Personal pronouns

Ли́чные местоиме́ния

Introduction    Введе́ние

Personal pronouns can be used in place of a noun to indicate who or what is performing an action. They answer the questions Кто? (Who?) and Что? (What?).

The personal pronouns have three different “persons”. The first person is used to indicate the speaker or writer (я I/me, мы we/us). The second person is used to indicate the addressee, i.e. the person that is being addressed (ты, вы you). The third person is used to indicate the person(s) or object(s) that are being spoken about (он he/him, она́ she/her, оно́ it, они́ they).

Russian has two different pronouns for the second person singular you. The singular ты is used in informal situations with friends, family, and colleagues. It may also be used if you are an adult speaking to a child. The plural вы is used in formal and polite situations to refer to both singular and plural you. It would be preferred when you first meet someone.

Declension    Склоне́ние

Personal pronouns are declined according to case, number, and gender (in the third person singular).

1st 2nd 3rd
Masc. Neut. Fem.
I/me you he/him it she/her
Nominative я ты он оно́ она́
Accusative меня́ тебя́ его́ её
Dative мне тебе́ ему́ ей
Instrumental мной (мно́ю) тобо́й (тобо́ю) им ей (е́ю)
Prepositional мне тебе́ нём ней
Plural Reflexive
1st 2nd 3rd
we/us you they/them -self
Nominative мы вы они́
Accusative нас вас их себя́
Dative нам вам им себе́
Instrumental на́ми ва́ми и́ми собо́й (собо́ю)
Prepositional нас вас них себе́
  • The alternative Instrumental forms мно́ю, тобо́ю, etc. may occur in poetic or colloquial style.
  • When a preposition comes before a third person pronoun, it is prefixed with н-, e.g. у него́, у неё, etc.
  • The letter “г” in the genitive/accusative form is pronounced as “в”, e.g. его́ is pronounced as ево́.
  • English “it” can be translated as оно́ (neuter 3rd person singular pronoun) or э́то (neuter proximal demonstratitive “this”), e.g. Кто э́то? (What is this?)
  • Вы is capitalized when used to address one person in formal terms.
  • Third person singular pronouns (он, оно, она) must agree in gender with the nouns they refer to, e.g. Где кни́га? (Where’s the book?) – Она́ на столе́. (It’s on the table.); Э́то цвето́к. Он краси́вый. (This is a flower. It’s beautiful.)

Examples of personal pronouns are listed below.

Меня́ зову́т Серге́й. — My name is Sergei.
Мне два́дцать шесть лет. — I am twenty-six years old.
Ему́ нра́вится чита́ть. — He likes to read
Она спра́шивала обо мне́? — Did she ask about me?
Я ничего́ о не́й не зна́ю. — I know nothing about her.

Reflexive Pronoun себя́    Возвра́тное местоиме́ние себя́

The reflexive personal pronoun себя́ refers back to the subject of the clause that it occurs in. It is declined according to case. It has the same form for all persons, i.e. it doesn’t change for gender or number.

Он посмотре́л на себя́ в зе́ркало. — He looked at himself in the mirror.
Она́ ду́мает то́лько о себе́. — She thinks only of herself.
Закро́й за собо́й дверь. — Close the door behind you.

Below are some idiomatic expressions with себя.

брать с собо́й — to take along
вести́ себя́ — to behave
представля́ть себе́ — to imagine
чу́вствовать себя́ — to feel
вы́йти из себя́ — to lose one’s temper