Ukrainian makes contrasts between palatalized "soft" and unpalatalized "hard" consonants. Palatalized consonants, denoted by a superscript ‹aj› / ʲ /, are pronounced with the body of the tongue raised toward the hard palate, in a manner similar to the ‹ay› sound in yes. All Ukrainian consonants except /j/ have a soft and hard variant, however this distinction is phonemic for only nine pairs—aafor the others the distinction can be ignored.
See Ukrainian phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Ukrainian.
↑The "soft" vowel letters ‹aє, ї, ю, яa› represent a /j/ plus a vowel when initial or following other vowels.
↑In Ukrainian, geminates are found between vowels: бaaаaaгaaаaaтaaтaaя /bɑaaɦaaɑaatʲaaːaaɑ/bonfire, пaaоaaдaaрaaуaaжaaжaaя /pɔaadruʒaaʲaaːaaɑ/married couple, оaaбaaлaaиaaчaaчaaя face. Geminates also occur at the start of a few words: лaaлaaяaaнaaиaaй /lʲaaːaaɑaanɪaaj/flaxen, forms of the verb лaaиaaтaaи to pour (лaaлaaю /lʲaaːaau/, лaaлaaєaaш /lʲaaːaaɛaaʃ/ etc.), сaaсaaаaaтaaи /sːaaɑaatɪ/to suck and derivatives.