Accusative Case in Russian – Russian Cases Explained

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Dear friend, brave yourself because today we are getting to the heart of the series “Russian Cases Explained” with the first “real” one: the accusative case in Russian.

Why 'real'?

Because as we saw in the previous post about the Russian nominative case, it is the basic form, nothing more than what we are used to in many other languages.

With the accusative case in Russian, things get harder, but only a little bit! In fact, the Russian accusative is usually deemed to be the easiest case. I don’t totally agree, but let’s start with this one anyway!

accusative case in russian

Accusative case in Russian: Intro

The Russian accusative case (винительный падеж) is undoubtedly red: it is the case of love, guilt, embarrassment and, in general, of all the direct actions that the subject performs on an object.

As you may remember, the nominative case answers the questions кто?/что? (Who? What?). Well, the accusative case in Russian answers the questions кого?/что? (Who? What?).

Of course, in English, these two questions are exactly the same but in Russian, they are definitely not! Look at the charts below.

Endings of nouns in the Russian accusative

Without further ado, let’s immediately look at the chart of accusative noun endings to clarify and then comment.

Singular

As I promised, the words are still the same that I used in the previous article!

MASCULINEFEMININENEUTRAL
Журнал – Журнал (magazine)
Брат – Брата (brother)
Круг – Круг (circle)
Отец – Отца (father)
Музей – Музей (museum)
Словарь – Словарь (dictionary)
Лампа – Лампу (lamp)
Звезда – Звезду (star)
Ручка – Ручку (pen)
Дочь – Дочь (daughter)
Подруга – Подругу (female friend)
Компания – Компанию (company)
Площадь – Площадь (square)
Слово – Слово (word)
Море – Море (sea)
Время – Время (time)
Занятие – Занятие (class)

OK, let’s move on step by step:

1) Neuter singular nouns in the accusative do not change! (we love them).

2) Masculine singular nouns in the Russian accusative case change ONLY if they are animate, meaning that they refer to people or animals. Inanimate words (i.e. objects) are the same as in the nominative.

In the accusative case, animate nouns add '-a' after the consonant or '-я' if the word ends in '-ь' (Царь – Царя [Zar]).

Please, pay attention to Russian irregular nouns, especially those that drop a vowel. They get rid of the letter even when declined in the accusative.

Отец – Отцы – Отца

3) Singular feminine nouns in the accusative ALWAYS change. The final '-а' turns into '-у' and the '-я' turns into '-ю'.

Exception made for feminine nouns that end in '-ь' – they don’t change in the accusative case in Russian.

Plural

MASCHILEFEMMINILENEUTRO
Журналы – Журналы (magazines)
Братья – Братьев (brothers)
Круги – Круги (circles)
Отец – Отцов (fathers)
Музеи – Музеи (museums)
Словари – Словари (dictionaries)
Лампы – Лампы (lamps)
Звёзды – Звёзды (stars)
Ручки – Ручки (pens)
Дочери – Дочерей (daughters)
Подруги – Подруг (female friends))
Компании – Компании (companies)
Площади – Площади (squares)
Слова – Слова (words)
Моря – Моря (seas)
Времена – Времена (times)
Занятия – Занятия (classes)

Do you notice anything?

1) The neutral plural nouns in the Russian accusative are still our favorites because they don’t change!

2) Even the masculine plurals in the accusative keep the same trend: objects do not change, while animals and persons take the endings “-ов” (hard consonant) or “-ев” (when the consonant is soft).

3) The feminine plural nouns in the Russian accusative begin to behave like the masculine ones! Inanimates are like in the nominative, and animates drop the final '-a'.

Indeed, if there are two consonants at the end, a phonetic “-o-“ appears between the two: Студентки – студенток (female students).

russian accusative

Endings of adjectives in the Russian accusative

Feeling overwhelmed? It’s completely normal. Don’t worry though, little by little, case after case, you will get used to this system and Russian declension will become much clearer and, above all, automatic.

This applies to both nouns and Russian adjectives in the accusative, which you can find below.

Singular

Here you’ll find not two, but four charts: two for the singular form and two for the plural.

You probably already noticed that the Russian accusative distinguishes between animate (people, animals) and inanimate! Thankfully, it’s the only Russian case that does so.

Animate

MASCHILEFEMMINILENEUTRO
Красивого (good looking)
Плохого (bad)
Хорошего (good)
Долгого (that lasts long)
Летнего (proper of summer)
Красивую
Плохую
Хорошую
Долгую
Летнюю
Красивое
Плохое
Хорошее
Долгое
Летнее

Inanimate

MASCULINEFEMININENEUTRAL
Красивый (good looking)
Плохой (bad)
Хороший (good)
Долгий (that lasts long)
Летний (proper of summer)
Красивую
Плохую
Хорошую
Долгую
Летнюю
Красивое
Плохое
Хорошее
Долгое
Летнее

Let’s say that singular adjectives in the accusative behave a bit like singular nouns:

  • Neutrals do not change (<3 )
  • The feminine ones always take the sound 'u', this time with '-ую' or '-юю'
  • Inanimate masculine nouns do not change. The animate ones, however, take the endings '-ого' and '-его'

To understand which ending you should attach you should remember the mean girls and snob letters I wrote about in the previous article!

Plural

Animate

MASCHILEFEMMINILENEUTRO
Красивых (good looking)
Плохих (bad)
Хороших (good)
Долгих (that last long)
Летних (proper of summer)
Красивых
Плохих
Хороших
Долгих
Летних
Красивые
Плохие
Хорошие
Долгие
Летние

Inanimate

MASCULINEFEMININENEUTRAL
Красивые (good looking)
Плохие (bad)
Хорошие (good)
Долгие (that lasts long)
Летние (proper of summer)
Красивые
Плохие
Хорошие
Долгие
Летние
Красивые
Плохие
Хорошие
Долгие
Летние

As always, plural adjectives are the simplest:

  • For inanimate nouns, the endings of plural adjectives in the accusative are the same as in the nominative
  • Feminine and masculine animate nouns take the endings '-ых' or '-их' depending on the consonant preceding them

Accusative case in Russian: How do I remember the endings?

WTF! How can I remember all this stuff?!

It goes without saying that you need to get the hang of it and do a lot of exercise. However, some tricks can help you memorize the endings of the Russian accusative better:

1) Forget the neuter because it is always the same as the nominative.

2) So are masculine inanimate nouns, so focus on feminines and animates.

3) All feminine singular nouns and adjectives in the accusative case have the sound 'u'.

4) Masculine animates in the accusative always get the sound “a”. Even when in adjectives you write '-ого' and '-его' it’s actually read '-ava' and '-yeva'.

5) Masculine and feminine animates in the plural form end in a consonant, both adjectives and nouns.

I hope that’s useful!

Accusative prepositions

Well, well, well. Now that you know the endings, the time has come to use them! The Russian accusative prepositions are в / на, про, о, за, по and через / сквозь.

Don’t worry, we’ll see them in detail.

В/НА

When preceded by a verb of motion, these two Russian prepositions translate as “to” and require the use of the accusative case.

  • Еду на работу. (I go to work [by transport])
  • Иду в спортзал. (I go to the gym)

Is there a way to know when to use 'в' and when to use 'на'? Not really! A rule states that if the place you go to has walls, you use “в”, if it is an open place you use “на”, but it doesn’t always apply.

Also, the preposition 'в' followed by accusative is used to tell the time in Russian and for the days of the week in Russian.

ПРО

As soon as you learn the Russian prepositional case, you will begin to love this preposition which is used with the simple accusative.

The preposition 'про' + accusative means 'of' or 'about' used to specify the topic of a film, a book, a discussion, etc…

Они говорят про политику. (They are talking about politics)

Unfortunately, it is used mostly in the spoken language, the standars option we will see later.

О

The preposition 'o' + Russian accusative is only used with the meaning of 'against' when you bump into something.

Я ударился о стену. (I hit the wall)

ЗА

The preposition 'за' + accusative is used with the meaning of 'behind', but, again, only when paired with verbs of motion – therefore 'to go behind.'

Собака зашла за дерево. (The dog went behind the tree)

It can also convey a sense of “in favour of“, especially with the verb “голосовать – проголосовать” (to vote).

Я / Я голосую за свободу! (I am / I vote for freedom)

We also use 'за' + accusative to thank or apologize!

Спасибо за подарок! (Thanks for the gift)

Прости за опоздание! (Please excuse the delay)

ПО

The preposition 'по' is rarely followed by the Russian accusative and almost exclusively in idioms:

… по колено (… up to the knee).

… по горло (… up to the throat).

Both mean having a lot of something going on, with the nuance of being fed up!

ЧЕРЕЗ / СКВОЗЬ

Last but not least, these two prepositions are used only with the accusative and they translate as “through” or “in”.

In Russian they have two slightly different meanings: 'через' is simply the passage from A to B, and 'сквозь' implies overcoming or bypassing one or more obstacles.

Увидимся через час. (See you in an hour)

Перейти через дорогу. (To cross the street)

Видеть сквозь одежду. (See through clothes)

Accusative verbs in Russian

As I wrote at the beginning, the Russian accusative verbs are those that imply direct action on someone or something (i.e. transitive).

I can’t make a list because there’s to many of them, just think of: to love (любить), to eat (есть – поесть), to see (видеть – увидеть), to watch (смотреть – посмотре ть), to hate (ненавидеть), to draw (рисовать – нарисовать), to write (писать – написать), etc…

Some Russian verbs require the use of Russian accusative and also a preposition:

Играть в + accusative = to play a game

Верить в + accusative = to believe IN something

Влюбляться / влюбиться в + accusative = to fall in love with

Полагаться / положиться на + accusative = to rely ON

Рассчитывать / рассчитать на + accusative = to count ON

Russian cases chart PDF

As I promised at the beginning, here you can download a PDF chart of all the Russian cases.

Enter your name, your email and click on the button! The download link will appear below.

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