Russian Language Grammar

    Impersonal Verbs

Impersonal verbs occur in two types of sentences.

1.   When the sentence has no subject:

Темнеть:  темнеет.

It is getting dark.

Светать:   светает.

It is getting light;  dawn is breaking.

Морозить:   морозит.

It is freezing.

2.   When the sentence has a logical subject but no grammatical one.  This logical subject may be in the dative or in the accusative.

   (a)   In the dative case: 

Хотеться:   мне хочется.

I feel like.

Казаться:   вам кажется.

It seems to you.

Нездоровиться:   ему нездоровится.

He does not feel well.

   (b)   In the accusative case: 

Тошнить:   меня тошнит.

I feel nauseous.

Знобить:   меня знобит.

I have chills.

Лихорадить:   её лихорадит.

She has a fever.

Usage of Impersonal  Verbs

1.   Impersonal verbs are used only in the third person singular. In the past tense they take the neuter ending:

Уже светает.

It is already getting light.

Всю ночь морозило.

It was freezing all night.

2.   The logical subject may be any person, singular or plural:

Мне хотелось.

I felt like.

Вам нездоровилось.

You didn't feel well.

Им казалось.

It seemed to them.

3.   Impersonal verbs are used in the infinitive, indicative (common), and conditional moods. They are not used in the imperative.

4.   There are some verbs which occur in both personal and impersonal constructions:

Ветер дует.

The wind is blowing.   (personal)

В коридоре дует.

There is a draft in the corridor.   (impersonal)

Небо темнеет.

The sky is getting dark.   (personal)

На дворе темнеет.

It is getting dark outside.   (impersonal)

5.   Many verbs, when they become impersonal, acquire a figurarive meaning:

Будет с вас!

You've had enough.   (быть, lit. to be)

Мне не везёт.

I have no luck.   (везти, lit. to drive, to cart)

He стоит спорить.

There's no use arguing.   (стоить, lit. to cost)