The Russian Personal Reflexive Pronoun
Most languages have a special pronoun which is used exclusively in predicates to replace a pronoun that would refer to the same object as the subject refers to. In English these pronouns usually contain self, e.g. I love myself, she loves herself, they love themselves.
Unfortunately, in English these pronouns have the same form as the nominal emphatic pronouns which simply emphasize some noun the the clause, e.g. I did it myself. In this sentence myself merely emphasizes the fact the I did it and not someone else. This function is expressed a different way in Russian.
The genuine reflexive is expressed in Russian by себя.
Russian Personal Reflexive Pronoun Case Example Gloss Genitive Он сейчас у себя в комнате. He is in his room right now. Accusative Он видел себя в зеркало. He saw himself in the mirror. Dative Она купила себе подарок. She bought herself a present. Prepositional Они думают только о себе. They think only about themselves. Instrumental Она довольна собой. She is satisfied with herself.
The Russian Possessive Reflexive Pronoun
In addition to the personal reflexive pronoun, there is also a possessive version in Russian: свой, своя, свое, свои. Again, this pronoun is used to refer to a possessor identical with the subject of a sentence. English has no correlate of the possessive reflexive pronoun; in English the regular possessive pronoun is used regardless of whether the reference is identical with the subject. Again, since it is reflexive in this sense, it cannot be used in the subject but only in the predicate of a clause.
The Russian Possessive Reflexive Pronoun Case Example Gloss Genitive Он сейчас живёт у своего брата. He lives with his brother right now. Accusative Он видел свою сестру в зеркало. He saw his sister in the mirror. Dative Она купила своему брату подарок. She bought her brother a present. Prepositional Они думают только о своей подруге. They think only about their friend. Instrumental Она довольна своими студентами. She is satisfied with her students.
The Russian Reciprocal Pronoun
Finally, Russian contains a set of reciprocal pronouns corresponding to English each other: друг друга. There are only a couple of things you need to remember about this pair. First, only the second one declines and it follows the noun declension of masculine nouns. Second, when used with a preposition, the preposition stands between them, e.g. Они всё мечтают друг о друге "They are always dreaming about each other". If you keep these two quirks in mind, your reciprocals will always properly reciprocate.
The Russian Reciprocal Pronoun Case Example Gloss Genitive Они бегут друг от друга. They run away from each other. Accusative Они видели друг друга в зеркало. They saw each other in the mirror. Dative Они купили друг другу подарки. They bought each other presents. Prepositional Они думают только друг о друге. They think only about each other. Instrumental Они довольны друг другом. They are satisfied with each other.
Notice that the quantity negative pronoun, несколько, has a different meaning, "several, a few", which is much more prevalent than its quatificational meaning.
Think you have it down? Let's see.
Let's Reflect on Reflexives
In the following exercises fill in the blank with the correct form of the correct pronoun, then check your answer by pushing the button on the right.
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