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Russian grammar

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Russian grammar (грамматика русского языка Russian pronunciation: [ɡrɐˈmatʲɪkə ˈruskəvə jɪzɨˈka], also: русская грамматика [ˈruskəjə ɡrɐˈmatʲɪkə]) encompasses:

  • a highly synthetic morphology
  • a syntax that, for the literary language, is the conscious fusion of three elements:
    • a Church Slavonic inheritance;
    • a Western European style;
    • a polished vernacular foundation.

The Russian language has preserved an Indo-European synthetic-inflexional structure, although considerable levelling has taken place.

The spoken language has been influenced by the literary, but continues to preserve characteristic forms. The dialects show various non-standard grammatical features, some of which are archaisms or descendants of old forms since discarded by the literary language.

NOTE: In the discussion below, various terms are used in the meaning they have in the standard Russian discussions of historical grammar. In particular, aorist, imperfect, etc. are considered verbal tenses rather than aspects, because ancient examples of them are attested for both perfective and imperfective verbs.

Nouns

Nominal declension is subject to six cases  nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, and prepositional – in two numbers (singular and plural), and obeying absolutely grammatical gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter). Up to ten additional cases are identified in linguistics textbooks,[1][2][3] although all of them are either incomplete (do not apply to all nouns) or degenerate (appear identical to one of the six simple cases). The most well-recognized additional cases are locative (в лесу, в крови, в слезах), partitive (сапог, чулок, вольт), and several forms of vocative (господи, деда, батянь). The adjectives, pronouns, and the first two cardinal numbers further vary by gender. Old Russian also had a third number, the dual, but except for its use in the nominative and accusative cases with the numbers two, three and four, e.g. (два стула [dvɐ ˈstulə], "two chairs", recategorized today as a genitive singular), it has been lost.

There are no definite or indefinite articles in the Russian language. The sense of a noun is determined from the context in which it appears. That said, there are some means of expressing whether a noun is definite or indefinite. They are:

  1. The use of a direct object in the genitive instead of the accusative in negation signifies that the noun is indefinite, compare: "Я не вижу книги" ("I don't see a book" or "I don't see any book") and "Я не вижу книгу" ("I don't see the book").
  2. The use of the numeral one sometimes signifies that the noun is indefinite, e.g.: "Почему ты так долго?" - "Да так, встретил одного друга, пришлось поговорить" ("Why did it take you so long?" - "You see, I met a friend and had to talk").
  3. Word order may also be used for this purpose, compare "В комнату вбежал мальчик" ("A boy rushed into the room") and "Мальчик вбежал в комнату" ("The boy rushed into the room").
  4. The use of plural form instead of singular may signify that the noun is indefinite: "Вы купите это в магазинах." - "Вы купите это в магазине." ("You can buy this in a shop." lit. "...in shops" - "You can buy this in the shop.")

The category of animacy is relevant in Russian nominal and adjectival declension. Specifically, the accusative form in many paradigms has two possible forms depending on the animacy of the referent. For animate referents (people and animals), the accusative form is identical to the genitive form. For inanimate referents, the accusative form is identical to the nominative form. This principle is relevant for masculine singular nouns of the first declension (see below) and adjectives, and for all plural paradigms (with no gender distinction). In the tables below, this behavior is indicated by the abbreviation "N or G" in the row corresponding to the accusative case.

In Russian there are three declension types, named simply first, second, and third declensions. The first declension (the second in Russian school grammars) is used for masculine and most neuter nouns. The second declension (the first in school grammars) is used for most feminine nouns. The third declension is used for feminine nouns ending in ь and for neuter nouns ending in мя.

First declension - masculine nouns

Nouns ending in a consonant are marked in the following table with - (thus no ending).

  Singular   Plural
Nominative - -ий   1 -ии
Genitive -ия   -ов2 -ей -ев3 -иев
Dative -ию   -ам -ям -ям -иям
Accusative N or G   N or G
Instrumental -ом -ем3 -ем3 -ием   -ами -ями -ями -иями
Prepositional -ии   -ах -ях -ях -иях

Notes:

  1. After a sibilant (ж, ч, ш, or щ) or a velar (г, к, or х) consonant, и is written.
  2. After a sibilant, ей is written.
  3. After a soft consonant, ё is written when stressed; е when unstressed.

First declension - neuter nouns

  Singular   Plural
Nominative 1 2  
Genitive   - -й / -ь4
Dative   -ам -ям
Accusative 1 2   N or G
Instrumental -ом1 -ем2   -ами -ями
Prepositional 3   -ах -ях
  1. After a sibilant, о is written when stressed; е when unstressed.
  2. After a soft consonant, ё is written when stressed; е when unstressed.
  3. For nouns ending in ие in the nominative singular, и is written.
  4. After a consonant use ь otherwise use й.

Second declension - feminine nouns (primarily)

  Singular   Plural
Nominative -ия   1 -ии
Genitive 1 -ии   - -ий
Dative -ии   -ам -ям -иям
Accusative -ию   N or G
Instrumental -ой2 -ей3 -ией   -ами -ями -иями
Prepositional -ии   -ах -ях -иях
  1. After a sibilant or a velar (г, к, or х) consonant, и is written.
  2. After a sibilant, о is written when stressed; е when unstressed.
  3. After a soft consonant, ё is written when stressed; е when unstressed.

Third declension

  Singular   Plural
  Feminine Neuter   Feminine Neuter
Nominative -мя   -мена
Genitive -мени   -ей -мён(-мян)
Dative -мени   -ям1 -менам
Accusative -мя   N or G -мена
Instrumental -ью -менем   -ями1 (ьми) -менами
Prepositional -мени   -ях1 -менах
  1. After a sibilant, а is written.

Irregular forms of plural

Adjectives

Because the Russian word for mosque is feminine, the adjective "Muslim" must be feminine (Мусульманская мечеть, Muslim mosque).

Russian adjectives agree with the nouns they modify in gender, number, and case.

Declension

  Singular   Plural
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative -ый -ая -ое -ые
Genitive -ого -ой -ого -ых
Dative -ому -ой -ому -ым
Accusative N or G -ую -ое N or G
Instrumental -ым -ой -ым -ыми
Prepositional -ом -ой -ом -ых
  1. After a sibilant or velar consonant, и, instead of ы, is written.
  2. When a masculine adjective ends in -ой, the -ой is stressed.
  3. After a sibilant consonant, neuter adjectives end in ее. It is sometimes called the хорошее rule.
  4. Accusative in the masculine gender and in plural depends on animacy, as for nouns.

Russian differentiates between hard-stem (as above) and soft-stem adjectives. Note the following:

  • Masculine adjectives ending in the nominative in ий and neuters in ее are declined as follows: его (read: ево), ему, им, and ем.
  • Feminine adjectives in яя are declined ей and юю.
  • Plural adjectives in ие are declined их, им, ими and их.
  • Case endings -ого/-его are to be read as -ово/ево.

Pronouns

Personal pronouns

Personal pronoun

  Singular Plural
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
Masc. Fem. Neut.
(English) I you (singular) he she it we you (plural) they
Nominative я ты он она́ оно́ мы вы они́
Genitive меня́ тебя́ его́ её его́ нас вас (н)их
Dative мне тебе́ ему́ ей ему́ нам вам (н)им
Accusative меня́ тебя́ его́ её его́ нас вас (н)их
Instrumental мной/мно́ю тобо́й/тобо́ю ним нею ним на́ми ва́ми (н)и́ми
Prepositional обо мне о тебе́ о нём о ней о нём о наc о вас о них
  • Russian is subject to T-V distinction. The respectful form of the singular you is the same as the plural form, but beginning with a capital letter: Вы, Вас, Вам etc. Compare the distinction between du and Sie in German or tu/toi and vous in French
  • When a preposition is used directly before a 3rd-person pronoun, н- is prefixed: у него (read: у нево), с неё, etc. Because the prepositional case always occurs after a preposition, the third person prepositional always starts with an н-.
  • Like adjectives and numerals, letter "г" (g) in genitive and accusative form is pronounced as "в" (v) его/него ево/нево.

Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronoun

этот "this" and тот "that"

  masculine neuter feminine plural   masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative э́тот э́то э́та э́ти   тот то та те
Genitive э́того э́того э́той э́тих   того́ того́ той тех
Dative э́тому э́тому э́той э́тим   тому́ тому́ той тем
Accusative N or G э́то э́ту N or G   N or G то ту N or G
Instrumental э́тим э́тим э́той э́тими   тем тем той те́ми
Prepositional об э́том об э́том об э́той об э́тих   о том о том о той о тех

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronoun

мой ('my') and твой ('your' sing.)

  masculine neuter feminine plural   masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative мой моё моя мои   твой твоё твоя твои
Genitive моего моего моей моих   твоего твоего твоей твоих
Dative моему моему моей моим   твоему твоему твоей твоим
Accusative N or G моё мою N or G   N or G твоё твою N or G
Instrumental моим моим моей моими   твоим твоим твоей твоими
Prepositional о моём о моём о моей о моих   о твоём о твоём о твоей о твоих
  • Ending -его is pronounced as -ево.

наш ('our') and ваш ('your' plur.)

  masculine neuter feminine plural   masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative наш наше наша наши   ваш ваше ваша ваши
Genitive нашего нашего нашей наших   вашего вашего вашей ваших
Dative нашему нашему нашей нашим   вашему вашему вашей вашим
Accusative N or G наше нашу N or G   N or G ваше вашу N or G
Instrumental нашим нашим нашей нашими   вашим вашим вашей вашими
Prepositional о нашем о нашем о нашей о наших   о вашем о вашем о вашей о ваших
  • The third person possessive pronouns его (masc./neut. sing.), её (fem. sing.) and их (plural) are invariant genitive forms.
  • Ending -его is pronounced as -ево.

Interrogative pronouns

Interrogative pronoun

кто ('who') and что ('what')

  кто что
Nominative кто что
Genitive кого (read: каво) чего (read: чиво)
Dative кому чему
Accusative кого (read: каво) что (read: што)
Instrumental кем чем
Prepositional о ком о чём

чей ('whose')

  masculine neuter feminine plural
Nominative чей чьё чья чьи
Genitive чьего чьего чьей чьих
Dative чьему чьему чьей чьим
Accusative N or G чьё чью N or G
Instrumental чьим чьим чьей чьими
Prepositional о чьём о чьём о чьей о чьих
  • Ending -его is pronounced as -ево.

Numerals

Nouns are used in the nominative caseafter "one" (один рубль, 'one ruble').
After certain other numbers (followingGrammatical number rules in Russian) nouns must be declined to genitive plural (десять рублей, 'ten rubles').

Cardinal Numbers

  • 0 ноль or нуль
  • 1 один (m.), одна (f.), одно (n.), одни (pl.) (раз is used when counting)
  • 2 два (m., n.), две (f.)
  • 3 три
  • 4 четыре
  • 5 пять
  • 6 шесть
  • 7 семь
  • 8 восемь
  • 9 девять
  • 10 десять

Ordinal Numbers Nominative case, masculine.

  • (0) нулевой
  • 1st первый
  • 2nd второй
  • 3rd третий
  • 4th четвёртый
  • 5th пятый
  • 6th шестой
  • 7th седьмой
  • 8th восьмой
  • 9th девятый
  • 10th десятый

Verbs

Grammatical conjugation is subject to three persons in two numbers and two simple tenses (present/future and past), with periphrastic forms for the future and subjunctive, as well as imperative forms and present/past participles, distinguished by adjectival and adverbial usage (seeadjectival participle and adverbial participle). There are two voices, active and passive, which is constructed by the addition of a reflexive suffix-ся/сь/- to the active form. An interesting feature is that the past tense is actually made to agree in gender with the subject, for it is theparticiple in an originally periphrastic perfect formed with the present of быть [bɨtʲ] (like the perfect passive tense in Latin), "to be", which is now omitted except for rare archaic effect, usually in set phrases (откуда есть пошла земля русская [ɐˈtkudə jesʲtʲ pɐˈʂla zʲɪˈmlʲa ˈruskəjə], "whence is come the Russian land", the opening of the Primary Chronicle in modern spelling). Verbal inflection today is considerably simpler than in Old Russian. The ancient aorist, imperfect, and (periphrastic) pluperfect have been lost, though the aorist sporadically occurs in secular literature as late as the second half of the eighteenth century, and survives as an odd form in direct narration (а он пойди да скажи [ɐ on pɐjˈdʲi də skɐˈʐɨ], etc., exactly equivalent to the English colloquial "so he goes and says"), recategorized as a usage of the imperative. The loss of three of the former six tenses has been offset by the development, as in other Slavic languages, of verbal aspect. Most verbs come in pairs, one with imperfective or continuous connotation, the other with perfective or completed, usually formed with a (prepositional) prefix, but occasionally using a different root. E.g., спать [spatʲ] ('to sleep') is imperfective; поспать [pɐˈspatʲ] ('to take a nap') is perfective.

This protest sign shows the lack of the "to be" verb (быть) in the present tense(русский язык — не иностранный, The Russian language is not foreign).

The present tense of the verb быть is today normally used only in the third-person singular form, which is often used for all the persons and numbers. As late as the nineteenth century, the full conjugation, which today is never used, was somewhat more natural: forms occur in the SynodalBible, in Dostoevsky and in the bylinas (былины [bɨˈlʲinɨ]) or oral folk-epics, which were transcribed at that time. The paradigm shows as well as anything else the Indo-European affinity of Russian:

English Russian IPA Latin Classical Greek Sanskrit
"I am" (есмь) [jesʲmʲ] sum eimi ásmi
"you are" (sing.) (еси) [ˈjesʲɪ] es ei ási
"he, she, it is" есть [jesʲtʲ] est esti(n) ásti
"we are" (есмы) [ˈjɛsmɨ] sumus esmen smaḥ
"you are" (plur.) (есте) [jesʲtʲe] estis este staḥ
"they are" (суть) [sutʲ] sunt eisi(n) sánti

Present-future tense

There are two forms used to conjugate the present tense of imperfective verbs and the future tense of perfective verbs.

The first conjugation (I) is used in verb stems ending in a consonant, -у, or -о, or in -а when not preceded by a sibilant:

  • -у/-ю, -ешь, -ет, -ем, -ете, -ут/-ют
    • -у/-ут is used after a hard consonant, a vowel or ш, щ or ч; otherwise -ю/-ют is used.
    • A mutating ultimate consonant may cause ending change.
    • е becomes ё when stressed.

The second conjugation (II) is used in verb stems ending in -и or -е, or in -а when preceded by a sibilant:

  • -у/-ю, -ишь, -ит, -им, -ите, -ат/ят
    • -у/-ат is used after a hard consonant, a vowel or ш, щ or ч; otherwise -ю/-ят is used.
    • Similar to the conjugation I, a mutating ultimate consonant may change an ending.
      Example: попро-сить — попро-шу, попро-сят [pəprɐˈsʲitʲ, pəprɐˈʂu, pɐˈprosʲɪt] (to have solicited — [I, they] will have solicited).

Past tense

The Russian past tense is gender specific: –л for masculine singular subjects, –ла for feminine singular subjects, –ло for neuter singular subjects, and –ли for plural subjects. This gender specificity applies to all persons; thus, to say "I slept", a male speaker would say я спал, while a female speaker would say я спалá.

Moods

Examples

First conjugation

вернуть ('to return [something]', stem: верн–)

я верну I will return
ты вернёшь you will return
он, она, оно вернёт he, she, it will return
мы вернём we will return
вы вернёте you will return
они вернут they will return

читать ('to read', stem: чита–)

я читаю I read (am reading, do read)
ты читаешь you read (are reading, do read)
он, она, оно читает he, she, it reads (is reading, does read)
мы читаем we read (are reading, do read)
вы читаете you (plural/formal) read (are reading, do read)
они читают they read (are reading, do read)

Second conjugation

говорить ('to speak', stem: говор–)

я говорю I speak (am speaking, do speak)
ты говоришь you speak (are speaking, do speak)
он, она, оно говорит he, she, it speaks (is speaking, does speak)
мы говорим we speak (are speaking, do speak)
вы говорите you (plural/formal) speak (are speaking, do speak)
они говорят they speak (are speaking, do speak)

Irregular verbs

Russian verb paradigm
  брать1- take вести1- lead ви́деть2- see давать1- give дать3 - give (pf.) есть3- eat жить1 - live звать1- call идти́ 1- go писать2- write ходи́ть2- walk
1st Sg. беру́ веду́ ви́жу даю́ дам ем живу́ зову́ иду́ пишу́ хожу́
2nd Sg. берёшь ведёшь ви́дишь даёшь дашь ешь живёшь зовёшь идёшь пи́шешь хо́дишь
3rd Sg. берёт ведёт ви́дит даёт даст ест живёт зовёт идёт пи́шет хо́дит
1st Pl. берём ведём ви́дим даём дади́м еди́м живём зовём идём пи́шем хо́дим
2nd Pl. берёте ведёте ви́дите даёте дади́те еди́те живёте зовёте идёте пи́шете хо́дите
3rd Pl. беру́т веду́т ви́дят даю́т даду́т едя́т живу́т зову́т иду́т пи́шут хо́дят

1These verbs all have a stem change.
2These verbs are palatalised in certain cases, namely с  ш for all the present forms of "писать", and д  ж in the first person singular of the other verbs.
3These verbs do not conform to either the first or second conjugations.

Word formation

Russian has on hand a set of prefixes, prepositional and adverbial in nature, as well as diminutive, augmentative, and frequentative suffixesand infixes. All of these can be stacked one upon the other, to produce multiple derivatives of a given word. Participles and other inflectional forms may also have a special connotation. For example:

мысль [mɨsʲlʲ] "thought"
мыслишка [mɨˈsʲlʲiʂkə] "a petty, cute or a silly thought"
мыслища [mɨˈsʲlʲiɕːə] "a thought of fundamental import"
мышление [mɨʂlʲenije] "thought; abstract thinking, ratiocination"
мыслить [mɨsʲlitˈ] "to think (as to cogitate)"
смысл [smɨsl] "meaning"
осмыслить [osmɨsʲlitʲ] "to comprehend; to rationalize"
осмысливать [osmɨsʲlivətʲ] "to be in the process of comprehending"
переосмыслить [pʲɪrʲɪɐˈsmɨsʲlʲɪtʲ] "to reassess"
переосмысливать [pʲɪrʲɪɐˈsmɨsʲlʲɪvətʲ] "to be in the process of reassessing (something)"
переосмысливаемый [pʲɪrʲɪɐˈsmɨsʲlʲɪvəjɪmɨj] "(something) in the process of being considered in a new light"
бессмыслица [bʲɪˈsmɨsʲlʲɪtsə] "nonsense"
обессмыслить [əbʲɪˈsmɨsʲlʲɪtʲ] "to render meaningless"
бессмысленный [bʲɪˈsmɨsʲlʲɪnːɨj] "meaningless"
обессмысленный [əbʲɪˈsmɨsʲlʲɪnːɨj] "rendered meaningless"
необессмысленный [nʲɪəbʲɪˈsmɨsʲlʲɪnːɨj] "not rendered meaningless"

Russian has also proved friendly to agglutinative compounds. As an extreme case:

металлоломообеспечение [mʲɪtəlɐˌlomɐɐbʲɪˈsʲpʲetɕɪnʲjɪ] "provision of scrap iron"
металлоломообеспеченный [mʲɪtəlɐˌlomɐɐbʲɪˈsʲpʲetɕɪnːɨj] "well supplied with scrap iron"

Purists (as Dmitry Ushakov in the preface to his dictionary) frown on such words. But here is the name of a street in St. Petersburg:

Каменноостровский проспект [ˌkamʲɪnːɐˈɐstrəvskʲɪj prɐˈsʲpʲɛkt] "Stone Island Avenue"

Some linguists have suggested that Russian agglutination stems from Church Slavonic. In the twentieth century, abbreviated components appeared in the compound:

управдом [uprɐˈvdom] = управляющий домом [uprɐˈvlʲajuɕːɪj ˈdoməm] "residence manager"

Syntax

The basic word order, both in conversation and the written language, is Subject Verb Object in transitive clauses, and free word order in intransitive clauses. However, because the relations are marked by inflection, considerable latitude in word order is allowed even in transitive clauses, and all the permutations can be used. For example, the words in the phrase "я пошёл в магазин" ('I went to the shop') can be arranged

  • Я пошёл в магазин.
  • Я в магазин пошёл.
  • Пошёл я в магазин.
  • Пошёл в магазин я.
  • В магазин я пошёл.
  • В магазин пошёл я.

while maintaining grammatical correctness. Note, however, that the order of the phrase "в магазин" is kept constant.

The word order expresses the logical stress, and the degree of definiteness. Primary emphasis tends to be initial, with a slightly weaker emphasis at the end.

Negation

Like most other languages but unlike English, multiple negatives are compulsory in Russian, as in никто никогда никому ничего не прощает [nʲɪkˈto nʲɪkɐɡˈda nʲɪkɐˈmu nʲɪtɕɪˈvo nʲɪ prɐɕˈɕćjɪt] ('No-one ever forgives anyone for anything' literally, "no one never to no-one nothing does not forgive").

Coordination

The most common types of coordination expressed by compound sentences in Russian are conjoining, oppositional, and separative. Additionally, the Russian grammar considers comparative, complemental, and clarifying. Other flavors of the meanings may also be distinguished.

Conjoining coordinations are formed with the help of the conjunctions "и", "да", "ни...ни" (simultaneous negation), также, тоже (the latter two have complementary flavors). Most commonly the conjoining coordination expresses enumeration, simultaneity or immediate sequence. They may also have a cause-effect flavor.

Oppositional coordinations are formed with the help of the oppositional conjunctions а, но, да, однако, зато, же, etc. They express the semantic relations of opposition, comparison, incompatibility, restriction, or compensation.

Separative coordinations are formed with the help of the separative conjunctions или, либо, ли...ли, то...то, etc., and are used to express alternation or incompatibility of things expressed in the coordinated sentences.

Complemental and clarifying coordination expresses additional, but not subordinated, information related to the first sentence.

Comparative coordination is a semantical flavor of the oppositional one.

Common coordinating conjunctions include:

  • и [i] "and", enumerative, complemental;
  • а [a] "and", comparative, tending to "but";
  • но [no] "but", oppositional;
  • ибо [ˈibə] (bookish, archaic) "for", clarifying.

The distinction between и and а is important. И implies a following complemental state that does not oppose the antecedent. А implies a following state that acts in opposition to the antecedent, but more weakly than но "but".

The Catherine manuscript of the Song of Igor, 1790s
они уехали,
и мы уезжаем
[ɐˈnʲi uˈjɛxəlʲɪ]
[ɪ ˈmɨ ujɪˈʑʑajɪm]
they have departed
and we are departing
они уехали,
а мы уезжаем
[ɐˈnʲi uˈjɛxəlʲɪ]
[ɐ ˈmɨ ujɪˈʑʑajɪm]
they have departed,
while (but) we are (still) departing
они уехали,
но мы приезжаем
[ɐˈnʲi uˈjɛxəlʲɪ]
[nɐ ˈmɨ prʲɪjɪˈʑʑajɪm]
they have departed,
but we are arriving

The distinction between и and а developed after the medieval period; originally, и and а were closer in meaning. The unpunctuated ending of the Song of Igor illustrates the potential confusion. The final five words in modern spelling, князьям слава а дружине аминь [knʲɪˈzʲjam ˈslavə ə druˈʐɨnʲɪ ɐˈmʲinʲ] can be understood either as "Glory to the princes and to their host! Amen." or "Glory to the princes, and amen (R.I.P.) to their troops". Although the majority opinion is definitely with the first interpretation, there is no full consensus. The psychological difference between the two is quite obvious.

Subordination

Complementizers (subordinating conjunctions, adverbs, or adverbial phrases) include:

  • если [ˈjesʲlʲɪ] 'if';
  • потому что [pətɐˈmu ʂtə], так как [tak kak] 'because'
  • чтобы [ˈʂtobɨ], дабы [ˈdabɨ] (bookish, archaic) 'in order to'
  • после того, как [ˈposʲlʲɪ tɐˈvo kək] 'after'
  • хотя [xɐˈtʲa] 'although'

In general, there are fewer subordinate clauses than in English, because the participles and adverbial participles often take the place of a relative pronoun/verb combination. For example:

Вот человек,
потерявший надежду.
[vot tɕɪlɐˈvʲɛk]
[pətʲɪˈrʲavʂɨj nɐˈdʲɛʐdu]
Here (is) a man
who has lost (all) hope.
[lit. having lost hope]
Гуляя по городу, всегда
останавливаюсь у Ростральных колонн.
[ɡuˈlʲajɪ pɐ ˈɡorədu vsʲɪɡˈda]
[əstɐˈnavlʲɪvəjusʲ u rɐˈstralʲnɨx kɐˈlon]
When I go for a walk in the city, I always
pause by the Rostral Columns.
[lit. Walking in the city, I...]

Absolute construction

Despite the inflectional nature of Russian, there is no equivalent in the modern language to the English nominative absolute or the Latin ablative absolute construction. The old language had an absolute construction, with the noun put into the dative. Like so many other archaisms, it is retained in Church Slavonic. Among the last known examples in literary Russian occurs in Radishchev's Journey from Petersburg to Moscow (Путешествие из Петербурга в Москву [putʲɪˈʂɛstvʲɪjɪ ɪs pʲɪtʲɪrˈburɡə v mɐˈskvu]), 1790:

  • Едущу мне из Едрова, Анюта из мысли моей не выходила. [ˈjeduɕːu mnʲe ɪzʲ jɪˈdrovə, ɐˈnʲutə ɪz ˈmɨsʲlʲɪ mɐˈjej nʲɪ vɨxɐˈdʲilə] "As I was leaving Yedrovo village, I could not stop thinking about Aniuta."

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