The Accusative Case in Russian: Usage and Examples

A stack of books balancing on the edge of the table and a feather dropping on them threatening to upset the delicate balance. Conceptual photo

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The accusative case in Russian is an indirect case and answers the questions кого(kaVOH)—"whom," and что (CHTO)—"what," as well as куда (kooDAH), meaning "where."

Its equivalent in English is the accusative, or objective, case (him, her).

Quick Tip

The accusative case in Russian answers the questions кого (kaVOH)—"whom," and что (CHTO)—"what," as well as куда (kooDAH), meaning "where." This case indicates the direct object of a verb or the circumstances of spacial direction and time.

When to Use the Accusative Case

Direct Object of a Verb

The most common function of the accusative case in Russian is defining the direct object of a verb, for example, построить дом (paSTROeet' DOM)—to build a house. The noun that serves as a direct object and that is declined in the accusative case plays no active role in the situation determined by the verb and by the subject of the sentence.

Example:

- Мне нужно купить машину. (MNYE NOOZHna kooPEET' maSHEEnoo)
- I need to buy a car.

State of a Subject

The accusative case can also describe the state of a subject where it is caused by outside forces. This can be emotional, physical or any other state as long as the subject does not directly participate in creating it.

Example:

- В автобусе девочку затошнило. (v avTOboosye DYEvachkoo zatashNEEla)
- On the bus, the girl began to feel sick.

Circumstantial Function

The accusative case is often used to indicate the circumstances of spacial direction and time, but sometimes of other details.

Example:

- Ее приезда я ждал целый месяц. (yeYO priYEZda ya ZHDAL TSEly MYEsats)
- I waited for her arrival for a whole month.

- Дети, собирайтесь в круг и начнем играть. (DYEti, sabiRAYtes FKROOK i nachNYOM igRAT')
- Children, make a circle and we will start the game.

The Accusative Case Endings

A distinctive function of the accusative case in Russian is that it indicates animacy of nouns. In the accusative case, noun endings are different based on whether they have animacy. Below are the endings tables for all three genders.

Masculine Accusative Case Endings (Animate and Inanimate)

Declension (Склонение) Animate/Inanimate Singular (Единственное число) Plural (Множественное число)
First declension Animate -ы, -ю "zero ending"
First declension Inanimate n/a n/a
Second declension Animate -а, -я -ов, -ей
Second declension Inanimate "zero ending" -ы, -я
Third declension Animate n/a n/a
Third declension Inanimate n/a n/a
Heteroclitic Animate n/a n/a
Heteroclitic Inanimate n/a n/a

Examples:

- Мы везем сынишку в школу. (my vyZYOM syNEESHkoo FSHKOloo)
- We are taking our little son to school.

- Я жду маляров. (ya ZHDOO malyaROF)
- I'm waiting for the decorators.

- Складывай покупки на столы. (SKLAdyvay paKOOPki na staLY)
- Put the shopping on the tables.

Feminine Accusative Case Endings (Animate and Inanimate)

Declension (Склонение) Animate/Inanimate Singular (Единственное число) Plural (Множественное число)
First declension Animate -у, -ю "zero ending"
First declension Inanimate -у, -ю -ы, -и
Second declension Animate n/a n/a
Second declension Inanimate n/a n/a
Third declension Animate Unchanged (same as in nominative case) -ей
Third declension Inanimate Unchanged
Heteroclitic Animate n/a n/a
Heteroclitic Inanimate n/a n/a

Examples:

- Давай пригласим тётю Аню на чай. (daVAY priglaSEEM TYOtyu AHnyu na CHAI)
- Let's invite aunt Anya for some tea.

- Нужно завтра обрезать вишни. (NOOZHna ZAFtra abRYEzat' VEESHni)
- Tomorrow we need to prune the cherry trees.

- Дай мне, пожалуйста, денег на новые тетради. (Dai mnye paZHAloosta DYEneg na NOvye tetRAdi)
- Can you please give me some money for new notebooks.

Neuter Accusative Case Endings (Animate and Inanimate)

Declension (Склонение) Animate/Inanimate Singular (Единственное число) Plural (Множественное число)
First declension Animate n/a n/a
First declension Inanimate n/a n/a
Second declension Animate -о, -е "zero ending," -ых
Second declension Inanimate -о, -е -а, -ия
Third declension Animate n/a n/a
Third declension Inanimate n/a n/a
Heteroclitic nouns Animate -ей
Heteroclitic nouns Inanimate -я, "zero ending" -и, -а

Examples:

- Сегодня мы будем изучать насекомых. (syVODnya my BOOdem izooCHAT' nasyKOmyh)
- Today we will be learning about insects.

- Илья, ты принял решение? (eeLYA, ty PREEnyal reSHEniye?)
- Ilya, have you made a decision?

- Я все закончу за это время. (ya vsyo zaKONchoo za EHta VRYEmya)
- I will get it all done during this time.

- Давай сводим детей в кино. (daVAI SVOdim dyTEY fkiNO)
- Let's take the children to the movies.