Nominative Case in Russian Language – Easy Grammar for Beginners

Nominative case in Russian language or usually called case one in Russian have basic function to mark a subject used in a sentence or answering the question “что” (schto – what) or “кто” (kto-who). Nominative case also can be a set of word forms whether it is singular or plural, in addition there are six cases in Russian language and those cases mainly used in nouns (called declension) to change their form and get different endings. In other words, nominative case applied at noun have the same form like nouns that you see in dictionary or basic form of word in Russian language.

Nominative case has many uses but before we proceed to their uses one by one, let’s simplify our understanding about nominative singular and plural forms. Let’s take a look at explanation below, for beginners we recommend you to visit How to Learn Russian for Beginners as introduction about Russian language. So let’s start our lesson.

Nominative Singular

There is no meaningful difficulty to understand nominative singular because word used in nominative singular has exactly same form in the dictionary. Nouns differentiate into three types of gender: masculine (мужской род), feminine (женский род) and neutral (средний род). Usually, you can determine it’s gender from the ending of each words. Here are the examples :

Masculine Singular NounsFeminine Singular NounsNeuter Singular Nouns
Магазин (magazin – store)Mашина (mashyina – car)Слово (slova – word)
Секретарь (sekretar’ – secretary)Семья (sem’ya – family)Письмо (pis’mo – letter)
Парк (park – park)Kнига (knyiga – book) Море (marye – sea)
Врач (vrach – doctor) Hочь (noch’ – night)Платье (plat’ye – gown)
музей (muzeiy – museum)Дверь (dvyer’ – door)Окно (akno – window)

That were some example of nominative singular in Russian according to gender. In English we knew that if you want to make a singular nouns become plural, you just have to add “s” at the ending of nouns. However in Russian, endings from each words not only determine gender but also change it’s form from singular to plural. Let’s proceed to nominative plural. Plural form will be taken from singular form that already mentioned above.

Nominative Plural

Masculine Plural NounsFeminine Plural NounsNeuter Plural Nouns
Магазин – Магазины (magaziniy – stores)Mашина – Mашины (mashyiny – cars)Слово – Слова (slava – words)
Секретарь – Секретари (sekretari – secretaries)Семья – Семьи (syem’i – families)Письмо – Письма (pis’ma – letters)
Парк – Парки (parki – parks)Kнига – Kниги (knyigi – books)Море – Моря (morya – seas)
Врач – Врачи (vrachi – doctors)Hочь – Hочи (nochi – nights)Платье – Платья (plat’ya – gowns)
Музей – Музеи (muzei – museums)Дверь – Двери (dvyeri – doors)Окно – Окна (akna – windows)

Note : There are exception for nominative plural especially rules for placing or changing word endings. As you can see from tables before that not all word has same ending to change into plural though they are in the same gender. Here are some explanation related to exceptional rules for plural ending.

You already know that masculine nouns has consonant ending that mostly change into plural if their ending added with cyrillic “ы”, however that ending cannot be applied for all consonant ending in masculine nouns. If you see from table above that although all ending word for masculine nouns are consonant but their form to plural are not same.  In that case, take a look at this rules :

  • Endings (К, Г, Х)           + И
  • Endings (Ч, Ш, Ж, Щ) + И

Those rule means that if a masculine noun endings with one of those cyrillc, so the plural ending cannot be done by adding “ы” instead you should adding “и”.

Same rules are applied for feminine nouns so is neuter nouns. The difference is that most feminine noun vowel endings can be replace with “ы” . Meanwhile for neuter nouns, most of their vowel endings are replaced with “а” or “я”. From table above, not all vowels can be replace with same endings, take a look at the consonant before vowel ending like “Kнига” (if vowel endings removed will be “Kниг”) in order to change that word into plural you cannot replace “a” into  “ы” like “Mашины” instead you should place “и” – “Kниги“. Still, take a look at the rules below :

  • Endings (К, Г, Х)           + И
  • Endings (Ч, Ш, Ж, Щ) + И

In addition, you might see that there are some words with soft consonant endings “ь”. This ending can be used either feminine or masculine nouns but it is cannot signify that “ь” absolutely belong to one of those gender (feminine or masculine). To make sure that if you find a Russian word with endings “ь”, we recommend you to regularly check a dictionary since resolution to gender of related words are include inside dictionary.

Exceptional Nominative Plural Form

In Russian language there are also exceptional for plural form, in other words the previously mentioned rules cannot be applied to certain words. To make it easier, let’s straight to lists of exceptional singular words which have their own form of plural.

Singular NounsPlural NounsTranslation
Сосед (sasyed)Соседи (sasyeji)Neighbors
Чёрт (cyort)Черти (chyerti)Devils
Дом (dom)Дома (dama)Houses
Город (gorad)Города (garada)Towns
Берег (byereg)Берега (byerega)Shores
Лес (lyes)Леса (lyesa)Forests
Остров (astrov)Острова (astrova)Islands
Поезд (payezd)Поезда (payezda)Trains
Вечер (vyecher)Вечера (vyechera)Evenings
Учитель (uchicyel’)Учителя (uchichelya)Teachers
Профессор (professor)Профессора (professora)Professors
Мастер (master)Мастера (mastera)Master degree
Доктор (doktor)Доктора (doktora)Doctoral degree
Повар (pavar)Повара (pavara)Chefs
Брат (brat)Братья (brat’ya)Brothers
Сын (syn)Сыновья (synovya)Sons
Друг (drug)Друзья (druz’ya)Friends (males)
Муж (muzh)Мужья (muzh’ya)Husbands
Дерево (dereva)Деревья (derev’ya)Trees
Лист (list)Листья (list’ya)Leaves
Cтул (stul)Cтулья (stul’ya)Chairs
Мать (mat’)Матери (materi)Mothers
Дочь (doch’)Дочери (docheri)Daughters
Сестра (syestra)Сёстры (syostry)Sisters
Жена (zhena)Жёны (zhyony)Wifes
Человек (chelovyek)Люди (lyudi)People
Ребёнок (rebyonok)Дети (dyeti)Children
Имя (imya)Имена (imyena)Names
Время (vremya)Времена (vremyena)Times

Those are exceptional plural form of Russian language. After that we would like to add that there are also some nouns which already at plural forms. Here are certain plural nouns in Russian :

  • Родители – rajiteli – parent
  • Часы – chasy – watch
  • Очки – achki – glasses
  • Деньги – jyenggi – money
  • Брюки – bryuki – trousers
  • Джинсы – jinsy – jeans

It’s all mainly about nominative singular and nominative plural in Russian, for exceptional word we highly recommend you to learn by heart in order to memorize it. Consider it as lists of word with exclamation marks so it become one of your obligatory to understand basic rules for singular and plural nouns in nominative case. Now lets’ proceed to uses of nominative case.

Uses of The Nominative Case

1. As subject of the sentence

  • Студентка читает учебник
    (stujyentka chitayet ucyebnik)
    Female student is reading a textbook

The word cтудентка (female student) is the subject of the senntence. Subject can be person, thing, or idea as a doer (doing action) or being in a state. If you find a complex structure of Russian sentence to determine a subject you only have to identify nominative noun since a subject in Russian mostly not changing their form.

2. As predicative or to define a person or thing that refer to certain group

  • Тони преподаватель
    (Toni prepadavatel’)
    Toni is a lecturer
  • Яблоко – это фрукт
    (yablaka – eta frukt)
    Apple is a fruit

The bold words above are as predicative nouns because it provide more information of the subject in a sentence.


3. As Apposition

  • Этот ресторан находится возле магазина называется “Луна”
    (etot restaran nakhoditsya vozlye magazina nazyvayetsya “Luna”)
    That restaurant located near a store called “Luna”

Bold word above act as apposition. Apposition used for specific proper name or little following common nouns which serving to identify other nouns.

All material related to nominative case in Russian language has been explained, we can conclude that nominative has form of noun, it always become subject in a sentence, and the form hasn’t change since you may find it easily in a dictionary. To enrich your vocabulary related to nominative words take a look at Basic Russian Words for Beginners

After that honed your pronounciation skill as well vocabulary knowledge in Country Names in Russian Language . Make yourself familiar with foreign language that you interested, especially if you are interested in Russian try to practice your speaking ability in  Common Greetings in Russian. Happy learning and wish you a happy day.

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