Appendix:Russian pronouns

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
Singular Plural
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
m f n
Nominative я (ja) ты (ty) он (on) она́ (oná) оно́ (onó) мы (my) вы (vy) они́ (oní)
Genitive меня́ (menjá) тебя́ (tebjá) его́ (jevó) её (jejó) его́ (jevó) нас (nas) вас (vas) их (ix)
Dative мне (mne) тебе́ (tebé) ему́ (jemú) ей (jej) ему́ (jemú) нам (nam) вам (vam) им (im)
Accusative меня́ (menjá) тебя́ (tebjá) его́ (jevó) её (jejó) его́ (jevó) нас (nas) вас (vas) их (ix)
Instrumental мной (mnoj)/мно́ю (mnóju) тобо́й (tobój)/тобо́ю (tobóju) им (im) ей (jej)/е́ю (jéju) им (im) на́ми (námi) ва́ми (vámi) и́ми (ími)
Prepositional (обо) мне (mne) (о) тебе́ (tebé) (о) нём (njóm) (о) ней (nej) (о) нём (njóm) (о) нас (nas) (о) вас (vas) (о) них (nix)
  • Russian is subject to T-V distinction. The respectful form of the singular you is the same as the plural form, but with a capital letter: Вы, Вас, Вам, etc. Compare the distinction between du, sie and Sie in German.
  • When a preposition is used directly before a 3rd-person pronoun, н- is prefixed: у него, с неё, etc. Because the prepositional case always occurs after a preposition, the third person prepositional always starts with an н-.

Second-person pronouns[edit]

In Russian, there are two second-person pronouns: ты (singular) and вы (plural). When referring to more than one person, вы is always used. When referring to one person, either of the two pronouns may be used, depending on the relationships between the speaker and the person referred to. "Вы" is formal, while "ты" is informal. It is impossible to define a complete set of rules for all situations, but below are some rules which usually apply:

  • Relatives, step-relatives, spouses, sex partners call each other "ты". This rule has higher priority than the others.
  • School-age (k12) and younger children are called "ты", with some exceptions for official situations, especially for teenagers aged 16 or older. Children also call each other "ты". Children call adults "вы".
  • Close friends call each other "ты", as do boyfriends and girlfriends. It is not always clear at which moment of time the friendship becomes close enough. Often, at some point of time it is explicitly proposed to start calling each other "ты" ("дава́йте перейдём на ты").
  • At schools, students are called "ты" and call each other "ты". They call teachers and staff "вы".
    • Same applies to other institutions for school-age and younger children (summer camps, children’s hospitals, kindergartens, etc.)
  • At institutions of higher education, students are called "вы" (even if under 16) and they call their teachers and staff "вы". They mostly call each other "ты".
  • Adults who are not relatives or close friends usually call each other "вы", except in the specific cases described below.
  • Animals are called "ты". In fairy tales, animation movies, etc., animals and monsters call everybody "ты".
  • In prayers, God, angels, and other supernatural beings are called "ты".
  • In Russian Fidonet, all users call each other "ты". This rule does not apply to the Internet.
  • On Wikipedia, some Russian-speaking users declare how they want to be addressed. If in doubt, a user should be called "вы".
  • In the BD/SM subculture, a bottom often calls his or her top "вы", but is called "ты" by the top.
  • In some forums, all users call each other "ты", while in others they call each other "вы" (unless close friends or relatives).

If a person is called "ты" instead of "вы", he or she will likely be offended. In the opposite case, an offense is unlikely.

If a person who always calls you "ты" suddenly starts to call you "вы", this may be a sign that he or she does not consider you his friend anymore.

Correct number for related verbs, nouns and adjectives[edit]

"Вы" referring to a single person requires verbs in plural form. Even without "ты" or "вы", the verbs should be in plural whenever the person would be called "вы". Talking to somebody using singular/plural verbs is the same as calling him or her "ты"/"вы".

  • Заче́м вы это сде́лали?
  • Скажи́те, пожа́луйста, кото́рый час?

Related nouns and adjectives should always be in singular:

  • Вы транзи́тный пассажи́р?

Capitalization[edit]

"Вы" referring to a single person should be capitalized in official letters, and can be capitalized as a sign of extraordinary respect. Example:

  • Во избежа́ние штрафны́х са́нкций Вам сле́дует погаси́ть задо́лженность до 15 сентября́ 2010 го́да.
    To avoid penalties, you must repay the debt before September 15, 2010.

Related idioms and words[edit]

  • Мы с ва́ми на брудерша́фт не пи́ли — angry reminder to somebody to stop calling you "ты". Example:
  • ты́кать (týkatʹ) (slang) — to call somebody "ты" (wrongfully). (Literally, "тыкать" means "to jab"). Example:
    • Переста́ньте мне ты́кать! — Don’t be so familiar with me! Don’t call me ты!
  • вы́кать (výkatʹ) (slang) — to call somebody "вы".