Kyiv [ˈkɪjiu̯] — Ukrainian language.
Kiev [ˈkijɛf] — Russian language.
Kharkiv [ˈxɑrkiu̯] — Ukrainian language.
Kharkov [ˈxarʲkəf] — Russian language.
Lviv [lʲʋiu̯] — Ukrainian language.
Lvov [lʲvof] — Russian language.

Transcriptions are given in IPA, as they're given on Wikipedia/Wiktionary (however there're some variations).


Ukrainian and English have slightly different phonetic alphabets so it is hard to spell out. I will try.

Kyiv is pronounced in Ukrainian as /kiēv/

First Ky- is like ki- in kit. The -iv is pronounced like eve.

Lviv is /lvēv/ or (Lv-eve). The L is a soft consonant though.

Kharkiv is a really tough one to spell out with English phonetic alphabet. I have no idea.

P.S. By phonetic alphabet I mean the one Google uses


If you want to hear it, you can try forvo.com:


'Київ', 'Харків', and 'Львів' are written as 'Kyiv', 'Kharkiv', and 'Lviv' in English.

In terms of pronunciation (Source for Kyiv pronunciation):

  • Kyiv: is a combination of a few sounds that are already familiar to English native speakers:

    1. "yi" is a combination of "k" and the pronunciation of the "i/y" sound in such words as "kit", "silk", and "sync"
    2. "iv" is almost identical to the pronunciation of the word "eve"
  • Kharkiv: is pronounced the same way it's written.

  • Lviv: is pronounced the same way it's written.

Wrong wrong and wrong! Almost all the answers here are wrong.

Kyiv is a shortened form of the correct one - Kyyiv. The 'k' sounds the same as in English. The 'y' isn't the correct one, but the closest one, the sound is a bit similar to 'y' in 'weekly' but leans a bit less towards 'i/ee' than in English. The i is a bit harder because there are 2 similar letters in Ukrainian - 'i' that is an actual 'i' and sounds like like 'i' in 'is' and 'ї' that is a bit more tricky and consists of 2 letters and is pronounced like 'yi' in 'yin', but due to there already being one 'y' before that, it's been shortened to only 'i' (which still shouldn't affect the pronunciation). And 'v' is just like 'v' in 'victory'. There's no 'e' in any way in the name, it came from Russian which is NOT native to Ukrainians.

The only difficult part in 'Kharkiv' is the 'kh' which doesn't have the direct representation in the English alphabet, but the closest would be 'h' like in 'hall'. The 'o' part is the same as 'e' in Kyiv.

Lviv doesn't 100% represent the spoken name. There is another letter between 'l' and 'v' which does not have any kind of direct representation in English. The closest sound (yes, not a letter, but only sound) you might get is the sound that you get after 'n' but before you transfer to the 'ew' part in the word 'new'. It'd be the most proper to write it as L'viv (but it wouldn't make much sense in English anyway). The 'o' part is the same as in Kharkiv.

  • 2
    True: Kyiv ← Kyyiv. False: Y is as Y or EE/I in weekly, I as I in IS, YI as yin, V is in victory. Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 18:50
  • 1
    True: Y is as Y in myth, I is as Y in weekly. YI is like YI in yield but I is same to Y in weekly — not long, V is OO in cool, but very-very short. In some dialects it can sound like just Kyee, where Y (myth) and EE (meet). KH is as CH in loch but not via K, and mostly Scottish. Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 19:00

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