Lesson 017

The Nominative case in Russian

Today, we start a large and complicated topic of the Russian grammatical cases. You might find it daunting in the beginning, but don’t worry. We will walk you through all of the cases step by step and help you to master them all. So let’s begin.

While in English the order of words in a sentence plays a big role, in Russian, you can enjoy the freedom of putting the words in any order you like. So for example the phrase “mom loves dad” can be translated in Russian as:

ма́ма лю́бит па́пу,
па́пу лю́бит ма́ма,
ма́ма па́пу лю́бит.

With such an approach of structuring sentences, the only way the Russians can understand “who loves whom” is by looking at the endings of the nouns which change depending on the situation.

There are just 6 possible ways of how the noun endings can change. These ways are called cases. These cases are:

– Nominative
– Genitive
– Dative
– Accusative
– Instrumental
– Prepositional

You are already familiar with the Nominative case. This is the initial case and the dictionary form of the nouns. It answer the questions “who?” (кто?) or “what?” (что?).

The other 5 cases we will learn in the following lessons.

Russian Pod 101

How to distinguish the Nominative case?

In a sentence, the Nominative case is taken by the subject – acting noun or pronoun. For example:

Челове́к идёт.
A man is walking.
Челове́к is in the Nominative

Ча́шка упа́ла и разби́лась.
The cup fell and broke.
Ча́шка is in the Nominative

Sometimes, entire phrases may act as a subject and take the Nominative case, for example:

Рестора́н “Добро́ пожа́ловать” и́щет официа́нтов.
Restaurant “Welcome” is hiring waiters.
Рестора́н “Добро́ пожа́ловать” is the subject in the Nominative case

Some sentences may consist of just one word in the Nominative case.



This is it for this lesson. Practice the examples with the audio track and come back for the next lesson where we will continue to learn Russian and Russian grammatical cases.

The offline version of this lesson is available here

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5 comments on “017 – The Nominative case in Russian”

  1. Ysama says:

    Can you send me simplified book for russian grammers on pdf form

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Ysama,

      Sorry, but we don’t have such a book.

  2. Zain ali says:

    If I say ‘я читаю книгу’ then ‘я’ will be in nominative case?
    But then why книга changed to книгу?
    Is this change of ending also due to some other case except nominative?

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Zain,

      In a sentence, there is only one noun or pronoun in the Noominative case – it is the one that acts.

      So yes, in your example, Я is in the Nominative case.

      All other nouns and pronouns take the cases depending on the context and the verb used. When you read, write, watch, or see something, this something is in the Accusative case and takes the respective ending.

      We have lessons about all the cases. At the bottom of the lesson, there are links to related lessons. You can follow them to learn about every case, when it is used and how the words change in this case.

      If you have more questions, we are happy to help.

  3. baghdad says:


    де́вочка, means girl
    is it written like that??

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