Lesson 12:Nouns and Cases in Russian. Nominative and Genitive

Today we will start a new topic, probably the most complicated topic in Russian grammar. The complexity is related to the lack of this grammatical phenomenon in English. Yet, we will try to master Russian Cases. Yes, right, today we will be talking about cases.

What is a case? When you speak English the nouns, adjectives, pronouns you use are always the same. They do not change a bit. In Russian it is absolutely different. Russian nouns, pronouns and adjectives will get different endings based on the case they are used in. Basically the case is a set of endings to indicate words’ functions and their relationship to the rest of the words in the sentence. The same phenomenon is distinctive for German and for Latin. Though German has only four cases. Russian has six cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, prepositional). Which is not that bad if you compare Russian to Finnish with its 15 cases!

Today we will only speak about the first two cases – Nominative and Genitive.

Nominative case

Nominative case is by far the simplest one. This is how a word (a noun) appears in the dictionary. The main function of a noun in the Nominative case is to indicate the subject of the sentence. It always answers the questions “Who or what is doing something?”


Дети ходят в школу.

Children go to school.

In this sentence the word дети (children) is the subject of the sentence, hence it is used in the nominative case.

So, to use the noun in a nominative case you only have to take it from a dictionary without changing the form.

If you want to say something like:

This is a table.

Here is a house.

This is a child.

You will also use the nominative case.

Это стол.

Это дом.

Это ребёнок.

You will never use nouns in nominative case with prepositions.

Genitive case

Genitive case is used when you want to indicate possession. When you want to say this is Anna’s book it means you will need to use the genitive case. Nouns in the genitive case answer the question “Whose?”

Monika’s pen = Ручка Моники

The bank of the river = берег реки

There are some prepositions that are common for nouns in the genitive case: около (near), у (by, by the side of), мимо (past), из (out of), вместо (instead of), без (without). When you see a noun with one of these prepositions you can be sure the noun is used in the genitive case.

Now, to the most complicated part. Nouns in the genitive case will have different endings compared to nouns in the nominative case. In the table below you will see the pattern.


Gender Nominative 

кто? (who?) что? (what?)


кого? (of whom?) чего? (of what?)


Nom. – Gen.

Masculine студент (student) 

герой (hero)

учитель (teacher)




–  to  

-й to

-ь to

Neuter окно (window) 

море (sea)

здание (building)




-о to –а 

to –я

-ие to –ия



школа (school) 

деревня (village)

лошадь (horse)

академия (academy)





-а to 

-я to

-ь to

-ия to -ии

Plural студенты (students) 

герои (heroes)

учителя (teachers)

школа (schools)

лошади (horses)






-ы to –ов 

to –ев

to –ей

-а to

to –ей

Of course, this is not an extensive table of the endings; however, it summarizes the most common cases of nouns in the genitive case.

Now, let’s practice and see if everything is clear for you.

Open the brackets, use the noun in the genitive case

  1. Я вижу машину (отец)
  2. Я не вижу никакого (письмо).
  3. У моей (сестра) новая кровать.
  4. У всех (иностранцы) много денег.
  5. Я купил пять (билет) в театр.
  6. Около (здание) есть сад.
  7. У меня много (друзья).
  8. Это книга (учитель)?
  9. Я смотрю на красивую собаку (сосед).

10.  Я не знаю этого (человек).

The answers as always can be found in comments section. Feel free to ask any questions.

One thought on “Lesson 12:Nouns and Cases in Russian. Nominative and Genitive”

  1. Answers to the exersize:
    1. Я вижу машину отца.
    2. Я не вижу никакого письма.
    3. У моей сестры новая кровать.
    4. У всех иностранцев много денег.
    5. Я купил пять билетов в театр.
    6. Около здания есть сад.
    7. У меня много друзей.
    8. Это книга учителя?
    9. Я смотрю на красивую собаку соседа.
    10. Я не знаю этого человека.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *