14.1 - Self and others

In several of the previous units the suffix -ся, or its shortened version -сь, has been mentioned. In simplified terms, it has been described as the "reflexive" suffix, which is added to a verb when the action is done to oneself or independently. The point is revised below.

In the following sentences the verb has an object (i.e. it is a transitive verb):

Політик почав свою виборчу кампанію.
The politician began his electoral campaign.
Митники зупинили автомобіль.
The customs officers stopped the car.

In the next sentences, however, there is no direct object:

Виборча кампанія почалася.
The election campaign has begun (without an obvious initiator of the action).
Автомобіль зупинився.
The car stopped (i.e. stopped itself, of its own accord).

In the second set of sentences, the fact that the action happens of its own accord, or reflects back to the subject, is indicated by the addition of the particle -ся.

There are a number of other uses of -ся verbs in Ukrainian, including expressing mutual or reciprocal action, the passive and others, which are presented on pages 14.2 and 14.3.

Reminder: In the 3rd person singular (he/she/it) form of 1st conjugation reflexive verbs in the present, the letters ть are added, e.g.

виконувати виконує виконується
to perform (s/he) performs (it) is being performed

To revise some of the reflexive verbs occuring in previous units do Exercise 14.1A. It is worth remembering that, in English, reflexive verbs can often best be translated without using the particle "self".

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© 2007 Marta Jenkala