Understanding the Accusative Case in Russian Grammar

The accusative case, known as винительный падеж in Russian, is relatively easy to learn because it has fewer forms than the other cases (well, except for the nominative case).

It is used to indicate the direct object of a sentence. When we want to show that someone is the recipient of an action of formation, nouns and pronouns in the accusative case undergo changes in their endings. By asking “кого?” or “что?”, we seek to identify the recipient of the action.

The accusative case is crucial to know when expressing basic phrases such as “I see the book” or “They bought a new car.”

Forming the Accusative Case

The form that nouns and adjectives take in the accusative case depends on their gender, number, and declension patterns. In essence, it’s a mix of nominative and genitive case endings.

Here are the general rules for forming the accusative case in Russian:

Masculine inanimate nouns remain the same in the accusative case as they are in the nominative case. Masculine animate nouns take the ending -а or -я.

Examples:

Я вижу дом. – I see the house. (inanimate)

Я вижу мальчика. – I see the boy. (animate)

Feminine nouns ending in -а/-я in the nominative case change to -у/-ю in the accusative case. Feminine nouns ending in -ь remain unchanged.

Examples:

Мы читаем книгу. – We are reading the book.

Я закрыл дверь. – I closed the door.

For neuter nouns, there are no ending changes in the accusative case. These nouns maintain their nominative case forms when functioning as the direct object of a sentence. For example, consider the noun “яблоко” (apple). In the accusative case, it remains “яблоко” regardless of its role as a direct object: For example, “Я ем яблоко.” (I’m eating an apple).

When it comes to plural nouns, it depends on whether the noun is animate or inanimate.

Он пригласил друзей. – He invited friends over. (animate)

Мы купили новые книги. – We bought new books. (inanimate)

Я люблю апельсины. – I love oranges. (inanimate)

У них есть интересные идеи. – They have interesting ideas. (inanimate)

Bottom line, only feminine, animate masculine and plural nouns are modified. The endings in the accusative case are identical to the genitive case ending for these nouns.

Accusative case forms in Russian

Here’s the table that shows the accusative forms of personal pronouns:

English Nominative Accusative
I я меня
you ты тебя
he он его
she она её
it оно его
we мы нас
you (plural) вы вас
they они их

 

Accusative Case Usage

The primary function of the accusative case is to answer the questions “кого?” (kogo?) or “что?” (chto?), which translate to “whom?” or “what?” in English (that’s why we use nominative and genitive case endings). These questions help identify the recipient or target of the action within a sentence.

Я вижу его. – I see him.

Кого я вижу? (Whom do I see?)

Answer: Его (Him)

Она купила новый компьютер. – She bought a new computer.

Что она купила? (What did she buy?)

Answer: Компьютер (Computer)

Он нашёл работу. – He found a job.

Что он нашёл? (What did he find?)

Answer: Работу (A job)

More examples of using the accusative case to indicate the direct object:

Я читаю книгу. – I am reading a book.

Мама готовит обед. – Mom is preparing lunch.

Он пишет письмо. – He is writing a letter.

Она купила новое платье. – She bought a new dress.

Врач лечит больного пациента. – The doctor is treating the sick patient.

Он открыл окно. – He opened the window.

Мой друг рисует картины. – My friend paints pictures.

Ты знаешь его сына? – Do you know his son?

Я люблю читать книги. – I enjoy reading books.

Она организует вечеринку. – She organizes a party.

Он решает сложные задачи. – He solves difficult problems.

Собака охраняет дом. – The dog guards the house.

Он изучает историю. – He studies history.

Мы посадили дерево. – We planted a tree.

Ты видишь это здание? – Do you see this building?

Он построил дом. – He built a house.

Мы слушаем музыку. – We’re listening to music.

Она купила подарок для мамы. – She bought a gift for mom.

Я люблю кушать яблоки. – I love eating apples.

Знаешь ли ты мою сестру? – Do you know my sister?

Она встретила своего друга. – She met her friend.

Я возьму кофе. – I will take coffee.

Он почувствовал радость. – He felt joy.

Я прочитал интересную статью. – I read an interesting article.

Она любит свою собаку. – She loves her dog.

Мы нашли ключи. – We found the keys.

Он пересек дорогу. – He crossed the road.

Вы слышите странный звук? – Do you hear the strange sound?

The accusative case is commonly employed to indicate motion towards a specific location or direction (with prepositions в, на, за, под, через, сквозь):

Я иду в магазин. – I’m going to the store.

Мы пойдем в кино завтра. – We are going to the cinema tomorrow.

Положи книгу на стол. – Put the book on the table.

Он вошёл в комнату. – He entered the room.

Они поехали на ферму. – They went to the farm.

Я вышел на улицу. – I went out onto the street.

Она спряталась под одеяло. – She hid under the blanket.

Они спустились под землю. – They went down underground.

Они пролетели через океан. – They flew across the ocean.

Мы прошли через лес, чтобы добраться до озера. – We walked through the forest to reach the lake.

Я пробежал через поле. – I ran across the field.

Мы пройдем через испытания вместе. – We will go through the trials together.

Они выехали за пределы страны. – They went beyond the country’s borders.

Они отправились за границу в поисках приключений. – They went beyond the border in search of adventures.

Она вышла за пределы своей зоны комфорта и достигла новых высот. – She stepped out of her comfort zone and reached new heights.

Они пробрались сквозь толпу к выходу. – They squeezed through the crowd towards the exit.

Мы пролетаем сквозь тучи на самолёте. – We fly through the clouds on the plane.

Она проникла сквозь стены замка и обнаружила секретную комнату. – She infiltrated through the castle walls and discovered a secret room.

It is important to remember that the prepositions в, на, через, под, за are used with the accusative case only in the context of movement.

See Also: The Dative Case in Russian

We also use the accusative case when referring to a specific duration of time. To specify how long an action lasts or how long something takes, the accusative case is used with time expressions:

  • Я спал три часа. – I slept for three hours.
  • Мы работаем целый день. – I work the whole day.
  • Он готовил обед полчаса. – He cooked lunch for half an hour.
  • Мы учились пять лет. – We studied for five years.
  • Они уехали в отпуск на две недели. – They went on vacation for two weeks.

In these examples, the accusative case is applied to the time expression (три часа, целый день, полчаса, неделю, пять лет, на две недели), indicating the duration of the action or event.

Here are some other examples:

Учитель объяснял материал два урока. – The teacher explained the material for two lessons.

Она осваивала новый навык неделю. – She was mastering a new skill for a week.

Я занимался спортом два часа. – I engaged in sports for two hours.

Мы смотрели фильм весь вечер. – We watched the movie the entire evening.

Он учил иностранные языки долгое время. – He studied foreign languages for a long time.

Мой брат играл на гитаре несколько минут. – My brother played the guitar for a few minutes.

Я ждал его сорок пять минут. – I waited for him for forty-five minutes.

Она смотрела сериал всю ночь. – She watched the series all night.

It’s important to study specific patterns and examples to gain a deeper understanding.

Accusative case in Russian: Usage

When referring to a specific day of the week, the days of the week in Russian take the accusative case as well.

Я видел его во вторник. – I saw him on Tuesday.

Мы встречаемся в четверг. – We meet on Thursday.

Приезжайте в субботу. – Come on Saturday.

Using the accusative case correctly in Russian is really important for communicating effectively and getting grammar right. When you master this case, you can express yourself clearly and accurately.

The accusative case helps us distinguish the direct object in a sentence, avoiding any confusion and making things clear. When we identify the object correctly, we can make sure we’re expressing exactly what we mean.

By consistently applying the accusative case in your speech and writing, you will convey your thoughts with clarity, communicate effectively, and truly engage with the Russian language. So, embrace the joy of learning and integrating the accusative case into your linguistic toolkit, and enjoy the rewarding journey towards language proficiency in Russian.

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