The Russian Accusative Case: A Beginner’s Guide (2022)

By Ari Helderman
May 3, 2022

The Russian accusative case was the first ‘real’ case I learned about 5 years ago.

I just learned the phrase: I want to drink beer (я хочу пить пиво)

The first sentence I spoke after that was: я хочу пить водка.

That made me feel clever. Until I figured out it’s dead wrong.

Correct sentence: я хочу пить водку.

Ouch.

Sounds difficult? It really isn’t. If you haven’t yet learned the accusative case in the Russian language, don’t worry… it’s the most simple case of Russian grammar.

Even though it’s easier than the other cases to learn, it still takes some time to understand and remember all the nuances. So continue reading to learn how to master the Russian accusative case 🙂

Accusative case in Russian:
The Russian accusative case is used for the direct object of a sentence. It’s also used for prepositions of movement (for example в, на, сквозь), or indications of time. There is a distinction between animative (alive) and inanimate (not alive) nouns. Animate nouns in the Russian accusative case behave as genitive case nouns.

Russian accusative case cheat sheet ( Russian nouns + adjectives)

In the following paragraphs, you find the tables on how the declensions of the accusative case work.

See it as a quick cheat sheet for the Russian grammar.

  • if you’re completely new to the accusative case, take a quick look and then continue reading the rest of the article for an in-depth guide on how and when to form the accusative case.
  • if you’re more advanced, and already know some Russian grammar, then these tables are likely everything you need. For more information/explanation on 1 specific subcategory, you can navigate to the category you need with the table of contents above.
Masculine
Inanimate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
tableстолстолстолы
airplaneсамолетсамолетсамолеты
flowerцветокцветокцветкы
couchдивандивандиваны
Masculine
Animate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
Vladвладвладавладов
docterврачврачаврачей
YegorЕгорЕгораЕгоров
AleksandrАлександралександраалександров
Feminine
Inanimate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
bookкнигакнигукнигы
towerбашнябашнюбашны
companyкомпаниякомпаниюкомпании
paperбумагабумагубумаги
Feminine
Animate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
womanженщинаженщинуженщин
MarinaМаринаМаринуМарин
MariaМарияМариюМарий
DashaДашаДашуДаш
NeuterNom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
sunсолнцесолнцесолнца
seaморемореморя
towelполотенцеполотенцеполотенца
generationпоколениепоколениепоколения
AdjectivesMasc.
Inanim.
Masc.
Anim.
FeminineNeuterPlural
Inanim.
Plural
Anim.
Beautifulкрасивыйкрасивогокрасивуюкрасивоекрасивыекрасивых
Blueсинийсинегосинююсинеесиниесиних
Weirdстранныйстранногостраннуюстранноестранныестранных
PronounsNominative caseAccusative case
I/meЯМеня
We/ourМыНас
YouТыТебя
YouВыВас
He/himОнЕго
She/herОнаЕё
ItОноЕго
They/themОниИх

How to form the Russian accusative case?

We start by discussing exactly how to form the accusative case in Russian grammar. That means all the Russian nouns, adjectives, and pronouns (under pronouns we also take a look at the possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, and relative pronouns).

The second part of this Russian grammar guide shows you exactly when you should use the accusative case.

Throughout the page, you find many different examples and little tricks that help you learn the nouns in the accusative case better.

Especially examples are crucial to getting more context around a specific instance when you should use the accusative case.

They’re also a great way to test yourself: can you figure out WHY this noun is in the accusative case?

If you actively force yourself to think about sentences, your brain gets the signal that it’s important to memorize them.

So be sure to check the examples well 🙂

Watch this video where I tell you in Russian (with English subtitles) 9 reasons why Russian is actually easy to learn.

About the accusative case

To be blunt: it’s the 3rd easiest case in the Russian language. Here’s the overview of which case to learn when:

  1. nominative case
  2. prepositional case
  3. accusative case
  4. genitive case
  5. dative case
  6. instrumental case

So if you don’t have knowledge of the previous 2 cases (nominative case and prepositional), it’s good to check those out first before you continue.

A quick overview of when the accusative case is used:

A noun is in the accusative case if it’s the direct object of the sentence.

A good way to find out which word is in the accusative case is to ask the question:

“Who or what gets something done to it?”

I read the book. The book gets read, so the book is in the accusative case.

я читаю книгу.

Later on, in the article, we’ll discuss more instances of when to use the Russian accusative. 

For now, let’s discuss HOW the nouns change.

Nouns

Nouns in the accusative case are used when a noun is the direct OBJECT of a sentence. 

Why are you digging earth? – Почему ты копаешь землю?

What is the direct object of the sentence? 

Earth.

The nominative case of the earth is земля. 

In the accusative case, it’s землю.

я changes to ю.

The great thing about the accusative case is that only feminine nouns change.

So if you use masculine nouns or neuter nouns, the words stay the same in the accusative:

I buy a home – я покупаю дом.

 дом stays дом.

There is a catch though:

If a word is animate, it changes according to the genitive case.

Animate means that it’s alive.

A quick example here:

Я ем персик – I eat a peach

Я обнимаю Персика – I hug Peach (my cat’s name is Persik))

If you’re first learning the nouns in the accusative case, don’t pay attention to this at this point in time.

First, learn the genitive case.

I will still add it here for reference.

Inanimate nouns

Here are all the rules for inanimate nouns:

  • Masculine nouns do not change (these are nouns ending in ый or ий)
  • Neuter nouns also do not change (these are nouns ending in о/е)
  • Feminine nouns ending in а/я change to у/ю respectively
  • Accusative plural nouns don’t change (these are nouns ending in ы/и)

Examples:

Masculine
Inanimate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
tableстолстолстолы
airplaneсамолетсамолетсамолеты
flowerцветокцветокцветкы
couchдивандивандиваны
Feminine
Inanimate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
bookкнигакнигукнигы
towerбашнябашнюбашны
companyкомпаниякомпаниюкомпании
paperбумагабумагубумаги
NeuterNom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
sunсолнцесолнцесолнца
seaморемореморя
towelполотенцеполотенцеполотенца
generationпоколениепоколениепоколения

Animate nouns

All animate nouns change according to the genitive case.

Masculine nouns change:

  • Accusative singular- nouns ending in a consonant, add а
  • Accusative singular – replace й, with я.
  • Accusative singular – replace ь, add я.
  • Accusative plural – nouns ending in ж, ч, ш, щ, or ь, add ей
  • Accusative plural – nouns ending in й or ц (stressed) add ев
  • Accusative plural – all other masculine nouns end in ов

Feminine singular nouns behave the same as inanimate nouns. Feminine plural nouns behave as the genitive case:

  • Accusative singular feminine nouns change their а/я for у/ю respectively
  • Accusative plural – nouns ending in а then drop а (no ending)
  • Accusative plural – nouns ending in [consonant] я change it to ь
  • Accusative plural – nouns ending in [vowel] я change it to й
  • Accusative plural – nouns ending in ь change it to ей

Here are some examples:

Masculine
Animate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
Vladвладвладавладов
docterврачврачаврачей
YegorЕгорЕгораЕгоров
AleksandrАлександралександраалександров
Feminine
Animate
Nom.
Sing.
Acc.
Sing.
Acc.
Plur.
womanженщинаженщинуженщин
MarinaМаринаМаринуМарин
MariaМарияМариюМарий
DashaДашаДашуДаш

Adjectives

Adjectives always take the case of the accompanying noun in the Russian language. So a noun in the accusative case has the adjective also in the accusative case.

Logical.

We follow many of the same rules here as for the nouns:

  • Inanimate masculine, neuter, and all accusative plural adjectives stay the same
  • Any (Inanimate and animate) feminine singular adjectives change their ая or яя to ую or юю.
  • Masculine, neuter, and all plural animate adjectives take on the genitive case

Some examples:

  • Мальчик видит большую птицу
  • Студент читает интересную книгу
  • Девушка целует своего парня 
  • Мы видели многих людей в Барселоне

Here’s the entire overview of adjectives in the Russian accusative case.

AdjectivesMasc.
Inanim.
Masc.
Anim.
FeminineNeuterPlural
Inanim.
Plural
Anim.
Beautifulкрасивыйкрасивогокрасивуюкрасивоекрасивыекрасивых
Blueсинийсинегосинююсинеесиниесиних
Weirdстранныйстранногостраннуюстранноестранныестранных

Pronouns

Pronouns are nouns that work as ‘placeholders’ for other nouns.

Vlad used to work in a factory before he got fired.

Vlad used to work in a factory before Vlad got fired.

What sounds better?

Before HE got fired, right?

That’s the use of pronouns.

Here’s the overview of all the pronouns in the accusative case:

Nominative caseAccusative case
I/meЯМеня
We/ourМыНас
YouТыТебя
YouВыВас
He/himОнЕго
She/herОнаЕё
ItОноЕго
They/themОниИх

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns are words that mean ‘his’, ‘her’, and ‘our’. 

In the Russian language, they behave like adjectives, so they change according to the noun they represent.

our dog – Наша собака

don’t pet our dog – не гладь нашу собаку

Here’s an overview of all the Russian personal possessive pronouns in the nominative and accusative cases: 

Masc.
Inanim.
Masc.
Anim.
FeminineNeuterPlural
Inanim.
Plural
Anim.
MyМойМоегомоюМоёМоиМоих
Your (informal/single)ТвойТвоеготвоюТвоёТвоиТвоих
OurНашНашегонашуНашеНашиНаших
Your (formal/plural)ВашВашеговашуВашеВашиВаших

Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are ‘this’ and ‘that’. 

As you may have guessed, they also behave as if they’re adjectives 🙂

That person is weird – тот человек странный

Do you see that weird person? – ты видишь того странного человека?

The great thing is that этот and тот have the exact same declensions. Only ‘this’ has an extra э in the beginning.

Here’s an overview of the Russian demonstrative pronouns:

Masc.
Inanim.
Masc.
Anim.
FeminineNeuterPlural
Inanim.
Plural
Anim.
Thisэтотэтогоэтуэтотэтиэтих
Thatтоттоготутоттетех

Interrogative and relative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are question words that point at a noun.

Who? кто

What? что

Which? какой

They can also be used as a connection between sentences.

the book that I bought – книга, которую я купил

Here’s an overview of all the interrogative and relative pronouns in the accusative case.

Masc.
Inanim.
Masc.
Anim.
FeminineNeuterPlural
Inanim.
Plural
Anim.
Whoктокого
Whatчто
Whichкакойкакогокакуюкакоекакиекаких
Whichкоторыйкоторогокоторуюкотороекоторыекоторых

When to use the accusative case in the Russian language?

It’s straightforward when to put nouns in the accusative case. That’s why it’s the easiest case to learn.

Below you find all the reasons when to use the accusative case.

The direct object of the verb

This is the most obvious reason why you meet an accusative noun.

If a noun is a direct object of a verb, it looks like this:

Subject + Verb + Direct Object.

  • я читаю книгу – I read a book
  • Он покупает дом – He buys a house 
  • Полиция бьет мужчину – The police hits the man 
  • Она гладит свою кошку – She pets her cat 
  • Ты ешь кашу – You eat porridge

Can you spot the direct object in each sentence?

So the main meaning of the accusative case is to designate a person or thing to whom or which an action is being done.

Going TO something/somewhere

If you’ve learned the prepositional case before, you know that the prepositions в and на mean ‘in’ or ‘on’ a place. Here they require the prepositional case.

Now it gets a little tricky.

The same 2 prepositions в and на can also mean that you use the accusative case.

But only if it implies a movement. Going TO somewhere.

Can you spot the difference?

  • Я в москве – I am in Moscow
  • Я еду в москву – I go to Moscow

москва is a feminine noun. In the first sentence, it’s in the prepositional case.

In the second sentence, it’s accusative, because you are going to Moscow.

Some more examples:

  •  я на работе – I’m at work (prep.)
  • я иду на работу – I go to work (acc.)

It’s a straightforward usage of the accusative here. But it takes a while to ‘build’ this rule into your spoken Russian language.

Most prepositions trigger just one case. With the prepositions в or на, you always need to think it through.

People still understand you perfectly if make mistakes here, so don’t worry.

Prepositions

Except for the 2 prepositions в or на in the previous paragraph, there are more prepositions that use the accusative case. 

The problem here again is that most of these prepositions can trigger multiple cases.

Though each of them is connected with movement.

Here are all the movement prepositions that use the accusative case:

  • в: (in)to
  • на: (on)to
  • за: [to] behind
  • под: [to] under
  • по: up to
  • с: about
  • про: about
  • о: against
  • сквозь: through
  • через: through, across

Here are examples of each preposition and what to look out for:

PrepositionExample
вя еду в москву – I travel to Moscow
наЯ иду на работу – I’m walking to work
заОн пошел за лестницу – He went behind the stairs
подЧеловек нырнул под воду – The man dove under the water
поЯ по шею в работе – I’m up to my neck in work.
сОн размером со своего брата – He is like his brother in size.
проТы опять говоришь про работу? – Are you talking about work again?
оОн бьется головой о стену – He’s hitting his head on the wall
сквозьсвет сиял сквозь воду – the light shined through the water
черезПуля прошла прямо через ногу – The bullet went straight through his leg

Time expressions

Time expressions are tough in the Russian language. They use a mixture of prepositional, accusative, genitive, dative, and even instrumental cases.

All this requires its own complete lesson.

(I will make one in the future)

Here’s a quick overview of which situations you require the accusative case:

  • to indicate the duration how long a verb lasts: Мы работали там целую неделю/пять часов/долгое время – We worked there a whole week/five hours/a long time.
  • to indicate the duration of a period of time after the verb has ended: Она поехала в деревню на месяц – She drove to the country for a month
  • to indicate in how much time the verb starts: Я позвоню ему на работу через неделю – I’ll call him at work in a week
  • to indicate the verb happens every period. You use a modifier like каждый for this: Мы встречаемся каждую неделю/каждый день/каждый вечер – We meet every week/every day/every evening
  • to indicate the frequency of the action in a specific time frame (раз в ….): Я хожу в кино раз в неделю/два раза в месяц/пять раз в год – I go to the movies once a week/two times a month/five times a year.
  • to indicate a punctual time that is less than one week: Митя придёт в пять часов/в субботу/в ту же минутку – Mitya is coming at five o’clock/on Saturday/this very minute.

What should you do next?

Learning Russian does NOT need to be difficult. All you need is a solid plan that helps you improve the following things daily:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • listening skills
  • speaking skills

That's ALL you need. If you can do this for a couple of weeks, you’ll already be making great progress in your Russian skills.

And the best part? If you improve a little bit every day, soon these practices will become daily habits.

And then you will start making progress on autopilot.

This means that learning Russian is now a part of your daily routine. So you won’t even need discipline anymore to get yourself to practice.

If you like the idea of this, but don’t know where to start, go here for more information.

About the Author

My name is Ari Helderman and I help people learn Russian through videos and blog posts where I share my experience.   I have been learning Russian since 2016. I often get mistaken for a native speaker these days, so I've learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't if you want to speak Russian well.

Ari Helderman

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