My sentence starts as:

Если человек поперхнулся - ...

5 Answers 5


There is a slight difference here, but it not so critical in this particular case. I would even recommend to say "Похлопай его по спине".

Постучи его по спине - means that you are going to hit him in the first place. "по спине" is specifying the area of his body that will be hit.

Постучи ему по спине - means that you will hit something in order to do something for him. In this particular case it is his back that will be hit. But in this second case you can use even some external objects, that are not parts of his body:

Постучи ему по барабану. - Hit his drum.
Постучи ему в окошко. - Knock on his window.
Постучи ему в дверь. - Knock on his door.

You cannot say "постучи его по барабану" when talking about human, because it will mean that the drum is a part of his body. But it is possible to say about some artificial masculine object that has a drum as a part of its body.


Постучать (unlike стукнуть) is an intransitive verb; one cannot say 'постучи его'.


add to Artemix answer

I would also suggest to replace "постучи" to "постучите", sentence will be more like instruction what needs to be done in case of ...

But Постучи его по спине is pretty valid in some cases, let say Mother orders to son to help his Father in that accident: Постучи папу по спине. equal to Постучи папе по спине. Probably first variant will be used often, because easier to pronounce in fast not expected situation. But both variants are not good somehow. I suggest :

Если человек поперхнулся, следует похлопать его по спине.

In that case you assume that someone knows actually what needs to be done and how.

Example of recommendation given on some resource, which looks like correct one:

Если же человек не в состоянии кашлять (инородное тело полностью закрыло трахею, а воздуха в легких уже недостаточно) - первое что нужно сделать - наклонить человека вперед-вниз (или перекинуть на живот через колено, спинку кресла...) и сильно похлопать открытой ладонью между лопаток (по направлению ко рту). Помните, нужны именно направляющие движения, а не просто хлопки.


Постучи его по спине would be correct. It means help him, not hurt him, as compared to the other option. It is best seen with the perfect form: Стукни его по спине - help him breathing, Стукни ему по спине - punch him.

upd Стукни его по спине ~ hit his back; Стукни ему по спине ~ hit him on his back (possibly in order to help, but not necessarily)

  • And what about "Стукни его по голове"?
    – Artemix
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 13:10
  • That's a complete different topic then since you can't help anyone by hitting someone on the head
    – visturcev
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 13:25

I fully support the answer given by Andrey Chernyakhovskiy. "Постучи его" is invalid, although it's not obvious even to some native speakers.

Correct variants would be "постучи ему по спине" ("ему" here is an indirect object), "постучи по его спине" ("по его спине" again is an indirect object) or "похлопай его по спине" (похлопай is a transitive verb).

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