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  5. Я потерял свои часы


Я потерял свои часы

This sentence should be I have lost my watch but couldn't I say Я потерял мои часы

October 13, 2019



"couldn't I say Я потерял мои часы" - you can say that only if you want to emphasize that the watch was yours. Usually we say "свои".


To make it short, better stick to свои in sentences like this one unless there is a need to eliminate uncertainty. This guarantees you less mistakes.

Yes, you could say мои часы. In this context both pronouns are interchangable. Native speakers would prefer saying свои but мои wouldn't be marked as incorrect.

There are some contexts in which one or another pronoun would be more appropriate. For example, to make it less ambigous in a sentence where свои may refer to more than one person: Я предложил ему пока поносить мои часы. - I offered him to wear my watch for a while (свои would make it uncertain as to whose watch actually is, my or his). Or Я хочу, чтобы мои дети были счастливы. - I want my children to be happy. There you have to specify that you speak about your children, not someone's else. Я хочу, чтобы свои дети были счастливы sounds pretty much unnatural.

If you lost several watches you could say, for example, Я потерял несколько своих часов (or more specifically Я потерял двое (2) своих часов)


"Я хочу, чтобы свои дети были счастливы sounds pretty much unnatural." - it's impossible. "Свои" always defines smth that belongs to the subject but not the subject itself and in this complex sentence "дети" is the subject of the second clause. So you can say "Я хочу видеть своих (or моих) детей счастливыми" but never "Я хочу, чтобы свои дети были счастливы".


What's the difference between my and own? :)

Why do we need свой?
Ex: You have two friends, Masha and Elena. Consider the following sentence in English:
Masha loves her dog.
Who does her refer to? It could be that Masha loves her own dog, or her friend’s dog (Elena’s dog).

This ambiguity is solved in Russian with the use of the pronoun свой (masculine) – своя (feminine) – своё (neuter) – свои (plural) which means one’s own.

So, two different cases:
Маша любит свою собаку. – Masha loves her (own) dog.
Маша любит её собаку. – Masha loves her (Elena’s) dog.

When is свой necessary and when not?

When the subject of the sentence is я, мы, вы, it’s not necessary to use свой; it could be replaced by мой, наш, and ваш respectively.
Я забыл мой (свой) зонтик. – I forgot my umbrella.
Мы любим наш (свой) город. – We love our city.
Вы забыли ваш (свой) ключ. – You forgot your key.

Attention: Although you can use мой, наш, and ваш in all the above cases, свой is still more preferable and sounds more natural to a native speaker!

When the subject is ты you can still use твой but свой is preferable.
Ты не видел свою собаку. – You didn’t see your dog.

As discussed above, when the subject is in the 3rd person (either singular or plural), the use of свой is obligatory.

Мария ремонтирует свою машину. – Maria is fixing her own car.
Мария ремонтирует её машину. – Maria is fixing her car (someone else’s car – obviously female because of её).
Они любят свою собаку. – They love their (own) dog.
Они любят их собаку. – They love their dog (it could be their friends’ dog).

Свой and the subject must be in the same clause

Свой refers always to the subject of the sentence.
Я потерял свои деньги. – I lost my money.
Мы любим наш (свой) город. – We love our city.
Она ремонтирует свою машину. – She is fixing her own car.


And If часы is only one watch how could I say I have lost my watches


In Russian the word "часы" exists only as a plural. So, you can only clarify it with the help of addition words whether you mean many watches or only one. For example, you can say: "Я потерял ВСЕ мои часы," or "У меня было ТРОЕ часов" (important: a special form of numerals is used with the nouns that have only a plural to indicate quantity (when there are fewer than five items)).


I have lost my only watch. Я потерял свои/ мои единственные часы. In this case you can use свои or мои. Свои - sounds a little better, but the meaning is the same.
Я дал ему свою/мою книгу. I give him my book. Both is OK. But - Я предложил ему взять свою книгу - is not good. In this case it is not clear - “свою книгу” means the mine book or his book.

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