Did you know that if you count ALL the Russian pronouns together…
… you’ll find more than 260 pronouns?
That’s a lot of pronouns that you need to remember.
Scary, right? There’s no need to worry though.
Many of them can be ‘deducted’ from adjectives, or used in different situations.
In reality, if you learn the 50 most common pronouns, you’ll get far. The rest you’ll learn on autopilot as you practice other aspects of Russian.
Let’s dive into the overview of all Russian pronouns 🙂
Overview of all Russian pronouns
Pronouns in any language are difficult. SInce they’ve existed for a long time, most of them are irregular.
The same goes for Russian.
Before we dive into all the tables of the pronouns, let’s first have a quick look again what pronouns actually are.
Pronouns simply put are words that can be used in place of nouns, so you don’t have to repeat the noun all the time.
John is traveling to Russian, because it is John’s dream to see Moscow and Saint Petersburg. John bought a ticket from Aeroflot in September and John will fly in December. That’s great for John because John has 2 more months to practice his Russian. John is looking forward a lot because finally John will see his dream in real life.
Sounds stupid and repetitive, right?
Let’s see it with personal pronouns:
John is traveling to Russian, because it is his dream to see Moscow and Saint Petersburg. He bought a ticket from Aeroflot in September and he will fly in December. That’s great for him because he has 2 more months to practice his Russian. He is looking forward a lot because finally he will see his dream in real life.
Sounds a lot more… nice.
So that are pronouns in a nutshell.
In this article we’ll first discuss the main personal and possessive pronouns (the ones used for persons).
Then we go over some demonstrative pronouns (this and that), and interrogative pronouns (what, who, which).
To spice things up, at the end you’ll find my 5 tips to master Russian pronouns the easy way.
Russian singular personal pronouns
These are the pronouns used for I, you, he, she and it.
As you see in the table, it’s mainly just words you need to memorize.
Don’t worry though. These words are so incredibly common that it’s impossible NOT to know them after a month of daily Russian practice.
As you see in the table below, Russian pronouns have cases. That means that they change according to their function in the sentence.
While English nouns don’t have any cases (anymore), you can still find a couple of cases with English pronouns.
He goes to France.
French people don’t like him.
See? In both sentence we’re talking about the same person.
Russian does this as well, only 10X more.
Here’s a quick overview of the cases again:
- Russian Nominative case: subject of the sentence. Does the action.
- Russian Accusative case: object of the sentence. The action is done directly to him.
- Russian Genitive case: own of something. Can be translated as ‘’of’’
- Russian Dative case: indirect receiver. Gets the result of the action
- Russian Instrumental case: the action is done with the noun in the instrumental case.
- Russian Prepositional case: indicates the location of the action.
This may sound vague, but it’s a quite complicated thing, that needs a couple 1000 words to explain correctly.
You can read more about Russian cases here)
Russian plural personal pronouns
The plural pronouns behave exactly the same as the singular pronouns, except there for we, you plural/polite and they.
|We, Us||You||They, Them|
Russian singular possessive pronouns
A possessive pronoun is when it indicates that something is from a person.
мой дом – my house
его страховка – his insurance
This can literally be translated from English.
There’s just 1 little snake under the grass…
… if you said cases, you’re completely right.
Possessive pronouns behave like adjectives. And that means that they also change according to the case the according noun is in.
500 метров до моего дома – 500 meter till my house
Мой changed into моего.
Anyways, check the article I mentioned earlier about cases for more information about this.
Let’s just dive into the table of possessive singular pronouns.
Russian plural possessive pronouns
Just like with regular personal pronouns, the plural possessive pronouns are basically: ours, yours and theirs.
Russian reflexive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are a beast on their own. It will take awhile to completely understand how exactly you should use them.
Still, the correct use of them is quite advanced. If you make any mistakes in them, it won’t harm your speech too much.
I’ve done my best to quickly explain when to use them, but each of the reflexive pronouns requires their own page for complete explanation.
Personal reflexive pronoun Себя
The pronoun себя means ‘self’. It’s used when the pronoun is the same person/thing as the subject.
So if you look in the mirror and see yourself, you’d say:
я вижу себя – I see myself
Он часто говорит о себе – he often speaks about himself
Here’s an overview of себя:
|Myself, himself, herself.|
Possessive reflexive pronoun свой
Свой is being used in approximately the same manner as себя, only now when it indicates possession.
Your friend looks in the mirror?
он видит свое лицо – he sees his (own) face
If you would have said “он видит его лицо”, it would have meant:
He sees his (someone else’s) face.
Still, this is quite advanced. Russians will highly likely still understand what you mean.
Here’s the table for the reflexive possessive pronoun:
|My own, his own, |
her own, their own
Emphatic pronoun Сам
Сам is a fun little word that Russians love to use to emphasize something. It means myself/yourself/himself etc.
я сам выучил русский – I learned Russian myself.
Here’s an overview of how сам changes:
|Myself, himself, herself, themselves||Masc.||Fem.||Neut||Plural|
Russian demonstrative pronouns
Demonstrative pronouns are used when pointing or indicating to something. Just like in English, ‘this’ is used for close things. And ‘that’ is used for things that are further away.
дай это мне – give it to me
Этому человеку нравится пицца, но тому человеку не нравится пицца – This person likes pizza, but that person does not like pizza.
Russian determinative pronouns
A determinative pronoun is basically the adjective ‘all’.
он выпил всю воду – he drank all the water
все хотят есть и спать – everyone want to eat and sleep.
Передай всем привет – say hi to everyone
Here are all the Russian determinative pronouns:
Russian interrogative pronouns
Interrogative pronouns are being used to ask questions. It may be a little difficult to see how words like ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘which’ and ‘whose’ could be used in a different case than the nominative, so here are some example:
- о чем ты думаешь? – about what are you thinking?
- кому вы отправили письмо? – to whom did you send the letter?
5 Tips to master Russian pronouns
That was a lot of new information about Russian pronouns.
It’s a lot to take in at once.
Luckily, you don’t have to.
Here are my 5 tips/strategies/mindsets to make sure you learn the pronouns correctly.
You will learn them with time
This is the main thing people need to understand with pronouns.
It’s a huge amount of information that you, simply put, just need to REMEMBER.
There are no tricks to magically memorize them.
It will take some time.
If you would want to, you’d be able to learn all the pronouns in a week or 2 of time.
But you don’t have to.
Simply following any Russian course + watching Russian series + daily speaking practice, will easily teach you all the pronouns in a couple of months.
And the main personal pronouns?
You’ll understand those in less than a week.
Sure, some may not spring to mind right away when you want to.
But they’re just so common that you’ll know them in no-time.
The more difficult stuff such as interrogative pronouns are more rare.
So for those ‘exposure therapy’ might not work.
Then again, they’re rarely used, so you kind of don’t even need to use them in your speech 🙂
Possessive/demonstrative/interrogative pronouns are surprisingly similar to adjectives
I challenge you to open this page, and compare normal adjectives with the possessive/demonstrative/interrogative pronouns on this page.
What do you see?
Virtually every ending for them is the same (for the same case/noun gender combination of course!)
That means that if you understand the adjectives for different cases and noun genders, you also understand the pronouns.
Half of all personal possessive pronouns are the same
You likely already noticed this while going over the tables…
его (his/its), её (her) and их (theirs) don’t change at all. It doesn’t matter in which case they are.
You just use the same possessive pronoun, that you use for the personal pronoun in the accusative and the genitive case.
And what about the other possessive pronouns in the genitive, dative, instrumental, and prepositional case?
They’re also EXACTLY the same.
So sure, you need to learn a lot of things. But by recognizing these things, you already virtually half the total information you need to learn.
Making a mistake doesn’t matter
I don’t mean this in the ‘life wisdom’ sense, that says that making mistakes is the way to success.
I mean it in the literal sense of the words.
Mistakes don’t matter with personal pronouns.
If you say:
я хочу видеть ты instead of я хочу видеть тебя (correct), everyone will still understand what you mean.
That’s the beauty.
Learning Russian puts in a very privileged spot, as so few people learn Russian.
Russian people don’t care about your mistakes.
So you can take your time to learn the correct pronouns, while already practicing speaking.
Alright, in this article I’ve tried to convince you to care LESS about pronouns than you think you should.
The biggest problem when you want to learn Russian is not speaking enough.
And overthinking little things is a surefire way to block yourself from getting the necessary speaking practice required to become conversational in Russian.
Still, the final tip will be useful to practice memorizing the Russian pronouns:
Write them down + speak it out loud
The single best way to quickly memorize new words is to actively engage with them.
What do I mean by actively engaging?
That you DO something with them.
It doesn’t really matter what exactly.
One easy way to do something is to simply copy them.
Struggle with the personal pronouns in the singular form?
- take out a sheet of paper
- write on top of the sheet: “Russian personal pronouns”
- make 8 columns with 7 rows
- copy the table below 3 times
- (bonus) pronounce each word out loud as you speak it
Do the literal copying for 3 days. It will take you 5 minutes per day, 15 minutes total.
On day 4, switch the paper, and try to reconstruct the table without looking at the correct answers.
If you have less than 75% (3 out of 4) pronouns correct, do another 3 days of copying.
If you have more than 75% of words correct, you’ve graduated.
The other 25% will come with time and general Russian practice.
You can repeat this for every other table of pronouns if you like.
Enjoy your newfound knowledge of cases 😉
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