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A Comprehensive Russian Grammar, Third Edition

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The third edition of Terence Wade’s A Comprehensive Russian Grammar, newly updated and revised, offers the definitive guide to current Russian usage. Provides the most complete, accurate and authoritative English language reference grammar of Russian available on the marketIncludes up-to-date material from a wide range of literary and non-literary sources, including Russian government websitesFeatures a comprehensive approach to grammar expositionRetains the accessible yet comprehensive coverage of the previous edition while adding updated examples and illustrations, as well as insights into several new developments in Russian language usage since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991
Год:
2010
Издание:
3
Издательство:
Wiley-Blackwell
Язык:
english
Страницы:
632
ISBN 10:
1405136391
ISBN 13:
9781444327533
Файл:
PDF, 2,33 MB
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A Comprehensive Russian Grammar

Blackwell Reference Grammars
General Editor: Glanville Price
The Blackwell Reference Grammars are essential companions for students of modern
languages at senior secondary school and undergraduate level. The volumes provide
a comprehensive survey of the grammar of each language and include plentiful examples.
The series will cover the major European languages, including French, German, Spanish,
Portuguese, and Russian.
Already published
A Comprehensive French Grammar, Sixth Edition
Glanville Price
A Comprehensive Russian Grammar, Third Edition
Terence Wade
Updated, with additional material, by David Gillespie
Advisory Editor for previous editions: Michael J. de K. Holman
A Comprehensive Spanish Grammar
Jacques de Bruyne
Adapted, with additional material, by Christopher J. Pountain
A Comprehensive Welsh Grammar
David A. Thorne
Colloquial French Grammar: A Practical Guide
Rodney Ball
An Introduction to French Pronunciation, Revised Edition
Glanville Price

Grammar Workbooks
A Russian Grammar Workbook
Terence Wade
A French Grammar Workbook
Dulcie Engel, George Evans, and Valerie Howells
A Spanish Grammar Workbook
Esther Santamaría Iglesias

A Comprehensive
Russian Grammar
Third Edition

Terence Wade
Revised and updated by David Gillespie

A John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication

This third edition first published 2011
© 2011 Terence Wade
Edition history: Blackwell Publishers Ltd (1e, 1992 and 2e, 2000)
Blackwell Publishing was acquired by John Wiley & Sons in February 2007. Blackwell’s publishing
program has been merged with Wiley’s global Scientific, Technical, and Medical business to form
Wiley-Blackwell.
Registered Office
John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, United Kingdom
Editorial Offices
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9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK
The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, UK
For details of our global editorial offices, for customer services, and fo; r information about how
to apply for permission to reuse the copyright material in this book please see our website at
www.wiley.com/wiley-blackwell.
The right of Terence Wade to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance
with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise, except as permitted by the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, without the
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Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears
in print may not be available in electronic books.
Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks. All brand
names and product names used in this book are trade names, service marks, trademarks or registered
trademarks of their respective owners. The publisher is not associated with any product or vendor
mentioned in this book. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in
regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in
rendering professional services. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of
a competent professional should be sought.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Wade, Terence Leslie Brian.
A comprehensive Russian grammar / Terence Wade ; edited by David Gillespie. – 3rd ed., rev. and expanded.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4051-3639-6 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Russian language–Grammar. I. Gillespie, David. II. Title.
PG2106.W33 2010
491.782′421–dc22
2010021924
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Set in 10.5/12pt Times by Graphicraft Limited, Hong Kong
Printed in Singapore
1

2011

Contents

Preface
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the Third Edition
Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements to the Second Edition
Abbreviations

xxv
xxvii
xxix
xxxi
xxxiii
xxxiv

Introduction
1 The Cyrillic alphabet
2 The international phonetic alphabet (IPA)

1
2

Pronunciation
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13

Stressed vowels
4
Unstressed vowels
5
Hard and soft consonants
7
Double palatalization
9
Non-palatalization of consonants in some loan words
9
Hard sign and soft sign
10
The reflexive suffix -сь/-ся
10
Effect of a soft consonant on a vowel in the preceding syllable 10
Voiced and unvoiced consonants
11
The pronunciation of -чн13
Consonants omitted in pronunciation
13

vi

Contents

14 The pronunciation of double consonants
15 Stress

13
14

Orthography
16 Spelling rules
17 Use of capital and small letters in titles and names

15
16

Division of Words
18 Division into syllables
19 Splitting a word at the end of a line

18
19

Punctuation
20
21
22
23
24
25
26

Introductory comments
The full stop, exclamation mark and question mark
The comma: introductory comments
Uses of the comma
The colon. The semicolon. The dash
The punctuation of direct speech
Suspension points (многот чие)

20
20
21
21
25
28
29

The Noun
Word formation
27 Word formation in the noun I: general
28 Word formation in the noun II: prefixation
29 Word formation in the noun III: suffixation

30
32
34

Gender
30
31
32
33
34
35
36

Masculine, feminine and neuter gender
Masculine nouns
Feminine nouns
Soft-sign nouns
Neuter nouns
Common gender
Indeclinable nouns of foreign origin

54
55
56
56
58
58
58

Contents
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45

Indeclinable place names
Titles of books etc.
Acronyms
Alphabetisms
Stump compounds
Compound hyphenated nouns
Differentiation of gender through suffixes
Professions
Animals

vii
60
60
60
61
63
63
64
65
67

Declension
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68

Introduction
Animacy
Nouns which are used only in the singular
Nouns which have a plural form only
Declension chart
First declension: masculine nouns
The fleeting vowel
Partitive genitive in -у/-ю
Prepositional/locative singular in -/-
Special masculine plural forms
Nouns whose genitive plural is identical with the
nominative singular
Stress patterns in first-declension masculine nouns
First declension: neuter nouns in -о
First declension: nouns in -е, -ье, -ё, -ьё
Stress patterns in the plural of neuter nouns
Second declension: nouns in -а/-я
Stress patterns in second-declension nouns
Third declension: soft-sign feminine nouns
Declension of neuter nouns in -мя
Declension of nouns in -ия/-ие
The masculine noun путь
The neuter noun дит
Дти and лди

67
68
70
72
73
74
75
76
77
79
82
83
84
86
87
88
90
92
94
94
94
95
95

viii
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76

Contents
Declension of first names
Declension of surnames
Declension of place names
Apposition in the names of publications, towns etc.
Declension of alphabetisms
Declension of hyphenated noun co-ordinates
Agreement of ряд, большинств etc.
Constructions of the type все повернли г лову

95
96
97
97
99
100
100
102

Case Usage
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100

The nominative
The vocative
The accusative
The genitive: possession and relationship
The genitive: quantity
The genitive with adjectives
The partitive genitive
The partitive genitive in -у/-ю
Genitive in -у in set phrases
Genitive and negative
The genitive and accusative after negated verbs
Verbs that take the genitive
The dative as indirect object of a verb
Verbs that take the dative
Adjectives that take the dative
Impersonal constructions using the dative
The dative as the logical subject of an infinitive
The instrumental of function
The instrumental in constructions denoting movements
of the body
The instrumental in passive constructions
The instrumental in adverbial expressions
Use of the instrumental to denote similarity
Verbs that take the instrumental
Adjectives that take the instrumental

103
104
105
106
106
107
107
109
110
111
112
115
118
119
120
120
121
121
122
122
122
124
124
125

Contents
101 The instrumental of dimension
102 The instrumental as predicate
103 Nouns in apposition

ix
125
125
127

Diminutive and Augmentative Nouns
104
105
106
107
108
109

Meanings and functions of the diminutive
Masculine diminutives
Feminine diminutives
Neuter diminutives
Other diminutive suffixes
Augmentative suffixes

128
128
130
131
132
132

The Pronoun
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129

Personal pronouns
Use of personal instead of possessive pronouns
Use of the nominative pronoun with то
The pronoun я
The pronoun мы
The pronouns ты and вы
The third-person pronouns (он, он, он , он!)
The reflexive pronoun себ
The possessive pronouns мой, твой, наш, ваш
The possessive pronouns ег , её, их
The reflexive possessive pronoun свой, сво, своё, сво!
Declension of the interrogative/relative pronouns
1то, что, как й, кот рый, чей as interrogative pronouns
1от рый, как й, чей, кто and что as relative pronouns
Other functions of the interrogative/relative pronouns
Declension of the demonstrative pronouns тот, тот,
так й, сей and кий
The demonstrative pronouns тот and тот
Constructions of the type примр том
The demonstrative pronoun так й
The pronouns сей and кий

134
135
136
136
137
137
138
139
141
142
142
144
144
146
149
150
151
153
153
154

x

Contents

130 Declension of the determinative pronouns сам, смый, весь,
вский, кждый, всческий
131 Сам and смый
132 Весь, (лый, вский, кждый, лоб й, всческий
133 The negative pronouns никт , ничт , никак й, ничй
The negative particle не
134 Никт
135 Ничт
136 Никак й and ничй
137 The ‘potential’ negative pronouns нкого, нчего
138 The indefinite pronouns кт -то, кт -нибудь, кт -либо;
чт -то, чт -нибудь, чт -либо; как й-то, как й-нибудь,
как й-либо; чй-то, чй-нибудь, чй-либо
139 The indefinite pronouns кBе-кт , кBе-чт , кBе-как й
140 Нкто, нчто
141 Нкоторый
142 Нкий
143 Other parts of speech which can also function as pronouns

154
155
156
157
157
158
159
159

161
165
165
165
166
166

The Adjective
144 Introduction

168

The Long Form of the Adjective
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155

The long adjective: hard endings
‘Mixed’ declension
Soft-ending adjectives
Formation of adjectives from nouns: the suffixes -н-, -скand -ов-/-евAdjectival endings with specific meanings
Nouns with more than one adjective
Possessive adjectives
Diminutive adjectives in -енький/-онький
Diminutive adjectives in -оватый/-еватый
Indeclinable adjectives
Attributive use of the long adjective

168
169
170
172
173
174
174
176
177
177
178

Contents
156 Use of the long adjective with predicative meaning
157 Some uses of singular and plural adjectives
158 Adjectival nouns

xi
179
180
181

The Short Form of the Adjective
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175

Endings of the short form of the adjective
182
Adjectives which have long forms only
183
The buffer vowels -е-, -о- and -ё- in the masculine short form 184
Some special short forms
185
Masculine short forms of adjectives in -енный
186
Stress patterns
186
Divergence in stress between masculine, neuter and
plural long and short forms
187
The short form: usage. Introductory comments
187
Use of the short form to denote temporary state
188
Short forms: pairs of opposites
188
Adjectives of dimension
189
Delimitation of meaning by the oblique case of a noun
or pronoun
190
Delimitation by a prepositional phrase
191
Delimitation by a subordinate clause or an infinitive
192
The short form as predicate to infinitives, verbal nouns
and nouns with certain qualifiers
192
The short form in generalized statements
193
Position of the short form of the adjective
193

The Comparative Degree of the Adjective
176
177
178
179
180
181
182
183
184

The comparative degree. Introductory comments
The attributive comparative with б лее
One-word attributive comparatives
Predicative comparative forms in -ее
Comparative short forms in -е
The short-form comparative in predicative meaning
Constructions with the comparative
The short-form comparative in attributive meaning
Other functions of the short-form comparative

193
194
194
195
196
199
199
201
202

xii

Contents

The Superlative Degree of the Adjective
185
186
187
188
189

The superlative degree with смый
В*сший and н!зший
The superlative in -ейший and -айший
The superlative with наиб лее
Other superlatives

202
204
204
205
205

The Numeral
Cardinal, Collective and Indefinite Numerals
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
201
202

The cardinal numeral
Declension of cardinal numerals
Ноль/нуль. Meanings and usage
The numeral од!н, одн, одн , одн!
Полтор/полтор*; два/две, три, чет*ре; ба/ бе
Numerals five and above
Agreement of oblique cases of numerals полтор/полтор*
to 999 with oblique plural forms of nouns
Т*сяча ‘thousand’, милли н ‘million’, миллирд
‘a thousand million’, билли н ‘billion’, трилли н ‘trillion’
Declension of compound numerals
Cardinals as numerical ‘labels’
Collective numerals
Indefinite numerals
Agreement of the predicate with a subject which contains
a numeral

207
208
211
212
214
216
216
218
219
220
221
224
226

Ordinal Numerals
203 Formation of ordinal numerals
204 Ordinal numerals: usage

228
230

Special Functions of Numerals
205 Cardinals and ordinals in fractions and decimals
206 Telling the time
207 Giving the date

230
232
235

Contents
208
209
210
211

Age
Quantitative nouns
Numerals in arithmetic
Numerals in compound nouns and adjectives

xiii
236
237
238
238

The Verb
Conjugation
212
213
214
215
216
217
218
219
220
221
222
223
224
225
226
227
228
229
230
231
232
233
234

Infinitive-preterite stem and present-future stem
The conjugation of the verb
The first conjugation
First-conjugation verbs with stems ending in a vowel
First-conjugation verbs with consonant stems I
First-conjugation verbs with consonant stems II: verbs
in -ать with consonant mutation throughout conjugation
First-conjugation verbs with consonant stems III: verbs
in -ти, -сть/-зть, -чь
Mobile stress in the conjugation of first-conjugation verbs
Second conjugation: present-future stems
Present-future endings in the second conjugation
Consonant change in the conjugation of
second-conjugation verbs
Stress change in the second conjugation
Irregular verbs
Deficiencies in the conjugation of certain verbs
The verb ‘to be’
Formation of the imperative
Stress in the imperative
Verbs with no imperative or a little-used imperative
Formation of the past tense
Verbs with no -л in the masculine past tense
Mobile stress in the past tense of verbs
Formation of the future (imperfective and perfective)
The buffer vowel -о- in conjugation

240
241
241
242
244
246
248
250
251
252
253
254
256
256
257
259
261
261
261
262
264
266
267

xiv

Contents

Aspect
235
236
237
238
239
240
241
242
243
244
245
246
247
248
249
250
251
252
253
254
255
256
257
258
259
260
261
262
263
264
265

The aspect. Introductory comments
Verbs with one aspect only
Bi-aspectual verbs
Formation of the aspects
Formation of the perfective by prefixation
Functions of the perfective prefixes
Semantic differentiation of aspects
Submeanings of perfectives
Formation of verbal aspects by internal modification
The formation of imperfectives from prefixed
first-conjugation verbs
Vowel mutation in secondary imperfective verbs
Secondary imperfectives based on second-conjugation verbs
Consonant mutation in secondary imperfectives based on
second-conjugation verbs
Secondary imperfectives based on monosyllabic verbs
Submeanings of some prefixed imperfectives
The differentiation of aspect by conjugation
Aspectival pairs with different roots
Verbs which are reflexive in the imperfective aspect only
Compounds of -ложить
Meanings of verbal prefixes
The imperfective and perfective aspects
Aspect in the present tense
Aspect in the past tense
Use of the imperfective past to express a ‘statement of fact’
Use of the imperfective past to denote an action and
its reverse
Aspectival usage when emphasis is on the identity of
the person performing the action
Use of the imperfective past to denote a forthcoming event
Negated verbs in the past
Aspect in the future
The ‘logical’ future
The future in reported speech

268
269
270
271
272
273
274
274
275
276
277
277
278
279
280
281
282
282
283
283
293
295
298
300
302
303
305
305
306
307
307

Contents
266
267
268
269
270
271
272
273
274
275
276
277
278
279
280
281
282
283

Use of the future to express repeated actions
The perfective future in warnings
Aspect in questions
Some uses of the imperfective imperative
Use of the imperative in the context of a single action
Use of the imperative to exhort and invite
A command arising naturally from context
Negative commands/warnings
Use of the perfective imperative with repeated actions
Use of the future and the infinitive to express peremptory
commands
Aspect in the infinitive. Introductory comments
Use of the infinitive to denote habitual actions
Use of the imperfective infinitive after verbs of beginning,
continuing and concluding
Inadvisable and advisable actions
A request to perform/not to perform an action
Use of the infinitive after не хоч
Use of the infinitive with пор
Use of infinitives after verbs of motion

xv
308
309
309
310
311
311
312
313
314
314
314
315
316
317
318
319
319
320

Reflexive Verbs
284
285
286
287
288
289
290
291
292
293

Reflexive verbs: conjugation
The ‘true’ reflexive
Semi-reflexive verbs
Intransitive reflexives
Reflexive verbs with passive meaning
Reciprocal meanings
Reflexive verbs which express feelings and attitudes
Intense or purposeful action
Reflexive verbs that emphasize thoroughness
Reflexive verbs that denote potential to perform an action

320
321
321
322
323
323
325
325
325
326

Impersonal Constructions
294 Use of impersonal constructions to denote natural processes
326
295 Impersonal constructions with an animate accusative or dative 327

xvi
296
297
298
299

Contents
Impersonal constructions involving an external force
Expression of other meanings (chance, sufficiency etc.)
Constructions with the second-person singular
Constructions with the third-person plural

327
328
329
329

The Passive Voice
300
301
302
303

The passive voice. Introductory comments
The passive expressed by imperfective reflexive verbs
Passive meaning expressed by third-person plural verbs
Perfective reflexives with passive meaning

330
331
331
332

The Conditional and Subjunctive Moods
304 The conditional mood. Introductory comments
305 Formation of the conditional
306 Use of (1) the imperative and (2) the preposition без to
express conditional meanings
307 Use of the particle бы to express desire
308 Use of the subjunctive to express wish or desire
309 The subjunctive of purposeful endeavour
310 Purpose clauses
311 The expression of hypothesis
312 Concessive constructions

333
333
334
335
335
337
337
338
340

Constructions Expressing Obligation, Necessity, Possibility
or Potential
313 The expression of obligation and necessity
314 The expression of possibility or potential

341
343

Verbs of Motion
315
316
317
318
319
320
321

Unidirectional and multidirectional verbs of motion
Conjugation of verbs of motion
Imperatives of verbs of motion
Past tense of verbs of motion
‘To go’: идт!/ход!ть and хать/здить
Functions of unidirectional verbs of motion
Unidirectional verbs in frequentative contexts

345
346
346
347
347
348
349

Contents
322 Functions of multidirectional verbs of motion
323 Use of the past tense of a multidirectional verb to denote
a single return journey
324 The verbs нест!, нос!ть; вест!, вод!ть; везт!, воз!ть
325 Translation of ‘to drive’
326 Perfectives of unidirectional verbs
327 Special meanings of пойт!
328 Не пошёл and не ход!л
329 Perfectives of multidirectional verbs
330 Figurative and idiomatic uses of verbs of motion
331 Compound verbs of motion
332 Stems of compound verbs of motion
333 Spelling rules in the formation of compound verbs of motion
334 Prefixed verbs of motion
335 Use of the imperfective past of a compound verb of motion
to denote an action and its reverse
336 Figurative and idiomatic uses of compound verbs of motion
337 Perfectives in с- based on multidirectional verbs
338 Perfectives in за-, из- and на- based on multidirectional
verbs

xvii
350
352
353
354
354
355
356
356
357
358
359
360
360
361
362
363
364

Participles
339
340
341
342
343
344
345
346
347

Participles. Introductory comments
Present active participle. Formation
Stress in the present active participle
The past active participle. Formation
Stress in the past active participle
The imperfective passive participle. Formation
Stress in the imperfective passive participle
Verbs which have no imperfective passive participle
Formation of passive participles from secondary
imperfectives whose primaries have no participle
348 The perfective passive participle. Introductory comments
349 Formation (infinitives in -ать/-ять)
350 Stress in the participles from дать and its compounds

365
365
366
367
368
368
369
369
370
370
370
371

xviii

Contents

351 Formation of the long-form (attributive) participle from verbs
in -ать/ять
352 Formation of the short-form participle from
second-conjugation verbs in -ить/-еть
353 Consonant mutation in participles from second-conjugation
infinitives in -ить/-еть
354 Formation of the long-form (attributive) participle from
second-conjugation verbs in -ить/-еть
355 Formation of perfective passive participles (short form)
from verbs in -ти, -чь, -зть, -сть
356 Long-form participles from verbs in -ти, -чь, -зть, -сть
357 Perfective passive participles in -т
358 The long form of participles in -т
359 Functions of short-form participles
360 Functions of long-form participles
361 Agreement of long-form participle and noun
362 Participial synonymy
363 Participles as adjectives and nouns
364 Participial adjectives
365 Distinction between short-form adjectives and short-form
participles
366 Impersonal function of short-form participles

371
372
373
374
374
375
375
377
377
378
380
381
382
383
384
385

Gerunds
367
368
369
370
371
372
373
374
375
376
377

The gerund. Introductory comments
Formation of the imperfective gerund
Stress in the imperfective gerund
Verbs with no imperfective gerund
Compensation for the lack of an imperfective gerund
The perfective gerund: formation (verbs in -ть, -сть
(д- stems))
Reflexive perfective gerunds
Perfective gerunds with alternative forms in -я/-а
Gerunds from perfective verbs in -ти and -сть
Gerunds from perfective verbs in -чь and -зть
Functions of the gerunds

385
386
387
387
388
388
389
389
389
390
390

Contents

xix

378 Special features of constructions with gerunds
379 Reversal of the sequence of actions expressed by main verb
and gerund
380 Gerunds as other parts of speech

392
393
393

The Adverb
381
382
383
384
385
386
387
388
389
390
391
392
393
394
395
396
397
398
399
400

Introductory comments
Adverbs derived from adjectives
Adverbs derived from nouns
Adverbs derived from verbs
Adverbs derived from numerals
Adverbs derived from pronouns
Primary spatial adverbs
Primary adverbs of time
Уж, уж не
Ещё, ещё не
The temporal adverbs д лго, давн and недвно
Primary adverbs of manner and extent
Interrelating adverbs
Т же, ткже
Indefinite adverbs (adverbs in -то, -нибудь, -либо and кBе-)
The negative adverbs нигд, никуд, ниоткда, никогд,
никк, ниск лько
The negative adverbs нгде, нкуда, нкогда, ноткуда,
нзачем
Comparative adverbs
Variant forms of some comparative adverbs
The superlative adverb

395
395
398
399
400
400
401
402
403
404
405
406
407
407
409
411
412
413
414
415

The Preposition
401 Introductory comments
402 Primary prepositions and cases
403 Repetition of prepositions

416
416
418

xx
404
405
406
407

Contents
The buffer vowel -о
Stress in primary prepositions
Adverbial prepositions
Prepositions derived from nouns and verbs

418
419
421
422

Spatial Prepositions
408 В and на + prepositional/accusative, из/с + genitive
409 The use of в and на with geographical terminology and
the names of organizations, buildings and parts of buildings
410 Nouns which may be used with в and на, but with
different meanings
411 Special uses of с + genitive
412 Uses of в and на when the dependent noun denotes an
activity, event
413 В and на: extension of the spatial meanings

422
424
426
432
432
433

Prepositions that Denote the Position of an Object in Relation to
Another Object (Behind, in Front of, Below, on Top of etc.), or
Movement to or from that Position
414 За + instrumental/accusative, из-за + genitive
415 За + instrumental/accusative: extension of the spatial
meanings
416 Перед + instrumental, вперед! + genitive
417 Под + instrumental/accusative, из-под + genitive
418 Над + instrumental, поврх + genitive
419 МAжду + instrumental, средO, посред!, напр тив, прBтив,
вдBль, внA, внутрO, внIтрь, вокрIг, мOмо + genitive

434
436
437
437
439
439

Prepositions that Denote Spatial Closeness to an Object,
Movement Towards or Away from an Object, or Distance
from an Object
420 У + genitive, к + dative, от + genitive
421 БлOз, бл!зко от, вBзле, недалек от, неподалёку от,
Bколо, пBдле + genitive; бл!зко к, бл!же к + dative;
рдом с + instrumental
422 При + prepositional
423 Вдал! от, далек от, подльше от + genitive

441

443
443
444

Contents

xxi

Prepositions that Denote Along, Across, Through a Spatial Area
424 По + dative; через, сквBзь + accusative; поперёк, вглубь,
вдBль + genitive

444

Prepositions that Denote Spatial Limit
425 До + genitive, по + accusative

447

Temporal Prepositions
426
427
428
429
430
431
432
433

Telling the time
Days
Parts of a day
Weeks, months, years and centuries
General time words
Nouns that denote stages in a process
The weather
Festivals

447
448
449
450
451
453
453
454

The Use of Prepositions to Denote Action in Relation to
Various Time Limits
434 The use of с + genitive, до + genitive/по + accusative
to denote terminal points in time
435 Use of к + dative and под + accusative to denote
temporal approach
436 Use of в/за + accusative to denote the time taken to
complete an action
437 Use of в + accusative to denote the period during which
an action occurs a stated number of times
438 Use of на + accusative to denote the time for which
something has been arranged
439 Use of prepositions to denote sequence in time
(before, after etc.)
440 Temporal prepositional phrases as attributes to nouns:
за + accusative, от + genitive
441 Positioning an event within a time span: средO + genitive,
мAжду + instrumental
442 Coincidence in time: при + prepositional

454
455
456
457
457
457
460
461
461

xxii

Contents

Other Meanings
443
444
445
446
447
448

Prepositions with causal meaning
Prepositions that denote the object of feelings and attitudes
Prepositions that denote extent
Prepositions that denote purpose
Concessive meanings expressed by prepositions
По + dative/accusative in distributive meaning

462
465
467
470
472
473

Other Important Meanings Expressed by Prepositions
449
450
451
452
453

Prepositions
Prepositions
Prepositions
Prepositions
Prepositions

that
that
that
that
that

take
take
take
take
take

the
the
the
the
the

accusative
genitive
dative
instrumental
prepositional

474
477
479
481
482

The Conjunction
454 Introductory comments

484

Co-ordinating Conjunctions
455 Connective conjunctions
456 Adversative conjunctions
457 Disjunctive conjunctions

485
486
488

Subordinating Conjunctions
458
459
460
461
462
463
464
465
466

Explanatory conjunctions
Causal conjunctions
Conjunctions of purpose
Conjunctions of result
Conditional conjunctions
Concessive conjunctions
Comparative conjunctions
Temporal conjunctions. Introductory comments
Temporal conjunctions which render ‘before’, ‘after’,
‘by the time that’, ‘until’, ‘since’
467 Other conjunctions of time

489
492
494
495
496
497
497
498
499
502

Contents

xxiii

The Particle
468
469
470
471
472
473
474

The particle. Introductory comments
The position of the particle in the sentence
The use of particles to impart different nuances of meaning
Some of the principal meanings expressed by particles
Modal functions of particles
The meanings of individual particles
The aggregation of particles for increased emphasis

505
506
506
507
508
510
517

Word Order
475
476
477
478
479
480
481

Introductory comments
‘New’ and ‘given’ information
Relative position of subject and verb
Subject, verb, object
The position of the adjective
The position of the adverb
Sentences that contain more than one adverb or
adverbial phrase
482 The position of the noun or pronoun in impersonal
constructions
483 The position of particles in the sentence
484 Word order in expressive styles

521
521
524
525
527
528

530
531
531

Glossary
Bibliography
Subject index
Word index

533
540
549
566

529

To May

Preface

The Comprehensive Russian Grammar is meant for English-speaking
pupils and students of Russian at the post-introductory stage. It is also a
reference aid for teachers, translators and interpreters and others who use
the language in a professional capacity.
The first new reference grammar of Russian to have been published in
the United Kingdom since the 1950s, it is based on personal research
and observation, long experience of teaching Russian at all levels from
beginners up to the Honours Degree and the Civil Service Interpretership,
and on a close study of reference materials by Russian, British and
American linguists.
The approach is descriptive throughout, and rules of usage are constantly
measured against current practice as reflected in contemporary journalistic
and literary sources. It is entirely practical in conception and design and
has no pretensions to theoretical disquisition. Particular emphasis is laid
on problems which are of especial difficulty for the English speaker.
The grammar provides comprehensive guidance to usage, with exhaustive
tabulated material and succinct explanations. It is presented in 484 sections
which are further subdivided to take account of finer points of usage. It
provides mainstream rules for quick reference, as well as access to the
subtleties of the language for those who need more detailed information.
The intention is to provide the essential facts of the language and to
tackle perennial problems such as adverbs and pronouns in -то and
-нибудь, agreement, animacy, conjugation, declension, gerunds, long
and short adjectives, numerals, participles, the partitive genitive, verbs of
motion, and so on, as well as problems which have often received less

xxvi

Preface

attention: the gender of acronyms, alphabetisms, soft-sign nouns, the
differences between в/на and other key prepositions, and between т же
and ткже, the use of capital letters, particles, the principles of word
order etc. Treatment of verbal aspect differentiates usage in the past, future,
imperative and infinitive, thus throwing the rules into sharper relief.
Special emphasis is given to stress patterns.
Ease of reference is assured by comprehensive indexing of subject
headings and Russian words, and by general adherence to the alphabetic
principle throughout.

Preface to the Second Edition

A Comprehensive Russian Grammar was first published in 1992, since when
the book has been reprinted eight times, on most occasions with minor
amendments. The present, second, edition of the Grammar takes account
of the very considerable changes, both social and linguistic, that have taken
place in the post-Soviet period.
The transliteration system of the Library of Congress has been added to
those enumerated in section 1, but that of the British Standards Institute
continues to be used throughout the Grammar.
Amendments have been made to sections dealing with all parts of speech,
with pronunciation, the noun, the adjective, the verb and the preposition
most affected.
There are three entirely new, substantial sections on word formation in
the Russian noun. These comprise sections 27 (general), 28 (prefixation)
and 29 (suffixation), the sections that formerly bore these numbers having
been conflated with earlier sections to make room for the new material.
These sections have not been curtailed in any way.
Some sections on pronunciation have been amplified by additional examples,
sometimes involving new lexis, e.g. прнтер ‘printer’, Интернт ‘Internet’
and экстраснс ‘psychic’ in section 7. Changes have also been made to
sections 12, 13, and 15 (on the pronunciation of -чн-, consonants omitted
in pronunciation, and stress, respectively).
Section 17 (on the use of capital and small letters in titles and names)
has been completely rewritten in the light of changes that have occurred
over the past few years. Many of the changes involve new names such
as Россйская Федерция ‘Russian Federation’ and Совт Федерции

xxviii

Preface to the Second Edition

‘Council of the Federation’, but historicisms such as Совтский Соз
‘Soviet Union’ will clearly remain current for some time to come and have
been retained. Other changes result from new official attitudes, affecting,
for example, the spelling of the names of deities.
Other amended sections on the noun take account of recent neologisms,
e.g. фл ппи ‘floppy disk’, папарцци ‘paparazzi’ (section 36), ВИЧ
‘HIV’, СКВ ‘freely-convertible currency’ (section 40), забастк м
‘strike committee’ (section 42), etc. Most amendments have grammatical
implications, e.g. the genitive plurals байт ‘byte’ and бит ‘bit’ (section
56), the plurals технол гии ‘technologies’ and экон мики ‘economies’
(section 48), the use of the accusative case in заказл вин ‘ordered some
wine’ (section 83), and so on, others reflect name changes of the past
decade (e.g. the replacement of the former place name Кров ‘Kirov’,
section 71).
Amendments to the sections on adjectives also reflect changes in
nomenclature, e.g. д)мский ‘Duma’ (adj.), or amplify extant categories,
e.g. лзинговый ‘leasing’ (adj.) (both section 148).
Changes to the sections on the verb include an increase in the number
of biaspectuals with alternative perfectives (e.g. профинансровать ‘to
finance’, section 237), and the amplification of other sections.
Section 404 on the buffer vowel -о in prepositions has been expanded, as
has section 424 on через and по in the meaning ‘across’, and section 451
on по with nouns that denote means of communication (по мобльному
‘on a mobile’, по фксу ‘by fax’), including variant usage in conjunction
with телевдение ‘television’. The preposition пор+дка in the meaning
‘approximation’ has been added to section 445.
The bibliography has been expanded to include new dictionaries, grammars
and other works of the mid- to late 1990s, especially those specifically
describing the language at the end of the twentieth century (Comrie, Stone
and Polinsky, Dulichenko, Karaulov, Kostomarov, Offord, Rakhmanova and
Suzdal’tseva, Ryazanova-Clarke and Wade, Shaposhnikov and Zemskaya),
as well as new journals, newspapers, magazines and prose works.
A glossary of grammatical terms has also been included in the new
edition. The table of contents and indexes have been revised to take account
of new material and revised pagination.
TW, Glasgow 2000

Preface to the Third Edition

When Professor Terence Wade died in 2005, he was already well advanced
in his plans to produce a third edition of A Comprehensive Russian Grammar.
This would have included appendices on geographical terms, irregular verbs,
irregular noun plurals, indeclinable nouns and abbreviations.
Since it remains unclear just what form these appendices would take
I have chosen not to attempt to second-guess. Indeed, it remains my
conviction that Professor Wade’s grammar is the most comprehensive and
illuminating of all Russian grammars currently available for student use.
It would not be advisable to make it unwieldy or too detailed for its own
good!
My purpose in preparing the third edition is not to seek to emulate
Professor Wade’s ambition, but rather to enhance the status and significance
of the grammar throughout the scholarly world by consolidation and a few
select additions. I have been guided by Professor Wade’s own desire, in
planning the third edition, to ‘ensure that the essential balance of the book
is maintained’. I have therefore chosen to expand the sources and reference
materials used, including writers and texts from well-known modern
Russian writers, as well as from the political and journalistic discourse
of post-Soviet Russia. In only one or two cases have explanations been
‘tweaked’, but the grammar itself remains largely as Professor Wade
presented it in the first edition in 1992.
I am indebted to colleagues from the Department of European Studies
and Modern Languages of the University of Bath for their advice and
support during my time spent working on this edition, and for their
invaluable help with recent developments in the language, especially

xxx

Preface to the Third Edition

vocabulary. My fellow teachers Natasha Zhuravkina and Elena Kidd have
been particularly helpful. I would also like to thank staff and students of
Moscow State University who have studied on short courses at the
University of Bath in 2008 and 2009, especially Lidiia Polubichenko, Elena
Aleksandrova and Maria Guzenko.
David Gillespie
Bath, November 2009

Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the following for advising on aspects of the book: Natalya
Bogoslavskaya (University of Leeds), Sheelagh Graham (University of
Strathclyde), Larissa Ryazanova (Edinburgh University), who also read
the page proofs, Professor Dennis Ward (University of Edinburgh), Nijole
White (University of Strathclyde); also Dr Marina Kozyreva (Moscow and
Leeds Universities) for reading through a late draft and writing a helpful
report. I am particularly grateful to my specialist readers, Dr R. Bivon
(University of Essex, formerly of the University of East Anglia) and
Dr Svetlana Miloslavskaya (Pushkin Institute, Moscow) for writing detailed
reports at an early stage, thus enabling me to make substantial improvements.
I also valued a lengthy consultation with Svetlana Miloslavskaya which
allowed me to make amendments to the final draft. My editor, Professor
Michael Holman (University of Leeds), supplied helpful and detailed
critical analyses of each chapter during the writing of the grammar and
I am most grateful to him for his support and encouragement and for
the many insights that he provided. I should also like to thank Professor
Glanville Price (University College of Wales), general editor of Blackwell’s
series of grammars of European languages, for his comments on some early
chapters, particularly that on verbs. Any errors are, of course, entirely the
responsibility of the author.
I wish to thank my late mother, who first encouraged me to learn Russian.
The book is dedicated to my wife, May, who bore with me throughout the
thousands of hours and nine drafts that went into this grammar.

xxxii

Acknowledgements

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the publishers of
the books I was able to consult (see bibliography): Akademiya nauk,
Birmingham University, Collets International, CUP, Dover Publications,
Durham University, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Hutchinson, Kniga, MGU,
Nauka, Oliver and Boyd, OUP, Pan Books, Pergamon, Progress Publishers,
Prosveshchenie, Russkii yazyk, Sovetskaya entsiklopediya, University of
East Anglia, University of London Press, Vysshaya shkola.
TW

Acknowledgements to the
Second Edition

I am grateful to Russian colleagues who have helped with the new
edition, particularly Professor V. G. Kostomarov, Rector of the Pushkin
Institute, Moscow, for allowing me to carry out research at the Institute
on a number of occasions.
I wish to thank Professor G. Corbett (University of Surrey) and Professor
B. Scherr (Dartmouth College) for their valuable comments on the first
edition of the Grammar and suggestions for improving the second.
I also wish to express my thanks to Mrs Nijole White, my colleague at
the University of Strathclyde, who read the sections on word formation
in the Russian noun and gave valuable advice on presentation.
I should also like to thank editorial and production staff at Blackwell:
Tessa Harvey, Louise Spencely, Lorna Berrett, Brian Johnson, Helen
Rappaport, and proof reader Penny Dole for their work in producing this
second edition of the book.
Above all I am again indebted to my editor, Professor Michael Holman,
of the University of Leeds, who has supplied unstinting supportive and
professional assistance throughout, especially in preparing the new sections
on word formation in the Russian noun.

Abbreviations

The following abbreviations are used:
acc.
adj.
cf.
dat.
f.
fig.
gen.
imper.
impf.
infin.
instr.
lit.
m.
n.
nom.
part.
pf.
pl.
prep.
sing.
theatr.
trans.

accusative
adjective
compare
dative
feminine
figurative
genitive
imperative
imperfective
infinitive
instrumental
literally
masculine
neuter
nominative
participle
perfective
plural
prepositional
singular
theatrical
transitive

Introduction

1

The Cyrillic alphabet

(1) The Russian Cyrillic alphabet contains 33 letters, including 20
consonants, 10 vowels, a semi-consonant/semi-vowel (й), a hard sign (ъ)
and a soft sign (ь).
(2) There are a number of different systems for transliterating the
Cyrillic alphabet. Three of these, that of the International Organization
for Standardization (ISO), that of the British Standards Institution (BSI)
(whose system is used throughout this Grammar), and that of the Library
of Congress (LC) are listed alongside the Cyrillic alphabet, as well as the
Russian names of the individual letters:
Cyrillic letters
Аа
Бб
Вв
Гг
Дд
Ее
Ёё
Жж
Зз
Ии
Йй
Кк
Лл

Letter name
[а]
[бэ]
[вэ]
[гэ]
[дэ]
[е]
[ё]
[жэ]
[зэ]
[и]
[и крткое]
[ка]
[эль]

ISO
a
b
v
g
d
e
ë
e
z
i
j
k
l

BSI
a
b
v
g
d
e
ë
zh
z
i
j
k
l

LC
a
b
v
g
d
e
ë
zh
z
i
j
k
l

2

Introduction

Cyrillic letters
Мм
Нн
Оо
Пп
Рр
Сс
Тт
Уу
Фф
Хх
Цц
Чч
Шш
Щщ
Ъъ
ЬІы
Ьь
Ээ
Юю
Яя

1–2
Letter name
[эм]
[эн]
[о]
[пэ]
[эр]
[эс]
[тэ]
[у]
[эф]
[ха]
[цэ]
[че]
[ша]
[ща]
[твёрдый знак]
[ы]
[М@гкий знак]
[э оборBтное]
[ю]
[я]

ISO
m
n
o
p
r
s
t
u
f
h/ch
c
a
c
ca
”
y
’
z
ju
ja

BSI
m
n
o
p
r
s
t
u
f
kh
ts
ch
sh
shch
”
d
’
é
yu
ya

LC
m
n
o
p
r
s
t
u
f
kh
u
ch
sh
shch
”
y
’
b
t
s

Note
(a) Certain letters with diacritics and accents which appear in the standard
BSI system (ё for ё, j for й, é for э, d for ы) are used without diacritics
and accents here.
(b) The ligatures used over certain combinations of letters in the standard
LC system (u, t s) are often omitted by other users.
(c) An apostrophe (’) for the soft sign (ь) is used only in the
bibliography.
(d) The endings -ый /-ий are rendered as -y in names.
2

The international phonetic alphabet (IPA)

The following symbols from the IPA are used in the Introduction for the
phonetic transcription of Russian words.
Vowels
i
f
o
p

as
as
as
as

in ил
in пыл
the first vowel in игл
the first vowel in дыр

[il]
[pfl]
[o2gla]
[dp2ra]

2
q
e
a
æ
v
m
o
ö
u
ü

as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as

in лес
in весь
in рад
in пять
the first vowel in одIн
the first vowel in хорошB
in мох
in тётя
in бук
in ключ

[Fqs]
[LeJ]
[rat]
[IæK]
[v2Bin]
[xmrv2Ro]
[mox]
[2KöKm]
[buk]
[kFütR]

Semi-consonant/semi-vowel
j

as in бой

[boj]

Consonants
p
I
b
A
t
K
d
B
k
D
M
E
f
C
v
L
s
J
z
O
R
Q
x
N
SS
ts

as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as

in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in

пол
пёс
бак
бел
том
тем
дом
день
как
кем
гол
гид
флBра
фен
вот
винB
сам
сев
зуб
зJбра
шум
жук
хам
хIмик
щек
цех

[pol]
[Ios]
[bak]
[Aql]
[tom]
[Kqm]
[dom]
[BeH]
[kak]
[Dqm]
[Mol]
[Eit]
[2florm]
[Cqn]
[vot]
[Lo2no]
[sam]
[Jqf]
[zup]
[2Oqbrm]
[ Rum]
[Quk]
[xam]
[2NiGok]
[ S So2ka]
[tsqx]

Introduction

3

4
tR
m
G
n
H
l
F
r
P
j

Introduction
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as
as

in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in
in

2–3

чин
мол
мел
нос
нет
лак
ляг
рак
рек
@ма

[tRin]
[mol]
[Gql]
[nos]
[Hqt]
[lak]
[Fak]
[rak]
[Po2ka]
[2jamm]

Pronunciation
3

Stressed vowels

Russian has ten vowel letters:
а
я

э
е

ы
и

о
ё

у
ю

(1) А is pronounced with the mouth opened a little wider than in the
pronunciation of ‘a’ in English ‘father’, e.g. зал [zal] ‘hall’.
(2) Э is pronounced like ‘e’ in ‘end’, but the mouth is opened a little wider
and the tongue is further from the palate than in articulating English ‘e’
in ‘end’, e.g. Kто [2qtm] ‘this is’.
(3) У is pronounced with the tongue drawn back and the lips rounded
and protruding. The sound is similar to but shorter than the vowel in ‘school’,
e.g. бук [buk] ‘beech’.
(4) О is also pronounced with rounded and protruding lips, but to a lesser
extent than in the pronunciation of у. The sound is similar to the vowel
in English ‘bought’, e.g. бок [bok] ‘side’.
(5) The vowel ы is pronounced with the tongue drawn back as in the
pronunciation of у, but with the lips spread, not rounded or protruding,
e.g. сын [sfn] ‘son’.
(6) The vowels я [ja], е [jq], ё [jo] and ю [ju] are ‘iotated’ variants of
a, э, o and y (i.e. they are pronounced like those vowels preceded by
the sound [j]). The vowel и resembles ‘ea’ in English ‘cheap’, but is a
‘closer’ sound, that is, the centre of the tongue is nearer to the hard
palate in articulation, e.g. мир [Gir] ‘world, peace’. After a preposition

3–4

Pronunciation

5

or other word ending in a hard consonant, however, stressed initial и is
pronounced [f]: от Lгоря [v2t1fMmPm], cf. also 4 (4) note.
Note
Vowels can be classified as:
(a) back vowels (pronounced with the back part of the tongue raised
towards the back of the palate): у/ю, о/ё;
(b) central vowels (pronounced with the central part of the tongue
raised towards the central part of the palate): ы, а /я;
(c) front vowels (pronounced with the central part of the tongue raised
towards the front of the palate: и, э/е.
4

Unstressed vowels

(1) Unstressed y, ю, и and ы
The sound of unstressed у/ю is similar to that of English ‘u’ in ‘put’:
дуг [du2Ma] ‘arc’, юл [ju2la] ‘top’. Unstressed и and ы are shorter and
pronounced in a more ‘relaxed’ fashion than their stressed equivalents:
игр [o2Mra] ‘game’, был [bg2la] ‘was’. Ё does not appear in unstressed
position. The other vowels are ‘reduced’ in unstressed position.
(2) Reduction of o and a
(i) The vowels o and a are pronounced as [o] and [a] only when they
appear in stressed position: дом [dom], зал [zal]. In unstressed position
they are reduced, o being the vowel most affected by various forms of
reduction resulting from its position in relation to the stress.
(ii) In pre-tonic position or as the unstressed initial letter in a word o
and a are pronounced [v]: потBм [pv2tom] ‘afterwards’, одIн [v2Bin]
‘one’, парBм [pv2rom] ‘ferry’, акMла [v2kulm] ‘shark’. This also applies
to pre-tonic prepositions: под мBрем [pv2d1m oPom] ‘under the sea’, над
дBмом [nv2d1dommm] ‘above the house’. The combinations aa, ao, oa,
oo are pronounced [vv], e.g. сообразIть [svvbrv2OiK] ‘to comprehend’.
(iii) In pre-pre-tonic position (except as initial letters, see (ii)) or in
post-tonic position both vowels are pronounced [m]: thus парохBд [pmrv2xot]
‘steamer’, молодBй [mmlv2doj] ‘young’, рно [2ranm] ‘early’, вIлка [2vilkm]
‘fork’. This also applies to prepositions (под водBй [pmd1vv2doj] ‘under
water’, над головBй [nmd1Mmlv2voj] ‘overhead’) and to the initial letters
of words governed by prepositions (в огорBде [v1mMv2roBo] ‘in the market
garden’ (cf. огорBд [vMv2rot] ‘market garden’)).

6

Introduction

4

Note
(a) Unstressed o is pronounced [o] in a number of words of foreign origin
(како ‘cocoa’, рдио ‘radio’, хос ‘chaos’), with an optional [o]
in вJто ‘veto’, досьJ ‘dossier’, шоссJ ‘highway’ and some other
words. In certain cases, pronunciation is differentiated stylistically.
The pronunciation [v] in words such as поKт ‘poet’ and шоссJ
‘highway’, said to be the more colloquial variant, has gained ground
in educated speech and is found even in the pronunciation of foreign
names such as ШопJн [ Rv2pqn]/[ Ro2pqn] ‘Chopin’, especially where
these have gained common currency (e.g. Толь@тти ‘Togliatti’).
However, [o] is retained in words where it follows another vowel:
трIо ‘trio’.
(b) The vowel а is pronounced [o] in pre-tonic position after ч and
щ: thus часN [tRo2sf] ‘clock’, щадIть [ S So2BiK] ‘to spare’. The
pronunciation of unstressed а as [p] after ж, ш is now limited
for many speakers to жалJть [Qp2FeK] ‘to regret’, к сожалJнию
[k1smQp2FeHoju] ‘unfortunately’ and end-stressed plural oblique cases
of лBшадь ‘horse’, e.g. gen. pl. лошадJй [lmRp2Bej]. Ца is
pronounced [tsp] in the oblique cases of some numerals: двадцатI
[dvmtsp2Ki] ‘twenty’ (gen.).
(3) Reduction of е and я
(i) In pre-tonic position both е and я are pronounced [( j)o]: язNк [ jo2zfk]
‘language’, перевBд [IoPo2vot] ‘translation’. Thus, разредIть ‘to thin out’
and разрядIть ‘to unload’ have the same pronunciation.
(ii) In post-tonic position е is pronounced [o] (пBле [2poFo] ‘field’), while
я is usually pronounced [m] (дNня [2dfHm] ‘melon’). However, post-tonic
я is pronounced [o] before a soft consonant (пмять [2paGoK] ‘memory’)
and in non-final post-tonic position (вNглянул [2vfMFonul] ‘looked out’).
(4) Reduction of э
Э is pronounced [o] in unstressed position (этп [o2tap] ‘stage’).
Note
Unstressed initial и and э and conjunction и are pronounced [p] after
a preposition or other word ending in a hard consonant (see 3 (6)): в
Итлию [v1p2taFoju] ‘to Italy’, брат идёт к Ивну [brat1p2Bot k1p2vanu]
‘my brother is on his way to see Ivan’, над эквтором [nmd1p2kvatmrmm]
‘above the equator’. И is also pronounced [p] in certain stump compounds,
e.g. Госиздт [ Mosp2zdat] ‘State Publishing House’.

5
5

Pronunciation

7

Hard and soft consonants

With the exception of ж, ц and ш, which are invariably hard, and ч and
щ, which are invariably soft, all Russian consonants can be pronounced
hard or soft.
(1) Hard consonants
(i) A hard consonant is a consonant which appears at the end of a word
(e.g. the м in дом [dom] ‘house’, the т in вот [vot] ‘here is’) or is followed
by а, ы, о or у (э appears only as an initial letter, except in acronyms
such as нэп ‘NEP’ (New Economic Policy) and rare words such as сэр
‘sir’). Thus, the consonants in the words голов [Mmlv2va] ‘head’, мNло
[2mflm] ‘soap’ and дMма [2dumm] ‘thought’ are all hard.
(ii) Most hard consonants, e.g. б, в, г, з, к, м, п, с, ф, are pronounced
in similar fashion to their English counterparts, i.e. ‘b’ in ‘bone’, ‘v’ in
‘van’, ‘g’ in ‘gone’, ‘z’ in ‘zone’, ‘c’ in ‘come’, ‘m’ in ‘money’, ‘p’ in ‘pun’,
‘s’ in ‘sun’, ‘f in ‘fun’. However, к and п (and т; see (iii)) lack the slight
aspiration of ‘k’, ‘p’ and ‘t’.
(iii) In pronouncing the dentals д [d], т [t] and н [n], the tip of the tongue
is pressed against the back of the upper teeth in the angle between teeth
and gums.
(iv) Р is a moderately ‘trilled’ [r]. Л is pronounced with the tip of the
tongue in the angle between the upper teeth and the gum, and the middle
of the tongue curved downwards. The ‘l’ sound in English ‘bubble’ is a
good starting-point for the pronunciation of this letter.
(v) Х sounds as ‘ch’ in ‘loch’ or German ‘acht’, but is formed a little further
forward in the mouth.
(vi) Unlike other consonants, ж, ц and ш are always pronounced hard
(see, however, note (b), below). This means in practice that the vowels
е and и are pronounced as э and ы after ж, ц and ш (жест [Qqst]
‘gesture’, жир [ Qfr] fat’, цех [tsqx] ‘workshop’, цирк [tsfrk] ‘circus’,
шест [ Rqst] ‘pole’, машIна [mv2Rfnm] ‘car’) while ё is pronounced as о
after ж and ш (жёлоб [2Qolmp] ‘groove’, шёлк [ Rolk] ‘silk’). A soft sign
(as in рожь [roR] ‘rye’) has no softening effect on the pronunciation of
ж or ш.
Note
(a) Neither a soft sign nor the vowel ё can be written after ц.

8

Introduction

5

(b) Ш is sounded hard in the loan words парашOт [pmrv2Rut] ‘parachute’
and брошOра [brv2Rurm] ‘brochure’, while ж is pronounced soft in
жюрI [Tü2Pi] ‘jury’.
(2) Soft consonants
(i) A soft consonant is a consonant (other than ж, ц or ш) followed by
a soft sign, e.g. ль in сталь ‘steel’, or by я, е, и, ё or ю. Thus, the
initial consonants in м@та [2Gatm] ‘mint’, лес [Fqs] ‘forest’, пил [Iil] ‘was
drinking’, нёбо [2Hobm] ‘palate’ and дOна [2Bunm] ‘dune’ are all soft.
(ii) Soft consonants are pronounced with the centre of the tongue raised
towards the hard palate, as in articulating и, for example. Correct rendering
of the vowels я [ ja], е [ jq], и [i], ё [ jo] and ю [ ju] will assist in the
articulation of the preceding soft consonants. Soft [F] as in тBлько ‘only’ is
similar to ‘ll’ in ‘million’, with the tip of the tongue against the teeth-ridge
and the front of the tongue pressed against the hard palate.
(iii) Soft consonants may also appear at the end of words, e.g. пь and
ть in топь [toI] ‘swamp’ and мать [maK] ‘mother’; the final sounds in
these words are similar to those of the initial consonants in ‘pure’ and ‘tune’
(standard British English ‘Received Pronunciation’).
(iv) Unlike other consonants, ч and щ are always pronounced soft. In
practice this means that the vowels а, о and у are pronounced as [ja],
[ jo] and [ ju] following these consonants (час ‘hour’, чBпорный ‘prim’,
чугMн ‘cast iron’, пощда ‘mercy’, щMка ‘pike’).
(v) The consonant щ is pronounced as a long soft ш [ S S ] (e.g.
защищть [zmS So2S SæK] ‘to defend’); the pronunciation [ StR] is falling
into disuse.
(vi) The double consonants жч (мужчIна ‘man’), зч (закзчик
‘client’), сч (подпIсчик ‘subscriber’) are pronounced like щ [ S S ]. The
pronunciation [ StR ], however, is preferred in prefixed forms such as
бесчIсленный ‘innumerable’, расчленIть ‘to dismember’.
(vii) Жж and Зж may be pronounced either as a double soft ж
(with the front of the tongue raised towards the hard palate) in words
such as вBжжи [2voTTo] ‘reins’, дрBжжи ‘yeast’, жжёт ‘burns’,
жужжть ‘to buzz’, брNзжет ‘sprays’, визжть ‘to scream’, Jзжу
‘I travel’, поезжй! ‘go!’, пBзже ‘later’, especially in the speech of the
older generation, as well as in that of actors and professionally trained
announcers, or alternatively as a double hard ж [2voQQp], a pronunciation
preferred by very many younger speakers. Зж is invariably pronounced
as hard [QQ] across the boundary between prefix and stem: изжIть ‘to

5–7

Pronunciation

9

eradicate’. The cluster жд in дожд@ ‘of rain’ etc. is pronounced as soft
жж by some speakers and as [QB ] by others.
(3) Use of hard and soft consonants to differentiate meaning
Hard and soft consonants may be used to differentiate meaning, cf. лук
[luk] ‘onions’ and люк [ Fuk] ‘hatch’, мат [mat] ‘checkmate’ and мать
[maK] ‘mother’ etc.

6

Double palatalization

Some words contain two adjacent soft consonants, a phenomenon
known as ‘double palatalization’ or ‘regressive softening’. The following
combinations of letters are involved:
(1) [B], [K] and [H] followed by other soft dentals or by [J], [O], [tR], [ S S ]
or [F]: Bттепель [2oKKoIoF] ‘thaw’, дни [BHi] ‘days’, кBнчик [2koHtRok]
‘tip’, гBнщик [2MoH S Sok] ‘racer’, п@тница [2IæKHotsm] ‘Friday’, пJнсия
[2IeHJojm] ‘pension’.
(2) [J] or [O] followed by a soft dental, [J], [O] or [F]: вознIк [vv2OHik]
‘arose’, раздJл [rv2OBql] ‘partition’, здесь [OBeJ] ‘here’, снег [JHqk]
‘snow’, стен [JKo2na] ‘wall’, вмJсте [2vGeJKo] ‘together’.
Note
In some words, single or double palatalization is possible: две [dLq]
or [BLq] ‘two’, дверь [dLeP] or [BLeP] ‘door’, зверь [zLeP] or [OLeP] ‘wild
animal’, пJтля [2IetFm] or [2IeKFm] ‘loop’, свет [sLqt] or [JLqt] ‘light’, след
[sFqt] or [JFqt] ‘trace’, чJтверть [2tRetLorK] or [2tReKLorK] ‘quarter’.

7

Non-palatalization of consonants in some loan words

(1) The consonants т and д are pronounced hard before е in certain
loan words and foreign names (тJрмос [2tqrmms] ‘thermos flask’,
антJнна ‘aerial’, апартеIд ‘apartheid’, ательJ ‘workshop’, бифштJкс
‘beefsteak’, бутербрBд ‘sandwich’, отJль ‘hotel’, партJр ‘stalls’,
прIнтер ‘printer’, стенд ‘stand’), in words with the prefix интер(ИнтернJт ‘Internet’), кBдекс ‘legal code’, модJль ‘model’ стюардJсса
‘stewardess’ and in many words with the prefix де- (деградция
‘degradation’).

10

Introduction

7–10

(2) Hard з has been retained in безJ ‘meringue’; hard м in консомJ
‘consommé’, резюмJ ‘résumé’; hard н in кашнJ ‘scarf’, бIзнес
‘business’, кибернJтика ‘cybernetics’, тоннJль ‘tunnel’, турнJ ‘tour’,
фонJтика ‘phonetics’, энJргия ‘power’; hard п in купJ ‘compartment’;
hard р in кабарJ ‘cabaret’, релJ ‘relay’; hard с in шоссJ ‘highway’,
экстрасJнс ‘a psychic’; and hard ф in кафJ ‘cafe’.
Note
A hard consonant is more likely to be retained in foreign loan words
immediately preceding the stressed vowel (e.g. тJннис ‘tennis’). Dental
consonants (д, т, н) are more likely to remain hard than labials (б, п, м).
8

Hard sign and soft sign

(1) The hard sign appears only between a hard consonant — usually at
the end of a prefix — and a stem beginning я, е, ё or ю: отъJзд [v2tjqst]
‘departure’, объясн@ть ‘to explain’.
(2) A soft sign appearing between a consonant and я, е, ё or ю indicates
that the consonant is soft and that the sound й [ j] intervenes between
consonant and vowel: семь@ [Jo2Gja] ‘family’. See also 5 (2) (i) and (iii).
9

The reflexive suffix -cm/-cz

(1) The pronunciation of сь as [J] is widespread: боOсь [bv2juJ] ‘I fear’,
бо@сь [bv2jaJ] ‘fearing’ etc.
(2) The suffix -ся is usually pronounced [sm] in the infinitive (мNться ‘to
wash’) and the present tense (мBется ‘he washes’), though an alternative
soft pronunciation [Jm] is also found in the second-person singular and
first-person plural.
(3) [Jm] is preferred in participles (смеOщийся [Jm] ‘laughing’), the
imperative (не смJйся ‘don’t laugh’) and the past tense (он сме@лся
‘he was laughing’) — except for forms in -сся or -зся (псся [2passm]
‘was grazing’).
10
Effect of a soft consonant on a vowel in the preceding
syllable
(1) Э and е are pronounced [q] and [ jq] in stressed position when
followed by a hard consonant (e.g. Kто [2qtm] ‘this is’, лес [Fqs] ‘forest’),

10–11

Pronunciation

11

but as [e] and [ je] (similar to French ‘e acute’ [é]) when followed by a
soft consonant (e.g. Kти [2eKo] ‘these’, весь [LeJ] ‘all’).
(2) Я is pronounced as [æ], ё as [ö] and ю as [ü] preceding a soft consonant:
мяч [GætR] ‘ball’, тётя [2KöKm] ‘aunt’, ключ [кFütR] ‘key’.
(3) А, о and ы are also affected as the tongue is raised closer to the
palate in anticipation of a following soft consonant (e.g. мать ‘mother’,
ночь ‘night’, пыль ‘dust’, where а, о and ы are pronounced as if followed
by a much-reduced и sound).

11

Voiced and unvoiced consonants

(1) Some consonants are pronounced with vibration of the vocal cords
(‘voiced’ consonants), and others without such vibration (‘unvoiced’
consonants).
(2) There are six pairs of voiced and unvoiced equivalents:
Voiced
б
г
з
д
в
ж

Unvoiced
п
к
с
т
ф
ш

The eight other consonants include the unvoiced ц, х, ч, щ and the voiced
sonants л, р, м, н.
(3) Б, г, з, д, в, ж are pronounced as their unvoiced counterparts when
they appear in final position or before a final soft sign.
лоб ‘forehead’
луг ‘meadow’
раз ‘time’
сад ‘garden’
лев ‘lion’
муж ‘husband’

is
is
is
is
is
is

pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced

[lop]
[luk]
[ras]
[sat]
[Fqf]
[muR]

(4) When a voiced and an unvoiced consonant appear side by side,
the first assimilates to the second. Thus, voiced consonant + unvoiced

12

Introduction

11

consonant are both pronounced unvoiced, while unvoiced consonant +
voiced consonant are both pronounced voiced.
(i) Voiced + unvoiced (both pronounced unvoiced)
гMбка
загс
рJзко
лBдка
вхBдит
лBжка

‘sponge’
‘registry office’
‘sharply’
‘boat’
‘goes in’
‘spoon’

is
is
is
is
is
is

pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced

[2Mupkm]
[zaks]
[2Pqskm]
[2lotkm]
[2fxoBot]
[2loR km]

Note
(a) Devoicing also takes place on the boundary between preposition
and noun or adjective: в кBмнате [2f1 komnmKo] ‘in the room’, под
столBм [pmt1stv2lom] ‘under the table’.
(b) The devoicing of a final consonant may in turn cause the devoicing
of the consonant which precedes it: визг [visk] ‘scream’, дрозд [drost]
‘thrush’.
(c) Г is pronounced as [x] in лёгкий ‘light, easy’, лJгче ‘easier’,
м@гкий ‘soft’ and м@гче ‘softer’, as well as in Бог ‘God’ (only
in the singular nominative case, however). The initial consonant in
ГBсподи! ‘Lord!’ is now usually pronounced as [M], though [h] is
still heard. The noun бухглтер ‘book-keeper’ is the only word in
which хг is pronounced as [h].
(ii) Unvoiced + voiced (both pronounced voiced)
футбBл
к дBму
прBсьба
ткже
мhшбюрB

‘football’
‘towards the house’
‘request’
‘also’
‘typing pool’

is
is
is
is
is

pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced
pronounced

[fu2dbol]
[2M1domu]
[2proObm]
[2taMQp]
[maQAu2ro]

Note
(a) The voicing of consonants also occurs at the boundary between
words, especially when the second word is a particle or other
unstressed form: Я спас бы егB [2spaz1bp] ‘I would have saved
him’. Ц is voiced as [dz] in such circumstances (ОтJц был дBма
[v2Kqdz1bfl] ‘Father was in’) and ч as [dQ] (дочь был [dodQ1bp2la]
‘the daughter was’).
(b) В has no voicing effect on a preceding unvoiced consonant, e.g.
твой [tvoj] ‘your’.

12–14
12

Pronunciation

13

The pronunciation of -xy-

(1) -чн- is pronounced [ Rn] in certain words (конJчно [kv2HqRnm] ‘of
course’, нарBчно ‘on purpose’, очJчник ‘spectacle case’, прчечная
‘laundry’, скMчно ‘boring’, яIчница ‘fried eggs’), as well as in the
patronymics ИльIнична ‘Ilinichna’, Сввична ‘Savvichna’ and
НикIтична ‘Nikitichna’.
(2) However, the pronunciation [tRn] is used in more ‘learned’ words
such as лчный [2altRntj] ‘greedy’, антIчный ‘ancient’ добвочный
‘additional’, and конJчный ‘ultimate’.
(3) -чн- is pronounced either as [ Rn] or [tRn] in бMлочная ‘bakery’ and
молBчная ‘dairy’. КорIчневый ‘brown’ is pronounced with [tRn].
Note
Ч is also pronounced [ R ] in что ‘that’ and чтBбы ‘in order to’.

13

Consonants omitted in pronunciation

In some groups of three or more consonants one is omitted in pronunciation.
Thus, the first в is not pronounced in здрвствуйте! ‘hallo!’, чMвство
‘feeling’ (however, it is pronounced in дJвственный ‘virgin’ and
нрвственный ‘moral’), д is not pronounced in звёздный ‘starry’,
ландшфт ‘landscape’ пBздно ‘late’, прздник ‘festival’ or сJрдце ‘heart’
(however, it is pronounced in бJздна ‘abyss’), л is not pronounced in
сBлнце ‘sun’ (however, it is pronounced in сBлнечный ‘solar’) and т is
not pronounced in грMстный ‘sad’, извJстный ‘well-known’, лJстный
‘flattering’, мJстный ‘local’, окрJстность ‘vicinity’, чстный ‘private’
and счастлIвый ‘happy’ (however, the first т in постлть ‘to spread’ is
pronounced).

14

The pronunciation of double consonants

Double consonants are pronounced as two letters across the boundary
between prefix and stem, e.g. оттащIть [tt] ‘to drag away’. When a double
consonant appears within a stem, practice varies, cf. граммтика [m]
‘grammar’, грMппа [pp or p] ‘group’. A single consonant is pronounced
in final position: грамм [m] ‘gram’, грипп [p] ‘influenza’.

14
15

Introduction

15

Stress

(1) Stress in Russian is ‘free’, that is, in some words it falls on the
initial syllable (дBлго ‘for a long time’), in others on a medial syllable
(дорBга ‘road’) and in others on the final syllable (карандш ‘pencil’).
The vowel ё is always stressed.
(2) A change in stress may indicate a change in meaning: Bрган ‘organ
of the body’, оргн ‘organ’ (musical instrument). A few words have
alternative stress without a change in meaning: творBг (the commoner
form)/твBрог ‘cottage cheese’.
(3) For stress patterns in individual parts of speech see nouns (57, 60,
62, 63 (4)), adjectives (164, 165), verbs (219, 223, 228, 232, 341, 343,
345, 350, 369) and prepositions (405).
(4) Secondary stress (a weaker stress marked here with a grave accent
[`]) is found in some compounds, e.g. машoностроJние ‘engineering’
(in fast speech, however, the word is pronounced with one full stress
only: машиностроJние). Secondary stress is particularly common in
words with foreign prefixes (hнтикоммунIзм ‘anti-communism’,
кBнтрмJры ‘counter-measures’, трhнсатлантIческий ‘transatlantic’,
iльтракорBткий ‘ultra-short’ (also in words with the prefix свaрх-:
свaрхурBчные ‘overtime’), in technical terms (морbзоустBйчивый
‘frost-proof’), in compounds where there is a polysyllabic gap between
the natural stresses in the components (врaмяпрепровождJние
‘pastime’) and in compounds consisting of a truncated word and a full
word (гbсбюджJт (= госудрственный бюджJт) ‘state budget’). The
use of secondary stresses is sometimes optional, varying with speaker
and speech mode. Generally speaking, the newer a compound word is,
the more likely a secondary stress (e.g. кoносценрий ‘film script’).
Tertiary stresses are found in some compounds: hвтомbтоклMб ‘car and
motor-cycle club’.
(5) Some primary-stressed adverbs take secondary stress when used as
prepositions: внутрI/внутрo ‘inside’, вBзле/вbзле ‘near’, вокрMг/вокрiг
‘around’, мIмо/мoмо ‘past’, Bколо/bколо ‘close (to)’, пBсле /пbсле
‘after’.
Note
Stresses are marked in a Russian text only:
(a) to resolve ambiguity, cf. Я знаю, что он говорит ‘I know that
he is speaking’ and Я знаю, чтB он говорит ‘I know what he is
saying’, большя часть ‘a large part’, бBльшая часть ‘a larger part’;

15–16

Orthography

15

(b) to denote archaic pronunciations (e.g. библиBтека for contemporary
библиотJка ‘library’);
(c) in rendering certain professional words, non-Russian words, dialect
and slang words;
(d) in verse, where normal stress is sometimes distorted in the interests
of rhythm.

Orthography
16

Spelling rules

Spelling rule 1
ы is replaced by и, я by а and ю by у after ж, ч, ш, щ and г, к, х:
ног9, ‘leg’, gen. sing. ног<
молч9ть, ‘to be silent’, first-person sing. молч=, third-person pl.
молч9т
Note
Exceptions are found in some non-Russian words and names: брошOра
‘brochure’, КызылкMм ‘Kyzylkum Desert’, К@хта ‘Kyakhta’.
Spelling rule 2
о is replaced by е in unstressed position after ж, ч, ш, щ, ц:
н>мец ‘German’, instr. sing. н>мцем, gen. pl. н>мцев
Spelling rule 3
Initial и is replaced by ы following a prefix ending in a consonant:
impf. игр9ть/pf. сыгр9ть ‘to play’
интер>сный ‘interesting’, небезынтер>сный ‘not uninteresting’
(for exceptions see 28 (3)(c))
Spelling rule 4
The prefixes без-/бес-; вз-, воз-/вс-, вос-; из-/ис-; раз-/рас- are spelt
with з before voiced consonants, voiced sonants or vowels and with с
before unvoiced consonants: беззMбый ‘toothless’ but бесконJчный
‘infinite’; взлетть ‘to take off ’ but всходIть ‘to rise’; избIть ‘to beat
up’ but испIть ‘to sup’; разобрть ‘to dismantle’ but расцепIть ‘to
uncouple’.

16

Introduction

16–17

Spelling rule 5
Prefixes ending in a consonant (e.g. под-, от-, раз-, с-) are spelt подо-,
ото-, разо-, со-:
(i) In compounds of -йти (подойтI ‘to approach’, подошёл ‘I approached’
etc.) (see 333 (2)).
(ii) Before consonant + ь (сошьO ‘I shall sew’) (see 234 (5)).
(iii) Before certain consonant clusters (разогнть ‘to disperse’) (see
234 (1–4)).
Note
For spelling rules relating to prepositions see 404.

17

Use of capital and small letters in titles and names

(1) In the names or titles of most posts, institutions, organizations,
books, newspapers and journals, wars, festivals etc., only the first word
is spelt with a capital letter: ВсемIрная федерция профсоOзов
‘World Federation of Trade Unions’, ЕвропJйский соOз ‘European
Union’, МинистJрство трнспорта ‘Ministry of Transport’,
МоскBвский госудрственный университJт ‘Moscow State
University’, ПолитехнIческий музJй ‘Polytechnical Museum’,
РоссIйская акадJмия наMк ‘Russian Academy of Sciences’, ТверскBй
мунициплый суд ‘Tver Municipal Court’, ХудBжественный тетр
‘Arts Theatre’, «Войн и мир» ‘War and Peace’, Нью-Йорк таймс
‘New York Times’, СемилJтняя войн ‘Seven Years’ War’ (but
ВелIкая ОтJчественная войн ‘Great Patriotic War’), НBвый год
‘New Year’, ПJрвое мя ‘May Day’, НBбелевская прJмия ‘Nobel
Prize’.
Note
Any word spelt with a capital letter in its own right retains the capital
in extended titles: Госудрственный академIческий Больш?й тетр
‘The State Academic Bolshoi Theatre’.
(2) In geographical names, the names of administrative areas, local
features and so on, the generic terms are spelt with a small letter and the
descriptive words with a capital: Bзеро Байкл ‘Lake Baikal’, БJлое
мBре ‘the White Sea’, пустNня ГBби ‘the Gobi Desert’, мыс ДBброй
НадJжды ‘the Cape of Good Hope’, трBпик Рка ‘the Tropic of
Cancer’, СJверный ЛедовIтый окен ‘the Arctic Ocean’, полуBстров

17

Orthography

17

ТаймNр ‘the Taimyr Peninsula’, Sжный пBлюс ‘the South Pole’,
Тверскя Mлица ‘Tverskaya Street’, ЗIмний дворJц ‘the Winter Palace’,
Исакиевский собBр ‘St Isaac’s Cathedral’, Крсная плBщадь ‘Red
Square’, МIнский автомобIльный завBд ‘Minsk Car Factory’.
Note
Generic terms are spelt with a capital letter, however, if used in a
non-literal sense: ЗолотBй Рог ‘the Golden Horn’ (a bay), Tгненная
Земл@ ‘Tierra del Fuego’ (an archipelago).
(3) Some titles consist of words, all of which have capital letters.
These include the names of exalted governmental institutions and
organizations, as well as a number of international bodies (and certain
geographical names, e.g. БJлый Нил ‘the White Nile’, Дльний ВостBк
‘the Far East’, НBвая Земл@ ‘Novaya Zemlya’): Генерльная
АссамблJя ОTН ‘the General Assembly of the UNO’, МеждунарBдный Крсный Крест ‘the International Red Cross’, СовJт
Федерции ‘the Council of the Federation’, including, as a rule, the
names of states: Объединённые Арбские Эмирты ‘the United
Arab Emirates’, РеспMблика Татарстн ‘the Republic of Tatarstan’,
РоссIйская Федерция ‘the Russian Federation’, СовJтский СоOз
‘the Soviet Union’, Соединённое КоролJвство ‘the United Kingdom’,
Соединённые Штты АмJрики ‘the United States of America’.
Note
(a) Госудрственная дMма or Госудрственная ДMма ‘the State
Duma’
(b) Пртия ‘party’ is not usually spelt with a capital letter:
КоммунистIческая пртия РоссIйской Федерции [КПРФ]
‘Communist Party of the Russian Federation’, ЛиберльнодемократIческая пртия РоссIи [ЛДПР] ‘the Russian Liberal
Democratic Party’.
(4) Unofficial titles, the names of foreign parliaments and some other
titles consist of words, all of which are spelt with a small letter:
москBвский аэропBрт ‘Moscow Airport’ (cf. official titles, now also
used colloquially, e.g. аэропBрт ВнMково ‘Vnukovo Airport’), пртия
большевикBв ‘the Bolshevik Party’ (cf. official РоссIйская социлдемократIческая рабBчая пртия (большевикBв) ‘Russian Social
Democratic Workers’ Party (of Bolsheviks)’), палта Bбщин ‘House of
Commons’, бундестг ‘the Bundestag’, сейм ‘the Sejm’.
(5) Nouns denoting nationality, town of origin etc., are also spelt with a
small letter (англичнин ‘Englishman’, москвIч ‘Muscovite’), as are

18

Introduction

17–18

the corresponding adjectives (англIйский ‘English’, москBвский
‘Moscow’), except where they form part of a title (АнглIйский банк ‘the
Bank of England’, МоскBвский цирк ‘Moscow Circus’). This principle
is also applied to the names of months, thus март ‘March’, окт@брь
‘October’, окт@брьский ‘October’ (adj.), but 8 Мрта ‘8 March’
(International Women’s Day), Окт@брь/Окт@брьская револOция ‘the
October Revolution’; and to days of the week, thus п@тница ‘Friday’, but
Страстня П@тница ‘Good Friday’.
(6) The words земл@ ‘land’, лун ‘moon’, сBлнце ‘sun’ are spelt with
capitals when they denote heavenly bodies: Земл@ ‘the Earth’, Лун ‘the
Moon’, Солнце ‘the Sun’.
(7) (i) Names of deities are spelt with capital letters: Аллх ‘Allah’,
Бог ‘God’, Брхма ‘Brahma’, ШIва ‘Shiva’.
Note
Of heathen gods, one of a number of gods, or figuratively, бог is spelt
with a small letter: бог АполлBн ‘the god Apollo’, бBже мой! ‘my God!’
In certain contexts, however, a capital is possible:
“Как хорошB – сказла жен, мJдленно нат@гивая на себ@
шёлковое оде@ло. – Слва Б?гу, слва Б?гу . . .” (Nabokov) ‘That
is good’, said his wife, slowly drawing a silken blanket about her.
‘Thank God, thank God . . .’
(ii) Capitals are also used for religious festivals: Псха ‘Easter’,
РождествB ‘Christmas’, holders of exalted ecclesiastical offices:
СвятJйший Патрирх МоскBвский и все@ РусI ‘His Holiness the
Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia’, Ппа РIмский ‘The Pope’, and
sacred texts: БIблия ‘the Bible’, Корн ‘the Koran’, Tópa ‘the Torah’,
ТалмMд ‘the Talmud’, ВJды ‘the Vedas’.

Division of Words
18

Division into syllables

(1) Each syllable in a Russian word contains a vowel and, in most cases,
consonants peripheral to it, e.g. пспорт.
(2) Russian distinguishes ‘open’ syllables, which end in a vowel
(го-ло-в) from ‘closed’ syllables, which end in a consonant (нос).

18–19

Word Division

19

(3) The principles of syllabic division are different in English and
Russian, cf. E doc-tor/R дB-ктор, E her-o/R ге-рBй. Russian non-initial
syllables are formed on the basis of an ascending level of ‘sonority’, vowels
being the most sonorous letters, the voiced sonants (р, л, м, н) the next
most sonorous and noise-consonants (the other sixteen consonants) the
least sonorous.
(4) In practice, this means that the syllable boundary occurs either:
(i) between a vowel and a following consonant: со-лB-ма, сте-пнBй,
к-ска, ко-стOм, ста-ле-вр, стра-н, о-тбрB-сить, вра-жд etc.;
or:
(ii) between a sonant and a following consonant (including another
sonant): сMм-ка, кон-вJрт, боль-шBй, кр-та, вол-н, чёр-ный,
кар-мн.
Note
Non-initial syllables cannot begin with the sequence sonant + noiseconsonant (this sequence is possible, however, in an initial syllable, e.g.
мшI-стый). Note, however, the sequences sonant + sonant (вB-льный),
consonant + consonant (мJ-сто) and noise-consonant + sonant (ме-тл).
The syllabic boundary may occur before or between two sonants (ка-рмн
or кар-мн, во-лн or вол-н).
Syllabic division in a text
Я встал и на-дJл паль-тB. Же-н ре-шI-ла, что я по-шёл за си-гарJ-та-ми, и ве-лJ-ла не су-тM-ли-ться при хо-дьбJ. О-н ска-з-ла,
что ко-гд я хо-жM, то ны-р@-ю вниз го-ло-вBй, как при-стя-жн-я
лB-шадь. Е-щё о-н ска-з-ла, что я всё врJ-мя смо-трO вниз,
бM-дто хо-чM най-тI на а-сфль-те мо-нJ-тку (Tokareva).

19

Splitting a word at the end of a line

(1) Two basic criteria are observed in splitting a word at the end of a line:
(i) Syllabic division: го-лов9 or голо-в9.
(ii) Word structure: it is desirable, for example, not to disrupt monosyllabic
prefixes etc. (под-беж9ть, со-гл9сен) (cf. пе-рев?д and note that the
rule does not apply when a prefix is no longer perceived as such: р9-зум,
разо-р@ть).

20

Introduction

19–21

(2) A word is normally split after a vowel: гB-род, гB-лоден or
гBло-ден, реб@-та or ре-б@та. Sometimes this involves splitting a
two-vowel sequence: чит9-ете.
(3) A sequence of two or more consonants may also be split: мJд-ленно,
рBд-ственники, проб-лJма, Iстин-ный etc.
(4) Other conventions include the following:
(i) A hard or soft sign must not be separated from the preceding consonant
(подь->зд, боль-ш?й) and й must not be separated from the preceding
vowel (вой-н9).
(ii) A single vowel should not appear at the end of a line or be carried
over onto the next: аги-т9ция (not *а-гитция or *агитци-я).
(iii) Two identical consonants appearing between vowels should be split:
жуж-ж9ть, м9с-са, к?н-ный.
(iv) A monosyllabic component of a stump compound should not be split
(спAцод>жда); nor should abbreviations (ОAН, и т.д.).
(5) Some words can be split in different ways, e.g. се-стр9, сес-тр9 or
сест-р9.

Punctuation
20

Introductory comments

Rules of punctuation are, in general, more rigorously applied in Russian
than in English. Differences of usage between the two languages relate in
particular to the comma (especially in separating principal from subordinate
clauses), the dash and the punctuation of direct speech.

21

The full stop, exclamation mark and question mark

Usage of the full stop, exclamation mark and question mark is comparable
in the two languages:
ЛOди Iщут счстья в любвI.
Какя прекрсная погBда!
Куд вы идёте?

People seek happiness in love.
What magnificent weather!
Where are you going?

21–23

Punctuation

21

Note
(a) There is a tendency to use exclamation marks more frequently in
Russian than in English.
(b) An exclamation mark may appear in the middle of a sentence:
Так мне бNло плBхо, так г?рько и постCло! — хMже вс@кой
болJзни (Rasputin) ‘I felt so bad, so bitter and wretched! — it
was worse than any illness’.
(c) Exclamation marks are also used in commands expressed other
than by a grammatical imperative: Молч9ть! ‘Shut up!’, За мной!
‘Follow me!’, Вст9ли! ‘On your feet!’.
(d) An exclamation mark enclosed in parentheses (!) may be used to
indicate irony or indignation.
(e) Exclamation and question marks may appear together for special
emphasis: Да что же Gто так?е?! ‘Now what’s all this?!’.

22

The comma: introductory comments

The comma is more frequently used in Russian than in English. In extreme
examples a series of commas in a Russian sentence may have no English
equivalents at all:
Макренко пIшет, что дJти, котBрые умJют трудIться, уважют
труд другIх людJй, стрем@тся прийтI на пBмощь тем, кто в Kтой
пBмощи нуждется (Belyakova)
Makarenko writes that children who know how to work respect the
labour of other people and strive to come to the assistance of those
who need it

23

Uses of the comma

Correspondence with English usage
Commas are used, in Russian and English, to perform the following
functions:
(1) To separate
(i) two or more adjectives which define one noun:
Он шёл по тёмной, гр@зной, ш=мной Mлице
He was walking down the dark, dirty, noisy street
(ii) two or more adverbs qualifying one verb:

22

Introduction

23

М>дленно, муч<тельно он встал с постJли
Slowly, painfully he rose from the bed
(2) To separate items in a list:
Плта за кварт<ру, электр<чество, газ составл@ет bколо 20 рублJй
(Belyakova)
The rent, electricity and gas bills amount to about 20 roubles
(3) To mark off words and phrases which stand in apposition:
Валент<на Терешк?ва, раб?чая девч?нка из старIнного
текстIльного городк, стла пJрвой жJнщиной-космонвтом
Valentina Tereshkova, a working girl from an ancient textile town, became
the first woman in space
(4) To mark off words which serve to define and specify:
Здние дJтского сда двухэтжное, с больш<ми св>тлыми ?кнами,
с вер9ндами для дневн?го сна (Belyakova)
The building of the kindergarten is two-storey, with large light windows
and verandas for a daytime nap
(5) After да ‘yes’ and нет ‘no’:
Да, я соглсен с вми / Нет, я не соглсен
Yes, I agree with you/No, I don’t agree
(6) In addressing people:
Здр9вствуйте, Ивн Ивнович!
Hallo, Ivan Ivanovich!
(7) After interjections:
— Ой, как неудчно. Вчер упл oли сегBдня? (Rasputin)
‘Oh, what bad luck. Did you fall over yesterday or today?’
(8) Between repeated words:
Ничег?, ничег?, утешл он себ@, смое трMдное позадI (Abramov)
Never mind, never mind, he consoled himself, the worst is over
(9) To mark off participial phrases:
По равнIне, освещённой п?здним с?лнцем, скакл табMн дIких
лошадJй
Over the plain, (which was) illuminated by the late sun, galloped a herd
of wild horses

23

Punctuation

23

(10) To mark off gerundial phrases:
Я молчл, не зн9я, что дJлать (Rasputin)
I was silent, not knowing what to do
Note
In English, ‘and’ is often used as an alternative to a comma before the
final element in enumerations and when two or more adjectives qualify
a single noun or two adverbs a single verb (cf. (1) and (2) above).
Differences in usage between Russian and English
Russian requires the use of a comma in the following contexts, where usage
in English is optional or inconsistent:
(1) Between clauses linked by co-ordinating conjunctions (see 454 (2)
(i) and 455–457):
Tля знет бMквы, но я пок помогю ей читть (Belyakova)
Olya knows the letters, but for the time being I help her to read
Note
(a) While a comma always appears before но (except when it is the
first word in a sentence), the insertion of a comma before English
‘but’ depends largely on the length of the pause required by the
context, cf. ‘He is young but experienced’ and ‘He is young, but
everyone trusts him’.
(b) A comma is used between clauses linked by и if the clauses have
different subjects (Но волк был мёртв, и егB сейчс никтB не
бо@лся (Abramov) ‘But the wolf was dead, and no one was afraid
of him any more’), but not if they have the same subject (РазожглI
костёр и сварIли грибнBй суп (Belyakova) ‘They lit a fire and
made mushroom soup’). In such contexts и may be replaced by a
comma: Два дня он не пил, не ел (= не пил и не ел) (Abramov)
‘For two days he did not drink or eat’.
(2) Between clauses linked by the conjunctions и . . . и ‘both . . . and’, ни
. . . ни ‘neither . . . nor’, Oли . . . Oли ‘either . . . or’, то . . . то ‘now . . . now’:
На вJчере выступли и мльчики, и дJвочки
Both boys and girls performed at the party
Нельз@ ни спокBйно почитть, ни сосредотBчиться (Belyakova)
You can neither do a little quiet reading, nor concentrate
[то Oли собка, Oли волк
That is either a dog or a wolf

24

Introduction

23

Он то смеётся, то плчет
Now she laughs, now she weeps
(3) Between a principal and a subordinate clause (see 458 – 467):
Я зню, что конJц бMдет не скBро
I know the end is still some way off
Мы не отдавли детJй в @сли, хот@ такя возмBжность был
(Belyakova)
We didn’t put the children into a day-nursery, even though we had the
opportunity to do so
ДенIс стал с нетерпJнием ждать лJта, чтBбы поJхать с ббушкой
к Чёрному мBрю
Denis waited impatiently for the summer, in order to go with his
grandmother to the Black Sea
Он рабBтал бы, >сли бы мог
He would work if he could
Он ухBдит, потом= что он опздывает
She is leaving because she is late
Note
The appearance of a comma between потом= and что in Мы победIм
потомM, что мы сильнJе throws the element of cause into sharper
relief: ‘We shall win because we are stronger’ (i.e. and for no other reason).
This effect can be intensified by distancing потомM from что ( Потом=
мы победIм, что мы сильнJе), or by the addition of лишь, т?лько or
other intensifying words before потом=.
(4) To separate main from relative clauses (see 123):
Я посещл гBрод, в кот?ром (где) провёл дJтство
I was visiting the town in which (where) I had spent my childhood
Note
English distinguishes relative clauses (which are marked off by commas)
— ‘Cats (i.e. all cats), who have excellent night vision, are nocturnal
predators’ — from adjective clauses (which are not marked off by commas):
‘Cats (i.e. only those cats) who have no tails are called Manx cats’. In
Russian, however, both types of clause are marked off with commas.
(5) To mark off parenthetical words:
во-пJрвых /во-вторNх in the first place/in the second place
допMстим
let us assume напримJр
for example

23–24
кжется
конJчно
к сожалJнию
мaжду прBчим
мBжет быть
навJрное

it seems
of course
unfortunately
incidentally
perhaps
probably

Punctuation

25

пожлуйста
please
по-мBему
in my opinion
скжем
let us say
с однBй, другBй on the one, the
сторонN
other hand

Он, должн? быть, ушёл
He must have left
Нам, кон>чно, удBбнее, что дJти сид@т тIхо (Belyakova)
Of course, it’s more convenient for us if the children are sitting
quietly
Не спорь, пож9луйста, со мной, я зню (Rasputin)
Please don’t argue with me, I know best
Он сказл, что, к сожал>нию, нам придётся идтI без негB
He said that unfortunately we would have to go without him
(6) In comparisons:
Он лзит по дерJвьям, как обезь@на
He scrambles about in the trees like a monkey
КтB-то научIл своегB малыш плвать р9ньше, чем тот стал
ходIть (Belyakova)
Someone taught his baby to swim before he could walk
Он спал беспробMдным сном, б=дто егB ничтB не тревBжило
He was sound asleep, as though without a care in the world

24

The colon. The semicolon. The dash

The colon.
The colon is used to perform the following functions:
(1) To introduce a list, in which case the colon is usually preceded by a
generic term:
Мо@ семь@ состоIт из четырёх человJк: мой муж В<ктор, дв?е
дет>й и я (Belyakova)
My family consists of four people: my husband Victor, the two children
and myself

26

Introduction

24

(2) To introduce a statement which elaborates on, supplements or
indicates the cause of the statement which precedes the colon:
И тут их ожидла нBвая бед: от>ц проп9л (Abramov)
And now a new misfortune awaited them: father had disappeared
В наMке всегд должн быть тBчность: к9ждому на=чному т>рмину
должн? соотв>тствовать одн? пон@тие (Vvedenskaya)
There should always be accuracy in science: a single concept should
correspond to each scientific term
\тром я со стрхом смотрJл на себ@ в зJркало: нос вспух, под
л>вым гл9зом син@к (Rasputin)
In the morning I gazed at myself in the mirror in horror: my nose had
swollen up, there was a bruise under my left eye
(3) To introduce direct speech, thought or other communication:
В кинофIльме «Доживём до понедльника» подрBсток пIшет:
«Сч9стье — Gто когд9 теб@ поним9ют!» (Kovaleva)
In the film We’ll survive till Monday a teenager writes, ‘Happiness is
when people understand you!’
(4) To introduce a quotation:
ПBмните, в «Евгнии Онгине»:
ПривNчка свNше нам дан:
ЗамJна счстию он
Do you remember, in Evgenii Onegin:
Habit is granted us from on high:
It is a substitute for happiness
The semicolon
The semicolon is used to separate extensive clauses which are not
linked by conjunctions, especially if each clause is itself broken up by
commas:
В Ленингрде все хот@т посмотрJть на легендрную «АврBру»,
побывть в пMшкинских местх, в многочIсленных дворцх;
в Уль@новске познакBмиться с местми, где жил и учIлся
В. И. ЛJнин; в Нбережных Челнх проJхать по огрBмному
молодBму гBроду, посмотрJть Кам^З (Vvedenskaya)
In Leningrad everyone wants to see the legendary ‘Aurora’, visit
places associated with Pushkin, the numerous palaces; in Ulyanovsk
to get to know the places where V. I. Lenin lived and worked; and in

24

Punctuation

27

Naberezhnye Chelny to drive through the enormous new town, see
the Kamaz truck factory
Note
In 1991 Ленингрд ‘Leningrad’ reverted to Санкт-ПетербMрг
‘St Petersburg’ and Уль@новск ‘Ulyanovsk’ to СимбIрск ‘Simbirsk’.
The dash
The dash is extremely widespread in Russian. It not only has a number
of specific uses of its own but in some contexts substitutes for other
punctuation marks, in particular the comma, the colon and parentheses.
(1) Specific uses of the dash.
(i) It separates subject noun from predicate noun, replacing the verb
‘to be’:
Мой отJц — преподавтель вMза, а мма — врач (Belyakova)
My father is a college lecturer, and my mother is a doctor
Смое глубBкое Bзеро мIра — Kто пресновBдный красвец
Байкл (Vvedenskaya)
The deepest lake in the world is the beautiful fresh-water Lake Baikal
Note
(a) The subject may sometimes be an infinitive:
Смое тяжёлое при прощнии — не огл@дываться (Ogonek)
The hardest thing on parting is not to look back
(b) The dash is not normally used to replace the verb ‘to be’ when the
subject is a pronoun: Он водолз ‘He is a diver’.
(ii) In elliptical statements it replaces a word, usually a verb, which is
‘understood’:
СтудJнт смотрJл на профJссора, профJссор — на студJнта
(Shukshin)
The student was looking at the professor, and the professor (was
looking) at the student
(2) The dash is also used as a substitute for:
(i) The comma (when, for example, introducing an unexpected turn of events
or sharp contrast):

28

Introduction

24–25

Он сдJлала ещё попNтку посадIть мен@ за стол — напр9сно
=, но напр9сно) (Rasputin)
(=
She made another attempt to seat me at the table, but in vain
Note
Generally speaking, the dash indicates a more pronounced pause than
the comma, for example, in expressing apposition: Со мной был
грузIнский чай — моё едIнственное удовBльствие (=, моё
едIнственное удовBльствие) ‘I had with me some Georgian tea, my
only pleasure’.
(ii) The colon:
(a) in introducing an enumeration, following a generic term:
Иногд клуб приглашет гостJй — учёных, педаг?гов, врач>й
(Belyakova)
Sometimes the club invites guests — scientists, teachers and doctors
(b) in elucidating a statement:
В Таджикистне гражднская войн — бегMт в РоссIю
таджIки. (Solzhenitsyn)
There is a civil war in Tadzhikistan, (and so) Tadzhiks flee into Russia.
(iii) Parentheses:
На территBрии РоссIйской Федерции — не забыв9йте о том,
что он9 заним9ет одн= седьм=ю часть всей с=ши Земл<! —
тNсячи рек и речMшек
On the territory of the Russian Federation (do not forget that it
occupies one-seventh of the Earth’s surface!) there are thousands of
rivers and streams

25

The punctuation of direct speech

(1) If the introductory verb precedes the direct speech, the verb is
followed by a colon, and the direct speech either
(i) appears on a new line, preceded by a dash:
Я пром@млил:
— Пр9вда (Rasputin)
‘It is true’, I mumbled
(ii) or runs on after the colon and is enclosed in guillemets (« »):

25–26

Punctuation

29

Сам хоз@ин рза два кричл с крыльц «Эй, кто там?»
The master himself shouted a couple of times from the porch,
‘Hey, who’s there?’
(2) If, however, the verb follows the direct speech, the latter is flanked by
dashes:
— Усн=л, — услMжливо отвJтила СIма (Rasputin)
‘He’s fallen asleep’, answered Sima obligingly
(3) A conversation may be rendered as follows:
— Я зню, почемM ты все ещё живёшь со мнBй. Сказть?
— Ну, почемM?
— Да прBсто лень тебJ купIть раскладMшку. (S. Dovlatov)
‘I know why you still live with me. Shall I tell you?
‘Well, why?
‘You’re just too lazy to buy a camp bed.’
Note
(a) A full stop, comma, semicolon or dash follow inverted commas.
(b) Quotes within quotes may be distinguished as follows:
«КрJйсер “АврBра” сто@л на @коре» ‘The cruiser “Aurora”
lay at anchor’.
(c) In cursive script, inverted commas are rendered as follows: «Привт!»
‘Greetings!’

26

Suspension points (vyjujnóxbt)

Suspension points (. . .) indicate one of the following.
(1) Hesitation:
— ПроIгрываешь, навJрное?
— Нет, вы . . . вы<грываю (Rasputin)
‘I suppose you lose?’
‘No, I – I win’
(2) An unfinished statement:
Знать бы нам, чем Kто всё кBнчится . . . (Rasputin)
Had we but known how it would all end . . .

The Noun

Word Formation
27

Word formation in the noun I: general

(1) Nouns in Russian may be basic irreducible stems (e.g. лес ‘forest’)
or form the basis of compound nouns (e.g. лесорб ‘wood cutter’).
Compounding takes a number of different forms, involving initial
components which may be the stems of:
(i) nouns: ледокл ‘ice-breaker’ (лёд ‘ice’, колть ‘to split’)
(ii) adjectives: чернозём ‘black earth’ (чёрный ‘black’, земл ‘earth’)
(iii) numerals: двукись ‘dioxide’ (дву- ‘two’, кись ‘oxide’)
(iv) adverbs: грBмкоговортель ‘loud speaker’ (грмко ‘loudly’,
говорть ‘to speak’);
and second components which may be:
(i) nouns: тяжеловс ‘heavy weight’ (тяжёлый ‘heavy’, вес ‘weight’)
(ii) of verbal origin: сенокс ‘haymaking’ (сно ‘hay’, кость ‘to
mow’).
Note
(a) Compounds may also be based on phrases: инопланетнин
‘extra-terrestrial’ (cf. иня планта ‘another planet’), однофамлец ‘namesake’ (cf. одн фамлия ‘the same name’);

27

Word Formation

31

(b) The components of a compound are usually linked by the infixes
-о-: снегопд ‘snow fall’, машнопись ‘typing’, самолёт
‘aeroplane’, or (where the stem of the first component ends in a
soft consonant or in ж, ч, ш, щ or ц) -е-: общежтие ‘hostel’,
овцевд ‘sheep-breeder’, пулемёт ‘machinegun’ (cf. п#ля ‘bullet’),
сталевр ‘steel founder’ (cf. сталь ‘steel’), пешехд ‘pedestrian’.
However, -о- sometimes appears as an ‘illogical’ link-vowel when
the stem of the first component of a compound ends in soft в (e.g.
кровообращние ‘circulation of the blood’, cf. кровь ‘blood’), soft
н (e.g. баснопсец ‘fabulist’, cf. бсня ‘fable’), soft р (зверолв
‘trapper’, cf. зверь ‘animal’), or soft т (честол&бие ‘ambition’,
cf. честь ‘honour’).
(2) A group of compounds with second components that denote persons
or places is particularly common. Some of the elements are indigenous:
-вед, as in литературовд ‘literature specialist’, -вод, as in скотовд
‘stock-breeder’, others international: -граф, as in геграф ‘geographer’,
-дром, as in дельтадрм ‘hang-glider launch site’, -лог, as in билог
‘biologist’, -ман, as in балетом"н ‘balletomane’, -тека, as in фонотка
‘sound library’, -фил, as in славянофл ‘Slavophile’, -фоб, as in
англофб ‘Anglophobe’.
(3) While most second components in compounds tend to be truncated
forms: водоп"д ‘waterfall’, паровз ‘steam engine’, пчеловд
‘apiarist’, etc., some are suffixed: монеторазмник ‘change machine’,
пивоврня ‘brewery’, работоспосбность ‘efficiency’, судостроние ‘ship-building’.
(4) The relationships between initial and second components may be as
follows:
(i) the first component may denote the object of the second: бензовз
‘petrol tanker’ (cf. возть бензн ‘to transport petrol’), книгол%б
‘book lover’, нефтепровд ‘oil pipeline’, пылесс ‘vacuum cleaner’;
(ii) the second component may denote an object designed for the first:
бензоб"к ‘petrol tank’ (cf. бак для бензна ‘tank for petrol’), дAтс"д
‘kindergarten’;
(iii) the action denoted by the second component may be performed
in or over the area designated by the first: вездехд ‘cross country
vehicle’ (cf. ходть везд ‘to go everywhere’), домосд ‘stay-at-home’,
морепл"ватель ‘seafarer’;

32

The Noun

27–28

(iv) the first component may qualify the second: новострйка ‘new
building’ (cf. нвая стрйка ‘new building’), общежтие ‘hostel’,
пятибрье ‘pentathlon’;
(v) the first component may denote the means by which the second is
accomplished: вертолёт ‘helicopter’ (cf. вертть(ся) ‘to rotate’, лёт
‘flight’), гHзосв"рщик ‘gas welder’, парохд ‘steamer’.
Note
For the formation of compound abbreviations, see 39 (acronyms),
40 (alphabetisms), 41 (stump compounds), 42 (compound hyphenated
nouns).

28

Word formation in the noun II: prefixation

(1) Prefixes, while fewer in number than suffixes, effect more radical change
than suffixes are capable of. Thus, in the word бесконфлктность
‘absence of conflict’ the suffix -ость merely denotes the abstract nature
of the noun, while the prefix бес- fufils a semantic role in denoting the
absence of the quality denoted by the root noun (конфлкт ‘conflict’).
(2) The following prefixes used with nouns are also commonly used with
verbs (for the full range of their meanings, see sections 254 and 331; for
spelling rules see 16, rules 3–5):
в- ‘into’:
вз-/вс- ‘upwards’:
воз-/вос- (i) ‘upwards’:
(ii) ‘re-’:
вы- ‘outwards’:
до- ‘addition’:
за- (i) ‘beyond’:
(ii) ‘closing’:
из-/ис- ‘ex-, out’:
на- (i) ‘on, onto’:
(ii) ‘quantity’:
над- ‘above’:
недо- ‘shortfall’:
о-/об- (i) ‘encompassing’:
(ii) ‘avoidance’:
от- ‘away from’:
пере- (i) ‘across’:

вложние ‘investment’
взлёт ‘take-off’
восхд слнца ‘sun-rise’
воссоединние ‘reunification’
в'пуск ‘output’
дополнние ‘supplementation’
зарубжье ‘foreign countries’
закр'тие ‘closure’
исключние ‘expulsion’
нашник ‘earphone’
надй ‘milk yield’
надсмтрщик ‘supervisor’
недооцнка ‘underestimate’
охв"т ‘scope, range’
объзд ‘detour’
отъзд ‘departure’
перехд ‘crossing’

28
(ii) ‘repeat’:
под- (i) ‘support’:
(ii) ‘sham’:
пре- (i) ‘trans-’:
(ii) ‘excess’:
пред- ‘pre-’:
при- (i) ‘arrival, joining’:
(ii) ‘attachment’:
про- ‘through, past’:
раз-/рас- (i) ‘spread’:
(ii) ‘reversal’:
с- (i) ‘together’:
(ii) ‘down’:
у- ‘away’:

Word Formation

33

переигрвка ‘replay’
подсвчник ‘candle-stick’
поддлка ‘forgery’
преобразов"ние ‘transformation’
преувеличние ‘exaggeration’
предыстрия ‘pre-history’
приземлние ‘landing’
приложние ‘magazine supplement’
прпуск ‘pass’
распространние ‘dissemination’
разрдка ‘détente’
съезд ‘congress’
спуск ‘descent’
увольнние ‘dismissal’.

(3) A further set of prefixes are used mainly with nouns, in some cases
adjectives, and a few also with verbs (e.g. без-/бес-, де-, дис-, ре-). Many
are loan prefixes and combine mostly with foreign roots, while some (без-,
между-, не-, по-, под-, пра-, пред-, само-, свAрх-, после-, противо-,
чрез-/чрес-) are indigenous.
а- ‘devoid of’:
анти- ‘opposed to’:
архи- ‘extreme’:
без-/бес- ‘deprived of’:
вOце- ‘deputizing for’:
гOпер- ‘extreme’:
де- ‘reversal’:
дез- ‘removal’:
дис- ‘deprived of’:
интер- ‘international’:
квHзи- ‘quasi-’:
кBнтр- ‘counter to’:
между- ‘intermediate’:
мOкро- ‘small’:
не- ‘negation of’:
нAо- ‘revived’:
по- ‘along’:
под (i) ‘subordinate to’:
(ii) ‘proximity’:
после- ‘following’:
пBст- ‘subsequent’:

алогчность ‘illogicality’
антир'ночник ‘opponent of a market economy’
архиплт ‘arch villain’
бесснница ‘insomnia’
вOцепредсед"тель ‘vice-chairman’
гOперинфлция ‘hyper-inflation’
децентрализ"ция‘decentralization’
дезодор"нт ‘deodorant’
дисквалифик"ция ‘disqualification’
интердвочка ‘hard-currency prostitute’
квHзидемокр"тия ‘quasi-democracy’
кBнтрразвдка ‘counter-espionage’
междуц"рствие ‘interregnum’
мOкроорганзм ‘micro-organism’
нераспространние ‘non-proliferation’
нAокапиталзм ‘neo-capitalism’
погранчник ‘frontier guard’
подвд ‘sub-species’
Подмосквье ‘Moscow region’
послеслвие ‘epilogue’
пBстмодернзм ‘post-Modernism’

34

The Noun

28–29

пра- ‘great’ (in relationships)
преди- ‘preceding’:
про- (i) ‘supportive of’:
(ii) ‘deputizing for’:
противо- ‘opposed to’:
псAвдо- ‘sham’:
ре- ‘re-’:
само- ‘self’:
свAрх- ‘extreme’:
суб- ‘subordinate’:
сIпер- ‘extreme’:
Iльтра- ‘extreme’:
чрез-/чрес- ‘excessive’:
Gкс- ‘former’:
экстра- ‘beyond’:

праб"бушка: ‘great-grandmother’
предислвие ‘foreword’
проамерик"нец ‘pro-American’
прорктор ‘vice-principal’
противорчие ‘contradiction’
псAвдодемокр"тия ‘pseudo-democracy’
рAинтегр"ция ‘reintegration’
самообслживание ‘self-service’
свAрхдерж"ва ‘super-power’
сIбподрд ‘subcontract’
сIперзвезд" ‘super-star’
Iльтрареакционр ‘ultrareactionary’
чрезмрность‘excessiveness’
Gкс-премьр ‘the former premier’
экс-вце-президнт ‘the former vice-president’
экстраснс ‘psychic’.

Note
(a) A number of prefixes fall into definable categories:
(i)

excess (архи-, гOпер-, свAрх-, сIпер-, чрез-);

(ii) negation (а-, без-, де-, дез-, дис-, не-);
(iii) time (нAо-, после-, пBст-, преди-, ре-, Gкс-);
(iv) opposition/support (анти-, кBнтр-, про-, противо-);
(v) sham (квHзи-, псAвдо-).
(b) in some cases a prefixed word has been borrowed virtually in its
entirety (e.g. анемя ‘anaemia’) and should thus be regarded as a
non-derivative stem in Russian.
(c) spelling rule 16 (3), in accordance with which initial и is replaced by
ы following a prefix ending in a consonant, does not apply to the loan
prefixes гOпер-, дез-, пBст-, суб-, сIпер- (thus дезинформHция
‘misinformation’, etc.).

29

Word formation in the noun III: suffixation.

Introductory remarks
(i) Noun suffixes number over one hundred and play a fundamental
role in the creation of nouns. Suffixed nouns may derive from verbs:

29

Word Formation

35

стрельб" ‘shooting’ from стрел ть ‘to shoot’; adjectives: мал'ш ‘child,
small boy’ from млый ‘small’; other nouns: рыб"к ‘fisherman’ from
р'ба ‘fish’; prepositions: прдок ‘ancestor’ from перед/пред ‘before’;
numerals: трйка ‘troika’ from тре ‘three’; adverbs: почемчка
‘inquisitive child’ from почем#? ‘why?’.
(ii) While little or no guidance can be offered on the selection of suffixes
to convey particular meanings, familiarity with the range of suffixes
available within each field of meaning can be beneficial.
(iii) Many loan suffixes are components of nouns that have been
borrowed virtually in their entirety:
-аж as in тонн"ж ‘tonnage’
-ант as in дилетт"нт ‘dilettante’
-арий as in планет"рий ‘planetarium’
-ат as in электор"т ‘electorate’
-ент as in агнт ‘agent’,
-ер as in трнер ‘trainer’
-есса as in поэтсса ‘poetess’
-иада as in олимпи"да ‘Olympiad’
-изм as in социалзм ‘socialism’
-ик as in диабтик ‘diabetic’
-ир as in банкр ‘banker’
-иса as in актрса ‘actress’
-ист as in коммунст ‘communist’
-ит as in артрт ‘arthritis’
-итет as in приоритт ‘priority’
-ор as in агрссор ‘aggressor’.
-тор as in ави"тор ‘aviator’
Note
Some of the compounds are based on Russian stems: ельцинст ‘Yeltsin
supporter’, трудоголзм ‘workaholism’, in which case the suffixes (here,
-ист, -изм) can be identified as separate formants.
(iv) Other suffixes cover broad categories of meaning (the most
characteristic suffixes are listed here for each category; a full list
appears under (vi), below, which enumerates fifty-two suffixes with their
meanings):
(a) Abstract meanings (attitudes, feelings, qualities):
-ба, -ие/-ье, -изм, -ость/-есть, -ота, -ствие, -ство, -сть.
(b) Actions (verbal nouns):

36

The Noun

29

-ация/-изация, -ка, -ние, -ок, -ство, -тие.
(c) Animate beings (agents of actions, nationals, inhabitants, members of
organizations, etc.):
-ак/-як, -анин/-янин, -арь, -ач, -ец, -ик, -ист, -ник, -ок, -тель, -ун,
-щик/-чик.
(d) Collectives:
-ство, -ура.
(e) Objects/implements:
-ик, -ка, -ло, -ник, -ок, -тель, -щик/-чик.
(f ) Places:
-ище, -ня, -ье.
(g) Quantity, dimension:
-ина, -ство.
Note
(a) Some suffixes have certain very specific meanings: -ёнок/-онок
(young of animals), -ика (berries), -ина (types of meat), -кн
(remnants), -ница (containers), -ович/-(ь)евич/-ич (patronymics),
-от (sounds), -ота and -уха (medical conditions);
(b) The commonest feminine suffixes (in addition to -есса, -иса, which
are listed under (iii)) are: -иня/-ыня, -иха, -ица, -ка, -ница, -ша,
-щица/-чица, -ья.
(v) Most consonant changes in suffixed nouns affect the velar
consonants. The following changes occur: г: ж, к: ч and х: ш before
the suffixes: -ество (e.g. монх ‘monk’: моншество ‘monks’), -ие
(велкий ‘great’: велчие ‘greatness’), -ина (горх ‘peas’: горшина
‘pea’), -инка (снег ‘snow’: снежнка ‘snow-flake’), -ист (шпга
‘sword’: шпажст ‘fencer’ [but танк ‘tank’: танкст ‘tank-driver’]),
-иха (мльник ‘miller’: мльничиха ‘miller’s wife’), -ица (волк
‘wolf’: волчца ‘she-wolf’), -ник (молок ‘milk’: молчник ‘milk-jug’),
-ница (спчка ‘match’: спчечница ‘matchbox stand’), -ня ([in names
of places] кнюх ‘groom’: кон&шня ‘stable’), -ок (пр'гать ‘to jump’:
прыжк ‘jump’), -онок (волк ‘wolf ’: волчнок ‘wolf-cub’), -ье (брег
‘shore’: побержье ‘coastline’.
Note
Nouns in -о