My wife always corrects me when I say ихний or ихних instead of их. However, I've seen these pronouns in classical literature many times (Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky).

Which form is correct in speaking and writing?

  • 12
    Ихний definitely sounds uneducated. Your wife is right.
    – iHunter
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:17
  • 1
    Your wife is right this time. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:02
  • @iHunter Not yet. Don't worry, I will accept the answer as soon as I get more viewpoints. I was about to agree with everybody considering my lack of education :) but Helgi provided another good explanation which at the moment I prefer better.
    – VisioN
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 7:02
  • 1
    Also, it seems a correct form in Ukrainian, see “їхній”. Commented May 13, 2014 at 10:33
  • Change wife. She's wrong. Both options are allowed.
    – Sublimer
    Commented Jun 5 at 22:17

4 Answers 4


That's the question of norm and usage. Russian language is generally quite strict when it comes to enforcing the norm. Even when the usage rendered the norm completely obsolete, the norm is still perceived as such. A good example is the word кофе: if you use it in neuter gender, there's a chance someone corrects you, even though the neuter gender is marked as acceptable in the dictionaries.

It's pretty much this with the word ихний. It is definitely used, and not only by less-educated people. It's just that it's not in the norm.

The case where ихний is logical from the language point of view is when there is an ellipsis. Consider these sentences:

"Whose books are those?" — "Theirs."
Чьи это книги? — Их.

Now, in colloquial speech, ихние can be used instead of их with an additional advantage of having the number and case information embedded, just like мои, твои, наши, ваши have. In such case, even a norm-abiding speaker might say ихний.

In most other cases, when the noun is present as normal (их книги), there is no need for any norm-bending.

  • neuter gender for кофе was legalised only in 2009. of course a lot of people who were taught that кофе has only male gender are resisting. Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 6:59
  • The word "legalised" itself emphasizes my point. A language is more than any codified norm, it's a living entity. Neuter кофе was definitely in the usage well before 2009, so it was in the language for a long time. Neuter кофе was codified in 2009 — as in, the usage was finally incorporated into the norm.
    – Helgi
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 8:30

"Их", there is no question about it. You've likely seen "ихний" being used in literature by less than educated characters, have you not?

  • 1
    Not really. Here are couple of examples when it is used by educated characters.
    – VisioN
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:14
  • 7
    Our Russian teacher always used this quote from Chekhov as an example of how illiterate person would speak or write: "...А на неделе хозяйка велела мне почистить селедку, а я начал с хвоста, а она взяла селедку и ейной мордой начала меня в харю тыкать...".
    – xyzman
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:17
  • 2
    @VisioN and yet an overwhelming majority of these examples is obviously vulgar.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 8:18
  • 2
    To sum it up: ихний and similar forms are used in literature to imitate the vernacular language, because such stylizations usually rely on the word choice, not accent imitation etc.
    – Helgi
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 8:54

The normal, everyday, usage is их. The other usage ихний is seen only in special contexts, like literature. Leave it there.

  • 5
    ихний is often used in colloquial speech too, unfortunately. It's just lack of education.
    – iHunter
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 21:03

I have the following impression:

The word "их" is correct form (norm). But in everyday speech one may want to insert jokes, special features. Then he will use "ихние" form. One can understand that this is incorrect wording, but use it anyway. Such behavior is called "выпендриваться" and usually is not accepted well.

The same pair are "звонИт" и "звОнит". The first form (with the stress on the second syllable) is literature norm, but second form sometime is used (and the second is formally incorrect).


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