I'm having some trouble understanding the rules for when you cannot use genitive case after a verb.

For example, from a previous question, the following is acceptable is everyday speech:

Сестра написaла цього листа

However, I was told by a native speaker that the following is incorrect:

Ми говорили про фільм, якого подивилися недавно.

and should instead be:

Ми говорили про фільм, який подивилися недавно.

Does the fact that подивитися takes a reflexive form mean that its object cannot be put in the genitive case (more specifically for inanimate masculine objects)?

Are there other reflexive verbs ending in -ся which can have genitive inanimate masculine objects?

See Genitive Case after transitive verb? for more context


1 Answer 1


In general, languages usually use accusative case for direct object after transitive verb. You won't mistake too much if you use accusative in Ukrainian either:

Сестра написала мені цей лист.

Still, Ukrainian often also allows something like genitive case to be used for direct object after transitive verb:

Сестра написала мені цього листа.

Here both variants are correct (though they may have some tricky differences in connotation).

But not under all circumstances you can replace accusative case with genitive case for direct object after transitive verb.

In fact, in most cases when you can, it is:

  • either some rudiments of the partitive case, e.g. «випити води», «наїстися хліба»;
  • or some almost-stable expressions.

Probably it is not even a real genitive case; it sometimes uses a form that is untypical for genitive case; for example if we consider the noun “приз” (“prize”) — typical genitive case for it is “при́зу” (e.g. “нема призу”), but under these special circumstances “приза” is used:

З-під самого носа у чоловіка приза витаскав, а ще й каже, що не винний.
Там вона взяла участь у позаконкурсній програмі, отримала приза глядацьких симпатій…

I don't think that it is related to the verb reflexiveness (i.e. “-ся” ending) — see the example with the word “наїстися” above. I think it more depends on the object rather than on the verb — and also on how well the phrase in general fits into some patterns where historically the partitive case was used (or maybe where some other extinct cases were used). Sadly I can't postulate the concrete criteria (I recommend you to use accusative when you are unsure; with optional usage of (pseudo?-)genitive (partitive?) in the phrases that you regularly hear said in that style from others).

  • Yes, I wanted to repeat the example I encountered instead of simplifying it, which sometimes might change the grammatical rules. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 10:11
  • I understand now that the reflexiveness of the verb doesn't matter. I was trying to understand the grammatical rules from when genitive case is specifically disallowed. As a beginner, I haven't found much information, and most native speakers I have asked can immediately tell me what sounds correct, but are unable to provide much more than that. It sounds like the best strategy is to just use the accusative case to avoid potential mistakes. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 10:17
  • @user7085278, yep. Accusative is not always the nicest choice, but at least it's always grammatically correct (for direct object of the transitive verb). Genitive (for direct object of the transitive verb) can be used to bring some additional connotation (e.g. partiality), just to make it nicer (or sometimes just to make it sound "more typical"), but is not required, in my opinion.
    – Sasha
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 10:34

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