Can you explain the difference between твій and свій? That’s what an English speaker once asked me. To be honest, I was taken off guard by this question. Isn’t it obvious? Let’s learn more about reflexive possessive pronoun свій!
What does the reflexive pronoun свій mean in Ukrainian?
Свій is a reflective possessive pronoun that can be translated as (your) own:
- Можеш зіграти свою пісню?
Can you play your own song?
But sometimes the translation is not enough. The dictionary tells us that свій can also mean your (and my, his, her, etc.):
- Зажди, я візьму своє пальто.
Hang on, I’ll take my coat.
So how are you to decide when to use which?
If you are still a beginner, check out our blog post Possessive Pronouns in Ukrainian or listen to the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast episode 1-07 | More about family in Ukrainian + Possessive pronouns
Difference between мій / твій / ваш and свій: rule of thumb
Remember a general rule: do not use я/мій, ти/твій, вона/її, etc. both in the same sentence. Replace мій (or твій, його, etc.) with свій.
Look at this sentence:
- Ти бачила своїх друзів сьогодні?
Have you seen your friends today?
The possessive adjective matches the subject: you have seen your friends. That’s when we would say своїх. Compare it with this one:
- Я бачила твоїх друзів сьогодні.
I have seen your friends today.
The subject is я I but the friends are yours; in such a case we use твоїх.
Свій is a nice word that allows you to sound like a native while avoiding those permanent occurrences of pairs me / my (or you / your and so on).
It can also be used with nouns. In this situation, свій means “belonging to the agent”.
|Софія віддала Максиму свою книжку.||Sophia gave Maksym her own (Sophia’s) book.|
|Максим віддав Софії свою книжку.||Maksym gave Sophia his own (Maksym’s) book.|
As a matter of fact, it may also be helpful in cases where English remains ambiguous:
Artem called Andrii a fool, took his bag, and left.
In this sentence, it’s not obvious whether Artem got his own bag or Andrii’s. In translating, the use of свій would make it clear that Artem took his own bag:
Артем обізвав Андрія дурнем, узяв свою сумку і пішов.
- свій телефон
- своя сумка
- своє пальто
- свої діти
Hopefully, this little explanation helps. If you have any burning questions you want to be answered, let us know!
Яка різниця між… – What is the difference between вчитель and викладач, зараз and тепер, любити and кохати…? Learn the difference between some confusing similar Ukrainian words!
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