Russian Prepositions Sorted by Case (Part 2) 

 February 16, 2020

By  Anna Yarmoshchuk

We started talking about Russian prepositions in the previous article, and I bet they even tried to haunt you in your dreams…We don’t scare easily, do we? Today, we are going to finish off the topic and tame the rest of the cases and their prepositions. Follow me.

Russian Prepositions

Dative case and its prepositions

The dative case answers the questions “For whom?”/“For what?” and “To whom?”/“To what?” A noun in the dative case means an indirect object for which the action is being executed.

For example,

Мама читает сыну сказку. A mother is reading a tale for her son.

Я одолжил немного денег другу.  I lent some money to my friend.

Друг and сын are indirect objects towards which the action is directed. The action happens not to them but rather for them. Let’s look at the prepositions that require the dative case.

  1. К(о) – to, towards (answers the question “Where?”):

На выходные я с друзьями поеду к морю. I am going to go to the sea with my friends this weekend.

Анна подошла к окну. Anna came up to the window.

Жители города хорошо относятся к новому мэру. Citizens have a positive attitude towards their new mayor. 

  1. По – along, by, on, in, through:

После работы я люблю гулять по парку. I like walking in the park after work.

Младенцы любят ползать по полу. Babies love crawling on the floor.  

Мы должны играть по правилам. We have to play by the rules. 

  1. Благодаря – thanks  to, because of, due to:

Благодаря своему отцу, я научился играть на гитаре еще ребенком. Thanks to my father, I learned to play guitar when I was a child.

Благодаря этой книге, я выучил много русских слов. Through this book, I learned lots of Russian words.

Благодаря хорошей погоде, в этом году мы собрали отличный урожай. Due to good weather, we’ve got a great harvest this year.

  1. Вопреки – contrary to, despite, against:

Вопреки совету врача, он перестал принимать лекарства. Contrary to his doctor’s advice, he stopped taking his medications.

  1. Наперекор – in defiance of (this preposition is more intense than вопреки):

Он женился на ней наперекор родителям. He married her in defiance of his parents. 

  1. Cогласно – according to, in accordance with:

Согласно легенде, Москву основал князь Юрий Долгорукий в 1147 году. According to a legend, Moscow was founded by Juri Dolgorukiy in 1147.

Accusative case and its prepositions

The accusative case answers the questions “Whom?”/ “What?” and means a direct object of the action.  

For example,

Я люблю Мишу. I love Misha.
Я люблю пиццу. I love pizza.

The accusative case seems to be a no-brainer… until we talk about its prepositions. Foreigners find it hard to understand that Russian cases can answer many other questions, not just their determinant ones. 

For example, the accusative case, if combined with prepositions, can change its questions for “Where?”, “When?”, “How much?” etc.

So, to get accusative prepositions right, we should classify them by their core meaning.

Direction of a motion

1.       В – (in)to:

Я иду в библиотеку. I am going to the library.

2.   На – (on)to:

Ты идешь на вечеринку сегодня вечером? Are you going to the party tonight?

Положи свои книги на стол. Put your books on the table.

3.   Под – under:

Поставь свой чемодан под стол. Put your suitcase under the table.

4.   Через, сквозь – through, over:

Люди не умеют проходить сквозь стены. Humans can’t go through walls.

Чтобы попасть в сад, нам нужно перелезть через забор. To get into the garden, we need to climb over the fence.

Approximate time

5.       Через – in, after, by:

Мы снова увидимся через год. We will see each other again in a year. 

6.   За – after, past:

Вечеринка закончилась за полночь. The party finished well after midnight.

7.   Под – in:

Мои родители вернутся под вечер. My parents will come back in the evening.

Approximate quantity/size

8.   С – about:

Гости пробыли у нас с неделю. Guests stayed at ours for about a week. 

9.   По – up to:

В России зимой снега бывает по пояс. In Russian, snow can reach up to your waist in winter.

Interaction with an object

10.   Про – about:

Я постоянно думаю про cвою девушку. I keep thinking about my girlfriend.

11.   За – by, on:

Отец взял ребенка за руку. The father took his child by the hand.

Коты не любят, когда их дергают за хвост. Cats don’t like to be pulled on their tails.

Instrumental case and its prepositions

The instrumental case answers the questions “With who?”/ “With what?” and denotes an instrument that is being used to perform an action.

For example,

Мы сделали подарок своими руками. We made a present with our own hands.

Я помыла руки мылом и вытерла их полотенцем. I washed my hands with soap and dried them with a towel.

Every time you want to say “with” (c in Russian) the accusative case is needed including when you are talking about people:

Он любит гулять с собакой по утрам. He loves going for a walk with his dog in the morning.

Ты поедешь завтра с Олегом на рыбалку? Will you go fishing with Oleg tomorrow?

Most of the time, we use the accusative case with prepositions of place where it answers the question “where?” Let’s look at them closer.

1.   Над – above, on top of:

Над диваном висит большая картина. There is a big picture hanging above the couch.

Самолет пролетел над нами. A plane flew on top of us.  

2.       Под – under, beneath:

Под столом лежит кот. A cat is lying under the table.

3.       За – behind, before:

За домом есть небольшой сад. There is a small garden behind the house.

4.       Перед – in front of:

Мне всегда страшно выступать перед большой аудиторией. I am always afraid of performing in front of a big audience.

5.       Между – in between:

Автобусная остановка находится между этими зданиями. A bus stop is situated between these buildings.

Prepositional case and its prepositions

The tautology in the headline above points to the fact that the prepositional case is always accompanied by prepositions. It simply never exists without them. The accusative case answers the questions “About who?” / “About what?” and denotes a person or an object being told about.

For example,

Макс рассказал мне о своей мечте объехать весь мир. Max told me about his dream to travel the world.

Actually, the prepositional case can answer many questions depending on the preposition it uses.

Please, remember these six special questions that will help you master accusative prepositions.


  • В – in, at:

Дима работает в университете. Dima works at the university.

  • На – on, in, at:

На пляже было много народу. There were many people on the beach.

Эта книга на русском языке. This book is in Russian.

Этот вопрос обсуждался на национальном уровне. This question was discussed at the national level.

Despite everything seems to be clear, we’ll stop here for a moment. If you have been paying attention, you must have noticed that we had already talked about в and на in the very same meaning but they were prepositions of the accusative case.

The point is that non-Russian-speakers often mistake в and на used with the prepositional case for в and на used with the accusative case.

In English, the questions asked for both cases sound just the same (“Where?”), but in Russian, they are two different questions: «Где?» and «Куда?».

If the noun with в or на means the place where the action takes place, we are dealing with the prepositional case (Он работает в ресторане / He works in a restaurant). If it means the direction of motion, we’ve got the accusative case in front of us (Мы идем в ресторан / We are going to the restaurant).\

About whom? / About what?

  • O(об) – about:

Расскажи мне о своей работе. Tell me about your job.


  • В – in, on:

В марте у меня день рождения. My birthday is in March.

В среду у меня собеседование. I’ve got an interview on Wednesday.

  • На – (no equivalent):

На прошлой неделе было жарко. It was hot last week.

  • При – at the time of, in the presence of, while, when:

Я расскажу тебе об этом при встрече. I will tell you about it when we meet.  

By what (transport)?

  • На – by:

Я добираюсь на работу на машине. I go to work by car.

Which instrument?

  • На – (no equivalent):

Я умею играть на скрипке. I can play violin.  

In what (clothes)?

  • В – in:

Видишь ту красотку в красном платье? Do you see that beauty in a red dress?

Wow! That was huge. Don’t worry if you haven’t started to speak Russian fluently after reading this article. Russian prepositions require practice and patience. 

Perhaps, the whole system of cases and prepositions still doesn’t look like a system in your head, but rather like a mess… It’s absolutely normal for a non-Russian speaker. We promise that the picture will certainly become clearer as you practice these prepositions in a context. 

Keep us updated on your progress in the comments and don’t forget to drop by for more interesting content!    

Anna Yarmoshchuk

Anna Yarmoshchuk is a professional wordsmith with a passion for learning languages and traveling the world. Born in USSR with Russian as her first language, she is using her MA in Journalism to craft content that introduces Russian culture to the world. In her free time, Anna can be found chased by her 3 little explorers who keep her in a perfect problem-solving and story-telling shape.

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