Russian Language Journal


William Comer


pronoun, Russian, language, morphology, English


The personal possessive pronouns in Russian (мой, твой, наш, ваш, его, её, их) are taught very early in virtually all elementary textbooks of the language. At the point of their introduction, the problems that they most often pose for English‐speaking L2 learners are their morphology and the rules for agreement with the nouns they modify. For L2 learners, the usage and frequency of these pronouns at this stage in language study seem virtually to mirror English patterns. When introduced to simple sentences with finite verbs and complements as well as the “у кого есть что” construction, learners may (or may not) notice the difference between the textbook input and sentences that they produce with «extraneous» possessive pronouns (e.g., *У меня есть моя квартира; Я читаю мою книгу; Я живу в моей квартире). Свой is introduced later, usually somewhere in the second half of the college elementary‐level textbook. It appears incidentally in the language input in Nachalo («вы разрешаете это только своим аспирантам» 50), Golosa (“Роб меня познакомил со своим другом Максом” 366), and Troika (“Лена подарила своему другу Ивану книгу” 343). In Live from Russia, its appearance is connected specifically with the issue of disambiguating third‐person references (i.e., “Таня рассказывала Оле о своём экзамене” ~ “Таня рассказывала Оле о её экзамене” 241).