Welcome to the sixth lesson in our beginner's course. By now, you should be able to read in Russian, have picked up some basic vocab, and have a solid grasp of core grammar concepts related to the structure of Russian nouns, pronouns, and verbs.
In this lesson, we're going to get acquainted with the Russian case system. There will be more lessons on the complexities of the Russian cases in the future. But by the end of this lesson you should know what are the main uses of each of the cases and what their endings are.
There are six cases in Russian: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, instrumental, and prepositional. That means that across the singular and plural versions of a noun there are twelve separate forms to decline.
Now, that may sound extremely complicated compared to English. However, this case system actually gives Russian a beauty and nuance that allows you to describe the world with great specificty while playing around with a sentence's word order.
For more information:
The subject of the sentence – i.e. the one who performs an action.
The direct object of the sentence – i.e. the object of the subject’s action.
The accusative for animate masculine objects declines like the genitive:
The accusative is also used with the prepositions “в” and “на” to denote direction:
The genitive case indicates ownership or possession – i.e. something of something else, or something’s such and such.
The genitive is also used with the preposition “у” to mean “I have:”
The genitive is also used in negative phrases:
The indirect object of the sentence – i.e. to whom an action is directed.
The dative is also used with “нравиться” to say “to like:”
The dative is also used to express feelings:
The dative is also used to say your age:
Indicates the instrument or means by or with which an action is performed.
The instrumental is commonly used with the preposition “с” to mean “with:”
The prepositional case is used with a number of different prepositions. Most commonly, the prepositional is used with “в” and “на” to indicate location in, on, or at of an action as well as with “о” to mean “about:”
So, heads up, there are a lot of Russian noun declensions to learn. However, don't worry at all about memorizing them all immediately. For now, have a look at our page that has the full declension tables of Russian nouns. Give it a good skim and familiarize yourself with the three different Russian noun declension groups.
Here's how the personal pronouns decline. For reference, you can also check out our main pronouns resource page.
Here's how the possessive pronouns decline. For reference, you can check them all out in our main pronouns resource page.
Possessive pronouns actually are quite simple to decline.