14.7 - Verbs and cases

In a simple sentence, the subject of the verb is in the nominative and the direct object is in the accusative. Additionally, if there is an indirect object, this will be in the dative, as in the following sentence:

надіслала Олегові (Олегу)
sent (to) Oleh
indirect object
a letter
direct object

To revise these cases and their use in sentences go to page 5.2.

Apart from verbs used in straightforward sentences, as above, there are a number of verbs in Ukrainian with which specific cases are used (which govern those cases).


Principal uses of the genitive case are:

  • with partitives, which refer to part of a whole object or mass
  • with negatives, particularly when it is the verb which is negated, rather than the object of the verb
  • with verbs of wanting, desiring, demanding, wishing, including бажати, боятися, шкодувати, бракувати
  • with verbs of experiencing, suffering, inflicting etc. including зазнавати, завдавати.
partitive: Випий води.

Compare with:
Випий воду, що у склянці.
Drink some water.

Drink (all) the water which is in the glass.
negative: Ми написали лист.

Compare with:
Ми не написали листа.

Ми не надіслали лист, а поштівку.
We wrote a/the letter.

We didn't write the letter.

We didn't send a letter, only a postcard.
verbs of wanting, etc: Бажаємо Вам успіху! We wish you success!
verbs of experiencing, etc: В цьому році банки зазнали збитків. In this year the banks suffered losses.


Principal uses of the dative case are:

  • to denote an indirect object, as in giving, showing, telling something to someone, including the verbs розповідати, відповідати, заважати, допомагати, сприяти, вірити, дякувати
  • in impersonal constructions, including подобається, сниться, здається
  • with teaching and learning verbs including навчати (когось чόмусь), навчатися, вчитися (but please note that the genitive may also be used with these verbs.
indirect object: Україна має сприяти, а не заважати іноземним інвесторам. Ukraine should be helping, not hindering, foreign investors.
impersonal: Студентам сподобалося львівське пиво. The students liked Lviv beer (Lviv beer was pleasing to the students).
teaching/learning: Студенти матимуть можливість навчатися різним предметам, зокрема, іноземним мовам. The students will be able to study various subjects, including foreign languages.


Principal uses of the instrumental case are:

  • with verbs requiring an "instrument" of the action, including володіти, завідувати, керувати
  • with reflexive verbs requiring a target for the action, including користуватися, піклуватися, займатися, цікавитися, опікуватися
  • with verbs in the passive, to denote the agent of the action (discussed further in Unit 16)
  • with verbs of being, becoming and seeming, including бути, стати, виглядати, where the predicate is in the instrumental.
instrument: Якими мовами ви володієте? Which languages do you speak? (Which languages do you have mastery of?)
target with reflexives: Міськрада опікується дитячими садками. The town council looks after children's nurseries.
agent with reflexives: Невідомо, ким була написана стаття. It's not known who the article was written by.
predicate: Сьогодні бути письменником – нелегко.

Compare with:
Він – письменник.
Being a writer these days isn't easy.

He (is a) writer.

N.B. The above list of the uses of specific cases is not an exhaustive one, aiming, rather, to indicate the range of meanings which can be expressed. The use of prepositions with verbs, and the related case governance, is presented in Unit 16.

Exercise 14.7A

Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala