While Duolingo has been a pretty fun introduction to the Ukrainian language, it clearly has some limitations with respect to explaining grammar rules, pronunciation and (obviously) writing.
So, a little while back I picked up a textbook on Ukrainian and it has been vastly helpful in filling in the blanks of my knowledge. For example the letters Я (ya) and Ю (yu) become “a” and “u” if they come after a consonant. Wish I had known that sooner.
Another area that the textbook helped with was writing Ukrainian. It turns out that Ukrainian has a cursive form of handwriting, it’s fairly different than “print” Ukrainian, and it’s frequently used, unlike cursive in English.1
Here is me practicing Ukrainian handwriting in my little notebook:
As mentioned earlier, some letters are noticeably different than the print version. The letter Т looks like a cursive “m”, while cursive М looks like the Greek letter μ (mu), while И looks like cursive “u”. Small letter д looks like a cursive “g”, while small б looks like Greek δ (delta), and so on. The word for dad, тато, in cursive looks like тато in cursive. The word вегетаріанець (vegetarian male) becomes вегетаріанець in cursive.2
At first, this feels pretty confusing, and tutorials on YouTube don’t always explain the nuances and differences clearly because they are taught by native speakers who just intuitively know. Thankfully, I have some pretty helpful resources shown below under “updates”.
In any case, what I can say as a non-native speaker, is that with time, practice, and a good textbook, it does eventually get easier and easier and in time your handwriting becomes more legible. Writing practice in any language can be a nice stress-reliever too. 🥳
Update: This book has been very helpful in clarifying Cyrillic (cursive and print) handwriting for Ukrainian:
Update 2: out of all the Ukrainian cursive handwriting videos, I’ve found this one the most useful:
1 I learned cursive writing when I was in grade school, but my children barely touched it. Personally, it’s a bit sad to see it fade away, but then again I never used it very much anyway, even before the Internet. Not everything is necessarily worth preserving.
2 As I learned while writing this, using italic font for a word converts it to cursive.