Category Archives: Learn Russian

Lesson 22. The Imperative Mood in Russian

Like in English, verbs in Russian can be used in imperative mood. What is an imperative mood? This is a grammatical mood which is used for commands, requests, inducement to actions, and similar.

Please, be quiet! is an example of imperative mood in English. When you use an imperative mood you address one person or a group of people which means that imperative mood will only have two forms in Russian: second person singular and second person plural.

When you address one person you use the second person singular form, correspondingly if you address a group of people you use the second person plural form.

How to form the imperative?

To form an imperative of the Russian verb you have to add an ending to the stem. The ending can vary based on the verb. There are a lot of complicated rules about it but we can simplify it a bit for you.

Here are the steps:

1. Use the verb in present tense, third person plural

Example:

Читать (to read) – (они) читают (they read)

2. Cut down the ending, you will find the stem

Чита-ют – the stem is чита

3.

a) If the stem is ending with a vowel like in our example you add the consonant й and so you have the imperative mood for the verb читать, addressing one person.

Читай! (Read!)

b) If the stem is ending with a consonant and the last syllable of the verb is stressed, you add the vowel и to form the imperative.

Example:

Писать (to write) – (они) пишут (they write)

Пиш-ут – the stem is пиш

Пиши! Write!

c) If the stem is ending with a consonant and the last syllable of the verb is not stressed, you add the letter ь to form the imperative.

Example:

Готовить (to cook) – (они) готовят (they cook)

Готов-ят – the stem is готов-

Готовь! Cook!

If you address a group of people you add one more step. You will need to add the ending те to the singular form.

Читайте!

Пишите!

Готовьте!

If you have to deal with reflexive verbs you go through the same steps but add the reflexive particle to the final form.

Example:

Мыть (to wash) – (они) моют

Мо-ют – the step is мо-

Мой – addressing one person (Wash!)

Мойте – addressing a group of people (Wash!)

Мойся – addressing one person, reflexive (Wash yourself!)

Мойтесь – addressing a group of people, reflexive (Wash yourselves!)

Exceptions:

Of course, as in every other rule there are exceptions here.

Russian verb English translation Imperative Singular Imperative Plural
Пить To drink Пей Пейте
Шить To sew Шей Шейте
Лить To pour Лей Лейте
Бить To beat Бей Бейте
Есть To eat Ешь Ешьте
Вставать To get up Вставай Вставайте

 

All of this might sound a bit confusing but actually it is quite simple. You only have to practice the formation of this form. Here are a few exercises which might be helpful for you.

 

1. Translate the following sentences into Russian in 2 different ways (addressing one person, and addressing a group of people.)

  • Please open the window.
  • Please sing a song.
  • Please draw a picture.
  • Please learn the words.
  • Please help me.

2. Form both forms of the imperative for the following verbs:

  • Играть
  • Учиться
  • Рисовать
  • Думать
  • Позвонить
  • Бить
  • Включить

The correct answers to the exercises are in the comments section.

Lesson 21. Possessive Pronouns in Russian

Before today we have only discussed one group of pronouns in Russian – personal pronouns. We went pretty basic. Now it is time to go a little deeper and to cover possessive pronouns. In Russian possessive pronouns correspond to each of the personal pronouns (see the table below.)

Кто? (Who?) Чей? (Whose?)
Я мой
Ты твой
Он, оно его
Она её
Мы наш
вы ваш
они их

Interrogative Possessive Pronoun “Чей” (“Whose?”)

The interrogative pronoun “Чейmust agree in gender, number and case with the noun it is used with. And you thought it will all be easy, didn’t you?

So, here is another pattern that you need to memorize.

CASE MASCULINE NEUTER FEMININE PLURAL
Nominative Чей Чьё Чья Чьи
Genitive Чьего Чьего Чьей Чьих
Dative Чьему Чьему Чьей Чьим
Accusative Чей Чьё Чью Чьи/Чьих
Instrumental Чьим Чьим Чьей Чьими
Prepositional (о) чьём (о) чьём (о) чьей (о) чьих

So, where English has only one form/word in Russian there is more than a dozen.

The Possessive Pronouns ‘мой‘, ‘твой‘, ‘наш‘, ‘ваш

These pronouns also have to agree in gender, number and case with the nouns they are used with. Let’s see the pattern.

CASE MASCULINE NEUTER FEMININE PLURAL
Nominative Мой Моё Моя Мои
Genitive Моего Моего Моей Моих
Dative Моему Моему Моей Моим
Accusative Мой/Моего Моё Мою Мои/Моих
Instrumental Моим Моим Моей Моими
Prepositional (о) моём (о) моём (о) моей (о) моих

CASE MASCULINE NEUTER FEMININE PLURAL
Nominative Твой Твоё Твоя Твои
Genitive Моего Твоего Твоей Твоих
Dative Твоему Твоему Твоей Твоим
Accusative Твой/Твоего Твоё Твою Твои/Твоих
Instrumental Твоим Твоим Твоей Твоими
Prepositional (о) твоём (о) твоём (о) твоей (о) твоих

CASE MASCULINE NEUTER FEMININE PLURAL
Nominative Наш Наше Наша Наши
Genitive Нашего Нашего Нашей Наших
Dative Нашему Нашему Нашей Нашим
Accusative Наш/Нашего Наше Нашу Наши/Наших
Instrumental Нашим Нашим Нашей Нашими
Prepositional (о) нашем (о) нашем (о) нашей (о) наших

CASE MASCULINE NEUTER FEMININE PLURAL
Nominative Ваш Ваше Ваша Ваши
Genitive Вашего Вашего Вашей Ваших
Dative Вашему Вашему Вашей Вашим
Accusative Ваш/Вашего Ваше Вашу Ваши/Ваших
Instrumental Вашим Вашим Вашей Вашими
Prepositional (о) вашем (о) вашем (о) вашей (о) ваших

Note: In the declension of all possessive pronouns that change for agreement, when the noun modified is singular masculine inanimate, the accusative case is identical to the nominative; when the noun modified is singular masculine animate, the accusative case is identical to the genitive.

The rule “inanimate accusative = nominative / animate accusative = genitive“, which affects only masculine nouns and their modifiers in the singular, applies to all three genders in the plural.

The Possessive Pronouns его, её, их

Unlike the above mentioned pronouns the third-person possessive pronouns его‘ (his), её‘( her/hers), их (their/theirs) are invariable, which means that they do not change according to the gender, number, or case of the noun they are used with.

Examples:

Вот его брат и его сестра. (Nominative) Here is his brother and his sister.

Я знаю его брата и его сестру. (Accusative) I know his brother and his sister.

Вот её мама и её папа. (Nominative) Here are her mom and her dad.

Мы уже видели её маму и её папу. (Accusative) We already saw her mom and her dad.

Их дом рядом с нашим. (Nominative) Their house is next to ours.

Мы часто бываем в их доме. (Prepositional) We often visit in their house.

Exercizes

Use the interrogative possessive pronoun “Чейto form questions as shown in the example:

Noun: Стол

Question: Чей это стол?

  • дом
  • сестра
  • ребёнок
  • пальто
  • брат

Answer the questions you created referring to different personal pronouns.

Answer the questions as shown in the example.

Чей это брат? – Это …………….. (он) сестра. – Это его брат.

1. Чья это собака? – Это ………………… (я) собака.
2. Чей это стол? – Это ……………… (мы) стол.
3. Чьи это книги? – Это ……………….. (она) книги.
4. Чьё это пальто? Это ………………… (я) пальто.
5. Чья это чашка? Это …………………. (он) чашка.

Answers to the exercises can be found in the comments section.

Lesson 20. Verbal Aspects in Russian Language

Today we are going to talk about a very important and a very complex topic in Russian grammar – verbal aspect. While it is not an entirely new concept for English language, in English verbal aspects are expressed by a number of grammar means  applied to one particular verb,  while in Russian you will see that there are aspectual pairs of verbs with the same lexical meaning. This is something that is common for Slavic languages and not really present in other ones, at least not the ones that I know of. Russian verbs have two aspects: imperfective (“несовершенный вид”) and perfective (“совершенный вид”). Imperfective and perfective verbs go in aspectual pairs of verbs with the same lexical meaning.

Meaning of the Verbal Aspects

Imperfective Aspect

Imperfective verbs traditionally express the actions and show them as processes in the past, presence or the future.

Она писала письмо. She was writing a letter.

Here we see that the action is not complete and the author does not really care about the end result, what we care about is the process itself.

Обычно мы кончали работу в 7 часов вечера. We usually finished our work at 7 PM.

Here we see a repeated action. You will come across situations when imperfective verbs are accompanied with adverbs: часто (often), редко (seldom), всегда (always), иногда (sometimes), обычно (usually).

Пока шёл дождь, мы смотрели телевизор. – We watched TV, while it was raining.

Here both actions take place at the same time.

Моя сестра смеялась. – My sister laughed.

Again, we see that the imperfective verb expresses the action as a process not indicating the beginning or the end of it.

Now, let’s compare that with perfective verbs.

Perfective Aspect

Perfective verbs usually show the result of a particular action in the past or the future. Please note, that perfective verbs are not used in the present tense.

Она написала письмо. She wrote a letter.

Here we can see that the action is completed, and the letter is finished, there is a result.

Сегодня мы закончили работу в 7 часов. Today we finished our work at 7 PM.

The action happened at a particular time, it is a single time specific action.

Мама открыла окно, проветрила комнату и снова закрыла его. Mom opened the window, aired the room and closed it again.

As you see, there is a series of actions here, each one being a completed result.

Моя сестра засмеялась. My sister began to laugh.

Here the perfective verb denotes the start of the action.

In the table below you will find aspectual pairs of verbs that you need to memorize because it will help you to use the correct verb in the correct speech situation. You will see that the difference between the verbs in these pairs can be a prefix, a suffix, a stress, and sometimes these can be different words altogether.

Imperfective Aspect Perfective Aspect
пить (to drink)

писать (to write)

готовить (to prepare)

читать (to read)

строить (to build)

слушать (to listen)

любить (to love)

делать (to do)

видеть (to see)

слышать (to hear)

плакать (to weep)

выпить

написать

приготовить

прочитать

построить

послушать

полюбить

сделать

увидеть

услышать

заплакать

решать (to decide)

изучать (to study)

сообщать (to inform)

объяснять (to explain)

кончать (to finish)

проверять (to check)

выполнять (to complete)

решить

изучить

сообщить

объяснить

кончить

проверить

выполнить

давать (to give)

вставать (to get up)

узнавать (to recognize)

забывать (to forget)

закрывать (to close)

открывать (to open)

дать

встать

узнать

забыть

закрыть

открыть

Рассыпать* (to spill)

Отрезать* (to cut off)

Разрезать* (to cut up)

Рассыпать*

Отрезать*

Разрезать*

брать (to take)

говорить (to speak)

класть (to put)

ловить (to catch)

становиться (to become)

ложиться (to lie down)

садиться (to sit down)

взять

сказать (to say)

положить

поймать

стать

лечь

сесть

* the letter in bold is stressed

Of course, these are not all aspectual pairs of verbs, only the most common ones. Verbs are marked in dictionary with their aspect (НСВ for imperfective verbs and СВ for perfective verbs).

Lesson 19. Small Talk: Family and Constructions with Genitive

Today we are going to discuss family in Russian. Family is a big part in everyone’s life and without any doubt this topic comes up in conversations every so often. Your new acquaintances will be curious to know about you and your family background. So, you definitely need to have some back up in terms of language here.

We have had some talk about family back in the lesson 10 but today we will get to know some new stuff based on the grammar we learned since then.

Vocabulary

Below you will find a few basic words that relate to the topic of the family. You will need memorize them to communicate effectively. It will not be complicated because you know some of these words from our previous lessons.

Russian English
мать mother
мама mom
отец father
папа dad
родители parents
сын son
сыновья sons
дочь daughter
дочери daughters
жена wife
муж husband
брат brother
братья brothers
сестра sister
сёстры sisters
ребёнок child
дети children
бабушка grandmother
дедушка grandfather
бабушка и дедушка grandparents
внук grandson
внуки grandchildren, grandsons
внучка granddaughter
внучки granddaughters
дядя uncle
тётя aunt
племянник nephew
племянница niece
семья family

I have…/I don’t have

In English everything seems so easy, you just say:

I have a brother.

Or

I have a sister.

The structure you will have to use in Russian to express the same meaning looks a little bit more complicated.

Preposition “у” + noun/pronoun  in Genitive + verb “есть” (to have) + noun

Example:

У меня есть сестра. I have a sister.

У моего брата есть жена. My brother has a wife.

We have already gone through the cases patterns and rules in lesson 12 and lesson 13 and you will be able to create grammatically correct sentences to tell about your family.

Let’s see how much you have learnt so far. Please translate into English.

1. У меня есть дочь.

2. У моей сестры есть сын.

3. У меня есть внучка.

4. У моей мамы есть племянница.

5. У моего папы есть внук.

And now please translate into Russian.

1. I have a brother.

2. My brother has a daughter.

3. My son has a sister.

4. My parents have two children.

5. We have a grandmother.

Now you know how to explain who is there in your family. But sometimes you have to say that you don’t have a brother, or a sister, or any nephews, children, etc. Please refer to the structure below to see how you form a particular sentence.

Preposition “у” + noun/pronoun in Genitive + word “нет” (no) + noun in Genitive

Example:

У меня нет сестры. I don’t have a sister.

У моего брата нет жены. My brother doesn’t have a wife.

In most cases you will need to use plural form of the noun, that too in Genitive case. The plural forms of some family members are irregular, so you will need to memorize them.

братьев – brothers in Genitive

сестёр – sisters in Genitive

сыновей – sons in Genitive

дочерей – daughters in Genitive

детей – children in Genitive

Example:

У меня нет дочерей. I don’t have daughters.

У меня нет сыновей. I don’t have sons.

У меня нет детей. I don’t have children.

As you understand this construction I have/I don’t have can be used in any way, not necessarily related to family.

I have a dog.

We have a flat.

My daughter has friends.

We don’t have money.

In Russian it will be:

У меня есть собака.

У нас есть квартира.

У моей дочери есть друзья.

У нас нет денег.

Exercises

1. Tell in Russian that you have and that you don’t have

  • a cat
  • a house
  • a laptop
  • a friend
  • a car

Use these words in both singular and plural.

2. Tell us about your family, who all you have or don’t have as family members

Lesson 18. Small Talk: Where are you from?

The last few lessons discussed important matters of Russian grammar. Today we are going to apply everything we have learned so far and will try to strike a conversation.

We already know how to properly introduce yourself, and now we will continue this conversation. What do you talk to people you just met? Right, quite obvious topics, such as home, family, job, etc. When you talk to Russians you should not be surprised when they openly discuss topics that in Western countries are considered to be kept discreet. You can easily be asked why you are not married yet, or why you don’t have children. Asking about age, income is common, too. Of course, you don’t have to answer the questions you are not comfortable with. But still you should be prepared. In the next few lessons we will learn how to discuss some of these topics.

Today we start with a simple one.

Where are you from?

When you are a tourist everyone wants to know the answer to this question.

The question sounds: Откуда Вы? (formal) /Откуда ты? (informal)

You can use the following answers. (As of now we assume that you are a US citizen.)

  • Я из Америки (I am from America)
  • Я живу в Америке (I live in America)
  • Я американец (I am an American)

Following your answers you might be asked new questions.

  • Из какого Вы штата? (What state are you from?)
  • В каком штате Вы живете? (What state do you live in?)
  • В каком городе Вы живете? (What city do you live in?)

No matter what country or city you live in, your answer will begin like this:

Я живу в (name of the state, city)

For example,

Я живу в Нью-Йорке (I live in New York).

Я живу в Лондоне (I live in London)

Or you can simplify it:

Я из Нью-Йорка (I am from New York).

Я из Лондона (I am from London).

Another variation of the same question might be asking about your nationality. Russia is a very ethnically diverse country itself and people tend to be interested in other nationalities and cultures. So the question “Кто Вы по национальности?” (What is your nationality?) should not catch you unaware.

So, how do you answer this one?

Based on your gender you can say:

Я американец = I am an American (if you are a man)

Я американка = I am an American (if you are a woman)

And finally, if there is a group of you (two people or more) you say:

Мы американцы = We are Americans.

The conversation can go in the same direction but take a different path. For example, your new acquaintance might not ask you the question but try to guess your nationality.

Вы американец? – asking a man

Вы американка? – asking a woman

Вы американцы? – asking a group of people

Your response? Well, you know the words “да” and “нет” and will be able to say if you are American or not.

Now, it’s not like every student who reads these lessons is an American. Below you will find a table of some nationalities. Feel free to ask in the comments if your nationality is missing.

Nationality (Man) Nationality (Woman) Nationality (People) Translation
Немец Немка Немцы German
Китаец Китаянка Китайцы Chinese
Японец Японка Японцы Japanese
Англичанин Англичанка Англичане Englishman(men)
Француз Француженка Французы French
Итальянец Итальянка Итальянцы Italian(s)
Испанец Испанка Испанцы Spanish
Аргентинец Аргентинка Аргентинцы Argentinean
Еврей Еврейка Евреи Jewish
Индус Индианка Индусы Indian
Грек Гречанка Греки Greek
Турок Турчанка Турки Turkish
Мексиканец Мексиканка Мексиканцы Mexican
And just for reference
Русский Русская Русские Russian

Read the dialog and try to understand as much as possible. Translate the dialog into English.

Michael and Olga are on board a flight from Berlin to Moscow. They have just met.

Olga: Майкл, откуда Вы?

Michael: Я американец. А Вы русская?

Olga: Да, русская. Я живу в Самаре. А где Вы живете в Америке?

Michael: Я из штата Висконсин. Я живу и учусь в Мэдисоне.

Olga: Как интересно! Вы не похожи на американца. Кто Вы по национальности?

Michael: Моя мама итальянка. А папа мексиканец.

Olga: Понятно.

Here are some words that you might not know or could not understand from the context.

Как интересно! How exciting! How Interesting!

Вы не похожи на You don’t look like…

Понятно. I see.

Lesson 17. Future Tense in Russian

Last time we talked about Past Tense in Russian, today we are going to discuss the Future Tense. As you probably have already noticed, Russian system of tenses is a lot less complex than that of English. Similarly, Future Tense is presented only in two forms.

We are talking about Future Imperfective (or Compound Future) and Future Perfective (Simple Future here).

Now, you might ask me what all this perfective/imperfective talk means. And you sure have the right to know.

As you know English has a number of tenses, such as past simple or present perfect. You can express a thought using different tenses.

Example:

I ate yesterday.

I have eaten already.

As you can see, the first sentence simply states the fact and the second emphasizes the result of the action.

The same thing exists in Russian but it is expressed in a different way. Here comes out perfective/imperfective thing that might have confused someone before. It is called “aspect.”

Let’s take a look at an example:

English verb to read can be translated with any of two Russian verbs читать or прочитать.  The first verb will be an imperfective one and the second – perfective one. It means that the first one focuses on the action itself and for the second verb the result of the action is important.

There are a number of prefixes that form perfective verbs from imperfective ones. One of them is the prefix про-. But it is not the only one. You will have to learn such verbs by heart when you check the dictionary for the meaning.

When to Use

Future Imperfective is used when you want to emphasize the fact that something will happen or will be happening in the future, but at the same time your plan is not to emphasize the result of that action.

Future Perfective is used when it is important to emphasize the result of the future action.

How to Form

It is not really complicated to form Future Tense in Russian. Below in the table you will find an example that will help you to form both of future tense’s forms for any of the verbs.

The Present Tense

The Future Tense

Future Perfective

Future Imperfective

Only perfective verbs can form the Future Perfective the simple future. The “simple” future tense is formed the same way as the present tense for imperfective verbs: you add the ending to the stem of the verb.

Only imperfective verbs can form the Future Imperfective.

The Future Imperfective is formed of the auxiliary verb быть in the future and the infinitive of an imperfective verb.

imperfective verb: читать (to read)

perfective verb: прочитать

(to read)

imperfective verb: читать

(to read)

я читаю я прочитаю я буду читать
ты читаешь ты прочитаешь ты будешь читать
он читает он прочитает он будет читать
она читает она прочитает она будет читать
мы читаем мы прочитаем мы будем читать
вы читаете вы прочитаете вы будете читать
они читают они прочитают они будут читать

Examples:

Я читаю письмо.

I am reading a letter.

Я прочитаю это письмо.

I will read this letter from beginning to end.

Я буду читать письмо.

I will read a letter.

Exercises:

Use the correct Future Tense form in the sentences.

1. Мои родители (ужинать) __________________ сегодня в ресторане.

2. Я (учиться) _________________ в этом университете.

3. Он (есть)___________________________ салат на обед.

4. Вечером они (смотреть)_________________ телевизор.

5. Когда ты (завтракать)__________________?

Choose perfective or imperfective verb.

1. Завтра друзья весь день ____________________ в зоопарке. (гулять – погулять)

2. Она__________________  на компьютере и пойдёт спать. (работать – поработать)

3. Он  _______________ задачу долго. (решать – решить)

4. Кот ____________ и пойдёт спать. (есть – поесть)

5. Завтра она __________________ письмо бабушке и сразу отправит его.

 As usual, you can find the correct answers in comments.

Lesson 16. Past Tense in the Russian Language

Today we are going to learn about the past tense forms and use in the Russian language. Before we proceed though I would like to go back into our lessons and see what all you remember about the present tense.

First of all, I would like to remind you that Russian verbs are conjugated based on the person it refers to. I am sure you remember the personal pronouns very well but just in case here they are again.

я – I

ты – you

он – he

она – she

оно –  it

мы – we

вы – you

Вы – you

они – they

Basically in the present tense we singled out two conjugation patterns and conjugated the verbs based on them. Each pattern has its own endings for each of the persons.

Remember that?

я читаю я говорю
ты читаешь ты говоришь

It seemed a little complicated back then and I am sure you are a little wary of the Past Tense now. But I want to surprise you. Russian Past Tense is way simpler to be built and to be used.

For starters, the Russian language has only one past tense. All the English Past tenses such as the Past Indefinite, the Past Continuous, the Present Perfect, and the Past Perfect are replaced with the only Russian Past Tense.

Past tense forms are derived from the Infinitive stem. Basically what you do is you take the verb in its Infinitive form and replace the letters ть with a suffix –л and a personal ending. The personal ending is based on the gender of the subject of the sentence.

Forming the Past Tense of Russian Verbs

Subject of the Sentence is Personal Ending Example
Masculine Singular Я читал (I read, was reading)
Feminine Singular Я читала (I read, was reading)
Neuter Singular Оно работало (It worked)
Plural Они читали (They read, were reading)

The majority of Russian verbs whose infinitive stem ends in a vowel, form the past tense in this way. As you noticed in the past tense verbs do not change for the person; they only change for number and gender.

Note that:

  • When the pronoun я is the subject of the sentence, the verb agrees with the gender of the person as you could see in the table above, so a boy/man would say: я читал; a girl/woman would say: я читала.
  • When the pronoun ты is the subject of the sentence, the verb agrees with the gender of the person addressed as ты (Ты читала (a girl/woman is addressed), Ты читал (a boy/man is addressed)).

REMEMBER special formation of past tense forms for the following verbs:

есть (to eat) ‑ ел, ела, ело, ели

сесть (to sit down) ‑ сел, села, село, сели

идти (to go) ‑ шёл, шла, шло, шли

быть (to be) – был, была, было, были

There are other exceptions, and the best way to learn them is learning in the process and looking them up in the dictionary.

Exercises:

Please translate the following sentences into Russian:

  1. “Mary, what were you doing last night?”

“I was reading.”

  1. “John, what were you doing last night?”

“I was watching TV.”

  1. “Jane, have you and Peter been to Russia.”

“Yes, we were in Moscow last year.”

  1. “Ann, did you play the piano when you were a child?”

“No, I played the violin.”

Read the text below and answer the following questions:

1. Что делали Ольга и Максим днём?

2. Где Ольга и Максим провели вечер?

3. Что делала Ольга?

4. Что делал Максим?

5. Где была их дочь?

6. Что делала Аня?

Text:

Вчера Ольга и Максим работали днём, а вечер они провели дома.  Максим смотрел телевизор, Ольга читала книгу. Их дочь Аня тоже была дома. Она играла с куклами.

Lesson 15. Adjectives in Russian Language

If you followed our lessons you know that in the last three of them we were trying to get to know more about Russian nouns and cases. This week we will go even further in our quest into the wilds of Russian grammar and will learn about Russian adjectives.

As you know adjectives are used to make our speech more beautiful, to decorate it in some way. And if you truly want to master a language, you have to master adjectives.

Now, if you are confused what an adjective is, here is a definition for you:

An adjective is a word that describes, or modifies, a noun or a pronoun, Basically, words like nice, sweet, or beautiful, are adjectives.

And in today’s post you will learn how you can use adjectives, what endings they take, and what are the differences between adjectives in Russian and English.

First of all, Russian adjectives always are used with a noun or a pronoun. And the most important thing you have to remember is that Russian adjectives always agree with the noun or pronoun it is used with. It means that the adjective will be changed based on the gender, number and case of the noun.

When you open a Russian-English dictionary you will find an adjective in its singular and masculine form.

Example:

Белый – white

Красивый ‑ beautiful

At the same time adjectives will never provide you with any other forms because you are supposed to know them. “How?” you will ask. Well, there are patterns (yes, again!) that you have to learn (again!).

However, you are lucky because patterns are not really that complicated. The only complication might be the number of endings you will have to memorize. If you remember there are six cases in Russian, and adjectives get new endings in all of the six cases. In total, there is quite a lot of endings. It will take time and some practice to get to know them but eventually everyone nails them.

Below you will find a table with adjective endings in the nominative case singular and plural.

Singular Plural
Masculine 

какой?

what (sort of)?

Neuter 

какое?

what (sort of)?

Feminine 

какая?

what (sort of)?

for all the genders 

какие?

what (sort of)?

Adjectives whose stem ends in a hard consonant have the endingsый, ой, ая, ое
depending on the noun’s gender
новый (дом) 

new (house)

большой (дом)

large (house)

новое (здание) 

new (building)

большое (здание)

large (building)

новая (комната) 

new (room)

большая (комната)

large (room)

новые большие (дома, здания, комнаты) 

new large (houses, buildings, rooms)

-ый/-ой -ое -ая -ые/-ие
Adjectives whose stem ends in a soft consonant have the endings ий, яя, ее
зимний (день)  

winter (day)

зимнее (утро) 

winter (morning)

зимняя (ночь) 

winter (night)

зимние (дни, утра, ночи)  

winter (days, mornings, nights)

-ий -ее -яя -ие
In the endings of masculine and plural adjectives и is written after the consonants г, к, х, ж, ш, щ, ч: 

строгий приказ (strict order) – строгие приказы (strict orders), русский язык (Russian language), тихий голос (low voice) – тихие голоса (low voices), свежий воздух (fresh air), хороший ответ (good answer) – хорошие ответы (good answers), горячий чай (hot tea).

хороший (ответ)  

good (answer)

хорошее (письмо) 

good (letter)

хорошая (ночь) 

good (night)

хорошие (ответы, письма, ночи)  

good (answers, letters, nights)

-ий -ее -ая -ие

It can be overwhelming at first sight but I can assure you you will be able to handle it after some time. Just take one step at a time.

Exercises:

Please translate the following  phrases into English:

1. интересная книга

2. маленькая девочка

3. красивый дом

4. белый лист

5. синее небо

6. большая собака

7. чёрный квадрат

Please translate the following  phrases into Russian using information from the table above:

1. a beautiful girl

2. a smart child

3. a large house

4. a new pencil

5. a red dress

6. a sweet candy

7. interesting books

Match the English phrases in the left column with Russian phrases in the right column

1. blue sky 1. новая работа
2.red shoes 2. синее небо
3. a new job 6. превосходный фильм
4. a large store 4. красные туфли
5. a small child 5. большой магазин
6. a great film 6. чёрные коробки
7. black boxes 7. маленький ребенок

We will post correct answers to these questions at the beginning of our next lesson.

Lesson 14: Nouns and Cases in Russian. Instrumental and Prepositional Cases

In the last two weeks we have been working on a complex grammar topic of Russian Cases. Again, I would like to remind you what a case is.

A Case is a set of endings to indicate words’ functions and their relationship to the rest of the words in the sentence. There are six cases in Russian, and so far we have got to know four of them – Nominative, Genitive, Dative and Accusative.

Today we will learn two more cases – Instrumental and Prepositional.

Instrumental Case

The Instrumental case of a noun denotes the instrument or means by which the action is performed. This case answers the question чем? (with what?)

Example:

Я пишу ручкой. – I write with a pen.

As you see the instrumental case is used to indicate the instrument that helps to carry out an action.

There are certain prepositions after which a noun is always used in the instrumental case. These are the following prepositions: с (with), между (between), над (above, over), под (below, under), перед (in front).

Examples:

С мамой – with mother

Между домами – between houses

Над кроватью – above the bed

Под столом – under the table

Перед домом – in front of the house

As all the previous cases Dative Case changes the endings of the corresponding noun. Once again, you will have to learn the pattern. Please see the table below.

Gender Nominative

что? (what?)

Instrumental

чем? (with what?)

Endings


Masculine мел (chalk)

чай (tea)

рубль (rouble)

мелом

чаем

рублём

–  to -ом

-й to ем

-ь to ём

Neuter мыло (soap)

полотенце (towel)

чтение (reading)

мылом

полотенцем

чтением

о to –ом

е to –ем

ие to –ем

Feminine

 

ручка (pen)

земля (land)

армия (army)

дверь (door)

ручкой

землёй

армией

дверью

-а to -ой

-я to -ёй

-ия to -ей

-ь to -ью

Prepositional Case

The prepositional case of a noun is used with prepositions (as the name can tell you) such as в (at, in) or на (at, on) and it denotes the place of action and answers the question где? (where?).

There are also other prepositions  (о, об (about)) that are used with the prepositional case of nouns. О is used if the following word begins with a consonant. Об is used if the following word begins with a vowel.

Example:

О работе – about work

Об отпуске – about vacation

Below you will find a pattern of endings of the noun in prepositional case.

Gender Nominative

что? (what?)

Prepositional

где? (where?)

Endings
Masculine класс

музей

словарь

санаторий

в классе (in a classroom)

в музее (in a museum)

в словаре (in a dictionary)

в санатории (at a sanatorium)

–  to -е

-й to -е

-ь to -е

-ий to -ии

Neuter окно

поле

здание

в окне (in a window)

в поле (in a field)

в здании (in a building)

-о to -е

-е to -е

-ие to -ии

Feminine школа

деревня

площадь

академия

в школе (at school)

в деревне (in a village)

на площади (in /on/ a square)

в академии (at an academy)

-а to -е

-я to -е

-ь to -и

-ия to -ии

A small number of masculine nouns take the ending у in the prepositional case:

Gender Nominative

что? (what?)

Prepositional

где? (where?)

Endings
Masculine шкаф

угол

лес

сад

снег

мост

берег

нос

в шкафу (in a cupboard)

в углу (in a corner)

в лесу (in a forest)

в саду (in a garden)

в снегу (in snow)

на мосту (on the bridge)

на берегу (on the bank)

на носу (on the nose)

–  to -у

Now we have learned about all cases in the Russian language. As you can see the nouns change their endings based on the case. All you have to do is to learn the pattern.

However, there are few nouns that do not change their endings in any case (mostly these are words of foreign origin):

кино (cinema), метро (underground railway), пальто (overcoat), кафе (cafe), кенгуру (kangaroo), жюри (jury), шоссе (main road), кофе (coffee).

Lesson 13. Nouns and Cases in Russian. Dative and Accusative

Last week we started a new topic in our adventure of mastering Russian. If you remember we were talking about cases. Once again, a short reminder ‑ a case is a set of endings to indicate words’ functions and their relationship to the rest of the words in the sentence. There are six cases in Russian, and so far we have got to know two of them – Nominative and Genitive. Today we will learn two more – Dative and Accusative.

Dative Case

Dative case is used when you want to indicate an indirect object toward which (or toward whom if that’s a human) the action is directed. Now I suppose it might be a tiny bit too complicated to comprehend. Nouns in Dative case answer questions Кому? (to whom?) or Чему? (to what?). Let’s take a look at some examples.

Examples:

I give my sister a book.

Я даю моей сестре книгу.

Words in bold are in Dative case.

With prepositions  к (toward, to) and по (along) a noun is always used in Dative Case.

Examples:

Я иду по дороге.

I am walking along the road.

There are also certain verbs that would require you to use nouns only in Dative Case. For example, such verbs as to help (помогать) or to call (звонить).

Example:

Я помогаю моей маме.

I help my mother.

Я звоню моему отцу.

I am calling my dad.

As with Genitive nouns in Dative Case have some endings patterns that you will have to learn.

Please see the table below.

Gender Nominative

кто? (who?) что? (what?)

Dative

кому? (to whom?) чему? (to what?)

Endings

Nom. – Dat.

Masculine студент (student)

герой (hero)

учитель (teacher)

санаторий (sanatorium)

студенту

герою

учителю

санаторию

–  to

-й to

-ь to

-ий to -ию

Neuter окно (window)

море (sea)

здание (building)

окну

морю

зданию

-о to

-е to

-ие to -ию

Feminine

 

школа (school)

деревня (village)

лошадь (horse)

академия (academy)

школе

деревне

лошади

академии

-а to

-я to

-ь to

-ия to -ии

Plural студенты (students)

здания (buildings)

студентам

зданиям

-ы to –ам

-е to -ам

Accusative Case

The Accusative Case indicates a direct object, which is the object of the action of the verb. The Accusative Case of a noun with a transitive verb denotes the object to which the action passes over and answers the questions кого? (whom?), что? (what?).

A classic example is Я люблю русский язык (I love Russian). Let’s take a look at the endings.

Gender Nominative

кто? (who?) что? (what?)

Accusative

кого? (whom?) что? (what?)

Endings

Nom. – Acc.

For inanimate masculine nouns the form of the accusative case coincides with the nominative:
Masculine

inanimate

стол

музей

словарь

санаторий

стол (table)

музей (museum)

словарь (dictionary)

санаторий (sanatorium)

–  to

-й to

-ь to

-ий to -ий

Masculine

animate

студент

герой

учитель

студента (student)

героя (hero)

учителя (teacher)

–  to

-й to

-ь to

For all neuter nouns the form of the accusative case coincides with the nominative:
Neuter окно

солнце

здание

окно (window)

солнце (sun)

здание (building)

-о to

-е to

-ие to -ие

For all feminine nouns ending in -ь, the form of the accusative case coincides with the nominative:
Feminine

animate and inanimate

лошадь

площадь

лошадь (horse)

площадь (square)

-ь to
Feminine

animate and inanimate

студентка

школа

деревня

академия

студентку (student)

школу (school)

деревню (village)

академию (academy)

-а to

-я to

-ия to -ию

You should always keep in mind that all feminine and masculine nouns ending with  -а, -я in the nominative case  will take endings -у, -ю in the accusative case

Examples:

женщина – женщину (woman), тётя – тётю (aunt)

мужчина – мужчину (man), дядя – дядю (uncle)

All these endings might seem overwhelming but after some practice you will manage to remember them all and even use correctly in sentences. The table below can help you a bit. There you will find a list of verbs which can be used with Dative and/or Accusative cases.

Verbs Accusative

что? (what?)

Dative

кому? (to whom?)

чему? (to what?)

 
давать (to give)

отдавать (to give back)

дарить (to present)

передавать (to pass)

читать (to read)

показывать (to show)

строить (to build)

готовить (to prepare)

переводить (to translate)

писать (to write)

покупать (to buy)

объяснять (to explain)

предлагать (to offer)

сообщать (to inform)

рассказывать (to tell)

книгу (book)

словарь (dictionary)

машину (car)

здание (building)

письмо (letter)

музей (museum)

дом (house)

обед (lunch)

песню (song)

поэму (poem)

соль (salt)

задачу (problem)

помощь (help)

новость (news)

сказку (fairy tale)

Студенту (student)

Учителю (teacher)

Герою (hero)

санаторию (sanatorium)

маме (mother)

отцу (father)

дяде (uncle)

сыну (son)

иностранцу (foreigner)

девушке (girl)

бабушке (grandmother)

ребёнку (child)

другу (friend)

подруге (girlfriend)

дочери (daughter)

In the next table you will find the verbs that can be used only with nouns in Dative case.

Verbs Dative

кому? (to whom?) чему? (to what?)

верить (to believe)

помогать (to help)

мешать (to disturb)

принадлежать (to belong)

звонить (to call)

нравиться (to like)

радоваться (to be glad)

отцу (father)

герою (hero)

учителю (teacher)

санаторию (sanatorium)

маме (mother)

тёте (aunt)

жизни (life)

And finally, the verbs which are used only with nouns in accusative case.

Transitive verbs Accusative

кого? (whom?) что? (what?)

готовить (to prepare) что?

делать (to do) что?

изучать (to study) что?

читать (to read) что?

писать (to write) что?

сообщать (to inform) что?

рассказывать (to tell) что?

решать (to solve) что?

покупать (to buy) что?

строить (to build) что?

нести (to carry) что?

видеть (to see) кого? что?

любить (to love) кого? что?

слушать (to listen) кого? что?

слышать (to hear) кого? что?

спрашивать (to ask) кого? что?

помнить (to remember) кого? что?

вспоминать (to recollect) кого? что?

запоминать (to remember) кого? что?

забывать (to forget) кого? что?

узнавать (to recognize) кого? что?

встречать (to meet) кого? что?

обед (lunch)

стол (table)

музей (museum)

санаторий (sanatorium)

словарь (dictionary)

новость (news)

лошадь (horse)

окно (window)

письмо (letter)

солнце (sun)

здание (building)

студента (student)

героя (hero)

учителя (teacher)

студентку (student)

школу (school)

песню (song)

деревню (village)

академию (academy)

Your task will be to create 50 sentences using nouns in Dative and Accusative cases. The verbs from above tables will be of great help.