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Prepositions are words or particles used to express ideas
such as location, destination, origin, and a number of other qualities.
There are a number of prepositions for each case, and when applied to a
noun, it, and all adjectives, pronouns and the like must take the case ascribed
to the preposition itself. I've tried to list as many as possible, particularly
those I have found to be most common, but a number are not included, and
some purposely left out. Pronunctiation is also important, as monosyllabic
prepositions meld into the word that follows them rather than being pronounced
separately; в Америке is vah-myer'-ee-kyeh, and not vuh ah-myer'-ee-kyeh.
And finally, before a number of consonant clusters, single consonant
prepositions add an o, as in во вторнк ("on Tuesday") and the preposition
o takes a б before vowels, as in об авторе ("about the author"). For the
preposition o, there is also a special form, обо when used with the pronoun
-- Against (Contact)
-- through, across, after x amount of time 40.
Prepositions in the Prepositional Case
(Same as the accusative про)
-- Near/close to/on one's person/in the time of*
*There are a number of additional meanings for при; check your dictionary
for proper contexts. 41.
Prepositions in the Dative Case
-- Thanks to
-- Despite/in spite of
-- Contrary to/
-- In accordance with, according to
по -- Judging by
Prepositions in the Instrumental Case
-- beyond, behind
Между -- Between
Над -- Over,
Перед -- In
Под -- Under
Prepositions in the Genitive Case
-- Close to
Вместо -- Instead
-- Inside of
-- Around (usually a circular area)
Для -- for
(use by, for the benefit of)
До -- up to,
Мимо -- By,
Около -- Near,
Besides, other than
-- After (event, day, etc.)
against, in opposition to
Prepositions of Motion and Location
While most prepositions are fairly straightforward in their usage, the
prepositions which indicate location, destination, or point of origin
are more difficult to fully understand, especially for those new to
language learning. Each preposition is given individual treatment here,
and grouped according to which nouns/pronouns they modify. A summary
table is available at the bottom of ths section. Also note that certain
verbs may mandate specific prepositions, which may or may not conform
to the logic normally applied.
В-(accusative) and В-(prepositional) refer to the motion into a closed
space, and the location in it, respectively. As such it is used
with nouns such as школа (elementary school), общежитие (dormitory),
квартира (appartment), здание (building), and so on.
For instance, if I wanted to to say in Russian "Masha
is going to the store," it would be "Маша идёт в магазин,"
that is, using the accusative case; while we may not always say "into
the store" in regular English speech, the implication is that Masha
goes into the building. Likewise, if I were to say "Masha is at the store right now," it would be "Маша сейчас в магазине,"
the implicaton here being that she is inside the building, and
not simply at it. If, however, you wished to say that she did
not/is not going into/inside the store, but is going to an
area near it, then you would use к/у/от, explained further down.
Из-(genitive) refers to the same instances above,
only the movement out of -that is, exiting- the place in question. Из
can also mean "of" in the sense of "one of them" (один из них)
or "of/from" in the sense of "made of chocolate" or "made with chocolate"
(сделано из шоколада.)
На-(accusative) and На-(prepositional) work in similar
ways to в, but are somewhat harder to learn to use properly. The simplest
usage is in the context of being "on" something, such as на столе, ("on
the table;") that is resting on top of something. While "on" is a good
equivalent, you have to be careful how you apply it; на телевизоре ("on
television") wouldn't refer to a program on the TV screen, but rather
to an object sitting on top of the TV set. The other major use is to
indicate motion towards or location at an event or an activity, such
as на концерте ("at the concert") or на занятии (at exercise(s)/class.)
And finally there are some words that require the use of На/На/С as
a matter of course such as на стадион, ("to the stadium,") не рынке,
("in the market,") or на кухне, ("in the kitchen.") As with most irregulars,
you just have to remember them.
С-(gentive) is like из, referring to the going from
something, only it works in the situations described for на.
К-(dative) There are generally two situations
where this set of prepositions is used; first is situations where in
English you would say say a person is "at x's house," going "to
x's place" or is "with so-and-so" However, in Russian it
is standard to simply say к/у/от plus the person's name in the correct
case. Thus I would say "Иду к Александру сегодня
днём," (I'm going to Alexander's this afternoon,) "Я
был вчера у Марины,"
(I was at Marina's yesterday,) or "Андрей придёт (к нами) от
Лены," (Andrei is coming (to our place) from Lena's.)
The other is for instances when you go "to,"
be "at" or come "from" and object but to not come into contact with
it orpass through it, such as "стоять у окна," (to stand at the window)
or "подойдти к доске" (to walk up to the chalkboard.)
Summary of Prepositions of Motion
countries, vehicles, "in" places
certain buildings and countries, "on" places
animate objects, approach with no contact, entry
*This can also mean
** This can also mean "because of"
46. Countries &
United States of America
47. Countries &
Nationalities (Former USSR)
USSR-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
СССР-Союз Советских Социалистических Республик
Русский & Российский:
While both of these words translate into English as "Russian,"
their meaning is quite distinct; the former is an ethno-linguistic term
and refers to ethnic Russians, regardless of present or past citizenship,
whereas the latter refers to citizens of the Russian Federation who may
not be ethnic Russians, such as Poles, Ukrainians, Belorusians, Germans,
Tatars, Yakuts, Bashkirs, Kazakhs, and others. A similar paradigm is found
in the United Kingdom, where there are the ethnic terms English, Welsh,
Scottish, Cornish, Manx, etc., and the umbrella term British. 48. Common
The primary usage of short-form adjectives has been
discussed elsewhere, but they are also used to describe individual states
of being where one would otherwise simply use a long form adjective. Some
are used on their own, and others can add additional information through
the use of prepositions.
Ill (illness takes the instrumental)
Guilty, to blame (transgression takes в+prepositional
Satisfied (source of satisfaction takes instrumental)
Married (said of a man, whom he is married to takes на+prepositional
Married (said of a woman, whom she is married to takes за+instrumental
Busy (what you're busy with takes c+instrumental)
Look like, resemble (the person resembled takes на+accusative)
Free, not busy
Be in agreement, agree (what is agreed takes c+instrumental)
Certain (what you're certain of takes в+prepositional)
All forms agree in gender and number with the
49. Reflexive and Reciprocal
In addition to the various personal pronouns, there are a number of additional
ones you should know, or at least recognize.
This pronouns translates roughly as "-self" and is usually used with prepositions
or in noun phrases (i.e. a sentence without a verb.) There is no plural
form, and the pronoun before self, such as my-, your-, one-, her-, and so
on, is indicated by the subject of the sentence.
For instance, to say "How
come you never talk about yourself" in Russian, you would say,
"почему ты никогда не говоришь о себе?" (Notice the declension into
the prepositional case.)
This pronoun, свой, is largely unique to the Slavic
family of languages, and is used to replace possessive pronouns when the
subject and the possessor are the same thing. For instance, compare these
two sentences: "Она читает свою книгу" and "Она читает её
книгу" Both of these sentences translate into English as "She is reading
her book," but there is one important piece of information: whose
book it is. In the first case it is obvious that whatever book she
may be reading, the girl in question owns it, but in the second, "her" can
refer to any female. While it may seem trivial simply looking at it just
from these two sentences, in the wider context, it tends to cut down on
confusion with possessive pronoun use. Свой declines by case, gender and
number in accordance with the word it describes, in the same fashion as
мой or твой.
Motion and Location
These adverbs generally share the same meanings as in English, though
that includes archaic words such as "whence," or "thence." In either case,
the roots are the same and the prefixes and suffixes are usually logical
if you know your prepositions.
There are others that follow this pattern as well:
"from the front"
Other Useful Adverbs
Вообще Вчера Даже
Далеко Завтра Зимой
In the Evening
Far Away Tomorrow
In Winter From
Far Away By the Way
Наоборот Например Недалеко
On the Other Hand
Сегодня Скоро Слишком
Day After Tomorrow
Then (In that case)
Directly, Straight Ahead
Too (i.e. too many)
(At that time)
In the Morning
Тоже &Также -- "Too, As Well, Also"
These two adverbs are a notoriously confusing aspect of learnng Russian,
largely because while English has more than one construction to express
one concept, they more or less mean the same thing in common usage and
can be used more or less interchangeably. Not so in Russian, however,
so it is important to remember the uses of each:
Также -- Used when there is only one subject, but more than one object.
-Дедушка говорит со мной только по-английски, но он также знает
голландский. -- "My grandfather only speaks to me in English, but he also knows Dutch."
Тоже -- Used when there is more than one subject, but only one object.
-"Я родилась тринадцатого .""Я тоже родился тринадцатого
-- "I was born on the 13th of December." "I was born on the 13th too!"
(In this instance, you could also just say
"Я тоже!" or "А я тоже!" meaning something like "me too" or "so was
Such, That kind of
As far/much as
Any kind of
marked * decline like adjectives.
While these pronouns are mostly straightforward in usage, there are
a few things you need to remember. First and foremost, when using pronouns
beginning with Ни-, always add a не just before the verb, with the pronoun
For those pronouns ending in -то
usage is not exactly as the translations here imply; the former is used
when you are sure of the existence of something, whereas the latter
indicates doubt as to whether or not such a thing exists.
For example, compare the following pairs:
- Ты ему сказала что-нибудь? (Did you tell him anything?)
- Ты ему сказала что-то! (You told him something!)
In the first example, -нибудь
is used because the speaker does not know whether or not anything was
said, nor what it was if so, whereas in the second, there is certainty
on the part of the speaker that something was said, even though what
was said may or may not be known. (Note that generally the latter provision,
what exactly was said in this context, is not a determining criteria
for which ending to use.)
- Кто-нибудь мне сегодня позвонил? (Has anyone called me today?)
- Кто-то мне сегодня позвонил; знаешь ты, кто? (Someone called me today;
do you know who?)
Again, in the first instance the speaker does not know whether or not
anyone has called them, while in the second instance, the speaker knows
that someone has called them, and is instead asking for more information
about said person; the determning factor is, to re-iterate, the existence,
not specific knowledge, of something.
There is also a specific construction to represent "each other," which
while it generally functions much as its English counterpart, is unique
in that prepositions go in between the two words instead of in front
of them; thus it is друг к другу, "towards each other" or друг с другом
"with each other," and so on. In the prepositional case, the preposition comes in between these words, i.e. друг о друге, друг на друге.
Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
The comparative of adjectives, -er edjectives like bigger,
darker, smaller, etc. in English, can be formed in one of two ways. The
first is to use the comparative больше or более (больше is literally the
comparative of большой, or big, though in the comparative can mean "more"
as well as более,) plus the adjective you are using.
The second is to use the specific comparative form of
the adjective. The individual comparative form usually involves the addition
of -ee as the adjective ending, such as with красивее and тяжелее.
There are a number of irregulars, some of which, like громче, (louder,
from громкий,) дороже, (more expensive, from дорогой,) or богаче,
(richer, from богатый,) involve following the consonant palatalization rules
outlined in section 24 plus -e, while others like старше, (older,)
or дальше (farther) are completely irregular.
For either, there are two ways to say "than," usually
depending on the word coming after. Usually, if the word is a noun, adjective,
pronoun, or number, then the word in question is simply declined into the
genitive case. i.e. Больше одного, (more than one,) старше
тебя, (older than you, from старый,) or красивее вашего, (more
beautiful than yours.) The other is to use the pronoun чем (not чём!) followed
by either a nominative, or, as is most common, a word that cannot be declined
as above such as a verb or construction beginning with a preposition.
As you can see, comparative adjectives do not decline
by either gender or case.
Like the comparative, there are two ways to form the
superlative adjective in Russian. The first and easiest is simply to use
the adjective самый (most) plus the adjective in question. This method is
most common in spoken Russian. The second is to form the individual superlatives,
which unlike those of the comparatives, are highly regular and easy to form;
there are two possible forms, which are dependent only on the adjective
stem. If the stem ends in к, г, or х, you add -айший after changing
these letters to ч, ж, and ш respectively. For the remainder of adjectives,
you simply add the ending -ейший, such as богатейший (richest,)
быстрейший, (fastest,) светлейший, (lightest,) or вкуснейший,
(tastiest.) These are more common in formal or written Russian than
in spoken, though the latter does have occasional ones such as ближайший
(closest), but even then superlative usage is still rather uncommon.
And finally, as in virtually all Indo-European languages,
the comparative and superlative words for the adjectives "good" and "bad"
are irregular in Russian:
Best: самый лучший (наилучший)
самый худший (наихудший)
The Passive Voice & Rules of Word Order
The passive voice indicates that the action of a sentence
or phrase is performed ON the subject, and not BY the subject. The passive
is usually formed by the addition of the reflexive suffix to the end of
the verb: -ся (pronounced "-ца") after consonants, or -сь after vowels,
while any words that indicate who or what is performing the action take
the instrumental case.
So, for instance,
Active: Где продают компьютеры? -- "Where do they sell computers?"
Passive: Где продаются компьютеры? -- "Where are computers sold?"
In theory, most verbs can be used as such, but a number are rarely, if ever
It should be noted, however, that the use of the suffix
-ся/-сь is not primarily for use in the passive voice, even if that is where
it is often seen. There are two groups of verbs that also use the same ending.
The first are so-called "reflexive verbs" which always have -ся/-сь regardless
of logic. The other, and more numerous group are those verbs that are transtive
(that must take a direct object) but used in a context that does not have
one This does not include cases where the object has been noted in a previous
Usage of the passive voice in Russian versus that of English also brings
up the issue of word order, which is much freer in Russian than in English,
and so while the passive voice is often used in English to change the word
order, you can do the same in Russian while keeping the active voice. That
is not to say that pasive constructions are rare in Russian; they are quite
often used in regular speech, particularly statements of want, need or like,
along with various indirect or impersonal constructions.
Nonetheless, there are a few general rules and trends
that may help in deciding what to put where:
-Prepositons must be placed before the noun or pronoun it is tied
to; adjectives can be placed in between them, but the preposition must come
before the noun/pronoun.
-Information that is emphasized or that is newly introduced by the sentence
goes at or near the end.
-If the object
of a sentence is a pronoun, word order is usually subject-object-verb; if
the object is a noun, order is typically subject-verb-object.
Thus while theoretically more or less any order of words
is possible, as noted in the section on inflection, deviation from the subject-verb-object
or subject-object-verb structure is rare outside of prose and poetry. As
it is in any language, the less complex the sentence structure, the greater
chances of being understood in full.
54. The Anthem of the
are my translations; others may differ according to the translator)
National Anthem (1977 version)
Союз нерушимый республик свободных Сплотила навеки Великая Русь Да здравствует созданный волей народов Единый, могучий Советский Союз!
Припев: Славься, Отечество наше
свободное, Дружбы народов надежный оплот! Партия Ленина - сила народная Нас к торжеству коммунизма ведет!
Сквозь грозы сияло нам солнце свободы, И Ленин великий нам путь озарил: На правое дело он поднял народы, на труд и на подвиги нас вдохновил!
В победе бессмертных идей коммунизма Мы видим грядущее нашей страны, И красному знамени славной Отчизны Мы будем всегда беззаветно верны!
Unbreakable union of free republics
Joined for the ages by Great Russia.
Long live the creation of the will of the people,
The one, great, Soviet Union
Hail our free fatherland,
A hopeful future of the friendship of the people!
The Party of Lenin, the force of the people,
Leads us towards the triumph of communism!
Through the storms shone for us the sun of freedom
And great Lenin lit the way for us:
He set the people onto the right path,
Inspired us in labor and achievement!
In the victory of the invincible ideas of communism
We see the future of our country,
And to the red banner of our glorious fatherland,
We will always be selflessly dedicated!
The Anthem of the Russian Federation (2000 version)
Россия - священная
наша держава, Россия - любимая наша страна. Могучая воля, великая слава - Твое достояние на все времена!
Припев: Славься, Отечество наше свободное, Братских народов союз вековой, Предками данная мудрость народная! Славься, страна! Мы гордимся тобой!
От южных морей до полярного края Раскинулись наши леса и поля. Одна ты на свете! Одна ты такая - Хранимая Богом родная земля!
Широкий простор для мечты и для жизни Грядущие нам открывают года. Нам силу даёт наша верность Отчизне. Так было, так есть и так будет всегда!
our sacred nation,
Russia, our beloved country.
A powerful will, and great glory,
Your possession for all time!
Hail our free fatherland,
Of brotherly of peoples, centuries united
Given the people's wisdom by our ancestors!
Hail country! You make us proud!
From the Southern seas to the open frontiers
Stretch our forests and plains.
You are one in the light! You,
Our one Native land, protected by God!
The wide space to dream, to live,
The future years are open to us.
Our fidelity gives might to the fatherland.
As it was, is, and always will be!