Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q&A: What Words To Put In What Cases?

How do I know, for which words in a sentence i need to use what case. I understand what each case is used for and how I form the word, but when it comes to which word i need to change I'm lost, especially when its more than one word. Any help? :/

Hi! I think, what you’re struggling with is transferring your knowledge into a practical skill. When it comes to second language acquisition, it is not enough to learn about your target language and understand its grammar. You should deal with the language, absorb it through reading meaningful texts, listening to it and practicing it actively, for example, by posting short texts on lang-8 daily.

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with lang-8 and have never received payments from them.

Now about cases. How do you know when to use what preposition in English? It is the same with Russian cases. Russian cases indicate relationships between things/words - possession (= of in English), direct object (no preposition as in I saw her), instrumentality (=by/with), direction (=to) etc. Here is a quick cheat sheet that may help you:
  • Nominative - for subjects, who/what did smth.
  • Genitive = of (part of, possession of, a number of + a word in the Genitive case)
  • Dative = to (give it to + a word in the Dative case)
  • Accusative - direct object
  • Instrumental - by/with (done by/with + a word in the Instrumental case)
  • Prepositional - about/of, indirect object, location (in/on + place in the Prepositional case or I think about + a word in the Prepositional case)
Please do not rely on this correlation cheat sheet too much, there are many other positions where you have to pick this or that case, but you can start with that.

Again, everything comes with practice. You’ll memorize constructions, not forms of words, and the more you deal with Russian, the bigger you “sample library” will become.

Good luck!

Photo by Steven Mueller