The Genitive Case in Russian

In this lesson, you will learn how to use the Genitive Case.

There are many things to learn in this lesson, so to make things easier, I divided it into 4 parts:

  1. How to put nouns into the Genitive Case;
  2. When and how to use the Genitive Case;
  3. Adjectives in the Genitive Case;
  4. Possessive Pronouns in the Genitive Case.

If you already know any of these topics, you can go straight to the subject you need to learn by clicking on the titles above.

In this lesson, we won't discuss the Genitive Case in the plural because there is already a complete lesson about this subject here at Mighty Languages.

Genitive Case in the Plural

Nouns in the Genitive Case

If you don't know yet what cases are, they are basically special endings that we add to a word to indicate its function in a sentence.

In the Genitive Case, for example:

Note that you can click on all the underlined words to see their meanings, examples, cases and conjugations in our dictionary.

There are several situations in which you are going to use the Genitive Case in Russian, but first let's learn what endings you will have to add to nouns when using this case.

Changing, or declining, a noun is actually very simple. You just have to memorize a few rules.

The rules you are about to learn depend a lot on the gender of the noun. If you would like to learn more about gender in Russian, you can check out our complete lesson about it clicking here.

To make things easier, I divided all the rules into 4 patterns:

01) Letter А

Add А to masculine nouns that end in a consonant:

When neuter nouns end in О, replace О with А:

02) Letter Я

When masculine nouns end in Й or Ь, replace these letters with Я:

When neuter nouns end in Е, replace Е with Я:

03) Letter Ы

When nouns end in А, replace А with Ы, regardless of the gender:

There is one important detail in this situation. You will add И instead of Ы, if the last consonant of the word is г, к, х, ж, ч, ш or щ.

For example:

This spelling rule is used in many other situations in Russian, not only in the Genitive Case. Therefore, memorizing these 7 letters will be very useful.

As you practice, you will also notice that it's much easier to pronounce the letter И than the letter Ы after these consonants.

04) Letter И

When feminine nouns end in Ь or Я, replace these letters with И:

And those are all the patterns you will use in the Genitive Case.

Besides nouns, we also have Genitive Pronouns. You will need them when the context is clear and you don't want to repeat words.

Genitive Case in Russian - Pronouns

Now let's take a look at when you should use the Genitive Case.

When and how to use the Genitive Case

We use the Genitive Case mainly in 6 situations:

  1. To indicate possession
  2. To indicate quantity
  3. After measure words
  4. To indicate part of a substance or liquid or an indefinite quantity
  5. After the negative word нет to mean that something doesn't exist or is absent
  6. After specific prepositions

Let's go over each of these situations.

01) To indicate posession

Have you noticed that, in English, when we want to say that someone is the owner of something, we use an apostrophe plus S?

In Russian, you will express the same idea by using the Genitive Case.

Here are some examples:

Note that it’s always the possessor that takes the Genitive Case and that the possessor comes after the possessed object.

02) To indicate quantity

We will use the Genitive Case after numerals: 2, 9, 14, 25, etc.

For example:

In Russian, we use the Genitive Singular after the numbers 2, 3 and 4, and the Genitive Plural for the rest of the numbers.

But keep in mind that you will use the Genitive Singular not only when the numbers 2, 3 and 4 are alone, but also when another number ends with them. Except for 12, 13 and 14.

I know this can be very confusing at the beginning, but with time and practice, you will naturally be able to distinguish between the Genitive Singular and Plural.

Let's take a look at more examples of numbers.

You will use the Genitive Singular after the numbers 2, 3, 4, 22, 23, 24, 32, 33, 34, 42, 43, 44, etc.

And you will use the Genitive Plural after the numbers 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 25, 26, 27, 35, 38, 39, 45, etc.

So even if you have, for example, the number 10,523, you will use the Genitive Singular because it ends with the number 3.

We also use the Genitive Case with quantifiers. The most common ones are мало (few / little), много (a lot of / many), несколько (several / a few), сколько (how many / how much).

For example:

Note that the endings in these examples are a little bit different from the ones we just learnt. That's because these nouns are in the plural and the Genitive Plural has different endings.

You can check out our lesson on the Genitive Plural clicking here.

03) After measure words

We also use the Genitive Case after measure words, such as:

For example:

4) To indicate part of something or an indefinite quantity

In English, when we are talking about an indefinite quantity or about part of something, we usually add the word some before the noun.

In Russian, however, you don't need to add any word. Using the noun in the Genitive Case is enough.

For example:

5) After the negative НЕТ to mean that something doesn't exist or is absent

When we want to say that something doesn't exist or is absent, in English, we usually use the structures there isn't and there aren't.

In Russian, all you have to do is use the word нет plus the noun in the Genitive Case.

For example:

06) After specific prepositions

After certain prepositions, you always have to use the Genitive Case.

This part may also seem complicated, but keep in mind that you don't have to memorize all the prepositions at once. Instead, try to learn them slowly as you practice your Russian.

The most common prepositions used with the Genitive Case are:

Here are some examples:

And those are the main situations in which you use the Genitive Case. Now, let's take a look at the genitive endings of adjectives.

Adjectives in the Genitive Case

Adjectives in the Genitive Case are much simpler than nouns because there are very few endings to memorize.

When it comes to adjectives, the most important thing is to pay attention to the gender of the nouns that they describe, because the ending of the adjective depends on the gender of the noun.

In Russian, nouns can have 3 genders: Masculine, Feminine and Neuter.

Adjectives with masculine nouns

1) Replace the endings ЫЙ and ОЙ with ОГО:

2) Replace the ending ИЙ with ЕГО:

Note that when the last consonant of the adjective is К or Х, the adjective takes the ending ОГО instead of ЕГО:

Adjectives with neuter nouns

Neuter adjectives take the same endings as masculine adjectives.

1) Replace the ending ОЕ with ОГО:

2) Replace the ending ЕЕ with ЕГО:

Adjectives with feminine nouns

1) Replace the ending АЯ with ОЙ:

Note that when the last consonant of the adjective is ч, ш, щ, ж and ц and the last syllable is not stressed, the adjective takes the ending ЕЙ instead of ОЙ:

2) Replace the ending ЯЯ with ЕЙ:

Possessive Pronouns in the Genitive Case

The Possessive Pronouns that you are going to use in the Genitive Case are:

Possessive Pronouns in the Genitive Case

Note that the third person pronouns его, её and их never change (his, her and their).

The situations in which you will use these pronouns are exactly the same as the ones you have just learnt.

For example:

And that's all.

Now you know when and how to use the Genitive Case with nouns, adjectives and possessive pronouns in the singular.

Don't forget to check out our complete lesson about the Genitive Case in the Plural.