Long and Short Forms of Adjectives

So far we learned how to form long adjectives (красивый - beautiful, лёгкий - easy). In addition, Russian adjectives have a short form. To be more precise, only qualitative adjectives may have both long and short forms (лёгкий - лёгок, красивый - красив). In today's conversational Russian the usage of long adjectives is preferred. However, you will most likely have to use the short form of an adjective in the end of a sentence. For example:

Long adjective Correct usage
(short form)
Wrong usage
(long form)
занятый
(occupined)
Эта комната занята.
(This room is occupied.)
Эта комната занятая.
 
согласный
(agree)
Я с Вами согласен.
(I agree with you.)
Я с Вами согласный.
 

Short adjectives change only by gender and number; they do not change by case as long adjectives do. Singular masculine short adjectives do not have an ending, singular feminine adjectives end in -a, and singular neuter adjectives end in -o. All plural short adjectives end in .

Endings for short adjectives
(stressed vowels are underlined)

Singular Plural
(any gender)
(-ы)
masculine
(no ending)
neuter
(-o)
feminine
(-а)
весел
молод
весело
молод
о
весела
молод
а
веселы
молоды

Short adjectives usually describe temporary qualities, as opposed to long adjectives that refer to constant and general qualities. For example, we say:

Ольга -- счастливая девушка.
(Olga is a happy girl.) -- constantly

Вчера вечером она была очень счастлива.
(She was very happy last night.) -- temporarily
 

Remember !

There are no short forms for the adjectives большойand маленький. Use short forms for the adjectives великий and малый instead, i.e. the words великand малrespectively.

Short adjectives can also refer to qualities with respect to a particular person, thing or circumstances. For example:

Папин костюм сыну велик.
(The father's suit is big for the son.)

You already know that masculine short adjectives have no endings. But there is a special rule to form a short form of those masculine adjectives that become too hard to pronounce. In this case you should add a letter O before the last K, and letter E before the last H. Consider the following examples:

O before K:

 
низкий - низoк
("низк" is hard to pronounce because it has two consecutive consonants in the end)
 
E before H:
 
трудный - трудeн
("трудн" is also hard to pronounce)

There are no short forms for the adjectives большой (big) and маленький (small). Use short forms for the adjectives великий (great) and малый (small) instead. These forms change by gender and number as follows (stressed vowels underlined):

  • for большой (великий):
     
    masculine singular: велик
    feminine singular: велика
    neuter singular: велико
    plural: велики

     

     
  • for маленький (малый):
     
    masculine singular: мал
    feminine singular: мала
    neuter singular: мало
    plural: малы

Some Russian adjectives do not have a short form. In general, those are adjectives formed from nouns and ending in:

  • -ский (братский, дружеский)
  • -овой, -евой (деловой, боевой)
  • -ной, -ный, -ний (главный, лишний, поздний)

There is also the short adjective рад (glad) that does not have a long form.

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