Lesson 046

The Instrumental case in Russian

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In this lesson, we start learning the Instrumental case. Here you can find the general explanation and the prepositions used with the Instrumental case. In the following lessons we will learn to form the Instrumental case with Russian nouns and pronouns.

The Instrumental case answers the questions:

– by means of what/whom?
– with what/whom?

In Russian, those questions are кем?, чем?.

Nouns, pronouns and adjectives in the Instrumental case are highlighted in this lesson.

Use of the Instrumental case

Russian Pod 101

1. It denotes the instrument or agent by which the action is performed. The instrument can include parts of the body.

– Я откры́ла дверь ключо́м.
(откры́ла чем? – ключо́м)
– I opened the door with a key.

– Он пнул мяч ного́й.
(пнул чем? – ного́й)
– He kicked the ball with his foot.

2. We use the Instrumental to talk about the accompaniment (usually with the preposition c):

– Он ушёл гуля́ть с детьми́.
(ушёл гуля́ть с кем? – с детьми́)
– He went for a walk with the kids.

– Мы с тобо́й давно́ знако́мы.
(мы с кем? – с тобо́й)
– You and I have known each other for a long time.

3. It is often used without any prepositions with the following verbs:

рабо́татьto work
бытьto be
явля́тьсяto be
станови́тьсяto become
оказа́тьсяto turn out to be
каза́тьсяto seem
занима́тьсяto be engaged/occupied with
интересова́тьсяto be interested in
управля́тьto govern, to manage
владе́тьto possess
облада́тьto have, to possess
торгова́тьto trade in
горди́тьсяto be proud of
по́льзоватьсяto use
рискова́тьto risk
е́здитьto go/drive

Keep in mind that many these verbs can be used with other cases too.

Examples:

– Он рабо́тает учи́телем.
– He works as a teacher.

– Э́то ка́жется интере́сным.
– It seems interesting.

– Вы интересу́етесь поли́тикой?
– Are you interested in politics?

– Его́ роди́тели им гордя́тся.
– His parents re proud of him.

The prepositions used with the Instrumental

The Instrumental case can be used with or without preposition. Somе prepositions are used only with the Instrumental case, for example:

ме́ждуbetween
пе́редin front of
ря́домnext to, near
надabove/over

Other prepositions that can be used with the Instrumental case are:

подunder
заbehind
cwith

Examples:

Ме́жду на́ми два ме́тра.
– There are two meters between us.

Над го́родом ту́чи.
– There are clouds over the city.

– Он останови́лся пе́ред две́рью.
– He stopped in front of the door.

– Я с удово́льствием помогу́ вам.
– I’ll help you with pleasure.

Join us in the next lessons where we continue to study Russian and Russian Instrumental case.

The offline version of this lesson is available here

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6 comments on “046 – The Instrumental case”

  1. Owais says:

    Make Infinitive sentences in instrumental case

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Owais,

      It’s it very easy, you can do it yourself:

      – Работать учителем.
      To work as a teacher.

      – Являться сторонником.
      To be a supporter.

      – Казаться правильным.
      To seems right.

      – Торговать одеждой.
      To sell clothes.

  2. Richard Parker says:

    Здравствуйте!
    Instrumental Case: 046
    #2
    These are your examples;

    Russian : «Мы с тобой давно знакомы.»
    English: “You and I have been known each other for a long time.”

    In the above English construction the translation does not make any sense.
    If you were to add ‘TO’ (as a conjunction) after the word ‘known’, then ‘to’ joins together the two incomplete part phrases. It then makes perfect sense.
    You could then say,
    “You and I have been known TO each other for a long time”.
    OR: (more simply)
    “We have known each other for a long time”.
    OR: (simply remove the word ‘been’ from your example)
    “You and I have known each other for a long time”. This is also correct and is more commonly heard in everyday speech.

    Thank you very much for this lesson.
    Personally I find the Instrumental Case very difficult to understand. I cannot seem to connect with how КЕМ and ЧЕМ both function in question form.
    Your lead-in to the lesson information, states that the Instrumental Case answers the questions, КЕМ? and ЧЕМ?
    I think it would be extremely helpful at this point if you would please include a few examples with question and answers, using both КЕМ and ЧЕМ to demonstrate their usage.
    Best Regards.
    Richard Parker.
    Alberta, Canada

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Richard,

      Thank you very much for the correction and sorry for replying so late.

      Also thank you for the suggestion. I have included the questions кем? and чем? in the first few examples. I hope it helps to grasp it better. 🙂

  3. Suporn says:

    For the sentence: Мы с тобо́й давно́ знако́мы.
    (You and I have known each other for a long time.)

    Could you help explain a bit the way to structure this kind of statement ‘Мы с тобо́й’ ?
    Normally Russian will say ‘We, with you’, instead of ‘You and I’, is it correct?

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Suporn,

      Yes, this is a more natural way to say it in Russian. For example:

      – my husband and I – мы с мужем
      – your wife and you – вы с женой
      – you and I – мы с тобой or мы с вами (when you is plural)

      I.e. first you summarize (we) and then specify with whom (with …).

      But it’s mostly applied to the first and second person. When you talk about the 3d person, you might use a structure more close to English:

      – он с друзьями ушел в поход – he went camping with friends
      – она с ним давно знакома – she knows him for a while

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