Lesson 094

Russian negative pronouns starting with HE

In the previous lesson, we learned the first group of Russian negative pronouns starting in НИ-. Today, we will have a look at the second group, starting in НЕ-.

As the previous group of pronouns, these pronouns are formed by adding the prefix HE- to other various pronouns. Have a look:

не́когоno one


не́гдеnowhere (location)

не́кудаnowhere (direction)

не́откудаfrom nowhere

не́когдаthere is no time

не́зачемthere is no need

What is the difference between the pronouns with НИ- and with НЕ-?

– The pronouns with НЕ- are used to negate, they usually imply that the object for an action is absent or nonexistent.

– The pronouns with НИ- are used to intensify negation (most often are used with double negation).

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Notice also that the negative pronouns starting with НЕ- are used with personal pronouns (and nouns) in the Dative case.

For example:

Мне не́чего де́лать.
I have nothing to do.

Я ничего́ не сде́лал.
I did not do anything.

Take note that the prefix НЕ- is always stressed while the prefix НИ- is never stressed:

Он ничего́ не сказа́л.
He said nothing.

Мне не́чего тебе́ сказа́ть.
I have nothing to tell you.

Мне не́чем откры́ть буты́лку.
I have nothing to open the bottle with.

Он ниче́м нам не помо́г.
I did not help us at all.


The negative pronouns with НЕ- follow the same declension rules as the pronouns with НИ-: they change (or don’t) in cases the same way as the interrogative pronoun on which they are based (see the previous lesson for more details).

The pronouns нечего and некого are used in impersonal sentences and therefore do not have the Nominative form.

When negative pronouns are used with prepositions, the preposition divides the pronoun into two parts: prefix and the main pronoun:

Здесь не́кого спроси́ть.
There is nobody to ask here.

Мне не́ у кого спроси́ть.
I don’t have anybody to ask from.

Мне не́ с кем пойти́.
I have nobody to go with.

Ему́ не кому́ обрати́ться за по́мощью.
He has nobody to ask for help.


Let’s have more practice with different pronouns.

Мне не́куда пойти́.
I have nowhere to go.

Я никуда́ не ходи́ла.
I did not go anywhere.

Ему́ не́где переночева́ть.
He has no place to sleep.

Его́ нигде́ нет.
He is nowhere (to be found).

Нам не́откуда ждать по́мощи.
We can’t expect help from anywhere.

Он появи́лся ниотку́да.
He appeared from nowhere.

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Notice that while никогда́ means never, не́когда means lack of time:

Мне не́когда.
I don’t have time.

Я никогда́ здесь не была́.
I have never been here.

Не́зачем means lack or reason, ни за чем (written separately) means “for no particular reason”.

Нам не́зачем здесь быть.
We have no reason to be here.

Мы пришли́ ни за чем.
We came for no particular reason.

And this is it for this lesson.

Practice the examples of this lesson with the audio provided and come back for the next lesson, to learn Russian with us!

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