The Relative Pronouns

The pronouns кто (who), что (what), какой, который (which), чей (whose), сколько (how much/many/long) and насколько (for how much/long) are used to interconnect the parts of a compound sentence.

They are called relative pronouns because they express relations between the main and dependent clauses of a compound sentence. You can listen to the pronunciation of the relative pronouns below.

Take a look at the following examples:

  • Мне сказали, что ты получил новую работу.
  • (I was told that you got a new job.)
  • Дом, в котором мы живём, построили месяц назад.
  • (The house we live in was built one month ago.)
  • Мы знаем, кто нам помог.
  • (We know who helped us.)

Pronunciation of relative pronouns

Use the table below to practice your pronunication of the Russian relative pronouns.

Audio  Russian word   English translation   Pronunciation

Flash required.

кто whoktoh

Flash required.

что whatshtoh

Flash required.


Flash required.

который which onekah-TOH-riy

Flash required.

чей whosechey

Flash required.

сколькоhow much/manySKOHL'-kah

Flash required.

насколькоfor how much/longnah-SKOHL'-kah

Changes by case, gender and number

The relative pronouns кто, что, сколько change by cases in the same manner as their interrogative counterparts кто, что and сколько.

The pronouns какой, какая, какое, какие; который, которая, которые; чей, чья, чьё, чьи change by gender, number and cases (see the table). The gender and number of a pronoun should be the same as the gender and number of the noun it refers to. The choice of the case depends on the verb related with the pronoun. Let's consider an example.

  • Ей нравится книга, которая продаётся в книжном магазине.
  • (She likes the book, which is being sold at the bookstore.)
  • Ей нравится книга, которую она купила в книжном магазине.
  • (She likes the book, which she bought at the bookstore.)

In both sentences, the pronouns которая and которую are singular feminine, because they refer to the singular feminine noun книга. However, they have different cases. The nominative case of the pronoun которая is determined by the verb продаётся (она продаётся — nominative). Similarly, the accusative pronoun которую agrees with the verb купила (купила её — accusative).

Table: Changes in relative pronouns

Study how relative pronouns change by case, gender and number.

Case  singular masculine singular feminine singular neuter plural, all genders
Nominative какой какая какое какие
Genitive какого какой какого каких
Dative какому какой какому каким
какую какое каких/
Instrumental каким какой каким какими
Prepositional (о) каком (о) какой (о) каком (о) каких

The relative pronouns can be used in couple with the demonstrative pronouns тот, та, то, те, столько. The main clause must include a relative pronoun, while the corresponding demonstrative pronoun is to be placed in the dependent clause.

  • Та школа, которая славится своими учениками, пользуется большим авторитетом.
  • (The school, which is famous for its students has great authority.)
  • Те ребята, что победили в соревнованиях, были награждены.
  • (Those children who won the contest were awarded.)
  • У нас столько работы, что мы не закончим её до вечера.
  • (We've got so much work to do that we won't finish it till the evening.)

Related Lessons

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Word: закон
Meaning: law, act, statute
Pronunciation: [zuh-KOHN]

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Russian: Почта
English: Post office


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