Genitive case of Russian nouns
The genitive case is a set of word forms (in singular and plural) the basic function of which is to show a possessor, like the English preposition "of" in the phrase "the book of the student".
Uses of the Genitive
1. To show a possession. In general, possession is shown by putting the possessor or the object one belongs to in the genitive case form.
The word Марии (Maria's) is the genitive case form of the word Мария (Maria) and indicates the possessor of an object (bag).
Talking about the genitive and the ways to designate a possession, it would be worthwhile to mention a prepositional construction which is commonly used for expressing ownership in Russian. This construction requires the preposition у (by) followed by a genitive case form. This construction may use the verb есть (literally: there is, there are), but its presence is not always required. The verb is the most frequently used if this construction emphasizes the existence of an object. If this construction emphasizes a new information about some features (like color, size, quantity etc) of the possessed object, the verb will most likely be absent.
У Марии красная машина. – Maria has a red car. literally: By Maria a red car.
At the same time, the Russian language has an equivalent of the English verb "to have" – иметь, but its range of usage is much more restricted than the above mentioned construction.
2. With quantity words and cardinal numerals.
a) after quantity words, like много (many, much), мало (a few, not much), несколько (several), and words indicating a package or a measure, like "bottle", "cup", "gram", "meter" etc.
The word молока (milk) is the genitive case form of the word молоко (milk) and it is used after quantity word мало (not much).
В этом городе много памятников. – There are a lot of monuments in this town.
The word памятников (of monuments) is the genitive case form of the word памятники (monuments) and it is used after quantity word много (many, a lot of).
b) after cardinal numerals. This is a complicated use of Russian cases, because cardinal numerals may decline themselves, which may influence on the case form of the following words. However, in simple phrases, cardinal numerals are often followed by the genitive case, and you should devote attention to the following situations:
- numerals 2, 3, 4 and numerals ending with 2, 3, 4 (e.g. 23, 43, 54) are followed by the genitive singular form.
The word лампы (lamps) is the genitive singular form of the word лампа (lamp).
- 5 and upwards (except numerals mentioned above) are followed by the genitive plural form.
The word долларов (dollars) is the genitive plural form of the word доллар (dollar).
3. In the construction with the word нет meaning "there is not/there are not"
The word телевизора (TV set) is the genitive case form of the word телевизор (TV set) and it is used in the construction with the word нет.
У меня нет детей. – I have no children.
The word детей (children) is the genitive case form of the word дети (children) and it is used in the construction with the word нет.
4. After negated transitive verbs.
The word газет (newspapers) is the genitive plural form of the word газета (newspaper) and it is used after negated transitive verb читает (read).
However, this rule frequently does not apply, and the nouns after negated transitive verbs are often in the accusative case form, particularly in conversational Russian. Thus, it is also possible to say "Он не читает газеты", where the word газеты (newspapers) is the accusative plural form of the word газета (newspaper).
5. For food and drinks nouns meaning "some":
The word молока (milk) is the genitive case form of the word молоко (milk).
Мне нужно купить хлеба. – I need to buy some bread.
The word хлеба (bread) is the genitive case form of the word хлеб (bread).
6. After a large number of prepositions, the most frequent of which are:
без – without
для – for
из – from
кроме - except
около – near/approximately
после – after
Here we provide general rules how to form genitive case forms from nominative singular forms. These rules cover the vast majority of Russian nouns. However, you should be aware that rules described below may have other exceptions.
Genitive case endings
The table below represents regular endings for singular and plural genitive case forms:
|Masculine||-а / -я||-ов / -ев / -ей / Ø|
|Feminine||-ы / -и||Ø / -ей|
|Neuter||-а / -я||Ø / -ей|
Below, you will find detailed information about genitive singular and plural forms of masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.
1. Nouns ending in a consonant add the ending -а:
парк - парка (park)
2. Nouns ending in -й and -ь change the final letters to -я:
писатель - писателя (writer)
3. Masculine nouns ending in -a/-я (see: Masculine nouns) form the genitive case forms following the rules for feminine nouns (see below).
1. Nouns ending in -а should change the final -а to -ы. However, following the Spelling rule №1 nouns ending -жа, -чa, -ща, -ша and -ка, -ха, -га can not have the ending -ы, and take the ending -и.
проблема - проблемы (problem)
книга - книги (book)
открытка - открытки (post card)
кожа - кожи (leather)
2. Nouns ending in -я and in -ь change the final -я and -ь to -и:
дверь - двери (door)
станция - станции (station)
1. Nouns ending in -o change their ending to -а:
кресло - кресла (arm-chair)
2. Nouns ending in -е change their ending to -я:
здание - здания (building)
3. Nouns ending in -мя (see: Neuter nouns ending in -мя) change -я to -ени:
время - времени (time)
1. Nouns ending in a consonant, except those ending -ж, -ч, -щ, -ш (see below), add the ending -ов:
театр - театров (theater)
парк - парков (park)
2. Nouns ending in -й change their final letter to -ев:
музей - музеев (museum)
санаторий - санаториев (sanatorium)
3. Nouns ending in the soft sign (ь) and -ж, -ч, -щ, -ш add the ending -ей (the soft sign will disapper):
писатель - писателей (writer)
пляж - пляжей (beach)
врач - врачей (doctor)
карандаш - карандашей (pencil)
4. A few masculine nouns have the genitive plural form equal to the nominative singular, i.e. they have zero ending.
глаз - глаз (eye)
солдат - солдат (soldier)
1. Nouns ending in -а drop this final vowel. In other words, they have zero ending:
улица - улиц (street)
проблема - проблем (problem)
книга - книг (book)
Note that nouns with a stem ending in two (or more) consonants need a fleeting vowel (-o- or -e-) which is inserted before the last consonant. In most instances (but not always!), -e- is inserted if the stem end in ж/ш/ч/ц/щ/ + consonant or a soft consonant + consonant, and -о- is used if the stem ends in another combination of consonants.
студентка - студенток (female student)
открытка - открыток (post card)
ручка - ручек (pen) - the stem ручк ends in ч + consonant
песня - песен (song) - the stem песн ends ends in [s'] + consonant, i.e. soft consonant + consnonant
2. Nouns ending in -я drop this final vowel, and add the soft sign (if their stem ends in a consonant) or -й (nouns ending in -ея and -ия). These nouns are considered to have zero ending.
неделя - недель (week)
идея - идей (idea)
станция - станций (station)
3. Nouns ending in a soft sign drop the soft sign and add the ending -ей
площадь - площадей (square)
дверь - дверей (door)
Most neuter nouns have zero ending: they drop the final letter to form the genitive plural. Neuter nouns that have the stem ending in two (or more) consonants need a fleeting vowel (-o- or -e-) which is inserted before the last consonant. The vowel -о- is inserted if the stress falls on the fleeting vowel, and -e- is used if the stress falls somewhere else in the stems:
слово - слов (word)
дело - дел (work, business, affair)
окно - окон (window) - the fleeting vowel is stressed
письмо - писем (letter) - the stress falls on the first syllable of the stem
кресло - кресел (armchair) - the stress falls on the first syllable of the stem)
2. Nouns ending in consonnat + e change their ending to -ей:
море - морей (sea)
поле - полей (building)
3. Nouns ending in -ие change the ending -ие to -ий:
здание - зданий (building)
упражнение - упражнений (exercise)
4. Nouns ending in -мя (see: Neuter nouns ending in -мя) change their ending to -мён:
имя - имён (name)
время - времён (exercise)
You can find more examples of word forms in genitive singular and genitive plural on the page Russian nouns declension