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If you’re thinking about starting to learn Russian, or any other Slavic language, I dare to say that you should start from this article because I will explain how to save a lot of time. When it comes to start learning, there is one thing that may intimidate a beginner. This thing is Russian case system, considered the most difficult grammar aspect of Russian, as well as other Slavic languages. And it really confuses learners, and takes a lot of time to master. Let’s consider what the cases are, and how to save a lot of time and energy learning them.
What are the Cases in Russian language
Case is a grammatical attribute of a noun, adjective, pronoun, participle or numeral that reflects its grammatical function, such as possession, location, instrument of action, object of action and others. To make it more understandable, there are some cases of pronouns in English language: you – me, he – him, they – them, these are the examples of what grammar function of cases is like. In Russian, as well as in all Slavic languages apart from Bulgarian (which doesn’t have cases), cases get applied not only to pronouns, but to nouns, adjectives, pronouns, participles, numerals.
In order to speak Russian, one must know how to use cases from the very beginning. However, what if we forget about cases, and don’t dive deep into them?
Let’s try to speak Russian without cases, let’s see how it would look like:
Большой пёс с острыми зубами прыгает через маленькую лису – A big dog with sharp teeth jumps over a small fox (with cases)
Большой пёс с острые зубы прыгает через маленькая лиса – A big dog with sharp teeth jumps over a small fox (without cases)
Can you see the difference? The cases used are: большой пёс – nominative case, с острыми зубами – instrumental case, маленькую лису – accusative case. This is how it would be pronounced correctly. And in the second sentence, incorrect one, all words are placed in nominative case (which is infinitive form of a word). And, the point is, ANY native speaker would perfectly understand the second sentence even without cases.
How to master Russian language with cases
What I want to say, you don’t really need to know cases for learning Russian. Definitely, you should learn them step by step, little by little, and acquire naturally. However, don’t confuse yourself, and take just a small look at the instructions until you learn and master all other parts of grammar. Without cases, Russian would be logical and simple, like, any Romance language. And you don’t need to learn Cases while you’re learning the structure of Russian language. You can speak without them and you will be understood, and you won’t be judged. I mean, you need to learn them but little by little, and you will master them without spending too much time on exercising.
How I recommend to learn and master cases: when you learn Russian, read simplified rules of case usage along the learning process, and don’t confuse yourself with them until you master everything else. Just use a cases how you think they should be used. Just speak and don’t overthink it. And, along with practice, every day (or how it’s better for you), read instructions about Russian cases, and do exercises. You can spend 10 minutes a day doing that.
I strongly recommend my book Russian Cases – Made Simple
for that, where you will find the most detailed ways of word declension for all situations with all cases, whatever you want to say with hundreds of examples that will help you to memorize and apply it faster. Moreover, you will learn not only 6 cases which most of Russian teachers would you teach about, but also 5 other additional cases which will give you complete image of Russian case system.