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Russian Personal Pronouns: A Beginner’s Guide



Personal pronouns are among the parts of speech you learn first when you study a language. It’s simply necessary to know how to say “I,” “we,” “they,” and so on. In this post, we’ll explore how we speak about ourselves and others in Russian. To study personal pronouns and other elements of Russian grammar, work with a tutor.


Why Do We Need Personal Pronouns?

Generally, personal pronouns help to avoid repetition. They are used as substitutes for nouns. Instead of naming subjects, they just refer to them.

  • Это стол. Он круглый. (Eto stol. On kruglyi.)

  • This is a table. It has a round shape.

In the second sentence in the example, we don’t use the word “table,” we use the pronoun “он” (on) as a substitute for “table.” Note that unlike in English, in Russian inanimate objects have gender, so if you want to use a pronoun instead of a noun, you need to determine the noun’s gender first.


Personal Pronouns in Russian

Let’s take a look at personal pronouns in Russian:

  • я (ya) – I

  • ты (ty) – you

  • он/она/оно (on/ona/ono) – he/she/it

  • мы (my) – we

  • Вы (Vy) – you

  • они (oni) – they

We use them in sentences in the following ways:

  • Я иду в кино. (Ya idu v kino)

  • I go to the cinema.

  • Ты ешь пиццу. (Ty esh’ pizu)

  • You eat pizza.

  • Он читает книгу. (On chitaet knigu)

  • He reads a book.

  • Мы гуляем. (My gulyaem)

  • We walk.

  • Вы с нами? (Vy s nami?)

  • Are you with us?

  • Они собираются домой. (Oni sobiraiutsya domoi)

  • They’re going home.

Remember that you can use the pronoun “ты” (ty) only with close friends. When you don’t know a person well, it’s better to address them as “Вы” (Vy).


The Characteristics of Russian Pronouns

Personal pronouns in Russian have characteristics such as person, number, gender, and case.


The Three Persons

Personal pronouns in Russian have three persons: the first, the second, and the third. Pronouns “я” (ya) and “мы” (my) refer to the speaker and are first-person pronouns. The second person describes a person you’re talking to, so “ты” (ty) and “Вы” (Vy) are second-person pronouns. They refer to one or more people. Third-person pronouns refer to a person or an object that is being discussed. They are “он” (on), “она” (ona), “оно” (ono), and “они” (oni).

Number

Personal pronouns in Russian can be either singular or plural. The pronouns “я” (ya), “ты” (ty), “он” (on), “она” (ona), and “оно” (ono) are singular, while “мы” (my), “Вы” (Vy), and “они” (oni) are plural.


Gender

Some personal pronouns have their own gender. “Он” (on) is masculine, “она” (ona) is feminine, and “оно” (ono) is neuter.


Case

Russian pronouns also change by case. The case indicates what role a noun plays in a sentence, which is particularly important because of the flexible word order in Russian sentences. The six Russian cases are the nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, and prepositional cases.


Let’s take the pronoun “я” (ya) as an example. In the nominative case, it is “я” (ya), in the genitive “меня” (menya), in the dative “мне” (mne), in accusative also “меня” (menya), in the instrumental “мной” (mnoi), and in the prepositional “мне” (mne).


Therefore, depending on the case in a sentence, you must use a particular form of the pronoun.


Remember these six Russian pronouns. You will need them for building sentences and for everyday conversations. To speak Russian fluently, work with a teacher.

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