Russian Language Grammar


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.


The genitive normally expresses relations between two nouns. These relations are usually rendered into English with the aid of the preposition "of" in answer to:  кого? (of whom?);  чего? (of what?);  чей? (whose?). These relations include:

1.    Possession

дом учителя – the house of the teacher (or: the teacher's house)

2.    Connection

брат жены (the brother of [my] wife);  начальник отдела (the head of the department);  улицы города (city streets); дом отдыха (rest home)

3.    Part (of a whole; of a substance)

крыша дома (the roof of the house);   ножка стола (the leg of a table);  кусок дерева (a piece of wood);   стакан воды (a glass of water)

4.    Partitive meaning (translated into English by "some," "any")

Он выпил воды He drank some water
Дайте мне хлеба Give me some bread
Вы купили пива? Did you buy any beer?

Remarks: (1) In the plural, the partitive genitive has even wider usage. It suggests then ''a few'': купить конвертов и марок - to buy a few envelopes and stamps; достать сигарет - to get a few cigarettes. (2) The direct object is in the accusative when the action pertains to the entire object: выпить воду – to drink the water; дать хлеб – to give the bread (to give a loaf of bread).

5.    Characteristics (concrete, visible; abstract)

цвет платья (the color of the dress); человек высокого роста (a tall man); цена книги (the price of the book); вес багажа (the weight of the luggage); вопрос большой важности (a question of great importance)

6.    Action or implied action

продажа билетов (the sale of tickets); начало урока (the beginning of the lesson); игра детей (children's game)

7.    Feeling and reasoning

чувство долга (a sense of duty); мнение президента (the president's opinion)

Remark: Needless to say, not all constructions with ''of'' are rendered by the genitive in Russian: He is a friend of mine – Он мой друг; quarter of five – без четверти пять; the city of Moscow – ород) Москва.


The genitive is used in the following constructions:

1. In negated sentences – after нет, не было, не будет – regardless of gender or number:

У нас нет хлеба

We have no bread.

Там не было мебели.   

There was no furniture there.

Завтра не будет уроков.    

Tomorrow there will be no lessons.

The same type of sentence is encountered with animate logical subjects:

Его нет.   

Не is not here (He’s gone).

Меня не было дома.   

I wasn't at home.

Вас не будет на лекции?    

You won't be at the lecture?

Sometimes the meaning of such sentences is just about identical with the personal ones: "Меня не было дома" may be reworded "Я не был дома".

However, the first construction often suggests that something expected did not happen (at a specific place or time).

Sentences such as:   Я никогда не был в Европе (I have never been to Europe) should not be replaced with the impersonal ones.

In addition to нет, не было, and не будет, the genitive is used in other impersonal constructions:   after не followed by бывать (to be, to happen); проходить, пройти (to pass);   происходить, произойти (to happen, to take place);   оставаться, остаться (to remain, to be left);   выходить, выйти (to turn out to be) and существовать (to exist).

Давно не бывало такой жары.

There hasn't been such heat for a long time.

Ничего не вышло.

Nothing came out (of it).

He прошло и дня.

A day didn't pass.

К счастью, скандала  не произошло

Fortunately there was no scandal.

Ничего не осталось.   

Nothing has left.

2. In negated sentences – after transitive verbs

Я не пью вина.

I don't drink (any) wine.

Он не получил ответа.

Не didn't get any reply.

Remarks :

(a) The accusative case may also be used in negated constructions. This important (and often debated) point is discussed with the accusative case.

(b) The genitive is seldom used in negated sentences after intransitive verbs. This only takes place with some constructions referring to time, distance, etc.


Examples : 

Он и года не работает здесь, а уже хочет уходить.

Не hasn't worked here a year and already wants to leave.

He проехали мы километра, как лопнула шина.

We had hardly driven a kilometer, when we got a flat tyre.

3. With the comparative degree

    Брат старше сестры.

    The brother is older than the sister.

    Сестра моложе брата.

    The sister is younger than the brother.

    4.  With numerals (except 1, 21, 31, etc.) and other expressions of quantity:

       (a)    Genitive singular is used after два (две), три, четыре; the com­pound numerals ending in 2, 3, 4, such as 22, 43, 74, etc., and after оба (обе).

    два доллара, сорок три рубля, оба брата.

       (b)    Genitive plural after all other numerals, from 5 up.

    шесть столов, двадцать семь книг.

    Also, after the collective numerals двое, трое, четверо, etc.

    двое учеников, трое детей.

       (c)    Genitive singular or genitive plural – with fractions: четверть – 1/4, треть – 1/3, половина – 1/2, три пятых – 3/5, etc.

    половина книги;   девять десятых учеников.

       (d)    Genitive singular or genitive plural after много, мало, сколько, кило , фунт, etc.

    много воды – a lot of water;  много книг – many books.

       (e)    Genitive plural after несколько (several); большинство (majority); меньшинство (minority), etc.

    несколько книг;   большинство учеников.

    5. In expressions of time – when something takes place on a certain date:

    Я приехал первого марта.

    I arrived on March 1st.

    Мы вернёмся шестого июля.

    We will return on July 6th

    6. With the short or long adjectives, полный  (full), and достойный (worth, deserving).

      дом полон народу

      the house is full of people

      человек, достойный уважения

      a man deserving respect


      The genitive is used after the following verbs:

      бояться, побояться

      to be afraid of, to fear

      добиваться, добиться

      to seek, to aim, to (try to) get, to obtain

      достигать, достигнуть

      to reach, to attain, to obtain

      заслуживать, заслужить

      to deserve

      избегать, избежать

      to avoid

      касаться, коснуться

      to touch (impersonal only:   to concern)

      лишать, лишить

      to deprive

      лишаться, лишиться

      to be deprived of

      пугаться, испугаться

      to be frightened

      ушаться, послушаться

      to obey


      to fear


      to cost (an effort, etc.)

      стесняться, постесняться

      to feel shy, embarrassed

      стыдиться, постыдиться

      to be ashamed of


      Она боится грозы.

      She is afraid of the storm.

      Вас это на касается.

      This does not concern you.

      Это стоило большого усилия.

      It cost a lot of effort.

      The genitive is used with expressions formed from недоставать and нехватать (both meaning: to miss, to be short of).

      Ему недостаёт опыта.

      Не lacks experience.

      Мне нехватало вас.

      I missed you.

      The following verbs are followed by the genitive, when something rather indefinite or something abstract is referred to: желать, пожелать (to wish); ждать, подождать (to wait); искать, поискать (to look for); просить, попросить (to ask for); ожидать (to await); требовать, потребовать (to demand);   хотеть, захотеть (to wish, to want).

      Мы ждали автобуса.   

      We were waiting for a bus.

      Он искал случая.

      Не was looking (waiting) for an occasion.

      Она попросила слова.

      She asked for the right to speak.

      Страна хочет (желает) мира. 

      The country wishes peace.

       When something more specific or concrete is referred to the accusative is used:

      Я жду сестру.

      I am waiting for (my) sister.

      Он ищет карандаш.

      He is looking for a pencil.

      Он попросил счёт.

      He asked for the bill (check)

      Что вы хотите?

      What do you want (wish)?


      The following prepositions govern the genitive:



      Я пришёл без шляпы. – I came without a hat.



      Близ города есть река. – Near the town is a river.

      в виде

      in the way of, as:

      татуировка в виде бабочки – a tattoo as a butterfly


      on account of:

      ввиду его отсутствия – on account of his absence



      Мы ехали вдоль берега. – We drove along the shore.


      instead of:

      Он пришёл вместо брата. – Не саmе instead of his brother.


      out of, outside:

      вне города – outside of the city


      вне сомнения – beyond doubt



      внутри здания – inside the building



      Мы живём возле леса. – We live near the wood.



      Они  сидели вокруг стола. – They  were sitting around the table.


      in front of:

      Он шёл впереди нас. – Не was walking in front of us.

      в продолжение

      during, throughout:

      В продолжение всего урока он молчал. – Не was silent throughout the   whole lesson.


      like (which  looks  like):

      Он надел  что-то вроде шляпы. – Не put on something  (which  looked) like a hat.


      as a consequence, as a result:

      вследствие этого разговора – as a result of this conversation

      в течение


      в течение  всего года – during the whole year



      Вот деньги для него. – Here is the money for him.

      for (implied – with expressions of purpose):

      шкаф для белья – linen closet;  щётка для ногтей nail brush



      прийти до завтрака  – to come before lunch


      остаться до конца – to remain until the end


      До станции очень далеко. – It is very far to the station.

      as far as:

      дойти до угла –  to go as far as the corner

      за исключением

      except,   excepting:

      Все пришли, за исключением Ивана. – Everybody came except John.



      Она написала из Бостона. – She wrote from Boston.

      out of:

      Он вынул деньги из кармана. – Не took the money out of his pocket. Это сделано из стекла. – This is made out of glass.


      from behind:

      Человек вышел из-за дома. – A man came from behind the house.

      because of,  on account of:

      опоздать из-за погоды – to be late on account of the weather


      from under:

      Кошка выбежала из-под стола. – The cat ran out from under the table.




      Кто там был, кроме доктора? – Who was there besides the doctor?

      Кроме доктора, никого не было. Nobody was there except the doctor.



      Кругом нас вода. – Water is all around us.


      past, by:

      ехать мимо школы – to drive past the school


      the day before, on the eve:

      накануне праздника – on the eve of the holiday



      Мы живём напротив почты. – We live opposite the post office.


      about, regarding:

      Он пишет насчёт сына. –  Не is writing about his son.

      не считая


      В доме два этажа, не считая подвала. – There are two storeys  in the house excluding the basement.



      Она стояла около дерева. –  She stood near a tree.

      about (usually implying  "less than"):

      Мы жили там около года. – We lived there for about a year


      Он приехал около двух часов. – Не came around two o'clock.



      письмо от брата – a letter from (my) brother;

      Дом недалеко от реки. – The house is not far from the river.

      from, because of:

      Он не мог говорить от волнения. – Не couldn't speak from excitement.

      from (implied):

      лекарство от кашля – cough medi­cine.


      regarding,  concerning:

       относительно его письма – regarding his letter



      Он стоял позади автобуса. – Не stood behind the bus.


      apart from:

      Помимо этого, я ничего не знаю. – Apart from this, I don't know anything.



      Поперёк дороги лежало дерево. – A tree lay across the road.

      по поводу

      about, regarding:

      Я с ним говорил по поводу письма. – I spoke with him about the letter.



      после обеда – after dinner

      по случаю

      on the occasion of:

      Мы не работаем по случаю праздника. – We are not working on the occasion of the holiday.


      in the middle of:

      посреди сада – in the middle of the garden


      by  means of,   with:

      посредством этой машины – with (the help of) this machine



      Это против закона. – This  is against the law.


      for the sake of:

      Она всё сделает ради сына. – She will do everything for the sake of (her) son.



      сойти с трамвая – to get off the streetcar


      перевод с русского – a   translation from Russian


      с детства – since childhood


      over, above:

      сверх нормы – above the norm



      Кто едет сзади нашего автомобиля? – Who is driving behind our car?


      outside of:   

      Он  стоял  снаружи  дома. – Не  stood outside (of) the house.


      in the middle of:

      среди ночи – in the middle of the night


      Среди писем я нашёл счёт. – Among the letters I found a bill.


      near, by (with objects):

      Она стояла у окна. – She was standing near the window.

      at (with persons):

      Мы были у доктора. – We were at the doctor's.


      Я взял книгу у сестры. – I took a book from (my) sister.

      to express possession:

      У меня (есть) ключ. – I have the key.

      Notes :

      (a)   "Есть" is added in case of a more or less permanent possession: У меня есть словарь. – I have (possess) a dictionary.

      (b)    "Есть" is omitted in case of a temporary possession: У меня ручка (or: Ручка у меня) – I have the pen (not necessarily mine); У кого ключ? – Who has the key?

      (c)    "Есть" is not used with parts of body: У неё красивые глаза (She has beautiful eyes) or with many abstract notions: У него насморк (Не has a cold).


       Remarks :

      (a)  Вблизи, внутри, вокруг, впереди, кругом, напротив, позади, поперёк, против, сзади and снаружи are used independently as adverbs: Они живут напротив. (They live opposite.) Он сидел где-то сзади. (Не was sitting somewhere behind.) И тихо, тихо всё кругом.  (And it's quiet and quiet all around.)

      (b)  For prepositions calling for more than one case consult table in Prepositions.