Nominative and Prepositional Case in Russian 

 February 12, 2020

By  Ilona Kursitys

Almost every non-native Russian learner claims that one of the hardest things in the Russian language is cases. In most sentences, you need to modify the inflection of the nouns, adjectives, and pronouns to make sure that people fully understand you.

Let’s get to know two of the simplest cases in Russian: Nominative (Именительный) and Prepositional (Предложный).

Nominative and Prepositional Case in Russian

Nominative Case in Russian

The nominative case is the initial form of the nouns and their modifiers in the Russian language. We use the nominative case to highlight the subject of the sentence. Words in the nominative case answer such questions as Who…? What…? 

When you look up a Russian word in the dictionary, it always appears in the nominative case, and you don’t have to change any inflections. So, having the nouns straight from the dictionary, you can make some simple sentences with the subject (noun or pronoun) and the predicate (represented by the verb or other nouns).

 Let’s look at the examples below:

  • Птица поёт. The bird is singing. (Who is singing?)
  • Собака играет. The dog is playing. (Who is playing?)
  • Строитель строит дом. The builder is building the house. (Who is building the house?)

Sometimes we use the nominative case to express the subject and the predicate at the same time. Look, all the nouns in the sentences below are in the nominative case:

  • Обезьяна (subject) – это животное (predicate). The monkey is an animal. (Who is an animal? What is the monkey?)
  • Я (subject) студент (predicate). I am a student. (Who is a student? What am I?)
  • Сергей (subject) – врач (predicate). Sergei is a doctor. (Who is a doctor? What is Sergei?)

So, using the nominative case we can introduce ours or anyone else’s career.

Prepositional case in Russian

Now we know how to build a sentence using the nominative case. Let’s learn how to say about the place or the location where the action is happening. This is what the prepositional case serves.

We use the prepositional case to express the object or adjuncts of time or place in the sentence. We answer such questions as Where…? When…? and sometimes Who? or What? with the nouns or pronouns in the prepositional case.

Just like its name says, the words in the prepositional case are usually used with some prepositions. Here is the list of such prepositions:
  • в, во (in, at), на (on, at), при (with, near) to indicate time or location,
  • о, об, обо (about, of) to indicate the object.

When to use the prepositional case:

1) To talk about the place where the action is happening:

  • Дети играют во дворе. The children are playing in the yard. (Where are the children playing?)
  • Он спит на диване. He is sleeping on the couch. (Where is he sleeping?)
  • Я живу в России. I live in Russia (Where do I live?)

2) To talk about the time when action is happening:

  • Мой день рождения в январе. My birthday is in January (When is my birthday?)
  • Я позвоню вам на следующей неделе. I will call you next week (When will I call you?)
  • Он ездил в Рим в прошлом году. He went to Rome last year. (When did he go to Rome?)

3) To talk about the object or the person being discussed or thought about.

  • Я мечтаю о любви. I dream of love. (What do I dream of?)
  • Они говорят о погоде. They are talking about the weather. (What do they talk about?)
  • Дмитрий спросил меня о работе. Dmitry asked me about the work. (What did Dmitry ask about?)

However, using the prepositional case, we should modify the inflections of the words. See the difference in the examples below:


Nominative case 

Prepositional case 


во дворе


на диване




на неделе


о любви


о погоде

Rules to remember

The rules of changing the inflections work according to the declensions of the nouns:

1) The first declension is used for feminine nouns and some masculine nouns ending with -а/-я.

Masculine nouns: папа, дядя
Feminine nouns: доска, улица

To make the prepositional case from a noun of the first declension, we should change into .

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о папе


на улице

Note that some feminine words of the first declension end with -ия.

лекция, история

In that case, the inflection changes into -ии, not -e. Try not to confuse them.

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о лекции


в истории

2) The second declension is used for neuter nouns and most masculine that do not end with -а/-я.

Neuter nouns: солнце, место
Masculine nouns: стол_, конь

To make the prepositional case from a noun of the second declension, we should change the inflection into -е.  

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


на месте


на столе

Note that some neural words of the second declension end with -ие or -ое:

здание, животное

Just like in the first declension, we change the inflection -ие into -ии, but -ое changes into -ом. Let’s not confuse them.

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о здании


о животном

3) The third declension is used for feminine nouns ending with .

Feminine nouns: новость, дверь.

This time we need to change the inflection into -и. 

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о новости


на двери

Seems like we’re missing something… Plural nouns, sure! What should we do to them? The key lies in the declensions, again. Let’s take a deeper look at this.

1) The first declension plural nouns normally end with or . The example below shows it:

Masculine nouns: папы, дяди
Feminine nouns: доски, улицы

To write the prepositional case of plural nouns of the first declension, we should change or into -ах or -ях respectively.

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о папах


на улицах

In case of those feminine words ending with -ия, their plural form ends with -ии:

лекции, истории

and we change the inflection -ии into -иях. See:

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о лекциях


в историях

2) Plural nouns of the second declension end with or in case of masculine nouns and or in case of neutral nouns. Look:

Neuter nouns: солнца, места

Masculine nouns: столы, кони

To make the prepositional case from a noun of the second declension, we should change their inflection into -ах or -ях.

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


на местах


на столах

Some neural words of the second declension ending with -ие or -oe do not have a plural form: зрение, оружие, жжение. So, we only use them in the singular form and apply rule 2 of the previous section. In other situations, such nouns as

здание and животное 

have their plural form as 

лезвия and животные,

and their inflections -ия and -ые are modified into -иях and -ых respectively. Look at the examples below:

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о лезвиях


о животных

3) Plural nouns of the third declension have the inflection . See:

Feminine nouns: новости, двери.

To make the prepositional case we to change the inflection into -ях as in the example below:

Nominative case

Prepositional case 


о новостях


на дверях

Note: Some nouns have the plural form only, such as ножницы, деньги, etc. To put them in the prepositional case, we need to change their inflection (usually -и, -ы) into -ах, -ях just like in second or third declension.

Note 2: There are also nouns called heteroclites that are declined irregularly. They include 10 nouns ending with -мя: бремя, время, вымя, знамя, имя, пламя, племя, семя, стремя, темя; noun путь; noun дитя. You can find the rules for such words in the table below.

Nominative case

Prepositional case







о времени

о временах



о имени

о именах



о пути

о путях



о дитяти

о детях

To improve your knowledge, we suggest you produce several sentences in Russian about yourself. The patterns below will help you:

Я ________. (I am a _______.) hint: учитель, продавец, летчик

Я живу в _______. (I live in _______.) hint: Москва, Лондон, Франция, квартира, дом

Мой день рождения в _______. (My birthday is in ________.) hint: сентябрь, май, август

Я мечтаю о _______. (I dream of ______.)  hint: машина, дом, слава, деньги

Note: look up the proper word or the name of the country in the dictionary and put it into the correct case: nominative or prepositional.

Good job!

Ilona Kursitys

Ilona Kursitys is a Professor Assistant at Southern Federal University, Russia. She graduated from Southern Federal University with an Engineer’s degree in Computer Science in 2015 and Translator’s degree in the sphere of Professional Communication in 2016. Since then, she works as an individual translator and writer. In 2019 Ilona completed the postgraduate course in Southern Federal University and is finishing her PhD thesis now. She also teaches English as a second language in Russia.

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