The Instrumental Case in Russian

In this lesson, you will learn everything you need to know about the Instrumental Case.

To make things easier, I will divide this lesson into 4 parts:

  1. Nouns in the Instrumental Case;
  2. Situations in which the Instrumental Case is used;
  3. Adjectives in the Instrumental Case;
  4. Possessive Pronouns in the Instrumental Case.

If there is any specific part of the lesson you would like to study first, feel free to click on the above titles and go straight to that part of the lesson.

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

Instrumental Case in the Plural

Nouns in the Instrumental Case

Nouns in the Instrumental Case take five different endings: ом, ем, ой, ей and ю.

Let’s take a look at them one by one.

1) ОМ

When masculine nouns end in a consonant, add ОМ:

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

When neuter nouns end in О, add М:

2) ЕМ

When masculine nouns end in Й and Ь, replace these letters with ЕМ:

When neuter nouns end in Е, add М:

3) ОЙ

When feminine and masculine nouns end in А, replace А with ОЙ:

There is a small exception, though. If the last syllable of the noun is not stressed and the last consonant is ж, ш, щ or ц, you will add ЕЙ instead of ОЙ:

4) ЕЙ

When masculine and feminine nouns end in Я, replace Я with ЕЙ:

5) Ю

When feminine nouns end in Ь, add Ю:

And those are all the patterns you need to know in order to use singular nouns in the Instrumental Case.

I know it’s scary to look at all these rules, but you don’t have to memorize all of them at once.

Try and practice your Russian on a regular basis and you will naturally feel when to use each of the endings.

Probably you noticed that the endings we add to nouns depend on whether the noun in masculine, feminine or neuter.

If you are not familiar with the concept of gender in Russian, you can check out our complete lesson about it clicking here.

We also have special forms for personal pronouns in the Instrumental Case. Here is a table with all the pronouns:

Pronouns in the Instrumental Case in Russian

Now, let’s learn the situations in which we use the Instrumental Case.

When and how to use the Instrumental Case

The Instrumental Case in Russian is used mainly in five situations.

1) The Instrumental Case to indicate the instrument of an action

As the name of the case suggests, the Instrumental Case is used to indicate the instrument of an action.

For example:

In these sentences, ручка and ложка are instruments.

To indicate an instrument in English, we normally use the preposition with.

In Russian, however, no preposition is used. Instead, we put the noun into the Instrumental Case.

2) The Instrumental Case with Prepositions

The Instrumental Case is used with prepositions in two situations:

  1. With the preposition С
  2. With some prepositions of place

Let’s start with the preposition С, which has two meanings: with and from.

You have to be careful because we use the Instrumental Case with the preposition С only in the meaning of with.

When the meaning of the preposition С is from, we use the Genitive Case.

If you don’t know how to use the Genitive Case yet, you can check out our complete lesson about it clicking here.

Here are some examples:

Now, let’s move on to the prepositions of place.

These are the prepositions of place that are used with the Instrumental Case:

There is no secret here. Whenever you use any of these prepositions to tell the location of something, you will put the noun into the Instrumental Case.

For example:

3) Verbs followed by a noun in the Instrumental Case

In Russian, there are some verbs that are always followed by the Instrumental Case. All you have to do is try and memorize these verbs as you practice your Russian.

Here are the most common Russian verbs that are used with the Instrumental Case:

Let's take a look at some sentences:

Note that in the present tense in Russian, the verb быть (to be) is omitted. When this happens, the noun takes the Nominative Case.

We use the Instrumental Case only when the verb быть is not omitted. For example:

4) The Instrumental Case with the passive voice

Passive Voice is an advanced subject, so I think it will be easier to understand how the Instrumental Case is used with it by taking a look at some English sentences first:

  • The letter was written by the boy
  • The house was built by the bricklayer

In the above sentences, we use the preposition by to indicate who did the action, right?

When you have this situation in Russian, you don't need any preposition. All you have to do to indicate who did the action is use the Instrumental Case.

For example:

5) The Instrumental Case in certain time expressions

When talking about time, we mostly use the Instrumental Case in two situations:

1) To talk about parts of the day:

2) To talk about seasons:

Note that, in all these sentences, the noun that indicates the period of time is in the Instrumental Case.

Now that you know the main situations in which we use the Instrumental Case in Russian, let’s take a look at adjectives.

Adjectives in the Instrumental Case

Adjectives in the Instrumental Case are used in the same situations as nouns, but they are much simpler.

In total, there are only four endings for you to memorize: ым, им, ой and ей.

Let’s take a look at when we should use each of these endings.

1) Adjectives with masculine nouns

When adjectives end in ЫЙ and ОЙ, replace these endings with ЫМ:

Note that when the last consonant of the adjective is к, г, ш, щ, ч, ж and х, the adjective takes the ending ИМ instead of ЫМ:

When adjectives end in ИЙ, replace ИЙ with ИМ:

2) Adjectives with neuter nouns

When adjectives end in ОЕ, replace the ending with ЫМ:

The same spelling rule is applied in this situation. We use ИМ when the last consonant of the adjective is к, г, ш, щ, ч, ж and х:

When adjectives end in ЕЕ, replace ЕЕ with ИМ:

3) Adjectives with feminine nouns

When adjectives end in АЯ, replace АЯ with ОЙ:

Here we have a different spelling rule. 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:

When adjectives end in ЯЯ, replace ЯЯ with ЕЙ:

Possessive Pronouns in the Instrumental Case

In the Instrumental Case, you will use the following Possessive Pronouns:

Possessive Pronouns in the Instrumental Case in Russian

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

You will use these pronouns in the same five situations you have just learnt.

For example:

And that’s all you need to know in order to use the Instrumental Case in Russian.