What Language is Spoken in Ukraine

What Language is Spoken in Ukraine?

What Language is Spoken in Ukraine?

(Last Updated On: December 14, 2023)

The two official languages of Ukraine

The two official languages of Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian, play pivotal roles in the everyday lives of its citizens. Russian, historically dominant in Eastern regions, serves as the mother tongue for many Russian-speaking Ukrainians and has been integral to public life since the 18th century. Nevertheless, there has been a gradual decline in its usage in recent years. Ukrainian, in practice since the late 17th century, holds sway in Western Ukraine. It serves as the language of instruction in Ukrainian schools and enjoys an official status alongside Russian. Apart from these dominant languages, various Slavic languages like Polish, Slovak, Belarusian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Crimean Tatar are spoken in different regions, particularly by national minorities. However, these languages, despite their prevalence, have never received official recognition or been granted the status of a national minority language. The language situation in Ukraine lacks specific laws or regulations dictating language usage in public life or education, but Ukrainian stands as a symbol of national identity. Therefore, proficiency in Ukrainian is deemed crucial for full participation in public life and integration within the cultural fabric of Ukraine.

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The most popular minority languages in Ukraine

The two official languages of Ukraine are Ukrainian and Russian. However, there are several other languages spoken throughout the country. These languages are Slavic and can be divided into Eastern and Western categories. In the East, Russian remains the dominant language. It is the native language of many Russian speakers living in the region and has been part of public life since the 18th century. In recent years, however, there has been a gradual decline in the use of the Russian language in Ukraine. The Ukrainian language has been in practice since the late 17th century. In the West, the most widespread minority language is Polish. This language first appeared in Ukraine during the 20th century and is now used in several regions in the western part of the country. It uses the Cyrillic alphabet and is considered a separate language from Ukrainian and Russian. Other regional languages spoken in Ukraine include Slovak, Belarusian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Crimean Tatar. Ethnic minorities mainly use these languages and have never been officially recognized as national languages. Language policy in Ukraine remains a contentious issue. No official laws or regulations define which languages should be used in public life or education. Despite this, Ukrainian remains the most common language and is seen as a symbol of national identity. As such, all Ukrainians need to learn Ukrainian to participate fully in public life.

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The decline of the Russian language in Ukraine

Since the 18th century, Russian has been the dominant language in Ukraine. It is Slavic and uses the Cyrillic alphabet, similar to Ukrainian. Until the 20th century, Russian was widely spoken throughout the country, even in areas where Ukrainian was the native language. However, with the emergence of the national language policy in Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian language began to decline in public life and usage. Fewer people have used Russian as their common language in recent years, particularly in Ukraine’s western and central regions. Ukrainian is now the official language and has become increasingly popular nationwide. Despite this shift, there are still many Russian speakers in Ukraine, particularly in the eastern region. Russian remains a vital minority language in Ukraine and is still used by millions. There is also a significant Polish language presence in Ukraine, primarily in the western region. The importance of learning and speaking Ukrainian has grown and is now widely accepted as the national language. Despite its recent decline, the Russian language is still an essential part of Ukraine’s linguistic landscape and will likely continue to be a part of the country for some time.


Slovak is the official language of Ukraine and a Slavic language native to the country’s Eastern region. It has been used in public life since the 18th century and is the dominant language in the area where it is spoken. It has a separate language policy from the Russian language and is distinct from Ukrainian, the national language of Ukraine. The Cyrillic alphabet is used for written Slovak, and it has historically had close ties to Polish, with many speakers of both languages using them interchangeably in the 20th century. Although it is a minority language compared to Russian and Ukrainian, there are still around a million native Slovak speakers in Ukraine, mainly concentrated in the Eastern region. While Russian speakers have declined in Ukraine since the late 20th century, Slovak has remained a common language among some Ukrainians. As a result, the government has put forth several initiatives to encourage its use in public life and education. Learning Slovak can be essential to Ukrainian culture and help bridge the gap between Ukrainian and Russian speakers. While not all Ukrainians need to learn Slovak, understanding its history and importance in Ukraine can benefit those looking to appreciate its language policy and cultural diversity.

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Belarusian is one of the two official languages of Ukraine, alongside Ukrainian. It is a Slavic language and is related to both Ukrainian and Russian. Belarusian has been spoken in the country since the 18th century, and native speakers mainly use it today in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Although Russian is still spoken by many in Ukraine, especially in the larger cities, it has declined since the 20th century as Ukrainian has become the dominant language in public life. This language policy has also seen Belarusian become more widely used in Ukraine. Since Belarusian is a minority language, it is not as commonly spoken as Ukrainian or Russian. However, many still use it as their native language, particularly in the eastern region of Ukraine. The Belarusian language is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, which is also used by other Slavic languages such as Ukrainian and Russian. It is also often used as a common language between speakers of both Ukrainian and Russian, making it an essential part of the linguistic landscape of Ukraine. Learning Belarusian can be an excellent way for Ukrainian speakers to better understand their country’s culture and history.

Furthermore, those fluent in Ukrainian and Belarusian can use them interchangeably in conversations with Polish speakers, as both languages share similar features. Belarusian is integral to Ukraine’s language policy and is slowly becoming more visible in public life. It is an essential part of the country’s culture and identity, making it a valuable asset for anyone learning more about Ukraine’s rich linguistic heritage.


Polish is one of the two official languages of Ukraine and is a Slavic language related to Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian. It is native to the eastern region of Ukraine and is spoken by a small minority of Ukrainian speakers. Polish was the dominant language in public life until the 18th century when Russia began to replace it in this role. Polish experienced a resurgence in the 20th century when a language policy that recognized it as a separate language from Russian was enacted. This has led to the use of the Polish language in public life and education in certain regions, though it is still a minority language compared to Russian. The Polish language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, like its sister languages, Ukrainian and Russian. While Polish is still commonly used in some parts of Ukraine, it has generally been replaced by Russian as the common language among people of different nationalities. As such, many native Polish speakers are now also Russian speakers or at least understand the language to some degree. Nevertheless, learning the Polish language can be important for understanding Ukrainian culture and history.


Romanian is a Romance language with roots distinct from the East Slavic languages prevalent in Ukraine. Despite its linguistic differences, it has entrenched itself in daily life, gaining social status as an official minority language since 1989. The language laws surrounding Romanian have evolved, especially in the 21st century, due to shifting linguistic landscapes and the ascendancy of Russian in public domains. Much like the Ukrainian alphabet’s development in the 13th century, Romanian’s journey in Ukraine has seen fluctuations in its prominence, impacting its role in literary language and the language question prevalent in the region.

In the context of East European linguistic diversity, the presence of Romanian in Ukraine marks a deviation from the predominant Slavic language family. However, its use of the Cyrillic alphabet, akin to Russian and Ukrainian, underscores historical interactions between linguistic cultures. As Ukrainian authorities endeavor to safeguard their language and address language differences, there’s a parallel effort to uphold minority languages, Romanian among them, against the encroachment of Russian.

Understanding the Ruthenian language and its historical interactions within East European linguistic frameworks sheds light on the complexities of social dynamics and language policies in Ukraine. Amidst the ebb and flow of linguistic influences, the significance of Romanian transcends its linguistic boundaries. It plays a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage and fostering connections with neighboring nations like Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria, contributing to the tapestry of Ukrainian multiculturalism.


Hungarian is one of the minority languages spoken in Ukraine. It is an official language and part of the Uralic language family, which makes it distinct from other Slavic languages in the region. It is spoken by native Hungarian speakers living primarily in the country’s eastern region. The language is not as widespread as other minority languages like Polish or Romanian, but it is still commonly used in public life. In the 18th century, it was a popular language among Ukrainian-Russian speakers, but its usage declined significantly in the 20th century as Russian became more dominant. Today, Ukrainian is the most common language and has become a separate language from Russian, which is why there has been an effort to promote its use in recent years. The Ukrainian government has a language policy that supports the use of Ukrainian in public life. While Ukrainian remains the national language, people are free to speak their regional language, including Hungarian. However, it is essential to note that it is written using the Cyrillic alphabet and not Latin letters like other languages in the region.

Crimean Tatar

Crimean Tatar is a minority language in Ukraine spoken by people from the Crimean peninsula. It is the native language of the Turkic-speaking population that has lived in the region since the 15th century. Crimean Tatar is not officially recognized as a language of Ukraine but is an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage. Crimean Tatar is a member of the Kipchak branch of the Turkic language family, most closely related to Turkish. It is written using the Cyrillic alphabet and also uses some Arabic script. During the 18th century, Russian became the dominant language in Crimea and public life, pushing Crimean Tatar to the sidelines. By the 20th century, Russian was spoken by most people in the eastern region of Crimea, while Ukrainian was more common in the west. Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, language policy has changed, and Ukrainian has become the country’s official language. However, minority languages like Crimean Tatar have still been able to thrive. Crimean Tatar is used among speakers and is gaining popularity as more people learn it as a separate language from Russian or Polish. While it is not a common language, it is a sign of cultural pride for many Ukrainians, particularly those in the eastern region.

The Importance of learning Ukrainian

Learning Ukrainian is essential for anyone living in or visiting Ukraine, as it is one of the country’s two official languages. It is a Slavic language closely related to Russian and has been the native language of many people in Ukraine since the 18th century. Ukrainian speakers, whose mother tongue is Ukrainian, often use it in their daily interactions. Ukraine, a sovereign country, has seen a shift in its language policy in the last century. While Russian was once the dominant language, especially in the eastern regions, it has declined since the 20th century. Ukrainian has replaced it as the common language of public life in Ukraine, becoming the language of mobility within the country. Though there are many minority languages spoken in Ukraine, Ukrainian is by far the most popular, alongside Church Slavonic, particularly in religious contexts. This includes Polish, which is spoken mainly in the western region of Ukraine and written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Knowing Ukrainian is essential for effective communication and accessing literature published by the University Press, enriching one’s understanding of Ukraine’s cultural heritage from the 19th century to contemporary times. Understanding how to communicate in Ukrainian is a great way to demonstrate that you value Ukrainian culture, heritage, and people.

Read more about the language spoken in China in percentage.

Some of the Ukraine Language issues:

  1. Language Politics: The language issue in Ukraine has been contentious, particularly after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Language politics in Ukraine are closely tied to the country’s political and historical context. Ukrainian has been promoted as the state language, and there have been efforts to reduce the use of Russian in official contexts.
  2. Russian language in Ukraine: Russian has historically been a dominant language in Ukraine, particularly in the eastern regions where ethnic Russians make up a significant minority. Many Ukrainian citizens still speak Russian as their primary language, and there have been concerns about suppressing Russian language rights.
  3. Regional Languages: Apart from Ukrainian and Russian, there are several other minority languages spoken in Ukraine, including Romanian, Hungarian, and Polish. These regional languages are protected by law, and efforts have been made to promote them in schools and other public spaces.
  4. Bilingualism: Many Ukrainians are bilingual, speaking both Ukrainian and Russian fluently. However, there are debates about the role of bilingualism in Ukraine, particularly in the context of the ongoing conflict with Russia.
  5. Language Education: Language education in Ukraine has been the subject of numerous reforms, with efforts to promote the use of Ukrainian in schools and universities. Teaching other languages, particularly Russian, has been reduced in recent years, leading to concerns about the impact on students who may need to use Russian for work or travel.

Language issues in Ukraine remain complex and controversial, reflecting the country’s diverse linguistic and cultural heritage and political and historical context.


What is the official language of Ukraine?

The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. It is the most widely spoken language in the country, with over 67% of the population using it as their primary language.

Are there other languages spoken in Ukraine?

Several other languages are spoken in Ukraine, including Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Polish. These languages are recognized as regional and often used in specific regions where ethnic minority groups live.

Is it difficult to learn Ukrainian?

Like any language, learning Ukrainian can be challenging, especially for non-native speakers. However, with the right resources and dedication, anyone can learn Ukrainian. The Ukrainian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which may take some time to master.

Do most people in Ukraine speak English?

English is not widely spoken in Ukraine, especially outside of major cities. However, many younger Ukrainians are learning English in school and through language programs, so you may find people who can speak English in tourist areas or businesses with international clients.

Is it necessary to know Ukrainian to visit Ukraine?

While knowing Ukrainian to visit Ukraine is unnecessary, learning some basic phrases can make your trip more enjoyable and help you connect with the locals. Ukrainians appreciate visitors who try to speak their language, which can enhance your overall travel experience. Additionally, many signs and documents in Ukraine are written in Ukrainian, so knowing some basic vocabulary can be helpful.

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