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Russian Dative Case
Russian Language Lesson 13


This Russian language lesson is all about the Russian dative case. This is the fifth Russian case we will learn, there is only one case left after this lesson. This lesson does introduce more grammar concepts and word endings for you to learn. However, this is just the Russian language, you need to be able to use all cases effectively in order to be able to speak Russian. Try your best to remember the different endings to all the cases you have learnt, sometime it helps to learn them by looking at examples. If you can not remember the other cases you have learnt, revise them quickly now using this site’s grammar section.

The Russian dative case is used to represent the indirect object. This is the person or thing that receives the main object. The dative generally corresponds to the English word “to”, although this rule is only general, as the word “to” has many meanings in English.

Firstly we will see how we form the dative case from normal dictionary form nouns. Then we will investigate the many ways in which we are able to use the dative case in Russian. The Russian language relies on the dative case more then you might first expect.

Forming the dative case.

To create nouns in the dative case, we first start with the nominative (dictionary) form.

Masculine Nouns:

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

Feminine Nouns:

1. Replace “а” with “е”.
2. Replace “я” with “е”.
3. Replace “ь” with “и”.
4. Replace “ия” with “ии”.

Neuter Nouns:

1. Replace “о” with “у”
2. Replace “е” with “ю”

Plurals:

Look at the last letter nominative singular form (dictionary form) and...
1. If the noun ends in a consonant, add "ам".
2. Replace "а", "о" or a consonant with "ам".
3. Replace the last letter with "ям"

Here are some examples.

Адам - Адаму
Елена - Елене
Молоко - Молоку
Вино - Вину

Pronouns of the Dative Case.

It is worth learning the dative case personal pronouns quite well as they are used more than you might expect.

Мне - me.

Тебе - you (informal).

Ему (m), Ему (n), Ей (f) - him, it, her.

Нам - us.

Вам - you (formal, or plural).

Им - them.


Using the Dative Case for Indirect Objects

The indirect object is the person or object in a sentence that receives something. For example in the sentence “Ivan gives flowers to Anna”, the word “Anna” is the indirect object. It should be used in the dative case. In this sentence notice that the dative case is used in the place of the word “to”.

When the above sentence is rearranged to “Ivan gives Anna flowers”, the word “Anna” is still used in the dative case as Anna is the person who is receiving the object. Similarly, in Russian the word order of a sentence can be rearranged. In fact because Russian uses the case system words can be rearranged much more freely than in English. For this reason, you need to be able to recognise cases effectively.

The word Давать(give) is commonly used with the dative case. Here are the conjuctions:

Даю - (I) give

Даёшь - (you) give

Даёт - (he) gives

Даём - (we) give

Даёте - (you) give

Дают - (they) give

The command forms of this word include...

Дай - give!

Дайте - give!

You will learn more about commands in a later lesson. (View all conjugations)

Here are some examples

PlayИван даёт цветы Анне - Ivan gives flowers to Anna.

PlayЯ даю цветы Анне - I give flowers to Anna.

Они дают цветы Елене - They give flowers to Elena.

Дайте мне ... - Give me ...

Дайте мне ваш адрес и номер телефона. - Give me your address and telephone number.


Other uses of the dative case meaning “to”

There are a number of verbs that can be used with the dative case. Most of these involve giving something or communicating something. In English we sometimes also use the word “to” in these situations. Here are a couple of verbs that use the dative case:

Помогать - to help (to give help to)

PlayЯ помогаю Анне - I am helping Anna.

PlayЯ помогаю Ивану - I am helping Ivan.

PlayМы помогаем маме каждый день - We help mother every day.

PlayЯ помогаю этой девушке - I am helping this girl.


Звонить - to call (to make a phone call to)

PlayОна звонит Ивану каждый день - She calls Ivan every day.

PlayИван звонит Анне каждый день - Ivan calls Anna every day.


To Like

In an earlier lesson we met the Russian verb "Любить" (to love). If you would like to say “I like” which is not quite so strong you must use the word "нравится" (to like). However this verb is used differently, and it relies on the dative case. The dative case is used where you would expect the subject. Although it's almost impossible to translate literally to English, it is like saying “To me it is likable”. The object that is liked is the subject and is used in the nominative case.

This is verb is also a reflexive verb, a concept which we haven’t learnt yet. (The "ся" ending is reflexive). However it is a common word, so it is worth learning now. You will learn how to conjugate it in a later lesson. (It conjugates relative to the word in the nominative case, so in most examples this verb is used in the 3rd person, so it is enough for now just to learn this form.)

Practice using the word нравится. It is also a good chance to practice your dative case pronouns.

PlayМне нравится Москва - I like Moscow. (lit: Moscow is pleasing to me.)

PlayЕй нравится Москва - She likes Moscow. (lit: Moscow is pleasing to her.)

PlayЕму нравится Москва - He likes Moscow.

PlayВам нравится Москва - You like Moscow.

PlayАдаму нравится Москва - Adam likes Moscow.

PlayКак вам нравится ...? - How do you like ...?

PlayКак вам нравится фильм? - How do you like the film?

Вам нравится Москва? - Do you like Moscow?

If the subject is plural use нравятся

Мне нравятся дети - I like the children. (lit: children are pleasing to me.)

Мне нравятся ваши дети - I like your children.

Мне нравятся цветы - I like the flowers.

Мне очень нравятся цветы - I really like the flowers.


Feelings

Interestingly in Russian the dative case can be used to express the state of something. You commonly use this to express whether you are hot or cold. Although we have not learnt any adjectives yet, it is still worth learning these examples. Again you will make use of the dative case pronouns.

PlayМне холодно - I am cold (to me it’s cold)

PlayМне жарко - I am hot (to me it’s hot)

Ему холодно - He is cold (to him its cold)

Ей холодно - She is cold (to her its cold)

Нам холодно - We are cold (to us its cold)

Мне скучно - I am bored (to me its boring)


Age

The dative case is also used in Russian to express your age

Мне восемнадцать лет - I am 18 years old (to me there are 18 years)

Мне двадцать три года - I am 23 years old.


The preposition "к" (towards/to)

In Russian the preposition "к" means "towards/to". It is followed by the dative case.

The dative case can also be used with the preposition "по" (along). Although the use of this proposition is too varied, and has too many meanings, to create an exact rule.

Some More Examples

Я иду к вокзалу - I am walking towards the station.

PlayМы едем к друзьям - We are going to our friends.


More Dative Case

A large number of Russian reflexive verbs also use the dative case, but more on this in a later lesson

You can visit the dative case entry in the grammar section.

You can also try and learn the possessive pronouns of the dative case.


Conclusion

The dative case represents the English word “to”, and it is a case that is commonly used in the Russian language. We recommend that you memorise the personal pronouns associated with the dative case. You should also try to memorise forming the dative case so that you can do it quicky and automatically. Sometimes it is easiest by simply reading and writing sample sentences.

In the next lesson we will learn the sixth and final Russian case: the instrumental case. Once you have learnt all the Russian cases you should be able to form many sentences in the present tense.

In future lessons we will learn the past and future tenses of verbs, and the use of motion verbs. To create full sentences you will also need to learn about adjectives and conjunctions. Sometimes it may feel like there is a lot more to learn, which there is, but you have already come a long way, so keep learning. Understanding and using cases is one of the big hurdles to leaning Russian, and you are almost there.