The Cases of Russian Nouns

In Russian language the nouns change their forms and get different endings. These forms (and their endings) are called cases. The case of a noun shows what role a noun plays in the sentence.

Please note that the goal of this lesson is to introduce the cases of Russian nouns. If you'd like to study cases in more detail, please read our lessons dedicated to each of the six cases in Russian.

Now, let's look at an example of how the word поезд changes depending on the case. The stressed vowels are underlined:

много поездов (a lot of trains) - the genitive
ехать поездом (to go by train) - the instrumental

There are six cases in Russian: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, and prepositional.

1. The nominative case answers the questions "who?" or "what?". It is an initial form. All dictionaries give nouns in the nominative.

Студент читает   The student is reading.

cтудент --> cтудент (no change)

2. The genitive case is used to show that something (somebody) belongs or refers to something (somebody). It can be translated by "of" in English.

берег реки   the bank of the river

река --> реки (the ending -a becomes -и)

3. The dative case designates that something is given or addressed to the person (object).

Я иду к врачу   I go to the doctor
Я даю это другу   I give it to the friend

врач --> врачу (the ending -у is added)
друг --> другу

4. The accusative case designates the object of an action.

Я читаю газету   I read the newspaper
Я встретил друга   I met the friend

газета --> газету (the ending -а becomes -у)
друг --> друга (the ending -а is added)

5. The instrumental case is used to denote an instrument that helps to make something.

Я пишу карандашом   I write with a pencil

карандаш --> карандашом (the ending -ом is added)

6. The prepositional case is used to designate a place, or a person (object) that is an object of speech and thought. This case is always used with a preposition.

Она мечтает о лете   She dreams about the summer
Цветы стоят на столе   The flowers are on the table

лето --> лете (the ending -о becomes -е)
стол --> столе (the ending -е is added)

Very often the case of a noun is connected with a preposition which stands before it. The nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals may have different case forms in the sentence. Thus, to understand Russian speech and speak Russian correctly, it is necessary to learn how to use cases in Russian. You will learn more about cases in further lessons.

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