The Declension of Singular Nouns

From previous lessons you learned about the six cases and two numbers of Russian nouns. The inflexion of nouns by cases and numbers is called declension (склонение - pronounced as sklah-nye-nee-ye).

Depending on case endings all singular nouns are divided into three types of declension.

First declension nouns are primarily feminine nouns but there are also several masculine nouns with an initial (dictionary, nominative) form ending in -а, -я. For example:

feminine nouns - трава, земля, химия
masculine nouns - папа, дядя, юноша

First declension nouns end in -e in the dative and prepositional cases (травe, о травe). Nouns which have initial form ending in -ия (армия, Наталия) get the ending in the dative and prepositional cases (армии, об армии, Наталии, о Наталии).

Here is a chart that sums up the endings of first declension singular nouns.

Cases Singular nouns endings Examples *
Nominative -а, -я, -ия трава земля юноша химия Валерия
Genitive -ы, -и травы земли юноши химии Валерии
Dative -е, -и траве земле юноше химии Валерии
Accusative -у, -ю траву землю юношу химию Валерию
Instrumental -ой, -ей травой землёй юношей химией Валерией
Prepositional -е, -и (о) траве (о) земле (о) юноше (о) химии (о) Валерии

* Stressed vowels are underlined. Endings are in bold.

Second declension nouns are masculine nouns with a zero ending in the initial form (стол, олень, гербарий) and neuter nouns ending in -o, e (небo, полe, поведениe).

Second declension nouns in the prepositional case end in -e (об оленe, о небe, о полe). Masculine nouns with an initial form ending in -ий and neuter nouns ending in -ие get the ending in the prepositional case.

The endings typical of second declension singular nouns are summed up in this table.

Case Singular nouns endings Examples *
Nominative zero ending, -o, -e, -ий, -ие олень гербарий небо поле поведение
Genitive -а, -я оленя гербария неба поля поведения
Dative -у, -ю оленю гербарию небу полю поведению
Accusative -я, -о, -е, -ий, -ие оленя гербарий небо поле поведение
Instrumental -ем, -ом оленем гербарием небом полем поведением
Prepositional -е, -и (об) олене (о) гербарии (о) небе (о) поле (о) поведении

* Stressed vowels are underlined. Endings are in bold.

Third declension nouns are feminine nouns with a zero ending in the initial form (дочь, сирень, тишь). Third declension singular nouns in the genitive, dative and prepositional cases end in (у сирени, к сирени, о сирени).

This table sums up the endings of third declension singular nouns.

Case Singular nouns endings Examples *
Nominative zero ending дочь сирень
Genitive дочери сирени
Dative дочери сирени
Accusative zero ending дочь сирень
Instrumental дочерью сиренью
Prepositional (о) дочери (о) сирени

* Stressed vowels are underlined. Endings are in bold.







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Word: маленький
Meaning: small, little, insignificant
Pronunciation: [MAH-leen'-kiy]

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