Languages › Russian The Instrumental Case in Russian: Usage and Examples Share Flipboard Email Print Nicholas Prylutskyy / Getty Images Languages English as a Second Language Spanish French German Italian Japanese Mandarin Russian By Maia Nikitina Maia Nikitina Twitter Russian Language Expert M.F.A., Creative Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University Diploma in Translation (IoLet Level 7, Russian), Chartered Institute of Linguists Maia Nikitina is a writer and Russian language translator. She holds a Diploma in Translation (IoLet Level 7) from the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on November 19, 2019 The instrumental case in Russian is an indirect case and answers the questions кем/чем (kyem/chem)—with whom/with what. This case indicates which instrument is used to do or make something, or with whom/with the help of what an action is completed. Quick Tip The Instrumental case answers the questions кем/чем (kyem/chem)—with whom/with what—and shows which instrument is used to do or make something, or with whom/with the help of what an action is completed. It can also be used to talk about something that you are interested in. When to Use the Instrumental Case The instrumental case gets its name from the instrumental function that it performs. Here are some of the instances when you can use the instrumental case: Instrument When an action is performed with a tool or an instrument, the instrumental case can be used. Example: - Он резал хлеб ножом. (on RYEzal HLEP naZHOM)- He was slicing the bread with a knife. Means Similar to the instrument function, this function uses the instrumental case. Example: - Я люблю рисовать акварельными красками. (ya lyuBLYU risaVAT' akvaRYELnymi KRASkami)- I like to paint with watercolor paints. Agent Use the instrumental case when something is made or done by someone (agent). Example: - План был придуман и приведен в исполнение самим Сашей. (plan byl priDOOmal i priveDYON v ispalNYEniye saMEEM SAshey)- The plan was designed and executed by Sasha himself. Reason Used with the verbs cтрадать (straDAT')—"to suffer from"—, болеть (baLYET)—"to be ill/sick with"—, мучиться (MOOchitsa)—"to suffer from/to be tortured by"—, маяться (MAyatsa)—"to suffer from/to be disturbed by." Example: - Он долго болел гриппом прошлой зимой. (on DOLga baLYEL GRIpam PROSHlai zeeMOI)- He had the flu for a long time last winter. Measurement Use the instrumental case when describing an action as a quantity. Note that the nouns are always in plural when used this way. Examples: - Письма приходили сразу пачками. (PEES'ma prihaDEEli SRAzoo PACHkami)- The letters were coming in packs. - Воду таскали вёдрами. (VOdoo tasKAli VYOdrami)- The water was carried by the bucketful. Comparison This function is often used in established idioms but can be also seen in new phrases where the noun that is being declined in the instrumental case is used as a simile. Example: - Он пулей вылетел из кабинета и побежал по коридору. (on POOley VYletel iz kabiNYEta i pabyeZHAL pa kariDOroo)- He ran out of the office like a bullet and ran down the corridor. Time This is one of the most common roles of the instrumental case and can be used with singular nouns depicting a single moment in time, such as "in the morning" or "late Sunday afternoon," as well as with plural nouns that describe a lasting and repeating action in time. Examples: - Ночами она читала всё, что попадалось под руку. (naCHAmi aNA chiTAla VSYO, shtoh papaDAlas POD rookoo)- Her nights were spent reading anything and everything. - Ранним утром они отправились в путь. (RANnim OOTram aNEE atPRAvilis f POOT')- Early in the morning, they set off. Trajectory Another common function of the instrumental case in Russian, this role is used when describing the trajectory of someone's journey and is used with such verbs as ехать (YEhat') —"to go/ride"—, идти (itTEE)—"to go/walk"—, плыть (plyt')—"to swim/go by water"—, etc. The trajectory function is also used when describing traveling by a form of transport. Example: - Потом ехать автобусом километров двести. (paTOM YEhat' afTObusam kilaMYETraf DVESti)- Then it's a bus ride for about two hundred kilometers. Patient This function is used with a number of verbs that contain some kind of information on owning or managing the noun. Example: - Департамент, ведавший школой, находился в центре города. (deparTAment, VYEdavshiy SHKOlai, nahaDEELsya f TSENTre GOrada)- The department that was overseeing the school was located in the center of the city. The Instrumental Case Endings Declension (Склонение) Singular (Единственное число) Examples Singular (Единственное число) Examples First declension -ой (-ей), -ей (-ею) улыбкой (ooLYPkai) - smileorулыбкою (ooLYPkayu) - smileпапой (PApoi) - Dad -ами (-ями), -ми улыбками (ooLYPkami) - smilesпапами (PApami) - dads Second declension -ом (ем) столом (staLOM) - tableполем (POlem) - field -ами (-ями), -ми столами (staLAmi) - tablesполями (paLYAmi) - fields Third declension -ю печью (PYECHyu) - stove -ами (-ями), -ми печами (peCHAmi) - stoves Heteroclitic nouns -ей, -ею, -ем временем (VREmenem) - time -ами (-ями), -ми временами (vremeNAmi) Examples: - Временами он совсем забывал о своем несчастном положении. (vremeNAmi on savSYEM zabyVAL a svaYOM neSHASnam palaZHEniye)- At times he completely forgot about his miserable situation. - Они долго шли полями. (aNEE DOLga shlee paLYAmi)- They walked through the fields for a long time. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Nikitina, Maia. "The Instrumental Case in Russian: Usage and Examples." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/instrumental-case-in-russian-4773322. Nikitina, Maia. (2020, August 28). The Instrumental Case in Russian: Usage and Examples. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/instrumental-case-in-russian-4773322 Nikitina, Maia. "The Instrumental Case in Russian: Usage and Examples." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/instrumental-case-in-russian-4773322 (accessed January 27, 2022). copy citation The 6 Cases in Russian Grammar Russian Pronouns: Usage and Examples Learn the 4 German Noun Cases The Dative Case in Russian: Usage and Examples The Genitive Case in Russian: Usage and Examples What Are Indirect Objects? 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