4

As in,

Дом был построен отцом.

versus

Дом построился отцом.

Is there a difference, or any grammatical rules to keep in mind when using these constructions? Thanks for any help.

1
  • "Perfective reflective verbs have some level of expectation that the subject had been actively involved in the process." - as they said. And this построил-"-ся" - this "ся" is "себя" (self). In the all reflective verbs. I think that explains something. Sep 20 at 16:38
4

Good question

Both variants are grammatical, but only the first one (Дом был построен отцом) is valid. +1 To @shabunc 's answer.

Why? Reflective verbs are not universally usable in Russian. Perfective reflective verbs have some level of expectation that the subject had been actively involved in the process. Thus,

"Дом построился отцом"/"House was built by father" - is invalid, but

"Взвод построился в две шеренги"/"Platoon had formed in line with two ranks" - is perfectly fine.

Additionally, "perf passive participle's short form (with быть)" is typically "past perfect" - occurred in the past, while "perfective reflective" is typically "present perfect" - occurred immediately before observation.

5

The difference in your particular example is that the first sentence is valid and the second is not: you just don't use the reflexive form for such purposes. Even more, even if someone decides to sound unusual, non-trivial and choose the second from, it still will be the imperfective form, that is, it would be "[Этот] дом строился моим отцом" - and never построился.

So, one can claim the following sentences are grammatical:

  • Эта книга читалась мной (but not "прочлась" or "прочиталась").
  • Эта книга писалась мной (but not "написалась")

however, it needs to be stressed out that being grammatical does not necessarily make the sentences sound natural.

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