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 nominative case expresses the subject or the predicate of a sentence:

Мальчик читает.       

The boy reads.

Москва – город.   

Moscow is a city.

Он старый.   

Не is old.


The nominative is used as the logical object in expressions of possession:

У брата есть ключ.      

(My) brother has a key.

Ваша книга у меня.

I have your book.


The only verbs which cannot be used with the nominative are the impersonal:  хотеться, знобить, etc.


The following prepositions govern the nominative case in rather special constructions:

 3a in the expression что за – what (kind of).

Что это за книга?    

What (kind of a) book is this?

Что за ветер!

What a wind!

 По is followed by the nominative case of the numerals два, три, четыре, 200, 300, 400 in "distributive" constructions.

Дети получили по два яблока.

The children received two apples apiece.

В каждой  каюте по три пассажира.   

There are three passengers in each cabin.

У нас по четыре офицера на роту.

We have four officers per comраnу.

The same applies to the compound numerals 22, 23, 34, etc.

Note:  See distributive usage of пo in "Prespositions".

In a few instances, the preposition в is followed by nouns with nominative case endings (a remnant of an old grammatical form):

пойти в гости – to visit;  произвести в офицеры – to give a commission (officer's)