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What Is the Nominative Case in Russian?



Today we’re going to explain what the nominative case is in the Russian language and when it is used. It’s one of the six Russian grammatical cases. Don’t forget that you can always order a Russian lesson to learn grammar in more detail.


What Is the Nominative Case?

The nominative case is the initial form of Russian nouns. You can find examples of nouns in the nominative form in dictionaries and vocabulary lists, as they are always presented in their unmodified form. So, to use a noun in the nominative case is easy: take the dictionary form of the noun and use it in sentences that answer the questions “Who?” (“Кто?” – Kto?) and “What?” (“Что?” – Chto?). For example, use the nominative form with “Это…” (Eto – This is…).

  • Кто это? (Kto eto?)

  • Who is this?

  • Это мальчик. (Eto mal’chik.)

  • This is a boy.

Unlike nouns in other grammatical cases, nouns in the nominative case are used without prepositions.


When Should You Use the Nominative Case?

We use the nominative case when we speak about something (a person or an object) that performs an action or about a person’s characteristics. Look at the examples:

  • Мальчик плачет. (Mal’chik plachet.)

  • The boy cries.

  • Девочка играет. (Devochka igraet.)

  • The girl plays.

  • Ребенок красив. (Rebyonok krasiv.)

  • The child is beautiful.

When we define a person or an object or classify either as belonging to a specific group or population, we also use the nominative case.

  • Санкт-Петербург – культурная столица России. (Sankt-Peterburg – kul’turnaya stolitsa Rossiii.)

  • Saint Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia.

  • Маша студентка. (Masha studentka.)

  • Masha is a student.

In the second example, Masha is being classified as belonging to a specific group, in this case students.


The third and the last instance when we use the nominative case is to define a person or object to which the action is directed.

  • Дом построен Джеком. (Dom postroen Djekom.)

  • The house was built by Jack.

  • Письмо написано мамой. (Pis’mo napisano mamoi.)

  • The letter was written by Mom.


Practice Using the Nominative Case

The nominative case is by far the simplest of the six Russian cases. While this post should give you a clear understanding of what the nominative case in Russian is and when you need to use it, you still need to practice. Study Russian with a teacher to polish your Russian.

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