Why do Russians need grammatical cases?

If you just started to learn Russian, you might have already heard about the system of grammatical cases in Russian language. Today we’d like to introduce you to the cases and explain to you why do Russians need them.

Generally speaking, the case of a noun or pronoun shows what role it plays in a sentence. While in English the structure of a sentence is quite rigit (you always put a noun first and a verb – its action – next), in Russian the structure is not defined by those rules and is absolutely loose. You can swap the words in a Russian sentence without changing the meaning.

Put in a different case, the nouns and pronouns changes their endings. These endings help Russians to identify the main subject of the sentence and the roles of all other nouns and pronouns, so the meaning of the sentence is always clear even when swapping the words around.

General description of Russian cases

  • Nominative case (именительный падеж):
    The initial (dictionary) form. It answers the questions “who?” or “what?”.
  • Genitive case (родительный падеж):
    It is used to show the idea of belonging, absence or referring to something or somebody.
  • Dative case (дательный падеж):
    It designates that something is given or addressed to the person or the object.
  • Accusative case (винительный падеж):
    It designates the object of an action.
  • Instrumental case (творительный падеж):
    It designates the instrument by which an action is performed.
  • Prepositional case (предложный падеж):
    Designating of the person or object being talked or thought about. This case is always used with a preposition.

Now let’s look at some examples. We take a word and put it into different cases in sentences to demonstrate how it works.

Examples

Russian Pod 101

кни́га (book)

Nominative (именительный падеж)

Кни́га лежи́т на столе́.
На столе́ лежи́т кни́га.
The book is on the table.

Genitive (родительный падеж)

У меня́ нет кни́ги.
Кни́ги у меня́ нет.
I don’t have a book.

Dative (дательный падеж)

Писа́тель дал свое́й кни́ге просто́е назва́ние.
The writer gave his book a simple name.

Accusative (винительный падеж)

Я чита́ю кни́гу.
I read a book. I’m reading a book.

Instrumental (творительный падеж)

Андре́й сиди́т с кни́гой на дива́не.
На дива́не с кни́гой сиди́т Андре́й.
Andrey is sitting on the couch with a book.

Prepositional (предложный падеж)

Писа́тель расска́зывает о свое́й но́вой кни́ге.
О свое́й но́вой кни́ге расска́зывает писа́тель.
The writer is telling about his new book.

учи́тель (teacher)

Nominative (именительный падеж)

Учи́тель вошёл в класс.
В класс вошёл учи́тель.
The teacher intered into the classroom.

Genitive (родительный падеж)

Э́то су́мка учи́теля.
This is a teacher’s bag.

Dative (дательный падеж)

Ученики́ подари́ли учи́телю цветы́.
Цветы́ учи́телю подари́ли ученики́.
Pupils gave the teacher flowers.

Accusative (винительный падеж)

Я ви́жу учи́теля.
I see a teacher.

Instrumental (творительный падеж)

Я занима́юсь с учи́телем.
I study with a teacher.

Prepositional (предложный падеж)

У него́ бы́ли са́мые хоро́шие воспомина́ния о его́ пе́рвом учи́теле.
О его́ пе́рвом учи́теле у него́ бы́ли са́мые хоро́шие воспомина́ния.
He had the very good memories of his first teacher.

1+

One comment on “Why do Russians need grammatical cases?

Your feedback and questions

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *