The Dative Case in Russian: Usage and Examples

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The dative case in Russian is the third case out of the six Russian cases and serves to indicate the emotional or physical state of a noun or a pronoun. It also has a directional function. The dative case answers the questions кому (kaMOO)—"to whom" and чему (chyMOO)—"to what".

Quick Tip

The dative case can indicate the direction as well as the emotional or physical state. It answers the questions кому (kaMOO)—"to whom" and чему (chyMOO)—"to what." The dative case in Russian can be used both with nouns and verbs.

When to Use the Dative Case

The dative case has three main functions:

State of a Subject (Emotional or Physical)

The dative case is used to indicate the state the subject is in, for example, when describing feeling cold, hot, happy, interested, amused, or bored.

Examples:

- Мне холодно. (MNYE HOladna)
- I'm cold.

- Зрителям было скучно. (ZREEtylyam BYla SKOOshna)
- The audience was bored.

Direction

Used with the prepositions к (k)—"to"/"towards" and по (poh, pah)—"on"/"at."

Examples:

- Они едут к бабушке в деревню. (aNEE YEdoot k BAbooshkye v deRYEVnyu)
- They are going to their grandma's in the country.

- Идти по дороге. (itTEE pa daROghe)
- To walk on the road/down the road.

- Мы гуляем по набережной. (my gooLYAyem pa NAberezhnay)
- We are walking down the seafront.

In Conjunction With Verbs

The dative case can be used in conjunction with verbs. The list of verbs that can be used with the dative case has to be memorized and includes:

  • возражать (vazraZHAT') - to object (to)
  • врать (vrat') - to lie (to)
  • говорить (gavaREET') - to say, to tell
  • грубить (grooBEET') - to be rude (to/towards)
  • жаловаться (ZHAlavat'sa) - to complain (to)
  • звонить (zvaNEET') - to call, to phone
  • кричать (kreeCHAT') - to shout (to)
  • лгать (lgat') - to lie (to)
  • написать (napiSAT') - to write (to)
  • хвастаться (HVAStat'sa) - to boast (to)
  • обещать (abyeSHAT') - to promise (to)
  • объяснять (abYASnyat) - to explain (to)
  • ответить (atVYEtit') - to reply (to)
  • желать (zheLAT') - to wish (to)
  • предложить (predlaZHEET') - to offer, to suggest (to)
  • шептать (shepTAT') - to whisper (to)
  • запретить (zapreTEET') - to forbid (to)
  • аплодировать (aplaDEEravat') - to applaud
  • кивать (keeVAT') - to nod (at/to)
  • подмигнуть (padmigNOOT') - to wink (at/to)
  • сделать знак (SDYElat ZNAK) - to make a sign (at/to)
  • улыбаться (oolyBATsa) - to smile (at)
  • дать возможность (кому) (dat' vazMOZHnast') - to give an opportunity (to)
  • мешать (meSHAT') - to disturb
  • мстить (MSTEET') - to take revenge
  • помогать (pamaGAT') - to help

The Russian dative case also has the following functions:

Subjective Function With Impersonal Construction

In sentences with impersonal construction, the dative case is used to indicate the state or action of the subject.

Examples:

- Что-то мне сегодня плохо думается. (SHTO-ta MNYE syVODnya PLOha DOOmayetsa)
- It's hard for me to think today for some reason.

- Ребенку три года. (ryBYONkoo TREE GOda)
- The child is three years old.

Addressee, Recipient, or Benefactive/Malefactive

The dative case is used to indicate the noun to whom something is addressed, given, or directed to.

Example:

- Я послал им сообщение. (ya pasLAL EEM sa-abSHYEnie)
- I sent them a message.

- Нужно помочь маме. (NOOzhna paMOCH MAme)
- Need to help mom.

Age

The dative case can indicate the age of a noun or pronoun.

Example:

- Антону исполнилось тридцать два. (anTOHnoo isPOLnilas TRITsat DVA.)
- Anton turned thirty two.

- Сколько лет Вашей маме? (SKOL'ka LYET VAshey MAmye?)
- How old is your mother?

With Prepositions

Additionally, the dative case is used with prepositions, such as the following:

  • к (k) - to, towards
  • по (poh, pah) - on, at
  • благодаря (blagadaRYA) - thanks to
  • вопреки (vapryKEE) - despite, in spite of
  • наперекор (napereKOR) - despite, in spite of, against, in defiance
  • вслед (fslyed) - after
  • навстречу (naFSTRYEchoo) - towards
  • наперерез (napyereRYEZ) - across
  • подобно (paDOBna) - similar to
  • по направлению к (pa napraVLYEniyu k) - in the direction of
  • по отношению к (pa otnaSHEniyu k) - in relation to
  • согласно (saGLASna) - according to
  • соразмерно (sarazMYERna) - proportionate to
  • соответственно (sa-atVYETstvenna) - respectively
  • сродни (sradNEE) - akin to

The Dative Case Endings

Declension (Склонение) Singular (Единственное число) Examples Plural (Множественное число) Examples
First declension -е, -и комедии (kaMYEdiyee) - (to the) comedy
папе (PApye) - (to) Dad
-ам (-ям) комедиям (kaMYEdiyam) - (to) comedies
папам (PApam) - to dads
Second declension -у (-ю) коню (kaNYU) - (to the) horse
полю (POlyu) - (to the) field
-ам (-ям) коням (kaNYAM) - (to) horses
полям (paLYAM) - (to) fields
Third declension мыши (MYshi) - (to the) mouse
печи (PYEchi) - (to the) stove
-ам (-ям) мышам (mySHAM) - mice
печам (peCHAM) - stoves
Heteroclitic nouns племени (PLEmeni) - (to) tribe -ам (-ям) племенам (plemeNAM) - (to) tribes

Examples:

- Этой комедии присудили главный приз. (EHtay kaMYEdiyee prisooDEEli GLAVny PRIZ)
- This comedy was given the first prize.

- Мы шли по полям. (my SHLEE pa paLYAM)
- We walked through the fields.

- У этого племени была особенная денежная система. (oo EHtava PLEmeni byLA aSObenaya DYEnezhnaya sisTEma.)
- This tribe had a particular monetary system.