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 prepositional case usually expresses location. It is used only with prepositions and answers о ком? (about whom?); о чём? (about what?); где? (where?) etc.


The prepositional case, after на or в, is used with a few constructions not pertaining to location.

говорить на трёх языках

to speak three languages

играть на скрипке

to play the violin

ошибиться в счёте

to make a mistake in the bill

обвинять в краже

to accuse of theft

Note: Similar constructions are found with nouns related to these verbs, for instance: разговор на иностранном языке; обвинение в краже.


The following prepositions govern the prepositional case:

The preposition в (во) (in, at) may refer to any of the following:  

1.  Location: 

    Мы были в театре.

    We were at the theater.

    в его конторе

    in his office

    2.  Time: 

       (a)    a certain moment;   a period of life

    в начале урока

    at the beginning of the lesson

    в конце года

    at the end of the year

    в детстве

    in childhood

       (b)    a month, a year, or a century

    Он приехал в марте.

    Не arrived in March.

    Она родилась в 1932-м году.

    She was born in 1932.

    Город был основан в XVII веке.

    The city was founded in the 17th century.

    3.  Emotion:

    быть в хорошем настроении

    to be in a good mood.

    в восторге от концерта

    delighted  with the concert

    4. Dress, garment: 

    Она была в белом платье.

    She was wearing a white dress. (She was in a white dress.)

    Он ходит в сапогах.

    Не wears (walks in) boots.

    5. Distance (in which case в is not translated):

    в одном километре от города

    one kilometer from the city

    в двух милях отсюда

    two miles from here




    стоять на палубе – to stand on the deck

    at (referring to occasions, events – rather than location): 

    читать на уроке – to read at the lesson

    говорить на собрании – to speak at the meeting

    at (with a few public buildings): 

    на вокзале (at the terminal), на станции (at the station), на почте (at the post office), на базаре/рынке (at the market).

    in (with a few proper names and with points of the compass): 

    на Кавказе – in the Caucasus

    на Урале – in the Ural (Mountains)

    на севере, на юге, на западе, на востоке.

    by (in, on):

    на поезде;   на трамвае;   на пароходе;   на велосипеде; на автомобиле; на автобусе; на самолёте; на метро.

       Note: В may be also used with поезд, трамвай, автомобиль, автобус, метро; but then it pertains rather to location than to destination. Compare: Я приехал на автобусе. (I came by bus.) with: В автобусе ехало много народу. (There were many people riding in the bus.)

    not translated (in expressions of time pertaining to weeks):

    Я приехал на прошлой неделе. – I arrived last week.


    (об, обо)       

    about, concerning:

    Мы говорили о музыке. – We spoke about music.

    Я написал о его болезни. –  I wrote about his illness.

    Вы слышали об этом? – Did you hear about that?

    Она не думала обо мне. – She didn't think about me.

       Note: о is used in front of consonants or yotated vowels; об in front of non-yotated vowels; обо in front of мне, всём, всех.


    after, upon:

    по приезде – after the arrival

    по окончании школы – upon completion of the school

       Note: In current speech после + genitive is of a wider usage:   После (его) приезда.


    at, by, near:

    Билеты продаются при входе. – The tickets are sold at the entrance.

    при доме есть гараж – by (near) the house is a garage

    при первом случае – at the first opportunity

    при звёздах и при луне by the starlight and by the moonlight.

    with :

    Кто при больном? – Who is with the patient?

    При мне нет денег. – I have no money with me.

    при участии певицы – with the participation of the singer

    при всём его умении – with all his skill

    in the days of, in the presence of, during :

    при Петре Первом – in the days (during the reign) of Peter I

    при мне – in my presence

    при осмотре – during the inspection