by Don  

The word я ‘I’ is a personal pronoun that declines like this:


In American English there are a couple of problems with the word ‘I.’ First off, in conversational English we often say ‘me’ where we should say ‘I’ in the literary language. Thus kids often say things like “Me and John went to the store” or “It's me” when theoretically we should say “John and I” or “It is I.” The Russians never make that mistake. They always use subject/nominative form in the right place:

Иван и я ходили в магазин. ¹ John and I went to the store.
— Кто там?
— Это я.
“Who's there?”
“It's me.” ²

Other examples:

Не дашь мне тысячу рублей? Could you give me a thousand rubles?
Вокруг меня летал рой пчёл. Мне было страшно, так как я не знал, что пчёлы вообще не кусаются, когда роятся. A swarm of bees flew all around me. I was scared since I didn't know that bees usually don't sting when they are swarming.
В августе на меня наехала машина, и я лежал в больнице целый месяц. In August I was hit by a car, and I lay in the hospital for an entire month.
Со мной работает много иностранцев. A lot of foreigners work with me.
— Почему ты всегда сплетничаешь обо мне?
— Потому что ты всегда делаешь всякие глупости.
“Why do you always gossip about me?”
“Because you always do such stupid stuff.”

¹ Although this sentence is theoretically okay, the Russians usually say it differently. We'll address the better usage in an upcoming entry on the word мы.
² Although theoretically one should say “It is I” in this context, no normal American will do so. Only pedants say “It is I.”

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