Church Slavonic fresco at a monastery in Bucovina, north-eastern Romania.

Russian Grammatical Tables

Russian Grammar

Russian, like most Slavic languages, is highly inflected. But what does inflection mean? An inflected word has been modified to indicate grammatical categories such as tense, mood, and voice for the verbs; case for the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives; and gender and number for all of those categories. The process is called conjugation for the verbs, and declension for the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives.

All of the Indo-European languages exhibit inflection to some degree, although the general trend has been for the extent of declension to decrease over time. Old English was much more inflected than modern English.

Modern English usually adds –s to a noun to indicate plural number. One dog, several dogs. But there is no declension of adjectives, no indication of case for the nouns, and modern English has no grammatical gender outside the pronouns. You say:

Singular Plural
Nominative The black dog barks. The black dogs bark.
Accusative I see the black dog. I see the black dogs.

Declension for case in English is limited to the pronouns:

Nominative I see the dog.
Accusative The dog sees me.
Genitive My dog barks.
Dative The dog brings me the ball.

Old English was much more inflected. Middle English and Modern English have lost more and more inflection, simplifying along the way. This trend is common across the Indo-European family of languages, with the exception of the Slavic languages. Bulgarian and Macedonian have lost most of the declension of adjectives and nouns, but otherwise the Slavic languages remain highly inflected.

Russian Grammar

Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives decline through six cases in Russian. These analogies show that English has mostly lost case inflection. Also, Russian has no indefinite or definite articles (a, an, the):

Nominative — sentence subject:
The black dog barks.
I see the dog.

Accusative — direct object:
I see the black dog.
The dog sees me.

Genitive — "of" or possessive:
The bark of the black dog is loud.
This is my dog.

Prepositional — in, on, under:
The black dog is in the large house.
The dog is sitting on me.

Dative — indirect object:
Give the water to the black dog.
The dog brings the ball to me.

Instrumental — the means by which the subject accomplishes the action:
My sled is pulled by black dogs.
Pasternak was an author, this book was written by him.

Russian verbs are conjugated to indicate number and person. As this table of English analogies reminds us, Modern English has lost the distinction between singular and plural second person pronoun with the disappearance of the singular thee/thou.

singular plural
1st I verb. We verb.
2nd You (singular) verb. You (plural) verb.
3rd He/she/it verbs. They verb.

The verbs indicate tense in a simple system of past, present, and future.

There is also aspect, perfective and imperfective. Imperfective forms indicate that something was (or is, or will be) going on. It's not especially important to indicate if it was completed or not, the point is the ongoing activity:
I was painting the house.
I was going to town.
I listen to music while I work.
The professor will talk.

With the perfective form, the important point is that the act definitely was (or will be) completed.
I painted the house.
I came to town.
I heard the music.
The professor will announce the schedule.

Verbs can be transitive, taking a direct object — see, said — or intransitive, not acting on specific things — walk, talk.

Noun Declension

Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Masc:Neu:Fem:
Nominative



-а/я
-ы/и -а/я -ы/и
Accusative Inanimate: like nom.
Animate: like gen.
-у/ю
Inanimate: like nom.
Animate: like gen.
Genitive -а/я -а/я , -ени -ы/-и -ов/ев,
but -ж/ч/ш/щ/ь
gets -ей
-Ø/й -Ø/ь
Prepositional -е , -ени -е/и -ах/ях
Dative -у/ю -у/ю , -ени -ам/ям
Instrumental -ом/ем -ом/ем , -енем -ой/ей
-ью
-ами/ями

Exceptions to the nominative case endings listed above:

There are a few masculine nouns ending in -а/я. These are mostly:

Nouns ending in -ь can be either masculine or feminine:

There are just ten neuter nouns ending in -мя, the most common are имя or "name", and время or "time".

Exceptions to the genitive case endings listed above:

A few feminine plural words end in -ей, e.g.: тётя —> тётей

Some neuter plural words end in й, e.g.: море —> морей, and здание —> зданий

Exceptions to the usual logic about gender include the handful of animate neuter nouns, which are categories rather than specific entities: дитя or child, животное or animal, существо or creature, божество or divinity, ничтожество or nonentity (when used about a person), and zoological categories such as млекопитающее or mammal, пресмыкающееся or reptile, and so on.

Adjective Declension

Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative -ый/ий/ой -ое/ее -ая/яя -ые/ие
Accusative Inanimate: like nom.
Animate: like gen.
-ую/юю Inanimate: like nom.
Animate: like gen.
Genitive -ого/его -ой/ей -ых/их
Prepositional -ом/ём/ем -ом/ем
Dative -ому/ему -ому/ему -ым/им
Instrumental -ым/им -ым/им -ыми/ими

Personal Pronoun Declension

Singular Plural
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
Nominative я ты он
оно
она
мы вы они
Accusative меня тебя его
его
её
нас вас их
Genitive
Prepositional мне тебе нём
нём
ней
них
Dative мне тебе ему
ему
ей
нам вам им
Instrumental мной тобой им
им
ей
нами вами ими

Interrogative Pronoun Declension

who what whose
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative кто что чей чьё чья чьи
Accusative кого что чей / чьего чьё чью чьи / чьих
Genitive кого чего чьего чьего чьей чьих
Prepositional ком чём чьём чьём чьей чьих
Dative кому чему чьему чьему чьей чьим
Instrumental кем чем чьим чьим чьей / чьею чьими

As an adjective, "what" is какой and "which" is который. They decline like adjectives.

Possessive Pronoun Declension

Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative мой
твой
наш
ваш
чей
моё
твоё
наше
ваше
чьё
моя
твоя
наша
ваша
чья
мои
твои
наши
ваши
чьи
Accusative Inanimate: like nom.
Animate: like gen.
мою
твою
нашу
вашу
чью
Inanimate: like nom.
Animate: like gen.
Genitive моего
твоего
нашего
вашего
чьего
моей
твоей
нашей
вашей
чьей
моих
твоих
наших
ваших
чьих
Prepositional моём
твоём
нашем
вашем
чьём
моих
твоих
наших
ваших
чьих
Dative моему
твоему
нашему
вашему
чьему
моим
твоим
нашим
вашим
чьим
Instrumental моим
твоим
нашим
вашим
чьим
моими
твоими
нашими
вашими
чьими

These possessive pronouns do not decline:
his = его
her = её
their = их

Verbs — Present Tense

Conjugation I, Infinitive ends -ть

-ем
-ешь -ете
-ет -ют

читать conjugates as:

читаю читаем
читаешь читаете
читает читают

Conjugation II, Infinitive ends -ить

-им
-ишь -ите
-ит -ят

говорить conjugates as:

говорю говорим
говоришь говорите
говорит говорят
Russian Orthodox Church in the Kremlin.

Cathedral inside the Moscow Kremlin. Click here for more pictures from Russia.

Verbs — Past Tense

For regular verbs, replace -ть with:
-л masculine singular
-ла feminine singular
-ло neuter singular
-ли plural

For reflexive verbs, make the ending:
-лся masculine singular
-лась feminine singular
-лось neuter singular
-лись plural

Verbs ending in -ти are exceptions, and do not generalize easily. See a detailed grammar or table of verb endings.

Verbs — Future Tense

Use the future tense of -быть with the infinitive of the main verb.

буду будем
будешь будете
будет будут

Suggested references

This page is intended for my use as a simple set of tables. For real answers, see:

The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners — Readable, it can answer my questions or remind me what I've forgotten.

A Comprehensive Russian Grammar — Far more than I will ever know...