Russian Language Grammar

    Accusative

The cases are discussed with reference to:

A.    Basic function

B.    Special constructions

C.    Verbs governing the cases

D.    Prepositions governing the cases (including the so-called adverbial and verbal prepositions)

Remark: Many prepositions (в, за, на, но, etc.) have a variety of meanings. Some govern more than one case; this is discussed in detail in the "Prepositions" chapter.

BASIC FUNCTION

In its basic meaning, the accusative denotes the direct object. It is used onlу with verbs, and answers the questions:  кого? (whom?); что? (what?)

NEGATED SENTENCES

Transitive negated verbs usually call for the genitive.  However, the accusative case is also quite frequently used:

(Gen.)      Я не пью вина.

I don't drink wine.

(Acc.)      Я не люблю это вино.

I don't like this wine.

(Gen.)      Мы давно не получали писем.

We haven't received any letters for a long time.

(Acc.)     Я не получил ваше письмо.

I did not get your letter.

(a)    The accusative is rather frequently used with feminine nouns, both in conversational and literary Russian.

Я не читал эту книгу.

I did not read this book.

He  стану  описывать  Оренбургскую осаду.   (Пушкин)

I will not start to describe the siege of Orenburg.

(b)    The accusative is used with proper names and with other words pertaining to one particular notion.

Вы не видели Анну Ивановну?

Have you seen Anna Ivanovna?

Он не любит балет.

Не doesn't like ballet.

Вы, пожалуйста, не думайте, что я не умею ценить серьёзную музыку.  (Тургенев)

Please don't think that I cannot appreciate serious music.

 (c)    The accusative is preferred when reference is made to something definite, known to the persons concerned.

He забудь чемодан.

Don't forget the suitcase.

Почему ты не выпил молоко?

Why didn't you drink the milk?

(d)    The accusative is used to avoid a close succession of nouns in the genitive.

Он не помнит номер телефона.

Не doesn't remember the phone number.

Я не знаю сестру жены.

I don't know my wife's sister.

Notes :

(а)   In the last example, the combined reasons – feminine noun, one definite person, succession of genitives – would simply preclude "сестры жены".

(b)   Some English verbs which are followed by a preposition take in Russian a direct object without prepositions.

Я жду учительницу.

I am waiting for the teacher.

Он ищет ключ.

Не is looking for the key.

Мы попросили счёт.

We asked for the bill.

 SPECIAL CONSTRUCTIONS

(a) The accusative may follow some intransitive verbs when expressing a length of time, a distance, the price, or the weight.

Я работал неделю.

I worked for a week.

Мы проехали одну милю.

We drove one mile.

Ручка стоит рубль.

The pen costs a ruble.

Это весит тонну.

This weighs one ton.

(b) The accusative is used after жаль.

Мне жаль его жену.

I am sorry for his wife.

VERBS GOVERNING THE ACCUSATIVE

As a rule, all transitive verbs are followed by the accusative. The exceptions are the constructions discussed with the genitive case, such as айте мне хлеба" (partitive meaning) and "он не пьёт молока" (negated predicate).

PREPOSITIONS

A list of prepositions governing the accusative case is given below. It should be noted that в, за, на, and под govern the accusative when they express motion, and not location. However, the three prepositions в, за, and на have quite a variety of additional meanings. 

в 

 

in, into (direction):

Я иду в сад. – I am going into the garden.

Он положил деньги в карман. – Не put the money in his pocket.

to (implying "into"):

пойти в банк – to go to the bank

послать телеграмму в Вашингтон – to send a telegram to Washington

on (expressing time – with days of the week):

в среду, в четверг – on Wednesday, on Thursday

at (expressing time with hours):

час, в два часа, в четверть второго – at one o'clock, at two o'clock, at quarter past one.

not translated:

В эту ночь я не спал. – That night I did not sleep.

В один прекрасный день он появился в городе. – One fine day he appeared in town.

in (often pertaining to weather):

В дождливую погоду лучше сидеть дома. – In rainy weather it is better to stay home.

В такую бурю я никуда не поеду. – In such a storm I won't go anywhere.   

in (expressing the result of an action which has lasted a certain time):

В один месяц всё было готово. – In one month everything was ready.

not translated: expressing comparison:

в два раза дороже – twice as expensive

в три раза длиннее – three times longer

включая

including:

Три доллара, включая пошлину – three dollars including the tax.

за

behind, beyond:

Он пошёл за дом. – Не went behind the house.

Мы поехали за реку. – We drove beyond the river.

for (implying exchange, reciprocation): 

работать за товарища – to work for a friend  (in his place)

купить за рубль – to buy for a ruble

заплатить за книгу – to pay for the book

отплатить за что-нибудь – to pay back for something

спасибо за письмо – thank you for the letter

during: 

За этот год я видел его только один раз. – During this year I saw him only once.

before (in combination with до):

Она приехала за неделю до нас. – She came a week before us.

исключая

excluding:

исключая присутствующих – present com­pany excepted (excluded)

на

on, onto (direction):

пойти на улицу – to go on(to) the street

положить на стол – to put on the table

to:

поехать на лекцию – to go to a lecture

пойти на базар – to go to the market

   Ha is also used with a few public buildings: на почту (to the post office); на вокзал (to the terminal); на станцию (to the station).

for (future plans):

уехать на всё лето (to leave for the whole summer); приехать на неделю (to come for a week)

for (purpose, use):

Сколько вы истратили на починку? – How much did you spend for repairs?

not translated (expressing a difference in comparing):

на год старше (a year older); на два метра выше (two meters higher)         

   Ha is used with many verbs: сердиться на (to be angry with);  надеяться на (to count on), etc.

несмотря на

in spite of:

Несмотря на мою просьбу, он ничего не сделал. – In spite of my request, he did not do any­thing.

о, об

against (implying shock, or contact with an object):

Лодка ударилась о камни. – The boat struck against the rocks.

Note: Об is used with non-yotated vowels: Я ударился об это. (I hit myself against it.) Very seldom with consonants: Рука об руку (hand in hand)

по

up to; sometimes: until (in both cases implying a limit):

Он стоял по грудь в воде. – Не stood in the water up to his chest.

У меня отпуск по двадцатое сентября. – I am on leave until September 20th.

под

under:

Положите чемодан под кровать. – Put the suitcase under the bed.

про

about:

Он про это не писал. – Не didn't write about this.

с (со)

about;   the size of:

Мы жили там с неделю. – We lived there for about a week.

Слива величиной  с яблоко. – A plum the size of an apple.

''Мальчик с пальчик'' – ''Tom Thumb''

сквозь

through (frequently implying an obstacle) :

Мы прошли сквозь толпу. – We passed (we made our way) through the crowd.

Сквозь туман ничего не  было видно. – Through the fog one couldn't see anything.

спустя

thereafter,  after  that:   

Неделю спустя он уехал. – A week after that, he left.

через

overthrough:

Мост через реку – a bridge over the river

Можно пройти через парк. – One may go through the park.

in  (with  expressions  of time):   

Она  напишет  через неделю. – She will write in a week.

through, with the help of:

Он получил место через объявление в газете. – Не got a job through an ad in the paper.

Мы разговаривали через переводчика. – We talked through an interpreter.