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August 5, 2020

Russian pronouns are easier than you think (complete tables + examples)

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.

Example:

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:

  • Nominative case: subject of the sentence. Does the action.
  • Accusative case: object of the sentence. The action is done directly to him.
  • Genitive case: own of something. Can be translated as ‘’of’’
  • Dative case: indirect receiver. Gets the result of the action
  • Instrumental case: the action is done with the noun in the instrumental case.
  • 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)

I/meYouHe/himShe/ herIt
NominativeЯТыОнОнаОно
AccusativeМеняТебяЕгоЕёЕго
GenitiveМеняТебяЕгоЕёЕго
DativeМнеТебеЕмуЕйЕму
Instrumental МнойТобойИмЕйИм
Prepositional МнеТебеНёмНейНём

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, UsYouThey, Them
Nominative МыВыОни
AccusativeНасВасИх
GenitiveНасВасИх
Dative НамВамИм
InstrumentalНамиВамиИми
PrepositionalНасВасНих

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.

My/MineMasc.Fem.Neut.Plural
Nominative МойМояМоёМои
Accusative
(animate)
Мой
Моего
МоюМоёМои
Моих
Genitive МоегоМоейМоегоМоих
Dative МоемуМоейМоемуМоим
Instrumental МоимМоейМоимМоими
Prepositional МоёмМоейМоёмМоих
Your/yoursMasc.Fem.Neut.Plural
Nominative ТвойТвояТвоёТвои
Accusative
(animate)
Твой
Твоего
ТвоюТвоёТвои
Твоих
Genitive ТвоегоТвоейТвоегоТвоих
Dative ТвоемуТвоейТвоемуТвоим
Instrumental ТвоимТвоейТвоимТвоими
Prepositional ТвоёмТвоейТвоёмТвоих

Russian plural possessive pronouns

Just like with regular personal pronouns, the plural possessive pronouns are basically: ours, yours and theirs.

OurMasc.Fem.Neut.Plural
Nominative НашНашаНашеНаши
Accusative
(animate)
Наш
Нашего
НашуНашеНаши
Наших
Genitive НашегоНашейНашегоНаших
Dative НашемуНашейНашемуНашим
Instrumental НашимНашейНашимНашими
Prepositional НашемНашейНашемНаших
Your/yoursMasc.Fem.Neut.Plural
NominativeВашВашаВашеВаши
Accusative
(animate)
Ваш
Вашего
ВашуВашеВаши
Ваших
Genitive ВашегоВашейВашегоВаших
Dative ВашемуВашейВашемуВашим
Instrumental ВашимВашейВашимВашими
Prepositional ВашемВашейВашемВаших

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.
Nominative
Accusative Себя
GenitiveСебя
DativeСебе
InstrumentalСебой
PrepositionalСебе

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
Masc.Neut.Neut.Plural
Nominative СвойСвояСвоёСвои
Accusative
(animate)
Свой
Своего
СвоюСвоёСвои
Своих
Genitive СвоегоСвоейСвоегоСвоих
Dative СвоемуСвоейСвоемуСвоим
Instrumental СвоимСвоейСвоимСвоими
Prepositional СвоёмСвоейСвоёмСвоих

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, themselvesMasc.Fem.NeutPlural
Nominative СамСамаСамоСами
Accusative
(animate)
Сам
Самого
СамуСамоСами
Самих
Genitive СамогоСамойСамогоСамих
Dative СамомуСамойСамомуСамим
Instrumental СамимСамойСамимСамими
Prepositional СамомСамойСамомСамих

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.

This

Masc.Fem.NeutPlural
Nominative ЭтотЭтаЭтоЭти
Accusative
(animate)
Этот
Этого
ЭтуЭтоЭти
Этих
Genitive ЭтогоЭтойЭтогоЭтих
Dative ЭтомуЭтойЭтомуЭтим
Instrumental ЭтимЭтойЭтимЭтими
Prepositional ЭтомЭтойЭтомЭтих

That

Masc.Fem.Neut.Plural
Nominative ТотТаТоТе
Accusative
(animate)
Тот
Того
ТуТоТе
Тех
Genitive ТогоТойТогоТех
Dative ТомуТойТомуТем
Instrumental ТемТойТемТеми
Prepositional ТомТойТомТех

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:

Masc.Fem.Neut.Plural
Nominative ВесьВсяВсёВсе
Accusative
(animate)
Весь
Всего
ВсюВсёВсе
Всех
Genitive ВсегоВсейВсегоВсех
Dative ВсемуВсейВсемуВсем
Instrumental ВсемВсейВсемВсеми
Prepositional ВсёмВсейВсёмВсех

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?
WhatWho
Nominative CaseЧтоКто
Accusative CaseЧтоКого
Genitive CaseЧегоКого
Dative CaseЧемуКому
Instrumental CaseЧемКем
Prepositional CaseЧёмКом

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.

No.

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?

  1. take out a sheet of paper
  2. write on top of the sheet: “Russian personal pronouns”
  3. make 8 columns with 7 rows
  4. copy the table below 3 times
  5. (bonus) pronounce each word out loud as you speak it
I/meYouHe/himShe/ herIt
NominativeЯТыОнОнаОно
AccusativeМеняТебяЕгоЕёЕго
GenitiveМеняТебяЕгоЕёЕго
DativeМнеТебеЕмуЕйЕму
Instrumental МнойТобойИмЕйИм
Prepositional МнеТебеНёмНейНём

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 😉



Struggle with conversations in Russian? My book the Russian Conversational Blueprint gives you clear instructions and daily tasks to follow to get to an intermediate Russian level in the next 6 months. Learn more.


Related Posts

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All the Russian Possessive Pronouns in 1 Clear ‘Cheatsheet’

Author: Ari Helderman


I started learning Russian seriously in January 2016, and haven't stopped since. I created this site to help other foreigners speak Russian. You can follow my progress in Russian on my YouTube channel Ари Говорит по-русски.

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