Appendix:Russian nouns

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Russian noun declension[edit]

Conventionally, Russian nouns have six cases: nominative case, genitive case, dative case, accusative case, instrumental case, and prepositional case. However, some nouns retain vestiges from Old Russian of one, two, or three additional cases: the partitive-genitive case, the locative case, and the vocative case. In the majority of cases, the partitive-genitive has merged with the genitive, the locative has merged with the prepositional, and the vocative (related to the prepositional) has been generally lost.

Nominative case[edit]

The nominative case is the subject case, and this is considered the basic form of a word:

We read books. Мы чита́ем кни́ги. My čitájem knígi.
Mary likes John. Мари́я лю́бит Ива́на. Maríja ljúbit Ivána.
People speak (in) different languages. Лю́ди говоря́т на ра́зных языка́х. Ljúdi govorját na ráznyx jazykáx.

Genitive case[edit]

The genitive case is similar to the English possessive case, and it often corresponds to English of or the possessive ending ’s:

A box of popcorn Коро́бка попко́рна Koróbka popkórna
A glass of water Стака́н воды́‎ Stakán vodý‎
A mother’s child Ребёнок ма́тери Rebjónok máteri

Dative case[edit]

The dative case is similar to the English indirect object, and it often corresponds to the words to or towards:

Give the apple to me. Отда́й я́блоко мне. Otdáj jábloko mne.
I am going to the teacher. Я иду́ к учи́телю. Ja idú k učítelju.
Helen is walking towards the station. Еле́на идёт к вокза́лу. Jeléna idjót k vokzálu.
John gives flowers to Anne. Ива́н даёт цветы́ А́нне. Iván dajót cvetý Ánne.

Accusative case[edit]

The accusative case is like the English direct object:

I see the book. Я ви́жу кни́гу. Ja vížu knígu.
We must buy dinner. Нам на́до купи́ть у́жин. Nam nádo kupítʹ úžin.
Let’s go into the theatre. Пойдём в теа́тр. Pojdjóm v teátr.

Instrumental case[edit]

The instrumental case indicates the agent or the instrument of an action, and it often corresponds to English with or by:

He is with me. Он со мно́й. On so mnój.
I hit my thumb with the hammer. Я ушиба́ю себе́ па́лец молотко́м. Ja ušibáju sebé pálec molotkóm.
They write with pens. Они́ пи́шут ру́чками. Oní píšut rúčkami.
He sent a letter by post. Он посла́л письмо́ по́чтой. On poslál pisʹmó póčtoj.

Prepositional case[edit]

The prepositional case always takes a preposition, and it often indicates location:

The book is on the table. Кни́га на столе́. Kníga na stolé.
I am in the cinema. Я в кинотеа́тре. Ja v kinoteátre.
I like to read about people. Мне нра́вится чита́ть о лю́дях. Mne nrávitsja čitátʹ o ljúdjax.

Partitive-genitive case[edit]

The partitive-genitive case, when different from the genitive, means part of something, some of something:

A cup of tea (some tea) Ча́шка ча́ю Čáška čáju
A piece of bread (some bread) Кусо́к хле́ба Kusók xléba

Locative case[edit]

The locative case, when it differs from the prepositional case, indicates location:

A tree is growing on the bank of the river. Де́рево растёт на берегу́ реки́. Dérevo rastjót na beregú rekí.

Vocative case[edit]

The vocative case survives in only a few words of a religious nature, and this case marks the person being addressed. In some old writing and in some poetry, this is sometimes indicated with the word "O" or "Oh" in English:

(Oh) My God! Бо́же мой! Bóže moj!
God forbid! Сохрани́ бо́же! Soxraní bóže!
O Lord Jesus! Го́споди Иису́се! Góspodi Iisúse!

Declension paradigms[edit]

Russian nouns are frequently irregular in declension, and specific declensions may be found in most articles. Listed here are what we consider to be standard regular declensions:

Hard declensions[edit]

Nouns that end in a hard consonant or the vowels or are hard and follow these hard patterns:

1. Hard masculine case endings:

2. Hard neuter case endings:

3. Hard feminine case endings:

N.B.—Nouns that end (after dropping the final vowel in the case of feminines or neuters) in the consonants , , , , , , or are also hard, but they take soft instead of in the applicable cases:

4. Hard masculine case endings with:

5. Hard feminine case endings with:

Soft declensions[edit]

Masculine nouns that end in or , neuter nouns in or -мя, and feminine nouns in or follow these soft patterns:

6. Soft masculine case endings:

7. Soft neuter case endings:

8. Soft feminine case endings:

Declension tables[edit]

The following codes are used in declension tables, in the following order:

  1. animacy: anim = animate, inan = inanimate, bian = bianimate (can be both animate and inanimate)
    • this affects the accusative plural and masculine accusative singular, which are the same as the nominative in inanimates and the genitive in animates
  2. number restriction: pl-only = plural only (plurale tantum), sg-only = singular only (singulare tantum)
  3. typical gender: masc-type = typically masculine, fem-type = typically feminine, neut-type = typically neuter
    • this refers to the form of the noun, not the actual gender, which in some cases is different
  4. stem class or declension:
    1. stem values: hard-stem = ends in a paired hard consonant, soft-stem = ends in a paired soft consonant, velar-stem = ends in к/г/х, sibilant-stem = ends in ш/щ/ч/ж, ц-stem = ends in ц, vowel-stem = ends in a vowel other than и or ends in a palatal (й or ь + vowel), i-stem = ends in и
      • this affects the form that various endings take
    2. other values: 3rd-decl = 3rd-declension noun (feminine in -ь or neuter in -мя), invar = invariable, short poss = short possessive adjectival, mixed poss = mixed possessive adjectival, proper poss = proper-noun possessive adjectival
      • all the adjectival variants here have short (noun-like) endings in some of their cases, and the stem generally ends in -ов/ев/ёв or -ин
  5. stress pattern: a, b, b', c, d, d', e, f, f', f''
  6. adj = adjectival (has the endings of an adjective rather than a typical noun)
  7. reduc = reducible, [reduc] = optionally reducible
    • this means that an extra vowel appears before the final stem consonant in the nominative singular and/or genitive plural (specifically, in all endings lacking a vowel)
  8. irreg = irregular
    • most commonly, this refers to an unexpected nominative plural or genitive plural ending, or a special plural stem

See also[edit]