Languages of Ukraine
Native languages in Ukraine, 2001 census
  1. English
  2. German
  3. French
  4. Spanish
  5. Italian
  6. Arabic
SignedUkrainian Sign Language
Keyboard layout

The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, a Slavic language, which is spoken regularly by 88% of Ukraine's population at home in their personal life,[1] and as high as 87% at work or study. It is followed by Russian which is spoken by 34% in their personal life.[2]

Language and daily life

As of 2022, 81% of the population of Ukraine speak the Ukrainian language in their personal life, at the same time 34% speak Russian, meaning that significant portion of Ukrainian residents constituting 19% of people speak both languages regularly.[2]

2001 national census

According to the first (and so far only) population census of 2001, ethnic Ukrainians make up 77.8% of the population. Other ethnic groups are Russians (17.3%), Belarusians (0.6%), Romanians (including Moldovans) (0.8%), Crimean Tatars (0.5%), Bulgarians (0.4%), Hungarians (0.3%), Poles (0.3%), Jews (0.2%), Armenians (0.2%), Greeks (0.2%), Karaites (>0.1%), Krymchaks (>0.1%) and Gagauzes (0.1%).[3]

The following table gives the native languages (but not necessarily the languages spoken at home) with their number of speakers according to the 2001 Ukrainian Census:[4]

  Ukrainian (67.53%)
  Russian (29.59%)
  Crimean Tatar (0.48%)
  Other (2.4%)
Language Speakers Total
Ukrainian 32,577,468 67.53%
Russian 14,273,670 29.59%
Romanian (including

defunct Moldovan)

327,703 0.67%
Crimean Tatar 231,382 0.48%
Hungarian 161,618 0.34%
Bulgarian 134,396 0.28%
Belarusian 56,249 0.12%
Armenian 51,847 0.11%
Gagauz 23,765 0.05%
Romani 22,603 0.05%
Polish 19,195 0.04%
German 4,206 0.01%
Greek 6,029 0.01%
Hebrew 3,307 0.01%
Slovak 2,768 0.01%
Karaim 96 0.00%
Other 143,163 0.30%
Not indicated 201,437 0.42%
Total 48,240,902 100%

Not included in the table above are Rusyn with 6,725 speakers as of 2001,[5] Ukrainian Sign Language (54,000 in 2008), Eastern Yiddish (11,500 in 2007), Urum (95,000 in 2000, often included under Tatar), and Krymchak (200 as of 2007). The varieties of Romani represented are Vlax, Carpathian and Balkan.[6] There are also speakers of the Gammalsvenska dialect of Swedish (at least 10 fluent and perhaps 150 with some knowledge as of 2014).[citation needed]

Regional languages

Main article: Legislation on languages in Ukraine

Ethnologue lists 40 minority languages and dialects in Ukraine; nearly all are native to the former Soviet Union.

As a result of legislation entitled the "Bill on the principles of the state language policy", which was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in August 2012, languages spoken by at least 10% of an oblast's population were made possible to be elevated to the status of 'regional language'. Whilst Ukrainian remained the country's only 'official' language nationwide, other languages, dependent on their adoption by oblast authorities, became accepted mediums of communication in education, local government offices, courts and official correspondence.[7]

In February 2014, the Verkhovna Rada abolished the law on regional languages. In spite of this, then Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov refused to sign this decision. In October 2014 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine started reviewing the constitutionality of the law,[8] and on 28 February 2018 it ruled the law unconstitutional.[8] According to the Council of Europe, this act fails to achieve fair protection of the linguistic rights of minorities.[9]

Foreign languages

A survey conducted in July 2023 found that almost 44% of respondents, the vast majority, said they did not know English at all. At the same time, 26.9% of respondents said they could understand some words and simple phrases, but could not read, write or speak English at all. 19.2% of Ukrainians said they could read, write or speak some English, but not well. Among those surveyed, 7.5% can read, write and speak English, but not fluently. In contrast, only 1.1% of respondents are fluent in English.[10]

Surveys using alternative methodolgy

According to research data from the Kyiv National Linguistic University, currently not displayed on its website but preserved, in particular, on ‘’,[11] as of 2009, a somewhat different picture was observed in the use of Ukrainian and Russian languages in everyday communication by Ukrainian citizens.

Gallup Poll results underscore the prevalence of national language use over Russian; when asked in what language they preferred to conduct the Gallup interview, only respondents in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus overwhelmingly chose Russian. Ukraine and Kazakhstan retain larger Russian populations. In Belarus, where the interethnic differences between the Belarusians and Russians are minimal, Russian is one of the official languages.

Also, earlier in 2008, according to Gallup Institute research, it was found that 83% of Ukrainian citizens chose to fill out (and did fill out) a questionnaire in Russian.[12] The methodology was that the survey was not related to the topic of language, but the questionnaires themselves were in three versions: in Russian, Ukrainian, and English. Thus, a result was achieved that was not related to the national or ideological identification of the respondents, with the results presented in the table above.

Historical facts

Language Composition in 1897

  Ukrainian (73%)
  Russian (11%)
  Yiddish (9%)
  German (2%)
  Polish (2%)
  Belarusian (1%)
  Romanian (1%)
  Other (1%)

According to the Russian Imperial Census of 1897 on the territory of the nine Russian Governorates in modern Ukraine yielded the following results:[citation needed]

Early 21st century

In an October 2009 poll by a Russian political sociology company FOM-Ukraine of 1,000 respondents, 52% stated they use Russian as their "Language of communication"; while 41% of the respondents state they use Ukrainian and 8% stated they use a mixture of both.[13]

A March 2010 poll[14] by Research & Branding Group showed that 65% considered Ukrainian as their native language and 33% Russian. This poll also showed the standard of knowledge of the Russian language (free conversational language, writing and reading) in current Ukraine is higher (76%) than the standard of knowledge of the Ukrainian language (69%). More respondents preferred to speak Ukrainian (46%) than Russian (38%) with 16% preferring to speak both in equal manner.

A poll held November 2009 revealed that 54.7% of the population of Ukraine believed the language issue in Ukraine was irrelevant, that each person could speak the language they preferred and that a lot more important problems existed in the country; 14.7% of those polled stated that the language issue was an urgent problem that could not be postponed and that calls for immediate resolution; another 28.3% believed that, while the language issue needed to be resolved, this could be postponed.[15]

An August 2011 poll by Razumkov Centre showed that 53.3% of the respondents use the Ukrainian language in everyday life, while 44.5% use Russian.[16]

In a May 2012 poll by RATING, 50% of respondents considered Ukrainian their native language, 29% Russian, 20% consider both Ukrainian and Russian their mother tongue and 1% considered a different language their native language.[17]

In an 11–23 December 2015 study by the Razumkov Centre taken in all regions of Ukraine other than Russian-annexed Crimea, and separatist controlled Donetsk, and Luhansk, a majority considered Ukrainian their native language (60%), followed by Russian (15%), while 22% used both languages equally. Two percent had another native language. For the preferred language of work, an equal amount chose either Ukrainian or Russian (37%) and 21% communicated bilingually. The study polled 10,071 individuals and held a 1% margin of error.[18][19]

According to the survey carried out by RATING on 16-20 August 2023, almost 60% of the polled usually speak Ukrainian at home, about 30% – Ukrainian and Russian, only 9% – Russian. Since March 2022, the use of Russian in everyday life has been noticeably decreasing. For 82 per cent of respondents, Ukrainian is their mother tongue, and for 16 per cent, Russian is their mother tongue. IDPs and refugees living abroad are more likely to use both languages for communication or speak Russian. Nevertheless, more than 70 per cent of IDPs and refugees consider Ukrainian to be their native language.[20]

List of Mentioned Regions




Language policy

Main articles: Language policy in Ukraine and Law of Ukraine "On protecting the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language"

In November 2016, a new rule came into force requiring Ukraine's radio stations to play a quota of Ukrainian-language songs each day. The law also requires TV and radio broadcasters to ensure 60% of programs such as news and analysis are in Ukrainian.[21]

In September 2017, Ukraine instituted a similar policy on languages in public education. The law required that schools use Ukrainian, the national language, in all classes that did not require a second language.[citation needed] The exception from this being language classes that would be taught using "English or other official languages of the European Union."[22] The new spelling version was adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in May 2019.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Читомо (2023-02-28). "Понад 20% українців почали частіше використовувати українську мову". (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2024-01-24.
  2. ^ a b "Мова та ідентичність в Україні на кінець 2022-го". Збруч (in Ukrainian). 2023-01-07. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  3. ^ Opinion on the law on Supporting the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the State language (PDF) (Report). Venice Commission. 9 December 2019. p. 3. CDL-AD(2019)038. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  4. ^ "Table 19A050501 02. Distribution of the population of Ukraine's regions by native language (0,1)". Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Чисельність осіб окремих етнографічних груп украінського етносу та їх рідна мова". (in Ukrainian). Database of State Statistics Committee of Ukraine. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  6. ^ Eberhard, David M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2019). "Ukraine – Languages". Ethnologue (22nd ed.). SIL International.
  7. ^ "Russian becomes regional language in three more regions in Ukraine".
  8. ^ a b Constitutional Court declares unconstitutional language law of Kivalov-Kolesnichenko, Ukrinform (28 February 2018)
  9. ^ "New Language Requirement Raises Concerns in Ukraine". Human Rights Watch. 19 January 2022.
  10. ^ "44% of Ukrainians said they did not know English at all". 2 April 2022.
  11. ^ "From Russification to Ukrainisation: A survey of language politics in Ukraine - New Cold War: Know Better". 2 June 2009.
  12. ^ "Russian Language Enjoying a Boost in Post-Soviet States". August 2008.
  13. ^ "ФОМ > Мнения и взгляды населения Украины в сентябре - октябре 2009 года". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Маркетинговые, социологические и политические исследования - R&B Group". Retrieved 8 October 2017.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Poll: more than half of Ukrainians did not consider language issue pressing, Kyiv Post (November 25, 2009)
  16. ^ "Опитування: більшість українців спілкуються вдома українською мовою". Archived from the original on 8 April 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  17. ^ The language question, the results of recent research in 2012, RATING (25 May 2012)
  18. ^ "Українці стали частіше розмовляти українською". Українська правда. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  19. ^ "КОНСОЛІДАЦІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОГО СУСПІЛЬСТВА : ШЛЯХИ, ВИКЛИКИ, ПЕРСПЕКТИВИ : Інформаційно-аналітичні матеріали" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Соціологічне дослідження до Дня Незалежності: УЯВЛЕННЯ ПРО ПАТРІОТИЗМ ТА МАЙБУТНЄ УКРАЇНИ (16-20 серпня 2023)".
  21. ^ "Ukraine imposes language quotas for radio playlists". BBC News. 8 November 2016.
  22. ^ "New education law becomes effective in Ukraine". September 28, 2017. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  23. ^ "Міністерство освіти і науки України - Український правопис (2019)". Archived from the original on 2019-06-03. Retrieved 2021-04-19.