Cases of Russian nouns

In Russian, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives are declined by cases. There are 6 cases in Russian language: Nominative, Genitive, Accusative, Dative, Instrumental, and Prepositional

There are cases in English too. But they are almost abandoned in the language, however, one says “she, her”, “he, him”, “we, us”, “they, them”. Only these pronouns have two cases in English language. But in Russian all nouns, pronouns, adjectives are declined by cases.

First of all, let’s figure out where to use each of the cases.

Nominative – unchanged(infinitive) form of a noun

Genitive – describes possession, authorship, amount, inherent connection. It can be an analogue of English preposition “of”. key phrases “I don’t have ….” “it is from …”, used with the prepositions: ОТ, ИЗ, С –from. The most often used case.

Accusative – Describes an object of an action. key phrase “I can use …”. Related questions: “What? Whom? For what?

Dative – Describes giving or addressing. Key phrase “I give to…”. Used with the preposition К – to/towards(whom?). Related questions: “To whom? To what?”.

Instrumental – describes an “instrument” of an action by which one does something. Key phrase “I do it by ….”.  Used instead of the English preposition “by”. Also, with prepositions: НАД, ПОД, МЕЖДУ, С(with).

Prepositional – describes an object of a speech. Key phrase “It is about …”. Always used with prepositions. The prepositions for this case are: О, ОБ, ПРО, НА – on.

There are only few exceptions of words that are not declined: кафе – cafe, пальто – coat, метро – metro.

There are 3 declensions of nouns that determine case endings.

Declension 1: masculine and feminine nouns with the endings –А or –Я.

РЕКА(f) – river, ДЯДЯ(m*) – uncle

*- physical gender is masculine, therefore the grammatical gender is masculine despite its feminine ending. In this declension, all masculine nouns will be like this, e.g. ДЕДУШКА – granddad, ПАПА – dad.

Declension 2: masculine nouns with empty ending and neuter nouns with the endings –Е and –О.

ДОМ(m) – house, СТОЛ(m) – table, ЗАДАНИЕ(n) – task, СООБЩЕСТВО(n) – community

Declension 3: feminine nouns ending in –Ь

РЕЧЬ(f) – speech, СТЕПЬ(f) – steppe, МЫШЬ(f) – mouse

Here is declension of the nouns РЕКА – river, РЕКИ – rivers(plural), ДЯДЯ – uncle, ДЯДИ – uncles(plural) from the 1st declension. Look carefully at case endings and try to decline some nouns from the dictionary by yourself.

Nom.РЕКАРЕКИДЯДЯДЯДИ
Gen.РЕКИРЕКДЯДИДЯДЕЙ
Acc.РЕКУРЕКИДЯДЮДЯДЬ
Dat.РЕКЕРЕКАМДЯДЕДЯДЯМ
Inst.РЕКОЙРЕКАМИДЯДЕЙДЯДЯМИ
Prep.О РЕКЕО РЕКАХО ДЯДЕО ДЯДЯХ

And nouns from the 2nd declension: СТОЛ – table, СТОЛЫ – tables, ОКНО – window, ОКНА – windows.

Nom.СТОЛСТОЛЫОКНООКНА
Gen.СТОЛАСТОЛОВОКНАОКОН
Acc.СТОЛСТОЛЫОКНООКНА
Dat.СТОЛУСТОЛАМОКНУОКНАМ
Inst.СТОЛОМСТОЛАМИОКНОМОКНАМИ
Prep.О СТОЛЕО СТОЛАХОБ ОКНЕОБ ОКНАХ

And, nouns from the 3rd declension: РЕЧЬ – speech, РЕЧИ – speeches, СТЕПЬ – steppe, СТЕПИ – steppes.

Nom.РЕЧЬРЕЧИСТЕПЬСТЕПИ
Gen.РЕЧИРЕЧЕЙСТЕПИСТЕПЕЙ
Acc.РЕЧЬРЕЧИСТЕПЬСТЕПИ
Dat.РЕЧИРЕЧАМСТЕПИСТЕПЯМ
Inst.РЕЧЬЮРЕЧАМИСТЕПЬЮСТЕПЯМИ
Prep.О РЕЧИО РЕЧАХО СТЕПИО СТЕПЯХ

My recommendation: try to decline by cases 20-30 nouns and  use an online free service of Russian word declension. Don’t learn by rote the rules of using each case too much. Read texts and pay attention to nouns, in which cases they are, and it will help to form skills of automatic use of the cases. This is just my recommendation, You can have your own way to learn it.

EXAMPLES

Чашка чая на столе A cup of tea on the table

Он работает инструментами He works by instruments

Лампа светит светом Lamp lights by light

Писатель написал о природе A writer wrote about nature

Горячий чай в чашке Hot tea in the cup

Я вижу книгу I can see the book

Она показала людям дорогу She showed the road to the people (людям – dative, дорогу – accusative).

Я доволен моими братьями I am glad by my brothers

Я прочитал отчёт о экономике I’ve read a report about economics

Книга читается читателями The book is read by readers

Мой отец любит работать молотком My father loves to work by a hammer

Мы выпили много бутылок вина We have drunk many bottles of wine

У моего ноутбука нет зарядника My notebook doesn’t have a charger

Напиши это на бумаге – Write it on paper

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