17.6 - Adjectival loose ends

The material in this unit does not aim to exhaust the topic of adjectives. However, a few additional miscellaneous points are mentioned below, as you are likely to come across them sooner or later:

Short forms

The short forms of the masculine singular pronouns/adjectives кожен, сам were presented on page 17.4. In addition to these, a number of other adjectives (18 in total) have short forms, including варт, винен, здоров, певен, повинен, потрібен, згоден. For the purposes of reading texts these only need to be recognised. Otherwise their declension is normal.

Long forms

One can sometimes see long forms of adjectives for feminine singular adjectives in nominative and accusative (-ая, -ую endings), neuter singular and all plurals in the nominative (-еє, -ії), in songs, poetry or folkloric texts. These endings are no longer in use in contemporary standard Ukrainian, but they are very useful if you're short of a syllable when writing poetry! Note how, in the text below, long forms are used in the first line, and short forms in the second, to fit in with the metre:

Чорнії брови, карії очі,
Темні, як нічка, ясні як день...
O dusky brows, o sable eyes,
Dark as the night, bright as the day ...
(Слова: Костянтин Думитрашко, 1854 р.) (Popular song, lyrics by
Kostiantyn Dumytrashko, 1854


There are a couple of constructions in which adjectives take on a life of their own, and do not agree completely with the noun(s) they refer to.

  • When a plural subject has been formed by merging two or more identical singular nouns, the adjectives describing that plural subject remain in the singular. For example, the phrase українська мова та англійська мова (the Ukrainian language and the English language) contains redundancy, so the two instances of мова are merged into a plural noun (with the adjectives remaining in the singular).
українська та англійська мови the Ukrainian and English languages
Він володіє українською та англійською мовами. He knows (the) Ukrainian and English (languages).
  • When an adjective is used in apposition to the subject, referring to the subject after verbs such as "be", "become" etc., it is used in the instrumental.
Цьогорічна конференція може бути останньою. This year's conference may be the last.
Коли будемо мати багато грошей, тоді (ми) станемо щасливими! When we have a lot of money, then we will (become) happy!


As should be clear by now, many adjectives are derived from nouns. When trying to identify these in a text, it is always useful to remember that consonants may change, for example, к may become ч (рікрічний; вовк вовчий).

Compound adjectives

Compound adjectives may be formed from a variety of components, as shown below. An adjective is usually hyphenated when its two components remain distinct in spite of being integrated into one word.

  • two adjectives describing separate components or characteristics:
українсько-англійський Ukrainian-English
історико-археологічний historical and archaeological
  • two adjectives combining to denote one characteristic:
жовтогарячий orange (literally fiery yellow)
  • noun + adjective, or noun + participle:
серпоподібний like a sickle, sickle-shaped
життєдайний life-giving
  • adjective + another derived from a noun:
синьоокий blue-eyed
  • adverb + adjective:
важкозрозумілий difficult to understand
  • numeral + adjective or adjective derived from noun
триметровий 3-metre-long
десятиденний 10-day
  • pronoun + adjective
всесвітній (all-)world, universal

N.B. As can be seen from the above examples, English renderings of compound adjectives will vary considerable depending on the components of the adjective and the context. Translating these into English by means of hyphenated compound adjectives may not be the most appropriate rendering.

Exercise 17.6A

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