Lesson 069

The short form of Russian adjectives

As we mentioned before, there are a few forms of adjectives in Russian. You are already familiar with the most used one – the long form. Today we are going to learn another one – the short form.

Formation of the short form of Russian adjectives

For masculine adjectives – just remove the whole ending:

хоро́ший – хоро́ш (good)
краси́вый – краси́в (beautiful)
ми́лый – мил (nice)

For feminine, neuter and plural adjectives – remove the last letter:

хоро́шая – хороша́ (feminine)
красивое – краси́во (neuter)
ми́лые – милы́ (plural)

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Exceptions (for masculine adjectives only):

If a short masculine adjective ends in two consonants, a vowel (Е or О) is inserted between them. The same applies also for Й that is a part of the stem:

злой – зол (evil)
споко́йный – споко́ен (calm)
бли́зкий – бли́зок (close)

Use of the short form of adjectives

1. While the long form describes a permanent or intrinsic condition, the short form is linked to the subject as it’s temporal condition or limited quality. Compare these examples:

Он о́чень занято́й челове́к.
He is a very busy man. (in general, the long form)

Он о́чень за́нят.
He is very busy. (right now, the short form)

Ты счастли́вый челове́к?
Are you a happy man? (in general, the long form)

Тепе́рь ты сча́стлив?
Are you happy now? (in this moment, the short form)

Э́тот го́род краси́вый.
This city is beautiful. (in general, the long form)

Э́тот го́род краси́в зимо́й.
This city is beautiful in winter. (a limited quality, the short form)

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2. If any additional description goes with the adjective, the short form is used:

Стака́н по́лный. / Стака́н по́лон.
The glass is full. (long or short form)

Стака́н по́лон воды́.
The glass is full of water. (only the short form)

Э́тот челове́к знамени́тый. / Э́тот челове́к знамени́т.
This man is famous. (long or short form)

Э́тот челове́к знамени́т свои́м состоя́нием.
This man is famous for his fortune. (only the short form)

3. Some adjectives change their meaning being used in the short form:

Он о́чень живо́й и позити́вный челове́к.
He is a very lively and positive person.

Он ещё жив?
Is he still alive?

Она́ о́чень хоро́шая и до́брая де́вушка.
She is a very good and kind girl.

Она́ о́чень хороша́ собо́й.
She is a very good-looking girl.

4. Some adjectives have no short form. These are adjectives that describe time, place, material, substance, “animal” adjectives and adjectives with -ск-.

зи́мнийof winter
желе́зныйof iron

Listen to the audio track and practice the examples of today’s lesson.

The offline version of this lesson is available here

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2 comments on “069 – The short form of Russian adjectives”

  1. Anita says:

    Hello, since short adjectives are not listed in dictionaries, how would I know if the short form has a meaning different from the long form? Also could you explain the use of ‘собо́й’ (instrumental of себя) in the example Она́ о́чень хороша́ собо́й? Thanks.

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hello Anita,

      Thanks for the questions.

      If you search a short adjective in an online dictionary, you can find it. How well it is translated will be probably different from one dictionary to another. Also, you can try to translate the whole phrase in Google and, most likely, you will get the correct translation. So there is no problem here.

      Хорош(а) собой is an expression. It is not easy to explain and I can not recall any other other that would be used the same way with “собой”. It is better just to memorize it.

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