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Cover title : author : publisher : isbn10 | asin : print isbn13 : ebook isbn13 : language : subject publication date : lcc : ddc : subject : Modern Russian Grammar Routledge Modern Grammars Dunn, J. A.; Khairov, Shamil. Taylor & Francis Routledge 0415422892 9780415422895 9780203967591 English Russian language--Grammar, Russian language--Textbooks for foreign speakers-English. 2009 PG2112.D86 2009eb 491.7/82421 Russian language--Grammar, Russian language--Textbooks for foreign speakers-English. Page i Modern RUSSIAN Grammar Page ii Routledge Modern Grammars Series concept and development—Sarah Butler Other books in the series: Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar Workbook Modern German Grammar, Second Edition Modern German Grammar Workbook, Second Edition Modern Spanish Grammar, Second Edition Modern Spanish Grammar Workbook, Second Edition Modern Italian Grammar, Second Edition Modern Italian Grammar Workbook, Second Edition Modern French Grammar, Second Edition Modern French Grammar Workbook, Second Edition Page iii Modern RUSSIAN Grammar John Dunn and Shamil Khairov Page iv First published 2009 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2008. To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk. © 2009 John Dunn and Shamil Khairov All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for ; this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Dunn, J.A. (John A.), 1949— Modern Russian Grammar: a practical guide/John Dunn and Shamil Khairov. p.cm.—(Routledge modern grammars) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Russian language—Grammar. 2. Russian Language—Textbooks for foreign speakers—English. I. Khairov, Shamil. II. Title. PG2112.D86 2008 491.7′82421-dc22 2008019529 ISBN 0-203-96759-3 Master e-book ISBN ISBN: 978-0-415-42289-5 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-415-39750-6 (pbk) ISBN: 978-0-203-96759-1 (Print Edition) (ebk) Page v Contents Introduction How to use this book Glossary of grammatical terms Part A Structures 1 Sounds and spelling 1.1 The Russian alphabet 1.2 Consonants 1.3 Vowels 1.4 Stress 1.5 Spelling rules 1.6 Transliteration and transcription 2 Nouns 2.0 Introduction 2.1 Number 2.2 Case 2.3 Gender 2.4 Animacy 2.5 The fleeting vowel 2.6 Masculine nouns ending in a consonant, or 2.7 Non-standard endings for masculine nouns ending in a consonant, 2.8 Neuter nouns ending in -o, -e, -ë, 2.9 Nouns, mostly feminine, ending in -a or 2.10 Feminine nouns ending in 2.11 Non-standard declension types 2.12 Declension of surnames 2.13 Indeclinable nouns 2.14 Abbreviations and acronyms 3 Case 3.0 Introduction 3.1 The nominative 3.2 The accusative xi xiii xv or 3 3 4 7 8 10 15 19 19 19 20 21 23 25 28 32 36 39 42 44 49 50 51 54 54 55 56 Page vi 4 5 6 7 3.3 The genitive 3.4 The dative 3.5 The instrumental 3.6 The prepositional Verbs 4.0 Introduction 4.1 The infinitive 4.2 Aspects of the verb 4.3 Present tense 4.4 Future tense 4.5 Past tense 4.6 The classification of verbs: productive verb classes 4.7 Unproductive verbs 4.8 Irregular verbs 4.9 The imperative 4.10 The conditional (or subjunctive) 4.11 Gerunds 4.12 Participles 4.13 Transitive, intransitive and reflexive verbs 4.14 Active and passive verbs Aspects of the verb 5.0 Introduction 5.1 Situations where there is no choice 5.2 Some general principles 5.3 The specific meaning of the verb 5.4 Single completed actions 5.5 Asking questions 5.6 The imperative 5.7 Negation 5.8 Some practical points Adjectives 6.0 Introduction 6.1 Hard adjectives 6.2 Soft adjectives (1) 6.3 Soft adjectives (2) 6.4 Nouns that decline like adjectives 6.5 The short forms of adjectives 6.6 Possessive adjectives 6.7 Indeclinable adjectives 6.8 Comparative and superlative forms Pronouns 56 61 66 71 72 72 73 73 77 79 80 82 84 91 92 93 94 96 99 102 105 105 106 109 114 118 121 123 124 128 131 131 131 134 135 135 137 139 141 142 148 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Introduction Personal pronouns Possessive pronouns Demonstrative pronouns Interrogative pronouns Relative pronouns Indefinite pronouns 148 148 153 157 160 160 163 Page vii 8 9 10 11 7.7 Pronouns relating to totality 7.8 Other pronouns Numerals and other quantity words 8.1 Cardinal numerals 8.2 Selecting what case to use with cardinal numerals 8.3 Collective numerals 8.4 Ordinal numerals 8.5 Fractions 8.6 Other quantity words Uninflected parts of speech 9.0 Introduction 9.1 Adverbs 9.2 Prepositions 9.3 Conjunctions 9.4 Particles Word formation 10.0 Introduction 10.1 Formation of nouns 10.2 Formation of adjectives 10.3 Formation of verbs 10.4 Verbal prefixes Agreement 11.0 Introduction 11.1 Agreement within the noun phrase 11.2 Agreement between subject and verb Part B Functions 12 Establishing identity 12.0 Introduction 167 170 173 173 179 183 185 187 190 194 194 194 202 208 213 216 216 216 227 233 236 249 249 249 252 259 259 12.1 Russian names 12.2 Foreign names 12.3 Talking about people’s ages 12.4 Addresses 12.5 Citizenship and nationality 12.6 Occupations 12.7 Talking about marital status 13 Establishing contact 13.1 Formal and informal address 13.2 Greetings 13.3 Making introductions and giving names 13.4 Addressing friends and acquaintances 13.5 Addressing strangers 13.6 Writing letters and telephoning 259 264 265 268 270 272 274 277 277 277 282 285 288 289 Page viii 14 Being, becoming and possession 14.1 Being and becoming 14.2 Existence, presence and location 14.3 Talking about possession 15 Negation 15.1 Simple negation 15.2 Partial negation 15.3 Negative adverbs, negative pronouns and the negative particle 15.4 The case of the direct object in negative sentences 15.5 Negatives of the type 16 Expressing attitudes 16.1 Expressing attitudes using suffixes 16.2 Likes, dislikes, loves, hates and preferences 16.3 Wishes and desires 16.4 Expressing opinions 16.5 Expressing certainty, uncertainty, possibility or doubt 17 Asking questions 17.1 Neutral yes/no questions 17.2 Asking loaded questions 17.3 Asking questions using question words 17.4 Rhetorical questions 293 293 300 302 305 305 308 309 313 314 317 317 322 327 329 331 335 335 337 339 343 18 Obligation, instructions, requests, advice and permission 18.1 Talking about obligation and necessity 18.2 Instructions and prohibitions 18.3 Making a request 18.4 Giving advice 18.5 Giving permission 19 Using numbers: talking about times, dates and quantities 19.0 Introduction 19.1 Counting and doing simple arithmetic 19.2 Telling the time 19.3 Talking about the date 19.4 Talking about approximate quantity using numerals 19.5 Talking about imprecise quantities using forms other than numerals 20 Focus and emphasis 20.1 Principles of word order in Russian 20.2 Active and passive verbs 20.3 Other forms of emphasis 20.4 Definite and indefinite 21 Establishing contexts and connections 21.1 Time 21.2 Place 21.3 Manner 346 346 348 352 355 356 357 357 357 360 364 366 369 375 375 380 381 383 385 385 394 407 Page ix 21.4 Causes and consequences 21.5 Conditions 21.6 Concessions 21.7 Purpose 21.8 Reporting the words of others 21.9 Comparisons 21.10 Indicating context using gerunds 22 Coming and going 22.0 Introduction 22.1 Unidirectional and multidirectional verbs of motion 22.2 Prefixed verbs of motion 22.3 Verbs of motion used in figurative expressions and idioms 22.4 Other issues relating to coming and going 23 Communication strategies 23.1 Choosing what type of language to use 409 412 416 419 421 426 433 436 436 436 442 445 447 451 451 23.2 Constructing a text 23.3 Discourse words 455 458 Index 461 Page xi Introduction This book is an innovative reference grammar, aimed at meeting the practical needs of English speakers who are learning Russian as a foreign language. It provides the necessary structural and functional information to enable users properly to interpret what they hear and read, and to communicate effectively, both in speech and in writing, in a wide range of situations. Most people who learn Russian start the language at university, and our book is aimed particularly at students in the first two years of a university course. It will, however, also be valuable for more advanced students, as well as for those learning Russian at school or independently. Although not particularly orientated towards ‘business Russian’, the book will be useful for those whose reasons for learning the language are related to business. Following the pattern of the previous volumes in this series, the book is divided into two parts. Part A (Chapters 1–11) deals with the structure of the language. This is closer to a traditional grammar, in that attention is focused on the grammatical behaviour of the different parts of speech, as well as on issues that are particularly important to Russian grammar, such as the use of the cases, the aspects of the verb and grammatical agreement. Part B, however, is concerned with functions. This relates to the ways in which language is used in particular contexts and situations, and it is these contexts and situations that determine the way in which the information is presented. From a starting point such as asking questions, giving instructions and making requests or talking about causes and consequences, the user is given the necessary grammatical information to allow successful communication to take place. It has to be said that writing a grammar of Russian presents a number of interesting challenges. The first is that, for English speakers Russian is from the structural point of view a very complex language. It has a rich system of endings and patterns, embellished by numerous exceptions, that, as is often the way with language, tend to affect words that are in common use. This has inevitably influenced the structure of the book, and Part A is rather more substantial than is the case with the other volumes in the series. It also means that it is impossible to avoid using a certain amount of grammatical terminology. Here we have borne in mind that readers will also be using other course materials, and in order to minimise confusion, our use of terminology is fairly traditional for Englishlanguage grammars. We have at the same time taken account of the knowledge of grammar likely to be possessed by native speakers of English starting to learn Russian, and grammatical terms are explained either in the Glossary or in the relevant chapter. It is also the case that for various linguistic and cultural reasons Russian is a language that tends to ‘do things’ differently from English. Even such relatively straightforward Page xii contexts such as addressing friends, acquaintances and strangers, talking about marital status, indicating possession or describing a journey involve using language in ways bearing little resemblance to those that will be familiar to English speakers. It is this consideration that has determined our choice of structures for Part B and, in particular, explains why we have devoted substantial chapters to such questions as establishing identity, establishing contact, and talking about coming and going. The political, social and economic changes that have taken place in Russia since 1985 have been matched by changes to the language. Fortunately (for us, at least) grammar moves at a much slower pace than does vocabulary, although we have had to contend with the fact that there is now much less agreement about what constitutes ‘good’ or ‘correct’ Russian than used to be the case. We have tried to take due note of linguistic innovations, especially where this is likely to be especially relevant to learners; at the same time, bearing in mind the need for reference grammars to have a certain ‘timeless’ quality, we have steered clear of matters that are likely to be ephemeral (for this reason we give relatively few examples involving prices!). Above all, we have aimed at following the principle that this book is intended to be a practical guide. There is a long-standing tradition in the writing of Russian textbooks that the material presented should reflect the notion that ‘everything in the garden is rosy’. This can sometimes provoke the reaction of focusing undue attention on the unkempt and weed-choked areas of the linguistic ‘garden’ that have been previously kept hidden. Here too, we have tried to avoid extreme positions. Most of our recommendations and examples belong to a standard and neutral educated register, but where appropriate we have labelled usages as ‘informal’ or ‘formal’: the former are likely to be appropriate in such contexts as conversations between friends or personal letters; the latter would tend to occur in official documents and letters, or be used at meetings or in lectures. With a couple of reasoned exceptions we have avoided extremes of ‘high’ and ‘low’ language and have purposely steered clear of vulgar or obscene forms. Mindful of the fact that for Russian perhaps to a greater extent than for other languages learners are not always expected to produce the same language as native speakers, we have issued, where necessary, ‘health warnings’ about certain usages that will be encountered but which may sound odd, inappropriate or even offensive if uttered by a learner of the language. Finally, this is a practical guide: we cannot claim to be comprehensive or to have foreseen every eventuality. It will be noticed that many of our recommendations are hedged with words such as ‘normally’ and ‘generally’. What this means is that users should feel free to go ahead and follow these recommendations without trepidation, but should not be unduly surprised and should certainly not be put off if they occasionally encounter something that appears to be a direct contradiction. Warmest thanks are due to Sarah Butler for her editorial guidance and encouragement during the early stages of writing this book, and to Larisa Stizhko who has read through the text and given us a great many valuable comments on current Russian usage. We would also like to thank the Russian students of Glasgow University who for more than thirty years have acted as unwitting guinea-pigs for much of the material included here, and whose unexpectedly cheerful willingness to engage with the complexities of Russian grammar was a great incentive for us to take up the challenge of writing this book. John Dunn and Shamil Khairov Page xiii How to use this book Part A of this book is a reference guide to the structures of Russian. The individual chapters deal with grammatical categories such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and pronouns. There are also chapters devoted to the use of the cases, to aspects of the verb and to grammatical agreement. Part B is concerned with communicative functions, that is, the uses to which language is put. In this part of the book, therefore, each individual chapter is concerned with a specific function, such as establishing identity, talking about being and becoming, or asking questions. This part also includes chapters on focus and emphasis, and on communication strategies. Each chapter is divided into sections, and in order to allow the material to be presented in portions of manageable size, most of the latter are divided further into subsections. Each chapter, section and subsection has its own heading, as in the following examples: 13 Establishing contact 13.2 Greetings 13.2.2 Informal greetings In Part A much of the information is presented in the form of grammatical tables or of lists. Where appropriate, in Part A and throughout Part B the grammatical information is illustrated by copious examples, which are more or less complicated according to the type of information being presented. Many of the examples have been taken from actual printed or Internet sources, but these have mostly been adapted to remove extraneous linguistic complexities or obscure references. Where it was thought helpful, notes are used to provide supplementary grammatical or cultural information. Russian language material is presented in bold type, and in the examples key words are highlighted by the use of italic. All examples are translated into English, and a literal version is supplied in those instances where the natural English translation is significantly different from the Russian original. It is impossible to describe a language such as Russian without using a certain amount of grammatical terminology. We have tried as far as possible to use standard terms, and where necessary, we explain the terms used at the point where they first occur. There is in addition a separate Glossary of grammatical terms at the front of the book. There are three ways of finding out where a specific topic may be located in the book. At the very beginning of the book the Contents lists what can be found in each chapter in the order in which the material is presented. At the end of the book the main Index Page xiv lists all the topics covered in English alphabetical order, while a separate Index lists key Russian words in Russian alphabetical order (a table of the Russian alphabet is given at the beginning of Chapter 1). Finally, where an explanation or an example touches on a grammatical point covered elsewhere in the book, this is indicated by means of a cross-reference. We have tried to keep the use of abbreviations to a minimum, but the following English abbreviations are used to indicate the names of the grammatical cases: nom. nominative gen. genitive dat. dative acc. accusative instr. instrumental prep. prepositional The following Russian abbreviations are used for the aspects of the verb, especially in Chapters 4 and 5: The following abbreviations are also used: sing. singular fem. feminine masc. masculine n. neuter pl. plural Page xv Glossary of grammatical terms Note: Bold type is used to cross-refer to other entries in the Glossary. Active voice The category of voice is used to indicate the relationship of subject and object to the action or state indicated by the verb. The active voice is used when the subject of the verb is the performer of the action or the main participant in the state or event; it contrasts with the passive voice. See 4.14 and 20.2. Adjective An adjective is a word that indicates some attribute or quality and is used to qualify a noun; examples are ‘red’ and ‘English’. Adjectives have distinct sets of endings and normally agree with the nouns they qualify in number, gender and case. See Chapter 6 and 11.1. Adverb Adverbs are mainly used to qualify a verb, although they can also qualify adjectives or even other adverbs. Examples are ‘quickly’, Russian’ and ‘very’. Adverbs never change their endings. See 9.1. ‘in Agreement One of the two factors that determine which endings are put on nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns and numerals (see also Government). The principle of agreement is that the endings of certain words are determined by the word either that they qualify or to which they refer. The two contexts where agreement is particularly important are within the noun phrase and between the grammatical subject of a sentence and the verb. See Chapter 11. Article An article is a word used with a noun to indicate whether it is definite or indefinite. In English the articles are ‘the’ and ‘a/an’. Russian has no articles and therefore has to resort to other means to indicate whether a noun is definite or indefinite. See 20.4. Aspect A category that refers to the different ways in which the action or state indicated by a verb may be viewed by the speaker. The Russian verb has two aspects, imperfective and perfective: in general terms the perfective aspect is used when an action or state is considered from the point of view of either one (beginning or end) or both of its boundaries, while the imperfective is used in all other circumstances. Every Russian verb belongs to either the imperfective or the perfective aspect, and aspect is one of the attributes of a verb given in dictionaries. See 4.2 and Chapter 5. Page xvi Case Case refers to the different endings assumed by nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals as a means of indicating the particular grammatical function that the word concerned fulfils in a sentence. Russian has six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental and prepositional. See Chapters 2 and 3. Clause A clause is a unit that contains a verb, but which forms part of a larger sentence. A main clause is one that is capable of standing on its own, while a subordinate clause is one that must be combined with a main clause. A subordinate clause is most frequently introduced by a subordinating conjunction, although they can also be introduced by a relative pronoun. See 7.5, 9.3 and Chapter 21. Comparative The comparative form of an adjective or adverb is used when comparing different degrees of the quality indicated by the word in question; examples are ‘quicker, more quickly’ and ‘louder, more loudly’. See 6.8.1–6.8.3, 9.1.7 and 21.9.1– 21.9.6. Complement The complement is usually the noun or adjective that completes a sentence containing a verb such as ‘to be’ or ‘to become’. In Russian the complement is sometimes in the nominative case and sometimes in the instrumental. See 14.1. Conditional mood. The conditional is the form of the verb that is used in a variety of hypothetical situations, such as conditions incapable of being fulfilled and certain kinds of wishes or requests. It is formed by combining the particle with the past tense form of the verb. See 4.10, 18.4 and 21.5.2. Conjugation Conjugation is the term used for the changes in the endings of verbs to reflect agreement with the subject. It also the term used for the two regular patterns of verb endings in the present and future perfective. See Chapter 4, especially 4.3 and 4.6–4.8. Conjunctions Conjunctions are words that join two clauses together. Two main clauses are joined by co-ordinating conjunctions, for example ‘and’ or ‘but’. A main clause and a subordinate clause are joined by subordinating conjunctions, such as ‘if’, ‘when’ or ‘because’. See 9.3 and Chapter 21. Declension Declension is the term used for the changes in the endings of nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals to reflect different grammatical functions. See Chapters 2, 3, 6, 7, 8. Direct object The direct object of a verb denotes the principal person or object affected by the action that the verb indicates. In Russian the direct object is in the accusative case, though after a negated verb it is sometimes in the genitive. See 3.2 and 15.4. Page xvii Fleeting vowel This is the term used for a vowel (usually e, o or ë) that occurs in some forms of a word, but not in others. It is particularly important for the noun declension system, although examples occur with other parts of speech as well. See especially 2.5, but also 4.5.3, 4.7.3, 4.7.13, 6.5.1. Gender Gender is a system of classifying nouns. Russian has three genders—masculine, feminine and neuter—and all nouns that can occur in the singular belong to one or other of these genders. There are no gender distinctions in the plural. Gender is mainly indicated through the system of agreement: adjectives, for example, have separate sets of endings for each of the three genders. There is also a very strong correlation between gender and declension type. See 2.3 and Chapter 11. Gerund Gerund is the term conventionally used in Russian grammar for a form that is at the same time both a part of the verb and an adverb. The main function of the gerund is to form complex sentences, in which a gerund is used in place of a conjunction+ verb. See 4.11 and 21.10. Government Government is one of the two factors that determine which endings are put on nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals (see also Agreement). Government essentially concerns the rules for selecting which case to use in different grammatical circumstances. See Chapter 3 and 9.2. Grammatical subject see Subject. Imperative mood This is the form of the verb used in commands, prohibitions and certain kinds of requests. See 4.9 and Chapter 18. Impersonal predicate forms These fulfil the same function as verbs, but unlike ordinary verbs they can never be used along with a grammatical subject and they do not change their endings. Some impersonal predicate forms, such as ‘it is good to’, are part of the adverb system, while others, such as ‘one may; one can’, are words that are used only in this function. See 11.2.2. Impersonal verbs Impersonal verbs are those verbs that cannot be used with a grammatical subject. Impersonal verbs occur only in the third person singular (present and future tenses) or the neuter singular (past tense). See 3.4.3 and 11.2.2. Infinitive This is the form under which verbs are listed in dictionaries. It does not change its ending. Infinitives are normally used in conjunction with other verbs, although under certain circumstances they can be used on their own in commands and prohibitions. See 4.1 and 18.2.2. Page xviii Intransitive verb This is any verb that is not used with a direct object. See 4.13.1. Noun A noun is a word denoting a living being, an object or a concept. Examples of nouns are ‘wolf’, ‘table’ or ‘concept’. Nouns denoting living beings or physical objects are called concrete nouns, while nouns denoting concepts are referred to as abstract nouns. Nouns that function as the names of people, places or organisations are proper nouns; all other nouns are common nouns. See Chapters 2 and 3. Noun phrase Noun phrase is the term used for a noun and any accompanying adjectives, pronouns or numerals. The phrase ‘these two young students’ is an example of a noun phrase that contains all four types of word. See 11.1. Number Number as a grammatical category is a part of the noun system relating to quantity. There are two numbers: singular (relating to one person, animal, object or concept) and plural (relating to more than one of any of the above). Most nouns have both singular and plural forms, although some occur only in the singular and some only in the plural. See 2.1. Numeral The numeral in Russian is a distinct part of speech, divided into three sub-groups: cardinal numerals (8.1), collective numerals (8.3) and ordinal numerals (8.4). Each of these has its own set(s) of endings and its own rules for combining with nouns and adjectives. See Chapter 8. Participle Participle is the term conventionally used in Russian grammar for a verbal adjective, that is, something at the same time both part of the verb and an adjective. The forms of the participle are described in 4.12; its use is described in 4.14 and 23.1.3. Particle Particle is a term used for an additional word providing information that supplements or supports that provided by the main elements of a sentence. Some particles have a very specific grammatical or semantic function, while others are used mostly to provide focus and emphasis. See 9.4 and 20.3.3. Passive voice The category of voice is used to indicate the relationship of subject and object to the action or state indicated by the verb. The passive voice is used when the subject of a verb is affected by the action, rather than performing it. It contrasts with the active voice. See 4.14 and 20.2. Person Person indicates the relationship between the verb and the grammatical subject of the sentence. There are three persons: the first person indicates or includes the speaker, the second person indicates or includes the addressee(s); the third person indicates the person(s), object(s) or concept(s) being referred to. Since each person can be singular or plural (see Number), there are six person forms in all. Page xix Prefix Prefix is a form, usually of one or two syllables, that is attached to the beginning of a word in order to supply additional information relating to grammar or meaning. Russian has a rich range of prefixes that can be attached to verbs to convey various meanings or nuances. See 10.4. Preposition Prepositions are words placed before nouns or noun phrases to provide additional information about the meaning and function of the noun. Each preposition is followed by a noun in a particular case (part of government); some prepositions can be followed by more than one case, depending on their precise meaning in the particular context in which they are used. See 9.2. Productive verb classes Productive verb classes are those classes of verbs to which newly formed verbs can in principle be added. The majority of Russian verbs belong to one of the four classes of productive verbs. See 4.6. Pronoun Pronouns are either words used in place of nouns or words that serve to qualify nouns, usually in a rather more general way than adjectives. Pronouns are divided into several categories, including personal pronouns (e.g. ‘we’), possessive pronouns (e.g. ‘our’), demonstrative pronouns (e.g. ‘this’), interrogative pronouns (e.g. ‘what?’), relative pronouns (e.g. ‘who’, ‘which’, ‘that’) and indefinite pronouns (e.g. ‘someone’). See Chapter 7. Reflexive verb Although reflexive verbs do serve certain other functions as well, the main purpose of making a verb reflexive is to transform a transitive verb into one that is intransitive. Reflexive verbs are indicated by the presence of the suffix ( after a vowel) in all forms of the verb. See 14.3.2. Subject The subject of a sentence denotes the person, animal or object that performs the action or is the main participant in the event indicated by the verb (active voice); in the passive voice the subject denotes the person, animal or object affected by the action. Russian distinguishes between the grammatical subject, which is always in the nominative case, and the logical subject, which is used with the infinitive or with impersonal verbs and predicate forms, and which is in some other case, usually the dative. See 3.1, 3.4.3 and 11.2.2. Suffix This is a form, usually of one or two syllables, which is attached to the end of a word in order to supply additional information relating to grammar or meaning. Russian has a rich range of suffixes that can be attached to nouns to convey various meanings or nuances. See 10.1. Superlative The superlative is the form of an adjective or an adverb that is used to indicate the highest possible degree of quality concerned, for example, ‘(the) highest’ or ‘loudest (of all)’. See 6.8.4, 6.8.5 and 9.1.7. Page xx Tense Tense is the category of the verb that relates to time. Russian has a simple system of three tenses: present, future and past. See 4.3–4.5. Transitive verb Transitive verb is a verb that is used with a direct object. See 14.13.1. Uninflected parts of speech Uninflected parts of speech are those that never change their endings. The principal uninflected parts of speech are adverbs, conjunctions, particles and prepositions. See Chapter 9. Unproductive verb classes Unproductive verb classes are those to which no new verbs can be added. Although many unproductive verb classes contain very few verbs, there are many verbs in common use that belong to one or other of these classes. See 4.7. Verbs Verbs are words that denote an action or a state. Examples include ‘to do’ and ‘to read’. See Chapter 4. ‘to be’, Verbs of motion Verbs of motion are a special group of verbs that have meanings related to movement in one form or another. These verbs have certain special characteristics, the most important being that they come in pairs: one member denotes motion in one direction, while the other denotes motion in more than one direction or in no specific direction. See Chapter 22. Vvódnye slová Vvódnye slová or ‘introductory words’ are a special group of words and phrases that normally come at or near the beginning of a sentence and that are separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. They provide extra information that in one way or another qualifies what is said in the rest of the sentence. See 23.2.1. Page 1 Part A Structures Page 3 1 Sounds and spelling 1.1 The Russian alphabet Russian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. This consists of 33 letters: 21 letters represent consonant sounds; 10 letters are used to express vowel sounds, and 2 letters—the soft sign and the hard sign —have no sound value of their own. Unlike English, Russian does not use combinations of letters for denoting a single sound. page_4 Page 4 The precise difference between the pronunciation of and is explained in 1.3.1. The exact pronunciation of most letters is partly determined by the neighbouring letters in the word or sentence (see 1.2.1 and 1.3.1). 1.2 Consonants 1.2.1 Hard and soft consonants Most Russian consonant sounds have two pronunciations, which are conventionally described as hard and soft. The distinguishing feature of soft consonants is that they are palatalised—that is, they are pronounced with the middle part of the tongue raised towards the hard palate. For more on the pronunciation of soft consonants, see 1.2.3. Whether a consonant is hard or soft in Russian is important because it can serve to distinguish between two otherwise identical words: (hard hard ) ‘was’, (hard soft ) ‘true story’, (soft hard ) past tense of ‘hit’ or ‘beat’; (hard , hard ) ‘checkmate’, (hard soft ) ‘mother’, (soft hard ) ‘crumpled’, (soft soft ) ‘to crumple’. Not all consonants form hard/soft pairs. The sounds represented by the letters are always hard, while those represented by and are always soft. 1.2.2. The pronunciation of hard consonants Most hard consonants are pronounced in a similar or identical fashion to their English equivalents, as indicated in the table in 1.1. The following, however, require a more detailed explanation. The hard is pronounced with the tongue resting against the top teeth. It sounds like the English ‘I’ in words such as ‘film’, ‘table’. To pronounce and the middle of the tongue is drawn down to the bottom of the mouth, while the tip of the tongue points upwards towards the area behind the top teeth. Hard and are pronounced with the tip of the tongue resting against the back of the top teeth. Hard and are pronounced without the slight aspiration (expulsion of a breath of air) that usually accompanies the equivalent sounds in English. Page 5 1.2.3 The pronunciation of soft consonants Soft or palatalised consonants can be heard in English in the way that many (though not all) English speakers pronounce the initial consonants in words such as ‘due’, ‘new’ and ‘Tuesday’. In Russian, however, the consonants are all capable of being palatalised, while and are always palatalised. The distinguishing feature of palatalised consonants is that the middle part of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate (the middle part of the top of the mouth). The perception is often of a slight [y] sound pronounced together with the consonant, but some care should be taken not to exaggerate this effect, since in Russian there is a clear distinction between a palatalised consonant and a consonant followed by y: NOTE In transcriptions, the sign ‘is used to indicate a palatalised consonant. For the use of the hard sign to indicate the presence of the sound [y] see 1.3.2. The palatalised consonant is pronounced as a long soft ‘sh’ sound, as in the English sequence ‘fresh sheets’, but without the slight pause between the words. An alternative pronunciation, shch, as in ‘Ashchurch’, is recommended in older text books, but is now falling into disuse. 1.2.4 The representation of hard and soft consonants in writing The letters are used to represent both hard and soft consonants. The hardness or softness is not denoted by the letters themselves, but is indicated by the letter that immediately follows them (or by the absence of a following letter). The consonants they: are pronounced hard when (a) occur at the very end of a word: (b) when they are followed immediately by another consonant: (c) when they are followed by one of the vowel letters from the group The consonants they are followed by either: (a) the soft sign (b) one of the vowel letters from the group are pronounced soft when Page 6 1.2.5 Voiced and unvoiced consonants The letters normally denote voiced consonants—that is, consonants pronounced with a vibration of the vocal cords. The unvoiced consonants corresponding to these are indicated respectively by the letters Voiced consonants are normally devoiced—that is, pronounced like their unvoiced counterparts when they occur either at the end of a word or before another unvoiced consonant. This change in pronunciation, which can occur across a boundary between two words, is not usually reflected in the spelling: NOTE: ‘God’ is pronounced [bokh]. Unvoiced consonants are pronounced like the corresponding voiced consonant when they occur before a voiced consonant: NOTE: Unvoiced consonants are not voiced when they occur before ‘answer’. 1.2.6 Consonant clusters When two or more consonants come together, the pronunciation of the resulting cluster may differ from the sum of the original components. [t] Page 7 NOTE: The greeting ‘hello’ is pronounced as language, but more informally as in formal 1.3 Vowels 1.3.1 Russian vowel sounds and letters To indicate the six Russian vowel sounds, ten letters are used: The pronunciation of the vowels is indicated in the table in 1.1. Russian vowels are pronounced as ‘pure’ vowels with the tongue remaining in a constant position; they do not have the ‘diphthong’ quality that vowels generally have in most English pronunciations. For changes to the pronunciation of vowels in unstressed syllables, see 1.4. The vowel ‘o’ is an open sound—that is, it is closer to the vowel in ‘all’ or ‘taught’, than to the vowel in ‘hope’. The vowel has no direct equivalent in English, although it is not unlike the vowel in the word ‘bit’ as pronounced by some Scottish speakers. It is a vowel half-way between the ‘ee’ in feel and the ‘oo’ in fool, and a close approximation can be achieved by spreading the lips for the ‘ee’ sound and then moving the tongue towards the back of the mouth. 1.3.2 The pronunciation of Four of the letters indicating vowels have two pronunciations, depending on what comes immediately before them. If this is a consonant, they are pronounced as the vowels ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘o’, ‘u’ respectively; at the same time they also indicate that the preceding consonant is soft: If they (a) occur at the beginning of a word, (b) come immediately after another vowel or (c) come immediately after the soft sign or the hard sign the letters express not one, but two sounds: their normal vowel sound preceded by the sound Page 8 [y]—i.e. [ya], [ye], [yo], [yu] respectively: NOTES (i) When и, occurs after a vowel or at the beginning of a word, it is usually pronounced without the preceding (y): After the soft sign (Ь), however, the [y] is usually pronounced: (ii) In the examples given in this section, the function of the hard and soft signs is to indicate the presence of the sound [y] between a consonant and a vowel. This is the sole function of the hard sign in present-day Russian. In certain names and in foreign words the combination of with possible: or even is 1.4 Stress 1.4.0 Introduction Each Russian word normally has one stressed syllable. This syllable is pronounced with greater emphasis, and the vowel in the stressed syllable is longer than other vowels. Stress in Russian is described as being both free and mobile—that is it can fall on any syllable in a word and can fall on different syllables in different forms of the same word. This principle is illustrated by the following forms of the word ‘head’: For more on the grammatical terms, see 2.2. For the rules of stress with prepositions, see 9.2.7. 1.4.1 The importance of stress The position of the stressed syllable is important for two reasons. The first is that some-times two otherwise identical words are distinguished only by the place of the stress: Page 9 The second is that the pronunciation of many vowels depends on whether they appear in a stressed or an unstressed syllable. This question is discussed in detail in 1.4.3. 1.4.2 The marking of stress Russian stress is normally marked in textbooks and dictionaries, but is indicated in ordinary text only when it is necessary to avoid misunderstandings (as in the examples quoted in 1.4.1.). The normal means of indicating stress is the acute accent (′). In this book, with the exception of a few examples (e.g. in 1.6) which are intended to reproduce as closely as possible the appearance of a normal printed text, stress is indicated throughout by means of the acute accent. Because the letter ë is used only in stressed syllables, stress is not indicated separately for words containing this letter. For more on the use of ë only in stressed syllables see 1.5.1. Stress is not normally indicated for words of only one syllable. Where stress is indicated on a word of one syllable—for example, the negative particle and certain prepositions—it indicates that this syllable carries the stress for the following word as well. An example is the phrase quoted in 1.4.0. Occasionally, a word will be found with two stress marks. This means that there are alternative stresses: for example, ‘she was born’, means that both and are possible. 1.4.3 Reduction of unstressed vowels. When unstressed, the vowels are significantly reduced—that is, they become shorter, but also change their quality. The symbols α and ə are used below to denote different levels of vowels reduction: α stands for a sound similar to a, but shorter and less distinct, like the vowel in the ‘Mac (Mc)’ prefix of certain Scottish surnames, or the first vowel in ‘candelabra’; ə stands for a short neutral vowel similar to the second and the final vowels in ‘candelabra’. 1.4.4 Unstressed a and o Unstressed a and o are pronounced as α when they occur either in the syllable immediately before the stressed syllable or at the very beginning of a word: Unstressed a and o are pronounced as ə when they occur either two or more syllables before the stressed syllable or in any syllable that comes after the stress: Page 10 1.4.5 Unstressed e and unstressed Unstressed e and are pronounced as a shorter version of i when they occur in any syllable before the stressed syllable: Unstressed e and are pronounced as ə when they occur in any syllable that comes after the stress: Unstressed which occurs only at the beginning of a word, is normally pronounced as a shorter version of i: 1.4.6 Other unstressed vowels The vowels in unstressed positions are shorter than when they are stressed, but any change in quality is negligible. 1.4.7 Stress units of more than one word Sometimes a single stress unit is made up of more than one word. This is most commonly the case when nouns are used with prepositions or when a word is preceded or followed by an unstressed particle. In such cases the rules of vowel reduction apply to the stress unit as a whole: 1.4.8 Secondary stress Stress units containing a preposition with more than one syllable as well as many compound words may have a weaker secondary stress. This is usually indicated by a grave accent (`): Secondary stress, where it occurs, always precedes the main stress. 1.5 Spelling rules 1.5.0 Introduction Russian spelling is not, strictly speaking, ‘phonetic’ (as is sometimes claimed), but it is much more predictable than English spelling, and in general there is a reasonably close relationship between spelling and pronunciation. Nevertheless, there are some specific peculiarities which it is useful to bear in mind. These rules are particularly important Page 11 for determining the spelling of the endings that are attached to nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs. 1.5.1 Use of the letter ë As was noted in 1.4.2, the letter ë occurs only in stressed syllables. In unstressed syllables it is replaced by e: In addition, the letter ë is used consistently only in textbooks, dictionaries and books written for children. Elsewhere it is usually replaced by the letter e. This means, for example, that the following words will appear in print as: They should, however, be read as: In dictionaries and other lists arranged alphabetically, e and ë are usually treated as being the same letter. 1.5.2 Spelling after Ш, Ж, Ч, Щ, Ц As was pointed out in 1.2.4, one of the functions of the vowel letters is to indicate the hardness or softness of the preceding consonant. Since, however, the consonants are always hard and are always soft, this function becomes redundant, and the choice of vowel letter to follow these consonants is determined instead by special rules. The letters and do not occur after these consonants; instead, y and a are used: For more on these verb forms, see 4.6.4, 4.7.15 and 4.11. Exceptions to this spelling rule are found in a few words of foreign origin: The letter does not occur after instead is used: For more on these noun forms, see 2.6.1 and 2.6.2. The letter is normally used after and in some surnames: NOTE When is used after but occurs in some words of foreign origin it is pronounced as if it were Page 12 The letter o is used after only in stressed syllables; elsewhere e is used. This can be illustrated by the instrumental singular forms of the following nouns: For more on these endings see 2.6.1 and 2.6.2. Exceptions to this rule are found in a few words of foreign origin and in a few surnames: 1.5.3 Use of e and The letter is found mostly at the beginning of a word in foreign borrowings and foreign proper names: The letter occurs in a small number of native Russian words such as: The letter is used after a consonant in only a small number of Russian words of foreign origin and in the transcription of some foreign proper names: For the use of to transcribe English a, see 1.6.5. Elsewhere the letter e is used even after hard consonants. This sequence occurs only in words recently borrowed from foreign languages and in native Russian words after the consonants 1.5.4 Use of after The letter does not occur after the consonants 1.5.5 The ending instead is used: (vo) The ending is pronounced as [vo] when it occurs in the genitive singular masculine and neuter ending of adjectives, pronouns and certain numeral forms, such as Page 13 For more on these endings, see Chapters 6, 7 and 8. The same discrepancy between pronunciation and spelling is found in the word (s’ivodn’ә) ‘today’. 1.5.6 The spelling of certain prefixes Normally the spelling of affixes remains unchanged regardless of the way in which pronunciation is affected by surrounding consonants. The prefixes and form, however, an exception, since they are spelled pac- when they occur before an unvoiced consonant 1.5.7 Use of capital letters Capital letters in Russian are used in much the same way as they are in English. There are, however, some important differences that it is useful to note. In particular capital letters are not normally used in Russian for: The first person singular pronoun ‘I’: It’s hard to believe it, but tomorrow I’ll already be in Moscow. Days of the week and names of months: I’ll probably arrive on Thursday. In July and August it can get very hot here. Adjectives derived from names of countries and nouns denoting nationalities and the inhabitants of towns and cities: At university I studied English literature. There are a lot of Russians in our hotel, but apart from us there don’t seem to be any other English people. Like many Muscovites, they rarely used their car within the city limits. For more on adjectives and nouns denoting nationality, see 10.1.8, 10.1.9 and 12.5. Page 14 On the other hand it is customary in letters to use a capital letter for the second person pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’ when they are used as polite singular forms: It’s a pity that in your letter you didn’t tell me anything about your trip to China. With titles and names of organisations and institutions of various sorts, books, plays, television programmes and the like, it is usual to use a capital letter only for the first word: ‘The Ministry of Culture’ ‘Moscow State University’ The Bolshoi Theatre’ Nezavisimaia gazeta (the name of a newspaper) Who Wants to be a Millionaire? ‘New Year’ With geographical names, generic terms such as normally spelled with a small letter: ‘sea’ and ‘street’ are It is normal to spell with a capital letter all words that form the names of countries, major geographical regions, international organisations and certain titles that are deemed worthy of particular respect: The Russian Federation Northern Ireland Eastern Siberia The Far East The European Union Page 15 The State Duma of the Russian Federation Victory Day (9 May) 1.5.8 Use of inverted commas The most common form of inverted commas used in print in Russian is « … ». In handwriting these usually take the form of„ …. “In general inverted commas are used more frequently in Russian than in English. In addition to titles of books, films, plays, newspapers, and so on (where italics are often used in English), inverted commas tend to be used for names of companies, rock bands, sports teams, brand names and even the names of the Moscow underground stations: It’s better, of course, to read War and Peace in the original. Tomorrow they’re showing Battleship Potemkin in the Illuzion cinema. In the spring of last year Zenit, the St Petersburg football team was effectively taken over by Gazprom. In the 1960s the Beatles were very popular in the Soviet Union, although their records were not on sale there. The Peking restaurant is near the Mayakovskaia underground station. On inverted commas in direct speech, see 21.8.1. For the rules for declining words and phrases in inverted commas, see 11.1.3. 1.6 Transliteration and transcription 1.6.0 Introduction In circumstances where it is either impossible or undesirable to reproduce Russian words in their original form, it is necessary to resort to transliteration or transcription. Transliteration means the substitution of Russian letters by their nearest English equivalents in such a way as to allow the reader to reconstruct the spelling of the Russian original. Transcription means the use of English letters to reproduce the sounds of the Russian original; its purpose is to enable the reader to reconstruct the pronunciation of the Russian original. Except in special circumstances—for example, in guides to the pronunciation of Russian (as in the earlier sections of this chapter)—Russian is reproduced in English by means Page 16 of transliteration. It is recommended that learners of the language adopt a standard system of transliteration and try to use it as consistently as possible. 1.6.1 The Library of Congress system of transliteration Until quite recently there were several systems of transliteration in common use, but since the 1980s what is known as the Library of Congress system has gradually come to be adopted for most purposes throughout the English-speaking world. It is this system that is used wherever transliterated forms appear in this book. Library of Congress system: Table of transliteration NOTES (i) Where the letter e is used instead of ë, it is usually transliterated as e; therefore, would be transliterated as Gorbachëv, but would be Gorbachev. (ii) The Library of Congress system has a number of ambiguities. The most important is that the same letter, i, is used for both and so that both and are transliterated as boi. For the use of the letter e in place of ë, see 1.5.1. 1.6.2 Examples of transliteration using the Library of Congress system The following examples illustrate the Library of Congress system of transliteration: Page 17 1.6.3 Exceptions to the Library of Congress system In some circumstances—for example, in formal academic writing—it is desirable to follow the Library of Congress system as closely and as consistently as possible. Elsewhere, however, some departures from the system may be admissible or even preferable. In cases where non-standard characters are impossible or are not wanted ë can be replaced by e or o, and the character’, used to transliterate can be omitted: would be transliterated as Gorbachev or Gorbachov. would be transliterated as Gorkii. With proper names it is sometimes desirable to use an English spelling that represents the pronunciation more closely than does the Library of Congress transliteration. In such cases: might be represented as Yeltsin. might be represented as Yaroslavl. Some Russian proper names have an English spelling that has become generally accepted: (the composer) is almost invariably known in English as Tchaikovsky; this spelling is based on a nineteenth-century French transliteration. 1.6.4 The representation of English forms in Russian Because of the complex and often eccentric relationship between spelling and pronunciation in English, transliteration does not really work for representing English words in Russian, and instead a system closer to transcription is normally used. There are, however, some points to note: 1 The model of pronunciation used is that of a British film actor of the 1930s. What this means is that a is often rendered by e or and u is often rendered by a. 2 Those who devise the transcription may not be aware of all of the eccentricities of English spelling and may therefore not reflect the exact pronunciation—for example, the name ‘Neil’ is often rendered as 3 There may well be variations and inconsistencies. For example, forms used in some official documents, such as visas, may sometimes be closer to a transliteration than those encountered elsewhere. The following conventions are used for letters indicating sounds that do not occur in Russian: h (except when silent) is rendered by or j (and the g as in gem) are rendered by th (as in think) is rendered by th (as in this) is rendererd by or Page 18 w is rendered by or y NOTES (i) The use of for English ‘h’ is now rather old-fashioned and tends to be restricted to proper names that are well established, such as for ‘Harold’. (ii) English ‘I’, when it occurs at the end of a word or before a consonant, is often rendered by (iii) English double letters tend to be rendered by double letters in Russian. 1.6.5 Examples of English names in Russian Page 19 2 Nouns 2.0 Introduction The Russian noun contains the following categories. Number (2.1). This is a category that relates to quantity. Russian, like English, has two numbers: singular and plural. Case (2.2). This category refers to different endings assumed by certain parts of speech as a means of indicating the particular grammatical function that the part of speech fulfils in a sentence. English (although only in certain pronouns) can distinguish three cases: a subject case (‘he’), an object case (‘him’) and a possessive case (‘his’); Russian nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals have six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental and prepositional. Gender (2.3). This category is essentially a means of classifying nouns, although there is some link between grammatical and biological gender. Russian distinguishes three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter, although there are no distinctions of gender in the plural. Animacy (2.4). In some circumstances Russian distinguishes between animate nouns, which refer to persons or animals, and inanimate nouns (all others). 2.1 Number 2.1.1 Singular and plural The singular is used to denote one person, animal, object or concept, while the plural is used to indicate more than one of any of the above. Most nouns have both singular and plural forms. 2.1.2 Nouns that occur only in the singular There are quite a few nouns which in Russian are used only in the singular. Those that require particular attention are the ones for which the normal English equivalent can occur either in the singular or in the plural. Such nouns include: Certain abstract nouns: Page 20 The names of certain vegetables, berries and fruit, for example: NOTE The word is characteristic of informal language. Some nouns that fit into neither of the above categories: 2.1.3 Nouns used only in the plural Some nouns that occur only in the plural denote objects that can be thought of as being made up of paired elements: Other nouns that occur only in the plural are, however, less easy to explain: 2.2 Case 2.2.1 The six cases Although, as was noted above, English has the remains of a case system, the Russian system is much more complicated. Russian has six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental and prepositional. These names are for the most part arbitrary, and each case has in practice a wide range of functions; these are described in detail in Chapter 3. NOTE There is more than one standard order for listing the different cases. That used above (and in the following sections) is the one preferred for grammars and reference works produced in Russia. Page 21 2.2.2 How the cases are indicated The case in which a noun is used is indicated by the ending. As there are separate sets of endings for the singular and the plural, the ending of a noun gives information about both case and number. The nominative singular (nominative plural for nouns that occur only in the plural) is the form under which nouns are listed in dictionaries. The process of changing the endings associated with each noun in order to indicate the different cases is usually referred to as declension. Russian has several standard declension types, and the great majority of nouns belong to one or other of these. There are also some non-standard declension types, which group together relatively small numbers of nouns. In most instances (although by no means always), the remaining endings of any noun can be predicted from the nominative singular. The different declension types are described in detail in 2.6–2.11. Russian has a number of indeclinable nouns. These have the same ending for all case forms in both singular and plural. Indeclinable nouns are described in detail in 2.13–2.14. 2.3 Gender 2.3.0 Introduction Grammatical gender is a means of classifying nouns. Russian has three grammatical genders—masculine, feminine and neuter—and all nouns that can occur in the singular belong to one or other of these genders. There are no gender distinctions in the plural, and nouns that occur only in the plural do not belong to any grammatical gender. 2.3.1 Grammatical and biological gender There is a partial match between grammatical and biological gender, in that nouns referring to male persons or animals are generally masculine, and nouns referring to female persons or animals tend to be feminine. All other nouns, however, can belong to any one of the three genders: There are a very small number of neuter nouns that refer or can refer to persons or animals: Page 22 2.3.2 Determining grammatical gender The only absolutely reliable indicator of grammatical gender is the ending of any adjective or pronoun that may accompany a noun: good man; good woman; is an ending that indicates masculine gender. is an ending that indicates feminine gender. good word; -ee is an ending that indicates neuter gender. In these examples is an ending used for all nouns in the plural. The endings of adjectives are described in detail in Chapter 6. The endings of pronouns are described in detail in Chapter 7. The question of agreement between adjectives, pronouns and nouns is examined in detail in 11.1. 2.3.3 Grammatical gender and declension type There is a very close relationship between grammatical gender and declension type: Nouns which in the nominative singular end in a consonant or in masculine: Nouns which in the nominative singular end in -a or feminine: (except are normally are normally Nouns which in the nominative singular end in -a or persons are masculine: and which refer to male Nouns which in the nominative singular end in -a or and which can refer either to male or to female persons are masculine unless they refer specifically to a woman, in which case they are feminine: Nouns which in the nominative singular end in -o, -e, -ë or are normally neuter: Page 23 The only nouns that can cause problems are those ending in since some are masculine, while others are feminine. For some nouns it is possible to work out what the gender will be. Nouns ending in or activity are masculine: and denoting someone who carries out a particular Names of months are masculine: Abstract nouns ending in or Nouns ending in are feminine: or are feminine: With other nouns ending in there are no reliable ways of predicting the gender. For example, the following are masculine: The following nouns are feminine: The rules for determining the gender of indeclinable nouns and of abbreviations and acronyms are given in 2.13.2 and 2.14.2 respectively. 2.4 Animacy Russian nouns are divided into animate and inanimate nouns. Animate nouns are those that denote human beings or animals. All other nouns are inanimate. The importance of the distinction between animate and inanimate nouns is its effect on certain endings for the accusative case. In the singular, all animate masculine nouns Page 24 ending in a consonant, in or in have an ending in the accusative that is identical to that of the genitive; all inanimate masculine nouns belonging to these declension types have an ending in the accusative that is identical to that of the nominative: Animate Inanimate No other nouns are affected in the singular by the distinction between animate and inanimate nouns. In the plural all animate nouns (regardless of the gender and the declension type in the singular) have an ending in the accusative that is identical to that of the genitive; all inanimate nouns have an ending in the accusative that is identical to that of the nominative: Animate Inanimate Page 25 In the following sections the tables illustrating declension types will, where applicable, contain examples of both animate and inanimate nouns. NOTES (i) The distinction between animate and inanimate nouns generally follows common-sense principles and presents few difficulties. Nevertheless, it may be noted that while ‘corpse’, is inanimate, ‘dead man’ is animate; ‘doll, puppet’ is animate. ‘queen’ (in chess) is a masculine animate noun. (ii) As the example of shows, some nouns can be either animate or inanimate, depending on the meaning: when means ‘person’, it is animate, but when it means ‘face’, it is inanimate. Similarly, when denotes ‘Spartacus’ (the leader of the Roman slave rebellion), it is animate; when it denotes ‘Spartak’ (the sports organisation) it is inanimate (when used in the latter sense it is normally written in inverted commas; see 1.5.8). 2.5 The fleeting vowel 2.5.0 Introduction An important part in the Russian grammatical system is played by the so-called fleeting vowel. This is a vowel that is found in some forms of a word, but not in others. There are occasional exceptions, but normally the only vowels that can be fleeting are e, ë and o. Although examples of the fleeting vowel can be found elsewhere, this phenomenon is particularly important for the noun declension system. For examples of the fleeting vowel in verbs and adjectives, see 4.5.3, 4.7.3, 4.7.13, 6.5.1. 2.5.1 The fleeting vowel with masculine nouns ending in a consonant, or The fleeting vowel occurs with a large number of masculine nouns ending in a consonant, or The vowel is present in the nominative singular (and accusative singular if the noun is inanimate), but absent in all other forms of the noun. The fleeting vowel is particularly likely to occur with nouns ending in although it is by no means restricted to these nouns: Page 26 With nouns ending in a soft sign (after a consonant) or With nouns ending in (after a vowel) the fleeting vowel is replaced by With the noun by the fleeting vowel is replaced by ‘hare’ in all forms except the nominative singular is replaced 2.5.2 The fleeting vowel with nouns ending in With nouns ending in a fleeting vowel sometimes appears in the genitive plural. This occurs with most (though not all) nouns which have a series of two or more consonants immediately preceding the ending: In some instances, the sequence of two consonants may be separated by The rules for determining which vowel is used are as follows: (i) After only -o- is used; for examples, see (ii) The vowel -o- is used before or and above. unless the preceding consonant is Page 27 (See also above.) (iii) In all other instances either -e- or -ë- is used, depending on the stress; -ë- is used when the stress is on the fleeting vowel: NOTE The vowel -e- is used before A soft sign before occurs under stress: When even in stressed syllables; see the example above. e or ë is usually replaced by -e- or the former normally appears before the last consonant it is usually replaced by -e-: NOTE: The genitive plural of ‘egg’ is is the genitive plural of ‘war’ Not all nouns in these classes with a sequence of consonants immediately before the ending have the fleeting vowel in the genitive plural. Nouns that do not have the fleeting vowel include those ending in as well as some others that are less predictable: Page 28 2.5.3 The fleeting vowel with feminine nouns ending in Some nouns, for example, ‘lie’, ‘rye’, ‘love’ and ‘church’, have a fleeting vowel that is present in the nominative, accusative and instrumental singular, but absent in all other forms: NOTE When occurs as a forename, it does not have a fleeting vowel: Examples of nouns containing a fleeting vowel will be included in the tables in the following sections. 2.6 Masculine nouns ending in a consonant, 2.6.1 Masculine nouns ending in a consonant other than The following tables give examples of: an inanimate noun ( an animate noun ( ‘table’); ‘elephant’); a noun with a fleeting vowel ( ‘donkey’). or Page 29 2.6.2 Masculine nouns ending in spelling rules given in 1.5.2 and 1.5.4 application of the The application of the spelling rules given in 1.5.2 and 1.5.4 means that the nominative plural of masculine nouns ending in ends in The application of the spelling rules given in 1.5.2 means that the instrumental singular of nouns ending in is only when the ending is stressed, otherwise it is Following the same rule the genitive plural of masculine nouns ending in only when the ending is stressed; otherwise the ending is ends in This rule does not, apply, however to the genitive plural of masculine nouns ending in this ending is always regardless of the stress: Page 30 2.6.3 Masculine nouns ending in The endings of masculine nouns ending in are affected by the spelling rule given in 1.5.1. In the instrumental singular and the genitive plural the respective endings and occur only when the stress is on the ending; otherwise, the corresponding endings are and The first of the following tables gives an example of an inanimate noun with stress not on the ending ( ‘kiss’); the second table gives an example of an animate noun with stress not on the ending ( ‘hero’); the third table gives an example of a noun both with a fleeting vowel and with stress on the ending ( ‘stream’). NOTE Nouns ending in have the ending in the prepositional singular: Page 31 2.6.4 Masculine nouns ending in The endings of masculine nouns ending in are also affected by the spelling rule given in 1.5.1. In the instrumental singular the ending occurs only when the stress is on the ending; otherwise the corresponding ending is The genitive plural ending for these nouns is The following tables give examples of: (a) an inanimate noun which also has stress on the ending ( (b) an animate noun which also has stress not on the ending ( (c) a noun with a fleeting vowel ( NOTE The noun ‘rouble’); ‘guest’); ‘fire’). ‘way, track, path’ has the irregular form dative and prepositional sinqular. in the genitive, Page 32 2.7 Non-standard endings for masculine nouns ending in a consonant, or 2.7.1 The second genitive in Some nouns belonging to the classes described in 2.6 have a second form of the genitive singular ending in This second form of the genitive singular can serve two functions. With nouns denoting uncountable substances, the second genitive has a partitive function and is used in a range of quantity expressions. In practice, this partitive genitive tends to be used only with a small number of nouns indicating substances in common use, and in most instances it is an optional alternative to the normal genitive singular ending in Would you mind giving me a cup of tea. Unfortunately, I haven’t got any sugar. This tea is very strong; pour some boiling water into the teapot. How about having a glass of brandy with our coffee? For the use of the preposition 19.1.4. in constructions indicating ‘(so many), each’, see The use of the partitive genitive is obligatory in the common set phrases ‘a lot of people’, and ‘not many people’, used in the context of whether a location is crowded or not: When they arrived at the café, there were already a lot of people there [or it was already very busy], and they had some difficulty finding a free table. Last year we went on holiday to the North of England: there are not many people there [or it’s quiet] and the prices are reasonable. For more on the use of the genitive in quantity expressions, see 3.3.2. The other use of the second genitive in -y is in various set expressions, for the most part in constructions involving a negative or after certain prepositions. Perhaps the most useful of these is the phrase ‘not (even) once’ (see also 15.3.4); with others it is probably more important to recognise them than to be able to use them: Not once have I encountered this problem. Since he went abroad we haven’t heard a thing from him. Page 33 He told us such a funny joke that we almost died of laughter. For more on negative constructions using see 15.3.4. For more on the preposition c/co used to indicate cause, see 21.4.4. 2.7.2 The second prepositional in Some nouns belonging to the classes described in 2.6 have a second form of the prepositional singular ending in This form is used only after the prepositions ‘in, at’, and ‘on, at’, when these are used to indicate location; after other prepositions (such as ‘about, concerning’) the normal prepositional form is used. This form is found mainly (though not exclusively) with monosyllabic nouns, and when it occurs, this ending is always stressed and its use is obligatory. For more on the use of prepositions with the prepositional case, see 9.2.6. For more on the use of the prepositions 21.2.1–21.2.10. and to indicate location, see sections Examples of nouns that have a second prepositional form include the following: 2.7.3 The nominative plural in Some nouns belonging to the classes described in 2.6 have a nominative plural that ends in This ending is always stressed, and nouns that take this ending have the stress on the ending in all forms of the plural. This ending is particularly likely to be found with nouns denoting objects that usually come in pairs: Page 34 Other nouns that take this ending include the following: Some nouns have alternative endings in and Where this occurs, the latter ending tends to be more characteristic of informal language: A number of nouns have endings in and which are not interchangeable, but which are selected according to the precise meaning of the word concerned: Page 35 The following may also be noted: NOTE It is often difficult to predict which nouns will have a nominative plural in but a useful hint is that a noun of more than one syllable, which has stress on the final syllable in the nominative singular, will normally not have this ending. The only exception in common use is ‘sleeve’ (see above). 2.7.4 The ‘zero ending’ in the genitive plural Some nouns belonging to the classes described in 2.6 have a so-called zero ending in the genitive plural; this means that the genitive plural is identical to the nominative singular. This ending is found with the following: (1) Many nouns denoting weights, measures and other units, as well as some other words that occur mainly after numerals: NOTES (i) The nouns ‘gram’, ‘kilogram’ have alternative forms and The latter sometimes occur in formal contexts, but are rarely used in ordinary speech. (ii) The nouns and ‘byte’, ‘kilobyte’ have alternative forms The former are particularly likely to be used after a numeral. For the use of the genitive plural after certain numerals, see 8.2.3 and 8.2.4. (2) Some nouns indicating nationalities and ethnic groups: The noun ‘gypsy’, has an irregular nominative plural Page 36 For the use of small letters with nouns indicating nationalities and ethnic groups, see 1.5.7. (3) Some nouns indicating military terms: (4) Some nouns denoting objects that tend to come in pairs: NOTES (i) For nouns in groups (2) and (3) the genitive plural with a zero ending is more likely to be used with nouns, which in the nominative singular, end in or (ii) Some nouns denoting the names of fruit have alternative forms in a zero ending. Examples include: ‘tomato’ ‘aubergine’, ‘egg-plant’ (iii) The noun and with and ‘hair’ has a zero ending in the genitive plural, but with a different stress: 2.8 Neuter nouns ending in 2.8.1 Nouns ending in -o: The first table gives an example of the standard declension pattern ( the second table gives an example of a noun with a fleeting vowel ( ‘place’); ‘letter’): Page 37 2.8.2 Nouns ending in -e The following tables give examples of: (a) the standard declension pattern ( ‘cemetery’); (b) a noun ending in -e with a fleeting vowel ( (c) a noun ending in ( ‘ravine’, ‘gorge’) (d) a noun ending in ( ‘building’). NOTE The nouns ‘heart’); ‘sea’ and ‘field’ have the nominative plural ending and the genitive plural ending NOTE Nouns ending in have the fleeting vowel in the genitive plural. Page 38 NOTE The prepositional singular of these nouns ends in ends in the genitive plural 2.8.3 Nouns ending in -ë NOUN The noun ‘gun’ has the genitive plural Almost all other nouns ending in -ë occur in the singular only. 2.8.4 Nouns ending in 2.8.5 Non-standard endings for nouns ending in -o or -e: nominative plural in Almost all nouns (except surnames) ending in in have a nominative plural ending Page 39 NOTES (i) There is one exception to the above rule: Nom. sing. (ii) The noun ‘cloud’ Nom. pl. (in the plural only) has the additional meaning of ‘spectacles’. For surnames ending in see 2.13.1. Two further nouns, both denoting parts of the body, have a nominative plural ending in For examples where a nominative plural in endings, see 2.11.6. is combined with other non-standard 2.8.6 Non-standard endings for nouns ending in -o or -e: genitive plural ending in or Some nouns ending in have a genitive plural ending in examples include: Some nouns ending in common use is: have a genitive plural ending in the only example in 2.9 Nouns, mostly feminine, ending in -a or 2.9.1 Nouns ending in -a The following tables give examples of: (a) an inanimate noun ( (b) an animate noun ( ‘birch’); ‘cow’); (c) a noun with a fleeting vowel ( ‘sister’). Page 40 2.9.2 Application of the spelling rules given in 1.5.2 and 1.5.4 Application of the spelling rules given in 1.5.2 and 1.5.4 means that nouns ending in or have the genitive singular and the nominative plural ending in Application of the spelling rule given in 1.5.2 means that nouns ending in or and having the stress not on the ending, have an instrumental singular ending in Page 41 2.9.3 Nouns ending in The following tables give examples of: (a) an inanimate noun ( (b) an animate noun ( ‘week’); ‘nanny’); (c) a noun with a fleeting vowel ( ‘land’, ‘earth’). NOTES (i) As is shown in the above tables, the ending in the instrumental singular is when the stress is on the ending; otherwise it is (ii) Nouns ending in have the ending in the dative and prepositional singular: (iii) Nouns in which the final follows a vowel have a genitive plural ending in (iv) Most nouns ending in have a genitive plural ending in Page 42 2.9.4 Non-standard endings with nouns ending in -a or Some nouns ending in or have a genitive plural ending in This ending is particularly likely to occur with nouns that are (or can be) masculine: Examples of feminine nouns with this ending include the following (in some instances the ending in is optional): Most nouns ending in and having a fleeting vowel in the genitive plural, have a genitive plural ending in Exceptions are: 2.10 Feminine nouns ending in 2.10.1 Standard endings The following tables give an example of: (a) an inanimate noun ( (b) an animate noun ( ‘role’, ‘part’); ‘mother-in-law’ (husband’s mother)). For examples with a ‘fleeting vowel’, see 2.5.3. Page 43 2.10.2 Application of the spelling rule given in 1.5.2 Nouns ending in or have the endings instrumental and prepositional plural respectively: in the dative, 2.10.3 Non-standard endings: The nouns ‘mother’ and ‘daughter’ insert -ep- before all endings except the nominative and accusative singular: 2.10.4 Non-standard endings: instrumental plural in The nouns ‘door’, ‘daughter’ and endings for the instrumental plural in and ‘horse’ have alternative Page 44 2.11 Non-standard declension types 2.11.0 Introduction There are a number of non-standard declension types. These are generally characterised by the presence in the plural of a set of endings that cannot be predicted from the nominative singular. 2.11.1 Nouns ending in a consonant and having a nominative plural in A number of masculine nouns ending in a consonant have a nominative plural ending in These decline according to the following patterns. It will be noticed that the ending in the genitive plural depends on the stress: when the stress is on the ending, it is (with no soft sign!), otherwise it is The tables give examples of: (a) animate nouns ( (b) an inanimate noun ( ‘husband’, ‘brother’); ‘chair’). There are no inanimate nouns with a genitive plural ending in In some instances nouns belonging to this group have an additional complication, involving either a change of consonant or the insertion of an extra syllable in all endings of the plural: Page 45 Some nouns have two different plural forms with different meanings: 2.11.2 Nouns ending in -o and having a nominative plural in Some neuter nouns ending in -o have a nominative plural in according to the following pattern: These decline Other examples include: 2.11.3 Masculine nouns in Masculine nouns ending in or many of which denote the inhabitants of certain cities or countries, or the members of certain religions or social classes, lose the in the plural and have non-standard endings in the nominative and genitive plural: Page 46 For the use of small letters with nouns indicating the inhabitants of cities and countries, see 1.5.7. For more examples of nouns belonging to this declension type, see 10.1.8. 2.11.4 Masculine nouns in Masculine nouns ending in decline according to the following pattern. Almost all of these nouns in common use denote the young of animals. NOTES: (i) The spelling occurs after the consonants and In accordance with the spelling rule given in 1.5.2 the plural forms are spelled etc.: (ii) The noun For and ‘puppy’ has alternative forms in the plural: which form a special case, see 2.11.7. 2.11.5 Other non-standard masculine nouns The nouns ‘devil’ and ‘neighbour’, ‘room-mate’ decline as follows: The nouns follows: ‘master’, ‘owner’ and ‘gentleman’, ‘Mr’ decline as Page 47 For the use of and in forms of address, see 13.4.3 and 13.5.2. 2.11.6 Other non-standard neuter nouns The nouns ‘ear’ and ‘eye’ have a change of consonant in the plural as well as non-standard endings in the nominative and genitive plural: NOTE The normal word for ‘eye’ is is mostly used in poetic and highflown language; it is found, for example, in the title of the well-known song ‘Black eyes’. The noun ‘vessel’, ‘ship’ declines as follows: The nouns the plural: ‘sky’, ‘heaven’ and ‘miracle’ insert -ec- before the endings in Page 48 2.11.7 Nouns where the singular and plural forms are totally different The noun ‘man’, ‘person’, has no plural forms of its own. Instead, (which in turn has no corresponding singular form) is used: For the use of 8.2.3. as a special genitive plural form after certain numerals, see The position with ‘child’ is a little more complicated. An associated plural form does exist, but this normally has the meaning of ‘lads’, ‘guys’ and is a sort of collective noun used to refer to groups of young men or mixed groups of young people. Instead, to indicate the plural ‘children’ the unrelated form is used. The declension of and follows the pattern given in 2.11.4; declines as follows: 2.11.8 The declension of nouns that exist in only the plural It will be noted from the tables of declensions given in the preceding sections that with a minute handful of exceptions, such as the instrumental forms the endings for the dative, instrumental and prepositional plural all follow the regular patterns or with the choice between -a- and being determined by the spelling rules given in 1.2.4 and 1.5.2. Therefore, with nouns that exist in only the plural, the sole form that is not immediately unpredictable from the nominative is the genitive. Below we give the genitive and dative forms of the nouns listed above in 2.1.3: Page 49 2.12 Declension of surnames 2.12.1 Russian surnames ending in The most widely occurring endings for Russian surnames are —for example, These surnames, which have masculine, feminine and plural forms, have a special declension pattern that combines a mixture of noun and adjective endings. Information on the declension of adjectives is given in Chapter 6. NOTE: Place names ending in decline like ordinary masculine nouns ending in a consonant: He has a dacha somewhere near (the town of) Pushkin. Page 50 2.12.2 Other surnames ending in a consonant or Other surnames ending in a consonant or in (including foreign surnames that happen to end in or ) decline in the masculine and in the plural like other masculine nouns ending in a consonant or in The feminine form, which in the nominative is identical to the masculine, is always indeclinable. For more on indeclinable nouns, see 2.13. 2.13 Indeclinable nouns 2.13.1 Which nouns are indeclinable? Russian has a fairly large number of indeclinable nouns, that is, nouns that have the same ending for all cases and (where relevant) in both singular and plural. For the most part it is relatively simple to predict which nouns do not decline; specifically, nouns belonging to the following categories are indeclinable: (i) All nouns which in the nominative singular end in or In practice, there are no nouns in common use that have a nominative singular ending in (ii) All feminine nouns ending in a consonant: By far the largest group of nouns belonging to this category is made up of women’s forenames and surnames. Forenames (mostly of foreign origin): Surnames (of any origin): (iii) Borrowed or newly coined words ending in -o or -e: Surnames (of whatever origin) ending in -o or -e also belong to this category: Page 51 (iv) Some borrowed nouns and foreign surnames ending in -a. There is no hardand-fast rule about this, but nouns are more likely not to be declined if the final -a is preceded by a vowel or if the word is borrowed from a French word with a silent final consonant: (v) Words ending in a consonant and occurring only in the plural: (vi) Surnames ending in adjectives: or and looking like the genitive plural forms of The declension of adjectives is described in Chapter 6. NOTE Place names ending in can decline like other neuter nouns ending in -o, but there is a tendency to make these nouns indeclinable. 2.13.2 The gender of indeclinable nouns Special rules exist for determining the gender of indeclinable nouns. If an indeclinable noun denotes a person or an animal, it will normally be masculine, although if it explicitly denotes a woman or a female animal it will be feminine. All other indeclinable nouns are neuter. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. The noun ‘coffee’ is according to all dictionaries and reference books masculine, but in informal speech it will sometimes be neuter. Conversely, some other nouns denoting drinks, such as ‘whisk(e)y’ or ‘Pepsi’, are normally listed as neuter, but in informal speech can be masculine. The noun ‘euro’ (the currency unit), can be either masculine or neuter, although the former is more common. NOTE Although it is a form that is frequently encountered, many speakers of Russian consider treating as a neuter noun to be unacceptable. In cases of doubt it is probably safer for learners to follow the recommendations of dictionaries and other reference works. 2.14 Abbreviations and acronyms 2.14.1 Declension of abbreviations and acronyms Modern Russian, both spoken and written, contains a large number of abbreviations and acronyms. Frequently encountered examples include the following: A Club for the Merry and the Resourceful (a popular and long-running television programme) Page 52 Ministry of the Interior Moscow State University Ministry for Emergencies NATO The Russian Federation CIS (The Commonwealth of Independent States) USA emergency In general, abbreviations and acronyms are indeclinable. If, however, an acronym takes the form of a masculine noun ending in an consonant, it can be declined like other masculine nouns ending in a consonant. Whether these forms are declined is largely a matter of custom and practice and even personal preference, but they are more likely to be declined in informal language. Examples include: GUM (a large department store, now more a collection of independent trading outlets, located in the centre of Moscow) Ministry of Foreign Affairs Iceberg have opened a boutique in GUM. The level of professionalism of the translators who work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is exceptionally high. Those acronyms that are no longer perceived as such and which are (or can be) written with small letters tend to be declined as a matter of course: higher education institution, university district housing office Register Office Student grants in all Russian universities are being increased from the start of the coming academic year. Page 53 A few months later someone came round from the housing office and said that the repairs would begin the next day. The wedding ceremony in a Register Office is short and simple. 2.14.2 The gender of abbreviations and acronyms The general rule for establishing the gender of abbreviations and acronyms is that the gender is the same as it would be if the abbreviation or acronym were written out in full. According to this rule (in each instance the word that establishes the gender has been italicised) Regardless of this rule, acronyms that take the form of a masculine noun ending in a consonant and which are capable of being declined tend to be treated as masculine: The first state-owned theological college—the Chechen Islamic Institute—has opened in Groznyi. The masculine adjective endings used in this example are explained in 6.1. Page 54 3 Case 3.0 Introduction The use of the case system to indicate different grammatical functions can be illustrated by the three different forms of the English pronoun ‘he’. The form ‘he’ is used to indicate the subject of a sentence: He can see me. The form ‘him’ is used among other functions to indicate either the direct or the indirect object of a verb. It is also used after prepositions: I can see him. I gave him the book. I haven’t heard from him for a long time. The form ‘his’ is used to indicate possession: I have borrowed his book. The Russian case system is much more complicated. As noted in Chapter 2, there are six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental and prepositional. In addition, the case system encompasses not only nouns, but also adjectives, pronouns and numerals. The declension of adjectives, pronouns and numerals is described in Chapters 6, 7 and 8 respectively. A further complication is that almost all of the cases are used in a wide variety of functions and the relationship between these different functions is in many instances neither obvious nor logical. The aim of this chapter is to examine the principal functions of each of the cases in turn. There are two points to note here. The first is that this chapter concentrates on the principal functions of the cases; further illustrations of the different ways in which they are used will be given in Part B of this book. The second is that each of the cases can be used after prepositions: a list of prepositions and the cases they are used with is given in 9.2. Page 55 3.1 The nominative 3.1.1 Dictionaries and vocabularies The nominative is the form under which nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals are listed in dictionaries, vocabularies and other word lists. Nouns are listed under the nominative singular (nominative plural if they have no singular form), while adjectives, pronouns and the numeral ‘one’ are listed under the nominative singular masculine. 3.1.2 The use of the nominative to indicate the subject of finite verbs The nominative is the case used to indicate the subject of a finite verb: My brother has just returned from Great Britain. Russia’s first football match took place in St Petersburg exactly 110 years ago. NOTE: In Russian it is not necessary for the subject of a sentence to precede the verb. For more on word order, see 20.1. For a description of which verb forms are finite and which are non-finite, see 4.0. 3.1.3 The use of the nominative to indicate the complement In certain circumstances the nominative case is used for the complement in sentences containing definitions or statements of equivalence. The nominative is always used in present-tense constructions where there is no explicit verb form (corresponding to the present tense of the verb ‘to be’ in English) and is sometimes used in sentences containing different forms of the verb especially if the complement takes the form of an adjective: They say her father is a well-known politician. A pessimist thinks that the glass is half-empty, while an optimist assumes that it is half-full. As it turned out, she was absolutely right. For more on the complement of 3.5 and 14.1. and other verbs with a related meaning, see Page 56 3.1.4 The use of the nominative in forms of address The nominative is the case that is used when addressing people: John, can I have a word with you? or John, can I borrow you for a minute? Auntie Natasha, did you have a best (literally, a faithful) friend when you were a child? And you, young man, should have been in bed a long time ago. 3.2 The accusative The main use of the accusative case is to indicate the direct object of a verb: I’ve known your husband for a long time: we were at school together. She’s written a very good book on life in post-Soviet Russia. History shows that it is impossible permanently and totally to eradicate corruption. When ordering food and drink in a bar or restaurant, or when asking for someone on the telephone, it is normal to use the accusative, even though no verb may be present in the sentence: I’ll have the solianka (a thick soup with meat or fish and vegetables) and for my main course chicken Kiev. Hello. May I speak to Aleksandr Nikolaevich, please? For more on Russian names and forms of address, see 12.1 and 13.4. For more on using the telephone, see 13.6.2. For the use of the accusative in time expressions, see 21.1.3. 3.3 The genitive 3.3.1 The use of the genitive in constructions involving two nouns The genitive is used in a wide range of constructions involving two nouns that are placed adjacent to each other. Most of these correspond to constructions where English would use the preposition ‘of’ or the possessive form in -’s (-s’): The genitive indicates possession in the strict sense of the word: Page 57 We agreed to meet a week later in his brother’s flat. This is really my wife’s mobile; I’ve left mine at home. For more on the absence of the possessive pronoun in constructions involving close relatives and the like, see 7.2.4. The genitive is also used to indicate relationships between people: Russian has three words that correspond to English ‘brother-in-law’: ziat’ means ‘the husband of one’s sister’, shurin, ‘the brother of one’s wife’ and dever’, ‘the brother of one’s husband’. The genitive is used in constructions indicating functions, positions and titles: L.A.Verbitskaia is the Rector of St Petersburg University and President of the Russian Society of Russian Language and Literature Teachers. The genitive is also used in constructions indicating the part of a whole: They have bought themselves a flat in a very prestigious area of Moscow. In constructions containing two nouns the genitive can indicate (a) the performer of an action: Page 58 The eruption of the volcano caught the valley dwellers unawares. And that photograph taken by our daughter won a prize at the competition. (b) the object of an action: Strengthening the exchange rate of the rouble is one of the main tasks of the Central Bank. He put up a photograph of his daughter in his cabin. 3.3.3 The use of the genitive in quantity expressions The genitive is used in constructions indicating the quantity of a particular substance: I’ve bought two loaves of bread, a litre of milk, a packet of butter, a jar of mayonnaise, a bunch of parsley, a kilo of meat and 200 grams of salami. He suddenly felt that he needed a breath of fresh air. The genitive is also used in partitive constructions, that is, when it indicates an unspecified quantity of a substance (i.e. where English uses, for example, ‘some’): No thank you, I don’t drink beer, but I would like some tea, if you’re offering it. Do you want me to give you some money for the journey, or are you all right? For the use of the genitive after certain numerals and in other quantity expressions, see 8.2 and 8.6.3 3.3.3 The use of the genitive in negative constructions The genitive is used with negative forms of the verb related meaning) to indicate absence or non-existence: (and other verbs with a The President is not in Moscow at the moment; he’s on holiday in Sochi. That kind of medicine simply doesn’t exist. For more on the form see 4.8. Page 59 For more on the use of the genitive to indicate absence or non-existence, see 15.1.2. The genitive is also used sometimes instead of the accusative to indicate the direct object of a negated verb: She doesn’t usually make mistakes, but there are no fewer than five in this dictation. No thank you, I don’t drink beer, but I would like some tea, if you’re offering it. For more on the use of the accusative and the genitive to indicate the direct object of a negated verb, see 15.5. 3.3.4 Verbs that take an object in the genitive The following verbs are normally used with an object in the genitive. NOTE: In the following and in subsequent lists verbs will normally be given in pairs separated by a slash (/). In such cases the verb to the left of the slash is imperfective and the verb to the right is perfective. Verbs separated by a comma are alternative forms. For an explanation of imperfective and perfective verbs, see 4.2. I don’t like to be out in the streets late at night, it’s stupid, but I’m afraid of the dark. Last week oil prices reached an all-time high. I wish you good health, success in your work and happiness in your personal life. As far as your question is concerned, I promise you that it will not remain unanswered. Page 60 Keep to the right when coming down the escalator. In some salutations that are in the genitive case the verb understood: ‘I wish’ is good-bye, all the best good whatever time of day it is (a semi-humorous greeting frequently used in emails and on the Internet) good night NOTE In more informal language the verbs and can sometimes be found with an object in the accusative, especially if the object is animate and/or a proper name. To be honest, we’re all frightened of our new boss. The title of Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? can be translated either as (genitive) or as (accusative). 3.3.5 Verbs that can take an object either in the accusative or in the genitive The following verbs can be used with an object either in the accusative or in the genitive: With these verbs the accusative tends to be used if the object is definite (and especially if the object is animate), while the genitive tends to be used if the object is indefinite: We await letters from those who need our help. They promised to send a letter with an invitation, and now I’m desperately waiting for that letter to arrive. —Why don’t we go? —We’re waiting for Vania, he’s gone off to buy some mineral water. For more on the formation see 10.1.11. Here, if the object is the item asked for, it tends to be in the genitive when it is abstract or indefinite; otherwise, it is mostly in the accusative. If, however, the object is the person to whom the request is made, it is in the accusative provided that there is no Page 61 other object; if there is another object, the person asked is indicated using the preposition y (+ gen.): I apologise; I was wrong. I asked to borrow his video-camera for a day, and can you imagine? He refused. He asked his wife to phone him back in an hour. to cost The accusative is used if the object is a sum of money, but in other contexts the genitive is used: This tie costs 1,000 roubles. Winning the championship cost him a broken rib. to look for to want to demand With these verbs the object is usually in the accusative, but the genitive is sometimes used if the object is general and abstract: What do you want—tea or coffee? Well, then, what do you want from life? The shower wasn’t working where we were, so we demanded a different room. We demanded explanations. 3.4 The dative 3.4.1 The use of the dative for the indirect object The dative is used for the indirect object of a verb. This is the recipient of something that is given or the person to whom something is communicated in one form or another: Every month I give my former wife 5,000 roubles. Page 62 Pass on my regards to your sister. I don’t write to my grandmother often, about three times a year. The President told the assembled jounalists that he had no intention of standing for a third term. We’ve sent all our readers a questionnaire in the form of an e-mail attachment. The dative is also used to indicate the person to whom permission is given or refused: The authorities allowed the organisers to hold their event, but only on the outskirts of the city. Passengers are forbidden from carrying liquids and sharp objects onto the plane. 3.4.2 The use of the dative to indicate the logical subject of an infinitive The infinitive, being by definition a non-finite form of the verb, never occurs with a subject in the nominative. Instead, in sentences where the main verb is an infinitive, any logical subject is in the dative. For more on the infinitive, see 4.1. You should get a proper rest! The university does not have enough hostel accommodation and students from out of town have nowhere to live. What is a poor student to do in such circumstances? For more on the constructions used in these examples, see 15.5 and 18.4. 3.4.3 The use of the dative in impersonal constructions The dative is used to indicate the main participant in a wide range of impersonal constructions. In such constructions the verb (if there is one) is the third person singular (present and future tenses) or in the neuter singular (past tense); there is no subject in the nominative. For more on these verb forms, see 4.3.1 and 4.5.1. For more on impersonal constructions, see 11.2.2. Page 63 In the following expressions there is no verb in the present tense; in the past and future tenses the appropriate forms of ‘to be’ ( and respectively) are used. To indicate a change of state (past tense) or (future tense) can be used: Last week all the inhabitants of Moscow were feeling cold: the (district) heating was switched off too early this year. By evening the patient started to feel better; he was no longer coughing and his temperature had gone down. As an honest man I feel ashamed on behalf of a state where such things happen. The girl felt sorry for her cat, but she understood that the kittens would have to be given away. It’s not that I begrudge the money, you understand, but I know what it will lead to. NOTE When and the more informal mean ‘to feel sorry for’, they are used with an object in the accusative. When means ‘to begrudge’, it is used with an object either in the genitive or in the accusative. For more on and see 18.1.1. Page 64 The following verbs are impersonal: I am lucky I have to (by force of circumstances) I feel like, I would like I can’t sleep Our team was lucky: we were drawn against a weak opponent. Because of the bad weather Aeroflot had to cancel over fifty flights. Every woman would like to be considered special. NOTE The verb pair is impersonal only in this meaning; when it mea