Russian Language Lessons

Russian Personal and Possessive Pronouns

Grammar for the Lesson

Free Russian lessons

Punctuation for the Lesson

Russlanlosso

Idioms for the Lesson

Lesson of the Russia

Exercises for Lesson "Russian Personal and Possessive Pronouns"

Exercise A

Russlanlosso

Exercise B

Russian language lessons free

Exercise C

Russian language lessons

Exercise D

Free Russian language lessons

Exercise E

Free Russian lessons

Exercise F

Russlanlosso

Exercise G

Russian lesson

Grammar Summary 

Russian Personal Pronouns

There are nine personal pronouns in the Russian language, which change in gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and number (singular and plural). Here they are: 

  • я [ja] – I, me

  • ты [ty] – you (sing.) The pronoun ты refers to only one person.

When we address an adult person whom we don‘t know or whom we respect (elderly, famous, well-thought-of, etc.) we use the polite pronoun Вы:

  • Вы [vy] – you (polite). It should be written with the capital letter “B”.

The pronouns он, она, оно (which are the equivalents of he, she, it) are used to denote people, animals and objects – both animate and inanimate:

  • он [on] – he, it

  • она [ana] – she, it

  • оно [ano] – it

In the plural, the pronouns он, она, оно are expressed by the pronoun они:

  • они [ani] – they

The plural of the pronoun я is мы:

  • мы [my] – we

The plural of the pronoun ты is вы:

  • вы [vy] – you (plural).

 

Let’s take one more look at them:

Singular

Plural

я   (I, me)

мы   (we)

ты   (you)

вы   (you)

Вы   (you – polite)

он   (he, it)

они   (they)

oна   (she, it)

oно   (it)

 

Russian Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns answer the question “whose?” and are formed from personal pronouns. Some of them also change in genders and numbers.

Russian personal pronouns я, ты, Вы, мы, вы have their possessive forms in masculine, feminine, neuter and the plural:

  • я (I)мой [moj] masc., моя [maja] fem., моё [majo] neut., мои [mai] pl. = my

  • ты (you sing.)твой [tvoj] masc., твоя [tvaja] fem., твоё [tvajo] neut., твои [tvai] pl. = your

The pronouns Вы and вы have the same possessive forms. They differ only in the capital letter “B”.

  • Вы / вы (you polite and plural)Ваш / ваш [vash] masc., Ваша / ваша [vasha] fem., Ваше / ваше [vashe] neut., Ваши / ваши [vashy] pl. = your

  • мы (we) наш [nash] masc., наша [nasha] fem., наше [nashe] neut., наши [nashy] pl. = our

Summing up, the pronouns я and ты have similar endings of their possessive forms. And so do Вы, вы and мы.

 

The pronouns он, она, оно, они have only one possessive form for all persons and numbers:

  • она (she, it) её [jijo] = her, its

  • они (they) их [ih] = their

The pronouns он and оно have the same possessive form:

  • он, оно (he, it) его [jivo] = his, its

 

Let’s take a look at the possessive pronouns once again:

Personal Pronoun

Possessive Pronoun

Masculine

Possessive Pronoun

Feminine

Possessive Pronoun

Neuter

Possessive Pronoun

Plural

Translation

я   (I, me)

мой

моя

моё

мои

my

ты   (you)

твой

твоя

твоё

твои

your (singular)

Вы   (you)

Ваш

Ваша

Ваше

Ваши

your (polite)

он   (he, it)

его

his, its

oна   (she, it)

её

her, its

oно   (it)

его

its

мы   (we)

наш

наша

наше

наши

our

вы   (you)

ваш

ваша

ваше

ваши

your (plural)

они   (they)

их

their

Curious Facts:

All about Russian Personal and Possessive Pronouns


Он, она, оно

   Despite the Cyrillic characters, Russian personal and possessive pronouns are similar to Romanic and Germanic languages: я yo (Spanish);  ты thou (Old English), toi (French), tu (Spanish);  вы vous (French);  мой my (English), mein (German);  наш notre (French), nuestro (Spanish);  ваш votre (French), vuestro (Spanish). Still, the third person pronouns are common only to Slavic languages.  

   Он  actually comes from the ancient Russian demonstrative pronoun оный which means “that one” (masc.). In the same way, она was formed from оная: “that one” (fem.), and  оно from оное:  “that one” (neut.).

   Он, она, and оно are usually translated into English as he, she, and it respectively; however, there is an important difference in their usage. The English pronouns he and she are normally used for people, while it implies inanimate objects or animals. In this respect, Russian resembles French, German or Spanish, as Russian pronouns он, она, оно can be substituted for any object, person, or phenomenon – independent from their animateness, i.e. il, elle (French);  er, sie, es (German);  él, ella (Spanish):

Russian

French

English

Это мой кот. Он чёрный. (masc.)

C’est un chat. Il est noir. (masc.)

This is my cat. It is black. (neut.)

Russian

Spanish

English

Это моя машина. Она красная. (fem.)

Este es mi coche. El es rojo. (masc.)

This is my car. It is red. (neut.)

Russian

German

English

Это дружба. Она крепкая. (fem.)

Das ist die Freundschaft. Sie ist fest. (fem.)

This is friendship. It is strong. (neut.)

 

Вы & я 

   Each language has its capitalization peculiarities. In German, for example, all nouns are capitalized. The English language is known for the capitalization of the personal pronoun I. Although the first-person personal pronoun я is not capitalized in Russian, the second person Выyou is, unlike English. 

You = ты, вы, Вы 

   In English, you is the polite pronoun, and since the informal thou has fallen out of use in the vernacular, you has replaced it, and is used in both formal and informal contexts. Taking this information into account, you can be translated in three different ways:  1) ты – “you” in the singular;  2) вы – “you” in the plural; and  3) Вы – the polite form of address to a person.

   The first variant – ты – corresponds with the archaic English pronoun thou. It used to have an objective form thee as well as a possessive form thy / thine which is the equivalent for the Russian possessive твой (твоя, твоё, твои).

   The third variant – Вы – as in English, may also be found in French (vous), German (Sie), and Spanish (usted). The use of Вы in Russian has only developed fairly recently. Up to the 18th century everybody in Russia addressed another person by ты, even if that person was a monarch:

Ты, государь, аки бог – и мала и велика чинишь”.

“You, sovereign, are like god – you do small and big deeds”.

from the letter of a nobleman Vasiliy Griaznoy to tzar Ivan the Terrible (1573)

However, under the rule of Peter the Great, a brand new word Вы became a practice. It was mostly due to the overwhelming influence of the French language and culture which in those times were considered the pink of perfection and genuine European style. Hence, echoing the French vous, since 1722 it was compulsory to say “Вы” and “Ваше благородие” (“your Nobleness”) to any person of a higher rank. Eventually by the 19th century addressing by Вы had grown normal and habitual within Russian speech.

   Writing the pronoun Вы with a small or capital letter is a matter of taste rather than a strict rule. Yet it is necessary to capitalize it in formal correspondence, official documents and printed media. Both forms of spelling can be found in literary works, personal letters, and on unofficial internet pages. (Вы is capitalized everywhere on our website so that you can easily tell the polite form from the plural вы.) 

Их  vs.  ихний

   The conventional possessive form of the pronoun они is их. In colloquial Russian speech, however, you will often come across a vernacular word ихний as well as its gender and number variations: ихняя, ихнее, ихние, which all have the same meaning – “their”. These pronouns have adjective endings (-ий, -яя, -ее, -ие) and each of them is declined in cases.  

  But despite being widely applied by masses in oral speech, as well as frequent occurrence in the writing of famous authors, such as  Dostoyevskiy, ихний is still considered a grammatically incorrect pronoun. Moreover, people using it are automatically taken for ignoramuses (but only by those who do know how to say it right Russian language lessons).

Incorrect

Correct


Это ихняя квартира.

Это их квартира.

This is their apartment.

А где ихний сын?

А где их сын?

And where is their son?

Я не люблю ихние песни.

Я не люблю их песни.

I don't like their songs.

   Similarly, in colloquial Russian speech the adjective endings can be also added to the singular possessive pronouns его (his, its) and её (her, its). As a result, we get words like евойный, евонный or ейный. But they occur much more rarely than the abovementioned ихний and are rather characteristic of Russian dialects. 

Мы as the Singular   

   The pronoun мы (we) is normally used for the plural, although in some cases it may imply just one person. Today, the singular "we" may be heard as part of a lighthearted pompousness:

Что такое? Мы сегодня не в духе? – What's wrong? Are we are out humor today?

instead of:

Что такое? Ты сегодня не в духе? – What’s wrong? Are you out of humor today?

Мы не хотим это пить. – We don’t feel like drinking it.

Я не хочу это пить. – I don’t feel like drinking it.

Нам скучно. – We are bored.

Мне скучно. – I am bored. (намand мне are objective forms of “мы” and “я”)

   Actually calling oneself мы used to be typical for Russian tzars. Back in the day a tzar was like a “king of kings and prince of princes” – one in plurality, so to speak.
   The application of a singular мы is simply ironic nowadays. A parent (usually a mother) often uses the first-person-plural when speaking about his/her child. Or else, it may be the way to show somebody that he/she is behaving whimsy and arrogant.

Declension of Pronouns

   Apart from changing in gender and number, Russian pronouns are also declined in cases. Most are declined like adjectives, and sometimes even have the same endings:

Это подарок твоему младшему сыну.  (Dative case)

This is a present for your younger son.

Я покажу тебе мою любимую книгу.  (Accusative case)

I will show you my favourite book.

Вот пояс от Вашего вечернего платья.  (Genitive case)

Here is the belt from your evening dress.

   See http://russianlearn.com/grammar/category/personal_pronouns and http://russianlearn.com/grammar/category/possessive_pronouns for more on declension of Russian personal and possessive pronouns.