Который, часть первая

by Don  

The word can be translated as who, whom, whose, that or which, depending on the context. Grammatically we call it a relative pronoun. In first- and second-year Russian the use of который seems quite complex, but after a year or two of practice, you look book and think, “Why did I ever think that it was difficult?” Because the use of the word is complex for beginning students of Russian, we will break up the discussion of the word over several days. Here are its endings.

* copies nom. if inan.; copies gen. if anim.

The rule for using который is this:

  • Который takes its number, gender and animacy from the noun it refers to in the main clause; and
  • Который takes its case according to the grammatical rule it plays in its own clause.

Let's take a look at a sentence that means, “I know a woman who lives in Tula.”

Notice that который takes its gender and number from the word it refers to in the other clause, but that it has a different case from девушку. That's because который always takes its case from the grammatical role (in this case, the subject) that it fills in its own clause. Let's take a look at a few more sample sentences.

Я знаю парня, который покупает новую машину каждый год. I know a guy who buys a new car every year.
Мы поговорили о девушке, которая была здесь вчера вечером. We chatted about the girl who was here yesterday evening.
Чьи это деньги, которые лежат на подоконнике? Whose money is that which is lying on the windowsill?
Кто выпил вино, которое было в холодильнике? Who drank the wine that was in the refrigerator?


Comment from: Mark Sowul [Visitor]

Isn’t it чьи эти деньги?

Don responds: Mark, most often it is «Чьи это деньги?» “Whose money is this?” with unchanging это. It is also possible to say «Чьи эти деньги?» “Whose is this money?” with adjectival это that will agree with the subject, but this is much less common.

10/09/14 @ 03:27
Comment from: Richard [Visitor]  

Are relative clauses containing который always separated by commas from the main clause?

Also, one small typo. “Whose money is that which is lying on the windowsill?". Could it also be, “Whose money is that lying on the windowsill?", or would that require the verb лежать as a participle?

Don responds: Richard, thanks for pointing out the typo. It has been corrected.

Yes, when который is part of a relative clause, it is always set off by commas. (When который is used as an interrogative adjective then it is not set off by commas.)

10/06/14 @ 02:39

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