14.3 - Expressing the passive with -ся

It has probably become clear, from the last two pages, that verbs ending in -ся in Ukrainian have many uses. You will also have seen that, when rendered into English, sentences with -ся verbs rarely contain the particle self. This is partly because, in English, the action done to oneself is understood from the context, but also because, in many cases, the English sentence is actually in the passive voice, that is, the action is being done to the subject of the sentence, by someone, as in:

The letter was posted by my secretary.
subject verb (in passive) doer of the action

Ukrainian frequently avoids using the passive by using -ся verbs, for example:

Двері відчинилися. The door (was) opened.
Невдовзі розпочнеться реконструкція стадіону. The reconstruction of the stadium will begin (will be commenced) soon.
Це слово пишеться через дефіс. This word is spelt with a hyphen.
Основна робота виконувалася в університеті. The main work was carried out at the university.
У словнику ви знайдете поняття, які застосовуються у європейському законодавстві. In the dictionary you will find terms which are used in European legislation.
«Караоке на майдані» складатиметься лише з українських пісень. "Karaoke on the square" will consist (be composed) only of Ukrainian songs.
Цей закон поширюється на всі підприємства. This law applies (is applied) to all businesses.

For a discussion of the true passive and its uses please go to Unit 17.

Reflexives in summary

Reflexive verbs are frequently used to express a range of meanings and constructions. Given below are some of the most frequently used ones, which it is a good idea to learn:

відбуватися take place, happen
залишатися stay, remain
намагатися try, attempt
знаходитися be found
звертатися address, turn to
доводитися be necessary
здаватися appear, create the impression
з'являтися appear, turn up
займатися be involved in, take part in
виявлятися appear, turn out
збиратися have the intention of
стосуватися relate, apply to
сподіватися hope, expect
починатися begin, start

Exercise 14.3A | Exercise 14.3B

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© 2007 Marta Jenkala