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139–141 The Pronoun 165

139 The indefinite pronouns ròt-rnó, ròt-xnó, ròt-rfróq

(1) 1Bе-кт, кBе-чт and кBе-какй decline like кто, что and какй
respectively (see 121 and 146 (3) note (b)). Note that кbе- does not
decline. Though both кBе-кт and кBе-чт take singular predicates,
they have plural meaning (кBе-кт ‘one or two people’, кBе-чт ‘a thing
or two’; you know who; you know what’):

1Bе-кт на Зпаде задлся цлью зново «переписть» ист

й миров
й войн1 (Russia Today)
One or two people in the West have set themselves the task of
‘rewriting’ the history of the Second World War

Ндо кBе к ком забежть

I need to pop in to see a couple of people

1Bе на чт смотрли сквbзь пльцы (Rybakov)

Some things they turned a blind eye to

(2) As the examples show, prepositions appear between кBе and the
oblique case form. In constructions with кBе-какй, however, prepositions
may precede or follow кBе:

Он обратлся ко мне кBе с как

ми (or с кBе-как
He approached me with a number of proposals

140 Yérnj, yéxnj

Н кто ‘someone, a certain’ appears only in the nominative (н кто

в ‘one Ivanov’) and н что ‘something’ only in the nominative/
accusative. The pronouns are usually qualified, e.g. н кто в блых
перчтках ‘someone in white gloves’, н что под
бное ‘something

141 Yérjnjhsq

Н который declines like a hard adjective. It appears in a number of

set phrases (в/до н которой стпени ‘to a certain extent’, н которое
врмя ‘a certain time’, с н которого врмени ‘for some time now’),
but usually takes plural form (н которые ‘some, certain’). By
166 The Pronoun 141–143

comparison with н сколько it is selective rather than merely

У неё в гр ппе н сколько инострнных студнтов; н которые из
них блест&щие языковды
There are a few foreign students in her group; some of them are
brilliant linguists

142 Yérbq

(1) The indefinite pronoun н кий declines as follows:

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nom. нк-ий нк-ая нк-ое нк-ие
Acc. нк-ий/нк-оего нк-ую нк-ое нк-ие/нк-оих or
Gen. нк-оего нк-оей/нк-ой нк-оего нк-оих/нк-их
Dat. нк-оему нк-оей/нк-ой нк-оему нк-оим/нк-им
Instr. нк-оим/нк-им нк-оей/нк-ой нк-оим/нк-им нк-оими/нк-ими
Prep. о нк-оем о нк-оей о нк-оем о нк-оих/нк-их

(2) The pronoun’s main function is to qualify surnames: н кий Бргин

‘a certain Bragin’.
(3) The contracted forms н ким, н кой, н ких, н кими are now
preferred by many users of the language: У н кой Иван
вой нет
пспорта ‘A certain Ivanova has no passport’. However, the longer
forms are still found:
Дом принадлежл н коему Кисл1х (Granin)
The house belonged to a certain Kislykh
ссылясь на н коего представтеля в ОÓН (Pravda)
with reference to a certain representative at the UN

143 Other parts of speech which can also function as


Some other parts of speech can also function as pronouns. They include:
(1) Днный ‘present’: в днный момнт ‘at the present moment’.
(2) Од
143 The Pronoun 167

(i) ‘A (certain)’: К вам заходл од

н студнт ‘A student called to see
(ii) ‘The same’: Он учлись в однй шк
ле ‘They went to the same
(3) The reciprocal pronoun дрIг дрга ‘each other’, the first part of which
is invariable, while the second part is governed by the verb or adjective.
Only singular forms are involved, never plural:
Он лcбят дрIг дрга (Uvarova)
They love each other
Он сигнлили дрIг дргу фонар&ми (Aytmatov)
They were signalling to each other with lanterns
Prepositions appear centrally, between дрIг and the declined form:
Он сли на сво кровти дрIг прBтив дрга (Yakhontov)
They sat down opposite each other on their beds.
This does not apply, however, to some secondary prepositions: вблизO
дрxг др га ‘near each other’, благодар дрxг др гу ‘thanks to each
other’, вопрек
дрxг др гу ‘contrary to each other’, навстр чу дрxг
др гу ‘to meet each other’.
ДрIг дрга also functions as a possessive:
Знли о снжном человке по расскзам дрIг дрга (Povolyaev)
They knew of the yeti from each other’s stories.
The Adjective

144 Introduction

(1) Adjectives may be attributive, either preceding the noun (e.g. ‘The
black cat purred’) or following it and separated from it by a comma
(‘A cat, wet with the rain, sat on the step’). Adjectives may also be
predicative, following the noun and linked to it by a verb: ‘The cat is
(2) Adjectives also have comparative forms (‘My car is newer than
yours’) and superlative forms (‘His house is the oldest in the street’).
(3) Most adjectives in Russian have two forms, a long (attributive)
form (e.g. красвый, красвая, красвое, красвые ‘beautiful’) and
a short (predicative) form (e.g. красв, красва, красво, красвы
‘am, is, are beautiful’). This is also true of comparatives.

Subsequently, ‘is, are’ are used to designate the short form.

The Long Form of the Adjective

145 The long adjective: hard endings

(1) Most long adjectives in Russian have hard endings, that is, the first
vowel of the ending is а, о or ы, e.g.
145–146 Long Form 169

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural

нв-ый нв-ая нв-ое нв-ые ‘new’
(2) Hard-ending adjectives decline as follows:
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nom. нв-ый нв-ая нв-ое нв-ые
Acc. нв-ый/нв-ого нв-ую нв-ое нв-ые/нв-ых
Gen. нв-ого нв-ой нв-ого нв-ых
Dat. нв-ому нв-ой нв-ому нв-ым
Instr. нв-ым нв-ой/нв-ою нв-ым нв-ыми
Prep. о нв-ом о нв-ой о нв-ом о нв-ых

(a) The instrumental feminine form in -ою survives mainly in poetry.
(b) End-stressed adjectives (e.g. молодй) decline like нвый except
in the masculine nominative singular and inanimate accusative
singular, which have the ending -й.
(c) -го in adjectival endings is pronounced [vm] ([vo] under stress).

146 ‘Mixed’ declension

(1) The ‘mixed’ declension involves adjectives whose final consonant is

a velar consonant (г, к or х), a palatal sibilant (ж, ч, ш or щ) or ц.
(2) Endings are determined by the spelling rules (see 16 (1) and (2)):
(i) и replaces ы after г, к, х, ж, ч, ш and щ;
(ii) unstressed о is replaced by е after ж, ч, ш, щ and ц.
(3) Declension of рсский ‘Russian’:
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nom. рсск-ий рсск-ая рсск-ое рсск-ие
Acc. рсск-ий/рсск-ого рсск-ую рсск-ое рсск-ие/рсск-их
Gen. рсск-ого рсск-ой рсск-ого рсск-их
Dat. рсск-ому рсск-ой рсск-ому рсск-им
Instr. рсск-им рсск-ой/-ою рсск-им рсск-ими
Prep. о рсск-ом о рсск-ой о рсск-ом о рсск-их

(a) Adjectives in -гий and -хий (e.g. длгий ‘long’, тхий ‘quiet’) decline
like рсский.
170 The Adjective 146–147

(b) End-stressed adjectives have -й in the masculine nominative

singular and inanimate accusative singular, e.g. другй ‘other’,
какй ‘which’, сухй ‘dry’.
(4) Declension of хорший ‘good’:
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nom. хорш-ий хорш-ая хорш-ее хорш-ие
Acc. хорш-ий/-его хорш-ую хорш-ее хорш-ие/хорш-их
Gen. хорш-его хорш-ей хорш-его хорш-их
Dat. хорш-ему хорш-ей хорш-ему хорш-им
Instr. хорш-им хорш-ей/-ею хорш-им хорш-ими
Prep. о хорш-ем о хорш-ей о хорш-ем о хорш-их

(a) Adjectives in -жий (e.g. свжий ‘fresh’), -чий (e.g. горчий ‘hot’)
and -щий (e.g. настощий ‘real’) decline like хорший.
(b) Adjectives in -цый (e.g. кцый ‘dock-tailed’) decline like хорший
except in the masculine nominative singular and inanimate accusative
singular, which end in -ый, the masculine and neuter instrumental
singular (кцым) and the whole of the plural (кцые, кцых etc.).
See 2 (ii) above.
(5) Declension of большй ‘big’:
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nom. больш-й больш-"я больш-е больш-е
Acc. больш-й/-го больш-ю больш-е больш-е/больш-х
Gen. больш-го больш-й больш-го больш-х
Dat. больш-му больш-й больш-му больш-м
Instr. больш-м больш-й/-ю больш-м больш-ми
Prep. о больш-м о больш-й о больш-м о больш-х

Чужй ‘someone else’s’ declines like большй.

147 Soft-ending adjectives

(1) Soft-ending adjectives comprise some forty adjectives in -ний and the
adjective к"рий ‘hazel’ (eye colour).
Declension of послдний ‘last’:
147 Long Form 171

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural

Nom. послдн-ий послдн-яя послдн-ее послдн-ие
Acc. послдн-ий/-его послдн-юю послдн-ее послдн-ие/послдн-их
Gen. послдн-его послдн-ей послдн-его послдн-их
Dat. послдн-ему послдн-ей послдн-ему послдн-им
Instr. послдн-им послдн-ей/-ею послдн-им послдн-ими
Prep. о послдн-ем о послдн-ей о послдн-ем о послдн-их

(2) Adjectives in -ний subdivide into those which express:

(i) Time: веснний ‘spring’, вечрний ‘evening’, всегдшний ‘custo-

mary’, вчершний ‘yesterday’s’, двний ‘long-standing’, давншний
‘of long standing’, дрвний ‘ancient’, звтрашний ‘tomorrow’s’,
змний ‘winter’, лтний ‘summer’, недвний ‘recent’, ннешний
‘present-day’, оснний ‘autumn’, пздний ‘late’, пржний ‘former’,
прошлогдний ‘last year’s’, рнний ‘early’, сегдняшний ‘today’s’,
суббтний ‘Saturday’s’, тепрешний ‘present-day’, тогдшний ‘of
that time’, тренний ‘morning’.

(ii) Location: блжний ‘near’, врхний ‘upper, top’, вншний ‘external’,

внтренний ‘internal’, дльний ‘far’, домшний ‘domestic’, здний
‘back’, здшний ‘of this place’, крйний ‘extreme’, нжний ‘lower,
bottom’, пердний ‘front’, сосдний ‘neighbouring, next’, тмошний
‘of that place’.

(a) Блжний and д"льний express relative distance: блжний гол
‘the near corner’, д"льний гол ‘the far (not ‘the distant’) corner’,
Блжний Востк ‘the Near East’ (i.e. ‘the Middle East’), Д"льний
Востк ‘the Far East’. Note that the counterpart to д"льний
рдственник ‘distant relative’ is рдственник ‘relative’ or блзкий
рдственник ‘close relative’.
(b) Послдний ‘last’ and срдний ‘middle’ can refer to both time and
(c) Some soft endings relate only to compound adjectives: новогдний
‘new year’ (cf. годовй ‘annual’ from год ‘year’), односторнний

(iii) Others: дочрний ‘daughter’s, daughterly’, замжняя ‘married’

(of a woman), скренний ‘sincere’, лшний ‘superfluous’, поржний
‘empty’, сний (dark) ‘blue’, сынвний ‘filial’.
172 The Adjective 148

148 Formation of adjectives from nouns: the suffixes -y-,

-cr- and -jd-/-td-

(1) Unlike English, in which most nouns can also function as adjectives
(e.g. ‘steel’ (noun) becomes ‘steel’ (adjective) in ‘steel bridge’), adjectives
in Russian derive from nouns mainly through suffixation.
(2) The commonest suffix is -н-: thus, ч"йный from чай ‘tea’ (чйная
чшка ‘tea cup’), кмнатный from кмната ‘room’ (кмнатная
температра ‘room temperature’), мстный from мсто ‘place’ (мстный
наркз ‘local anaesthetic’). Г, к, х, ц and л undergo mutation before
suffix -н-:
г:ж юг ‘south’ cжный ‘southern’
к:ч рек ‘river’ речнй ‘river’ (adjective)
х:ш вздух ‘air’ воздшный ‘air’ (adjective)
ц:ч лица ‘street’ личный ‘street’ (adjective)
л : ль шкла ‘school’ шкльный ‘school’ (adjective)
(3) The suffix -ск- is associated mainly with adjectives derived from the
names of:
(i) People, thus : мужскй ‘male’, гражд"нский ‘civic’ etc.

Adjectives from some animate nouns have the suffix -еск-, e.g.
человческий ‘human’ from человк ‘human’. Adjectives derived from
some proper names take the infix -ов-: грьковский from Грький
(ii) Towns, rivers etc. (note also городскй from грод ‘town’, сльский
from сел ‘village’): донскй from Дон ‘the Don’, москвский from
Москв ‘Moscow’.

(a) Some town names ending in a vowel have adjectives in -инский:
алма-атнский from Алм-Ат ‘Alma Ata’ (now also Алмат),
бакнский from Бак ‘Baku’, лтинский from )лта ‘Yalta’ (note
also кубнский ‘Cuban’, cf. куб"нский from 1уб"нь ‘the (river)
(b) Adjectival stress differs in some cases from noun stress: астрах"нский
from *страхань ‘Astrakhan’, новгордский from Нвгород
(c) Consonant mutation occurs in adjectives derived from the names
of some towns, rivers, mountain ranges etc.: влжский from Влга
148–149 Long Form 173

‘the Volga’, пр"жский from Прга ‘Prague’, ржский from Рга

‘Riga’, ур"льский from Урл ‘the Urals’.
(iii) Nationalities and languages: рсский/россйский ‘Russian’,
пльский ‘Polish’, including more recent formations such as зимбаб-
вйский ‘Zimbabwean’. Note that латвйский ‘Latvian’ refers to the
country (e.g. латвйское побержье ‘the Latvian coastline’), whereas
лат*шский ‘Latvian’ refers to the people (e.g. лат*шский язк ‘the
Latvian language’).
(iv) Organizations: дмский ‘Duma’ (adj.), заводскй from завд
‘factory’, н"товский from Н*ТО ‘NATO’ etc.
(v) Months: октбрьский ‘October’ etc. Note the absence of a soft sign
in янв"рский ‘January’ and the infix -ов- in "вгустовский ‘August’,
м"ртовский ‘March’.
(4) The suffix -ов-/-ев- is used to form adjectives from the names of
many trees (e.g. бковый from бук ‘beech’), fruits and vegetables
(e.g. орховый from орх ‘nut’), growing areas (e.g. полевй from
пле ‘field’), metals and alloys (e.g. цнковый from цинк ‘zinc’),
certain other substances (e.g. резновый from резна ‘rubber’), animals
(e.g. слонвый from слон ‘elephant’), suits of cards (e.g. пковый
from пки ‘spades’), colours (e.g. рзовый ‘pink’ from рза ‘rose’),
the names of some young people (e.g. подрстковый/подростквый
from подрсток ‘adolescent’), synthetic materials (e.g. нейлновый
from нейлн ‘nylon’), nouns in -инг (e.g. лзинговый from лзинг
‘leasing’), and other nouns (e.g. звуковй from звук ‘sound’, р"ковый
from рак ‘cancer’ etc.).

149 Adjectival endings with specific meanings

Some adjectival endings have specific meanings. These include:

(1) -ивый, -ливый, -чивый

Adjectives with these endings denote characteristics: ленвый ‘lazy’,
терпелвый ‘patient’, разговрчивый ‘talkative’ etc.

(2) -мый
Adjectives with this ending denote potential qualities (cf. English -ble):
преодолмый ‘surmountable’, раствормый ‘soluble’. Such adjectives
are of participial derivation (see also 344).
174 The Adjective 149–151

(3) -атый
Adjectives with this ending denote possession of the object denoted by
the root noun: перн"тый ‘feathered’, рог"тый ‘horned’.

(4) -астый
Adjectives with this ending denote possession of a prominent physical
feature: груд"стый ‘busty’, скул"стый ‘high-cheek-boned’ etc.

(5) -истый
Adjectives with this ending denote abundance of the feature denoted
by the root noun: тенстый ‘shady’. They can also denote similarity:
золотстый ‘golden’ (of colour etc.) (cf. золотй ‘(made of) gold’).

(6) -чий
Adjectives with this ending denote various states: висчий ‘hanging’
(висчий мост ‘suspension bridge’), сидчий ‘sedentary’ etc. The adjectives
are of participial origin.

150 Nouns with more than one adjective

Nouns with two or more derivative adjectives subdivide as follows:

(1) Different meanings of the same noun are involved. Thus, мир ‘world’
has the adjective мировй (мировя войн ‘world war’), while мир
‘peace’ has the adjective мрный (мрный договр ‘peace treaty’).
(2) The adjectival endings express different qualities or properties of
a noun. Thus, both држеский ‘friendly’ and држный ‘concerted,
harmonious’ derive from друг ‘friend’, as does the official држест-
венный (Переговры проходли в држественной обстанвке
‘The talks were held in a cordial atmosphere’).

151 Possessive adjectives

Possessive adjectives fall into two categories:

(1) The type влчий ‘wolf’s’.
(i) Влчий is declined as follows:

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