18.3 - Reflexive pronouns

The reflexive suffix -ся (-сь), denoting an action done to oneself (or reciprocally), was introduced in Unit 14. An example of its use is this frequently heard expression:

Шануймося, єднаймося! Let's have respect for each other (ourselves), let's unite (ourselves).

The suffix -ся is related to the reflexive pronoun себе, which refers back to the doer of the action. It can be rendered as "myself", "yourself" etc. depending on the context:

Він помився Він помив себе He washed (himself)

The pronoun себе declines like я and ти, but it does not have a nominative, as, by definition, it cannot be the object of a sentence:

  себе (self)
Gen. себе
Dat. собі
Acc. себе
Instr. собою
Loc. собі

Given below are some useful expressions with the reflexive:

Як ся маєш? Як маєшся? How are you? How are things?
Як себе почуваєш ...? How are you feeling? (physically or emotionally)
Всі відчули на собі економічну кризу. Everyone has felt the effects (the effect upon themselves) of the economic crisis.
Вона спокійно собі стояла. She just stood there quietly.

Reciprocal pronouns

Reflexive pronouns can also be used to denote actions being done to one another, for example:

Уболівальники побилися після матчу. The fans had a fight (beat each other up) after the match.

If, however, one wishes to express a more subtle mutual or reciprocal relationship between "one another" or "the ones ... the others", the composite pronouns один одного, одна одну, одне одного and одні одних are used. The number, gender and case will depend on the grammatical relationship of the two components, for example:

Політики лякають одні одних новими виборами. The politicians are frightening each other with fresh elections.
Сестри не люблять грати одна з одною. The sisters don't like playing each other.

To practise personal and reflexive pronouns go to Exercise 18.3A.

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© 2007 Marta Jenkala