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Russian Genitive Case
Russian Language Lesson 10


In our tenth Russian lesson we will introduce the genitive case. It is one of the most common cases in the Russian language. The primary use of the genitive case is to indicate possession, however it also has many other uses within the Russian language. It is commonly used with numbers and other quantities. It is also probably one of the most complex cases in Russian particularly in the plural. However, once you can use the case efficiently the language should really open up to you, as you will have an understanding of four of the six Russian cases. In this lessons we won’t cover the plural as we will cover plurals in detail in the next lesson.

In past lessons you have learnt about the possessive pronouns. In this lesson you will learn how to talk about the owner of an object. This is the Russian equivalent to using the apostrophe 's', or the word 'of'. As the genitive case relates to possession, it is also used to create a way of saying 'to have' or 'to not have'. In Russian there are also some additional uses of the genitive case, we will also learn about these in this lesson and the next.

This is how you can convert nouns to the genitive case. (we will explain how to use it soon).

Forming the genitive case

Masculine Nouns:

1. If the noun ends in a consonant, add “а”.
2. Replace “й”, with “я”.
3. Replace “ь”, add “я”.

Feminine Nouns:

1. Replace “а” with “ы”.
2. Replace “я” with “и”.
3. Replace “ь” with “и”.

Neuter Nouns:

1. Replace “о” with “а”
2. Replace “е” with “я”

For example, some names in the genitive case:

Иван (Ivan) becomes Ивана (of Ivan, Ivan's)
Адам becomes Адама (of Adam, Adam's)
Анна becomes Анны (of Anna, Anna's)

Дом Ивана - Ivan's house (lit: House of Ivan).

It may be worthwhile noting that the genitive case for masculine nouns is formed the same way as the accusative case for masculine animate nouns.

Using the genitive case - ownership

As you can see in the above example, you can use the genitive case to indicate possession. The 'owner' is the noun that is used in the genitive case. (This is like using 's in English). However, in Russian, the object that is owned always comes first. In the phrase "Дом Ивана", the house (Дом) is owned by Ivan. This is a similar concept to using the word 'of'' in English. Let's have a look at some more examples.

Собака Адама - Adam's dog. (lit: The dog of Adam's)

Автомобиль Анны - Anna's car. (lit: The car of Anna's)

Телефон Игоря - Igor's telephone. (lit: The telephone of Igor's)

Это телефон Адама? - Is this Adam's telephone? (lit: Is this the telephone of Adam's)


In the above examples, pay particular attention to the order of the words. Now let’s see some examples of the genitive case used like this in sentences.

Брат Адама любит Москву - Adam's brother loves Moscow.

Сестра Анны читает газету - Anna's sister is reading the newspaper.

Дедушка Ивана слушает радио - Ivan's grandfather is listens to the radio.


Did you notice that we used 3 different cases in the sentences above? It is important to understand why each case used. For example, in the first sentence: “Брат”(brother) is the subject of the sentence and uses the nominative case, “Адама” (Adam) is the owner of the first noun and uses the genitive case, “Москву” (Moscow) is the direct object of the verb and uses the Accusative case.

Using the genitive case - of

The genitive case is used to correspond to the English word ‘of’. This is exactly the same concept as above, except here we will give examples where you would actually use the word ‘of’ in English.

план города - A map of the city.

стакан молока - A glass of milk.

Pronouns of the genitive case

The pronouns of the genitive case are the same as the accusative case. (Меня, Тебя, Его, Её, Нас, Вас, Их)

Using the genitive case - to have

As the genitive case relates to possession, it is also used to create a way of saying ‘to have’ or ‘to not have’. As we have seen in a previous lesson, Russians don’t construct ‘to have’ sentences like we do in English. To create these sentences you use the words ‘У’ (by/near) and ‘есть’ (exist/is). There is no exact way to literally translate this concept to English, but you would construct the sentence “I have a dog” something like “By me there exists a dog”. Generally, it is just easier to learn the concept by example.

The noun or pronoun following the word “У” is used in the genitive case. Here are some examples.

У меня есть книга - I have book.

У нее есть собака. - She has a dog.

У вас есть кофе? - Do you have coffee?

У вас есть чай? - Do you have tea?

У вас есть водка? - Do you have vodka?

У Адама есть водка? - Does Adam have vodka?

У Анны есть водка? - Does Anna have vodka?

У Ивана есть чай? - Does Ivan have tea?


Using the genitive case - there is not

The Russian word ‘Нет’ has a second meaning. As well as meaning ‘No’ it also means ‘There isn't ...’. These meanings are quite similar and you probably would have understood the meaning of ‘Нет’ in this context without it being explained. When it is used with a person it indicates that they are not here. The important thing to remember is that ‘Нет’ is followed by the genitive case. Here are some examples.

Чая нет - There is no tea.

Молока нет - There is no milk.

Ивана нет - Ivan isn't here.

Его нет дома - He is not home.

Кофе нет - There is no coffee. (coffee is an indeclinable noun)


Using the genitive case - numbers, quantaties, plurals.

The genitive case is used after most numbers, for example "10 roubles". This will be covered in the next lesson.

Conclusion

You should now be able to form the genitive case and have a good understanding of when to use it. You may find that there are more occasions when you will need to use the genitive case, but so far we have learnt the most important ones. In the next lessons we will teach you how to use plurals in Russian, which will cover aspects of the genitive plural. You should now also be comfortable forming ‘to have’ in Russian, as we also covered it a little in lesson 4.

Take your time to learn how to form the genitive case. As the case is very important in Russian, it is important that you can recognise it and form it quickly. Now you have learnt the basics you will find that with some practice you will be able to express a lot more concepts in Russian. In particular once you cover the next lesson on plurals your ability to express yourself should increase greatly, and we will start to focus a little more on vocabulary.