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How to Express Plurality in Russian

It’s quite easy to make a plural form of a noun in English: Most of the time, you just need to add the ending –s. In Russian, it’s not that simple, as the language is based on a case system. This means that nouns in different cases have different endings. Let’s study how to express plurality in Russian. For more practice, get a grammar lesson with a tutor.

There are six cases in Russian: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, and prepositional. Let’s focus on the nominative case today.

The Nominative Case

You can see singular forms of nouns in the nominative case in dictionaries. To make the plural form of a noun, you need to add one of the following endings: –ы, –и, –я, or –а.

The Masculine Gender

If a word ends in a consonant, add –ы.

  • Студент → студенты (student → studenty): student → students

If you see –ь at the end of a noun, replace it with –и.

  • День → дни (den’ → dni): day → days

If a word ends in –й, use –и to make the plural form.

  • Гений → гении (genii → genii): genius → geniuses

The Feminine Gender

If a word ends with –я, replace it with –и.

  • Семья → семьи (sem’ya → sem’i): family → families

When you see –а at the end of a word, use –ы instead.

  • Газета → газеты (gazeta → gazety): newspaper → newspapers

However, when before –а you see г, к, х, ж, ч, ш, or щ, you need to use –и.

  • Мартышка → мартышки (martyshka → martyshki): monkey → monkeys

If a word ends in –ь, use the ending –и to make it plural.

  • Ночь → ночи (noch’ → nochi): night → nights

The Neutral Gender

If a word ends in –o, use the ending –а.

  • Письмо → письма (pis’mo → pis’ma): letter → letters

When a noun has –e at the end, use –я instead.

  • Сочинение → сочинения (sochinenie → sochineniya): composition → compositions

As you can see, it’s quite hard to remember all these endings at once. First, you need to learn how to determine noun gender. When you know how to do that, practice making the plural forms of nouns you already know. You can also practice grammar with a Russian tutor to make the language learning process faster and more effective.

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