Does the word order in the sentences below make any difference or sound unnatural to natives? I oftentimes, inadvertently, use Serbian’s word order due to personal preferences with clitic word ordering but I’m aware that the 2 languages are not the same and even less mutually intelligible as many pan-slavists claim but I never notice anyone using the word order of “Я тебя спросил / Я тебе сказал”, it seems. I was also told that it doesn’t matter but I can only assume that since it doesn’t seem to be used all that much, that it may not be correct or may sound a bit “off”. Thank you. :

Я тебя спросил / Я тя спросил

Я спросил тебя

Я тебе сказал / Я те сказал

Я сказал тебе

  • 1
    Yes, it does not matter. Yes, any of these orders are acceptable. But if you provided context, you could probably get a more specific answer. The importance of context seems to be underestimated by many who ask this sort of questions in this SO...
    – ajeh
    Nov 3, 2016 at 21:19

5 Answers 5


Я тя спросил... Я те сказал

Please note that, unlike in Serbian, such clitics in Russian are thought to be of particularly low style. Yes, sometimes people say so, but I don't recommend you to use them.

word order due to personal preferences with clitic word ordering

But in (literate) Russian there's no clitic here. So both word orders sound essentially the same.

Naturally, if you're still going to use clitic, you can only say "Я те сказал", but again I believe it's a bad idea.


There are really no clitics here. But there is a subtle difference between the first word order and the second. "Я сказал тебе" is a little bit more neutral, as "тебе" is a direct object and it should follow the verb. See the link: http://rosental-book.ru/styli_xlii.html We put the verb in the end of the sentence when it's necessary to underline the fact of the action. So we use "Я тебе сказал" order when blaming someone for not doing what we said, and it is the only right word order for doing that :) Or, it works if someone doesn't believe that we have said whatever it was. For a native speaker the version ending with the verb sounds a little more harsh :) Though we all use both orders, using intonation to get the message across.


The default, unmarked word order is

Я тебя спросил.

Я тебе сказал.

Neither of the sentences look finished, so to provide other info one has to see the full phrase.


Both word orders are acceptable, but there is a subtle difference in emphasis:

Я тебя спросил. - I asked you.

Я спросил тебя. - I asked you.


Add for completeness:

Тебя спросил я. - It was me who asked you.

Спросил я тебя. - I asked you (poetic intonation, akin to verse from a song).

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