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 читаем книги.
Mary likes John. Мария любит Ивана.
People speak different languages. Люди говорят на разных языках.

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. Коробка попкорна.
A glass of water. Стакан воды.
A mother’s child. Ребёнок матери.

Dative case[edit]

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

Give the apple to me. Отдай яблоко мне.
I am going to the teacher. Я иду к учителю.
Elena is walking towards the station. Елена идёт к вокзалу.
Ivan gives flowers to Anna. Иван даёт цветы Анне.

Accusative case[edit]

The accusative case is like the English direct object:

I see the book. Я вижу книгу.
We must buy dinner. Нам надо купить ужин.
Let’s go into the theatre. Пойдём в театр.

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 мной.
I hit my thumb with the hammer. Я ушибаю себе палец молотком.
They write with pens. Они пишут ручками.
He sent a letter by post. Он послал письмо почтой.

Prepositional case[edit]

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

The book is on the table. Книга на столе.
I am in the cinema. Я в кинотеатре.
I like to read about people. Мне нравится читать о людях.

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). Чашка чаю.
A piece of bread (some bread). Кусок хлеба.

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. Дерево растёт на берегу реки.

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! Боже мой!
God forbid! Сохрани боже!
O Lord Jesus... Господи Иисусе...

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 -a or -o 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]