Russian Lessons .Net

Russian Adjectives
Russian Grammar


Adjectives are used to describe people and objects. Words like “fast”, “new” and “beautiful” are all adjectives. Adjectives always describe nouns. (Whereas adverbs describe verbs or actions).

In the Russian language there are many different forms of each adjective. (Relating to the 6 cases, 3 genders, plural, short and the comparative). This may sound daunting at first, but in reality, it is fairly simple once you learn the system. The key is to just to learn the stem, or dictionary form of each adjective and then you can quickly form the rest.

The dictionary form of a Russian adjective is normally the normal, nominative, masculine form. These will almost always end in the letters “-ый” or “-ий”

There are 3 main types of Russian adjectives. Normal, Short and Comparative.

Normal Adjectives

Normal adjectives are those that come before a noun. For example in a phrase like “beautiful girl”, or “new car”.

Normal adjectives always agree in gender, and case with the noun that they are describing. This means that there are several ending for each adjective.

There are two systems to make the adjectives. Use the ‘Soft Adjectives’ table for those adjectives ending in “-ний”, otherwise use the ‘Hard Adjectives’

Normal Adjectives - Hard (“-ый”, “-ой”, “-ий” (but not “-ний”))

Hard Adjectives are by far the most common. Just substitute “-ый” for “-ой”, or “-ий” where needed. (other table entries remain the same).
MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominative Case-ый-ая-ое-ые
Accusative Case-ый
-ого (anim.)
-ую-ое-ые
-ых (anim.)
Genitive Case-ого-ой-ого-ых
Dative Case-ому-ой-ому-ым
Instrumental Case-ым-ой-ым-ыми
Prepositional Case-ом-ой-ом-ых

For example, the word "новый" (new) ends in the letters -ый so we use the forms above.

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominative Caseновыйноваяновоеновые
Accusative Caseновый
нового (anim.)
новуюновоеновые
новых (anim.)
Genitive Caseновогоновойновогоновых
Dative Caseновомуновойновомуновым
Instrumental Caseновымновойновымновыми
Prepositional Caseновомновойновомновых

Normal Adjectives - Soft (“-ний”)

The soft form or normal adjectives is less common. It's for adjectives ending in “-ний”.

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominative Case-ий-яя-ее-ие
Accusative Case-ий
-его (anim.)
-юю-ее-ие
-их (anim.)
Genitive Case-его-ей-его-их
Dative Case-ему-ей-ему-им
Instrumental Case-им-ей (or -ею) -им-ими
Prepositional Case-ем-ей-ем-их

You will notice that the soft adjectives simply use the soft form of the first added vowel. ("ы" becomes "и", "а" becomes "я", "о" becomes "е","у" becomes "ю"). Otherwise the hard and soft forms are basically the same.

Remember that "его", and "ого", the "г" is pronounced like the english letter "v"

For example, the word "синий" (dark blue) ends in the letters -ий so we use the forular above.

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominative Caseсинийсиняясинеесиние
Accusative Caseсиний
синего (anim.)
синююсинеесиние
синих (anim.)
Genitive Caseсинегосинейсинегосиних
Dative Caseсинемусинейсинемусиним
Instrumental Caseсинимсинейсинимсиними
Prepositional Caseсинемсинейсинемсиних

Short Adjectives

The second main type of Russian adjectives are the ‘short form’. We don’t really have this form in English, but we do use adjectives the same way.

The short form is generally used to make a statement about something. In English it normally follows the word “is” or “are”. For example, “You are beautiful”, “He is busy”. Notice that the adjective is not followed by a noun. The use of the short form is generally limited to such simple sentences.

It is important to note that not all adjectives can have a short form, (but most do). One notable example is русский (Russian).

Cases are not relevant when using short adjectives, as you only need the nominative case when making such statements. The adjective should still agree in gender with the noun. Masculine nouns just use the stem of the adjective in the short form. Feminine adds “а”. Neuter adds “о”. Plural adds “ы” or “и”. If the adjective is masculine and the stem ends in two consonants, then add a vowel (“о”, “е” or “ё”) so that the word is easier to read.

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Short Adjectives--ы or -и

For Example.

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Short Adjectivesкрасивкрасивакрасивокрасивы


Comparative Adjectives

Often you may wish to use adjectives to compare one thing to another. To do this we normally use the comparative adjectives. These adjectives are just adapted from normal adjectives. However the are a couple of methods that you can use. All of these methods are relatively easy.

Method 1 : More / Less

The lazy way to compare two things is to use the Russian words for “more” and “less”. Here are the Russian words that you need to use.

более - more

менее - less

чем - than

When comparing adjectives using this method, use the normal adjectives. Here are some examples.

более красивый дом - A more beautiful house.

менее красивый дом - A less beautiful house.

Анна более красивая женщина, чем Елена. - Anna is a more beautiful woman than Elena.

Анна менее красивая женщина, чем Елена. - Anna is a less beautiful woman than Elena.


Method 2 : Comparative Adjectives

Although the above examples are acceptable, Russians will prefer to use the comparative adjectives most of the time. These are formed by adding either “ее” or “е” to the stem of the adjective. It is worth noting that these forms can also be used as comparative adverbs.

1. If the last consonant of the adjective is н, л, р, п, б, м, в : Add “ее”

быстрый(fast) - быстрее(faster)

красивый(beautiful) - красивее(more beautiful, also: more beautifully)

трудный(difficult) - труднее(more difficult , also: more difficultly)

2. Otherwise add “е” (but the stem will display typical consonant mutation).

большой(big) - больше(bigger)

лёгкий(easy) - легче(easier)

дешёвый(cheap) - дешевле(cheaper)

дорогой(expensive) - дороже(more expensive)

3. As with English the words "good" and "bad" have irregular comparative forms.

хороший(good) - лучше(better)

плохой(bad) - хуже(worse)

Here are some examples.

Москва красивее, чем Лондон. - Moscow is more beautiful than London.

Анна красивее, чем Елена. - Anna is more beautiful than Elena.

3. Without Чем

The third way to make comparisons is almost the same as method 2, except the we omit the word “Чем” (than). This method is popular in spoken Russian. In order to omit “Чем” we must use the second noun in the genitive case. When using this method the order of words in the sentence is important.

Москва красивее Лондона. - Moscow is more beautiful than London.

Анна красивее Елены. - Anna is more beautiful than Elena.


Superlative Adjectives - Most

The superlative is how we indicate something is the best, or the most. (Eg, “the most beautiful”, “smallest”, “oldest”). To do this we simply use the adjective “самый” (most) which declines like a normal adjective.

самый красивый дом - The most beautiful house.

самое дешёвое вино - The cheapest wine.

самая красивая женщина - The most beautiful woman


Conclusion

There are many different forms of adjectives to learn if you wish to write Russian. However as you learn the Russian language you will find that they are actually not too hard to remember. If you would like to learn some new Russian adjectives try our adjectives page in our vocabulary section