THE INSTRUMENTAL CASE IN RUSSIAN
Do you know in how many situations the Instrumental Case is used in Russian?
Here is a list with the most common of them:
– To indicate the instrument of the action;
– After certain prepositions;
– After certain verbs;
– In the Passive Voice;
– In certain time expressions.
As you can see, the Instrumental Case is very useful. Once you have learnt it, you will notice a significant improvement in your Russian.
To make the Instrumental Case easy to learn, I will divide this lesson into 4 parts:
If there is any specific part of the lesson you would like to study first, feel free to click on the above titles in blue.
In this lesson, we won’t talk about plural nouns and adjectives in the Instrumental Case because we already have a complete lesson about this subject here at Mighty Russian.
If you already know when to use the Instrumental Case and how it’s used with singular nouns, you can go straight to the next lesson:
NOUNS IN THE INSTRUMENTAL CASE
Nouns in the Instrumental Case take 5 different endings: “ОМ”, “ЕМ”, “ОЙ”, “ЕЙ” and “Ю”.
First, let’s take a look at a table with all the situations in which you will use these endings and then I will explain them one by one.
When masculine nouns end in a consonant, add “ОМ”:
студент – студентом (student)
врач – врачом (doctor)
друг – другом (friend)
компьютер – компьютером (computer)
When neuter nouns end in “О“, add “М“:
письмо – письмом (letter)
утро – утром (morning)
лето – летом (summer)
When masculine nouns end in “Й” and “Ь”, replace these letters with “ЕМ”:
учитель – учителем (teacher)
музей – музеем (museum)
герой – героем (hero)
When neuter nouns end in “Е“, add “М“:
море – морем (sea)
поле – полем (field)
When feminine and masculine nouns end in “А“, replace “А” with “ОЙ“:
ручка – ручкой (pen)
мама- мамой (mom)
машина – машиной (car)
дедушка – дедушкой (grandfather)
There is a small exception, though. If the last syllable of the noun is not stressed and the last consonant is “Ж”, “Ш”, “Щ” or “Ц”, you will add “ЕЙ” instead of “ОЙ”:
улица – улицей (street)
(the stress is on “У” and the last consonant is “Ц”)
крыша – крышей (roof)
(the stress is on “Ы” and the last consonant is “Ш”)
When masculine and feminine nouns end in “Я“, replace “Я” with “ЕЙ“:
тётя – тётей (aunt)
Настя – Настей
дядя – дядей (uncle)
When feminine nouns end in “Ь“, add “Ю“:
ночь – ночью (night)
тетрадь – тетрадью (notebook)
осень – осенью (autumn)
кровать – кроватью (bed)
And those were all the patterns you need to know in order to use the Instrumental Case.
I know it’s scary to look at all these rules, but you don’t have to memorize all of them at once.
Try and practice your Russian on a regular basis and you will naturally feel when to use each of the endings.
Probably you noticed that the endings we add to nouns depend on whether the noun in masculine, feminine or neuter.
If you are not familiar with the concept of gender in Russian, you can check out our complete lesson about it clicking here.
We also have Instrumental Pronouns. You will use them the same way you use other pronouns, but only in the situations in which the Instrumental Case is required.
Now let’s learn the situations in which we use the Instrumental Case one by one.
WHEN AND HOW TO USE THE INSTRUMENTAL CASE
The Instrumental Case in Russian is used mainly in 5 situations.
1) The Instrumental Case to indicate the instrument of an action
As the name of the case suggests, the Instrumental Case is used to indicate the instrument of an action.
Я пишу ручкой (I write with a pen)
Я ем ложкой (I eat with a spoon)
In these sentences, “pen / ручка” and “spoon / ложка” are instruments.
To indicate an instrument in English, we normally use the preposition “with”.
In Russian, however, no preposition is used. Instead, we put the noun into the Instrumental Case.
2) The Instrumental Case with prepositions
The Instrumental Case is used with prepositions in two situations:
1) With the preposition “С”
2) With prepositions of place
Let’s start with the preposition “С”, which is a little bit more complicated.
In Russian, the preposition “С” has two meanings: “with” and “from”.
You have to be careful because we use the Instrumental Case with the preposition “С” only in the meaning of “with”.
When the meaning of the preposition “С” is “from”, we will use the Genitive Case. If you don’t know how to use the Genitive Case yet, you can check out our complete lesson about it clicking here.
Here are some examples:
Я разговариваю с другом (I’m talking with a friend)
Он живёт с женой (He lives with his wife)
Now, there is another detail you have to be careful with.
You won’t use “С” plus the Instrumental Case whenever you have the preposition “with” in English.
Remember that in English, the preposition “with” can be used to indicate an instrument.
But as I mentioned before, in Russian, you don’t need any preposition when you talk about an instrument.
If you prefer, you can translate the preposition “С” as “together with”. This way, it will be less confusing.
Now let’s move on to the prepositions of place.
These are the prepositions of place that are used with the Instrumental Case:
There is no secret here. Whenever you use any of these prepositions to tell the location of something, you will put the noun into the Instrumental Case.
Над кроватью висит картина (There is a painting above the bed)
Под столом лежит кот (There is a cat under the table)
Перед диваном стоит телевизор (There is a TV in front of the sofa)
За домом стоит машина (There is a car behind the house)
Между машиной и деревом лежит собака (There is a dog between the car and the tree)
3) Verbs followed by a noun in the Instrumental Case
This situation is also very simple.
In Russian, there are some verbs that are always followed by the Instrumental Case. All you have to do is try and memorize them as you practice your Russian.
These are the most common verbs:
Feel free to take a screenshot and even print out the picture above so you can study later.
To make sure everything is clear, let’s take a look at some more examples:
Я хочу стать учителем (I want to become a teacher)
Он был президентом (He was the president)
Он работает инженером (He works as an engineer)
Пётр занимается политикой (Peter is engaged in politics)
Торт пахнет шоколадом (The cake smells of chocolate)
Я пользуюсь телефоном (I use a cellphone)
Мать гордится сыном (The mother is proud of her son)
Я интересуюсь музыкой (I am interested in music)
Note that in the present tense in Russian, the verb “быть” (“be” in English) is omitted and the noun takes the Nominative Case.
We use the Instrumental Case only when the verb “быть” is NOT omitted. For example:
Я учитель (I’m a teacher)
Я был учителем (I was a teacher)
Я буду учителем (I will be a teacher)
4) The Instrumental Case with the Passive Voice
I believe it will be easier to understand how the Instrumental Case is used with the Passive Voice if we first take a look at some examples in English:
The letter was written by the boy
The house was built by the bricklayer
We have two sentences in the Passive Voice and in both of them we are using the preposition “by” to indicate who did the action, right?
When you have this situation in Russian, you won’t need any preposition. All you have to do to indicate who did the action is use the Instrumental Case.
Письмо было написано мальчиком (The letter was written by the boy)
Дом был построен каменщиком (The house was built by the bricklayer)
5) The Instrumental Case in certain time expressions
When talking about time, we mostly use the Instrumental Case in two situations:
1 – To talk about parts of the day:
Я учусь утром (I study in the morning)
Он не работает днём (He doesn’t work in the afternoon)
Моя семья любит смотреть фильмы вечером (My family loves watching movies in the evening)
Он никогда не спит ночью (He never sleeps at night)
2 – To talk about seasons:
Зимой всегда идёт снег (It always snows in the winter)
Весной цветы очень красивые (Flowers are very beautiful in the spring)
Летом дети играют на улице (Kids play outside in the summer)
Осенью листья становятся жёлтыми (Leaves turn yellow in the autumn)
Note that in all these situations, all we have to do is put the noun that indicates the period of time into the Instrumental Case.
And these were the situations in which we use the Instrumental Case in Russian.
Now let’s learn how we can use adjectives in the Instrumental Case.
ADJECTIVES IN THE INSTRUMENTAL CASE
Adjectives in the Instrumental Case are used in the same situations as nouns, but they are much simpler.
Adjectives used with masculine and neuter nouns have the endings “ЫМ” and “ИМ”.
And adjectives used with feminine nouns have the endings “ОЙ” and “ЕЙ”.
Let’s take a look at when we should use each of these endings.
1) Adjectives with masculine nouns in the Instrumental Case
- When adjectives end in “ЫЙ” and “ОЙ“, replace these endings with “ЫМ”:
новый телефон – новым телефоном (a new cellphone)
молодой человек – молодым человеком (a young person)
старый друг – старым другом (an old friend)
Note that when the last consonant of the adjective is “К”, “Г”, “Ш”, “Щ”, “Ч”, “Ж” and “Х”, the adjective takes the ending “ИМ” instead of “ЫМ”:
большой дом – большим домом (a big house)
дорогой телефон – дорогим телефоном (an expensive cellphone)
чужой человек – чужим человеком (a stranger)
- When adjectives end in “ИЙ“, replace “ИЙ” with “ИМ”:
синий карандаш – синим карандашом (a blue pencil)
хороший брат – хорошим братом (a good brother)
русский человек – русским человеком (a Russian person)
2) Adjectives with neuter nouns in the Instrumental Case
Neuter adjectives take the same endings as masculine adjectives.
- Replace the ending “ОЕ” with “ЫМ”:
новое платье – новым платьем (a new dress)
доброе утро – добрым утром (good morning)
знакомое лицо – знакомым лицом (familiar face)
The same spelling rule is applied in this situation. You will use “ИМ” when the last consonant of the adjective is “К”, “Г”, “Ш”, “Щ”, “Ч”, “Ж” and “Х”:
большое окно – большим окном (a big window)
тихое море – тихим морем (a quiet sea)
дорогое платье – дорогим платьем (an expensive dress)
- When adjectives end in “ЕЕ“, replace “ЕЕ” with “ИМ”:
летнее платье – летним платьем (a summer dress)
хорошее место – хорошим местом (a good place)
синее небо – синим небом (a blue sky)
3) Adjectives with feminine nouns in the Instrumental Case
- When adjectives end in “АЯ”, replace “АЯ” with “ОЙ”:
старая квартира – старой квартирой (an old apartment)
красивая девушка – красивой девушкой (a beautiful girl)
светлая комната – светлой комнатой (a light room)
Here we have a different spelling rule. When the last consonant of the adjective is “Ч”,“Ш”, “Щ” “Ж” and “Ц” and the last syllable is NOT stressed, the adjective takes the ending “ЕЙ” instead of “ОЙ”:
хорошая книга – хорошей книгой (a good book)
горячая вода – горячей водой (hot water)
свежая клубника – свежей клубникой (fresh strawberries)
- When adjectives end in “ЯЯ”, replace “ЯЯ” with “ЕЙ”:
зимняя куртка – зимней курткой (a winter jacket)
ранняя весна – ранней весной (early spring)
вечерняя передача – вечерней передачей (an evening program)
POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS IN THE INSTRUMENTAL CASE
In the Instrumental Case, you will use the following Possessive Pronouns:
You will use these pronouns in the same 5 situations you have just learnt.
Я разговариваю со своим братом (I am talking with my brother)
Он был за твоим домом (He was behind your house)
Маша пользуется моим компьютером (Masha uses my computer)
And that’s all you need to use the Instrumental Case in Russian.
I hope everything got clear, but if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments below.
I will be very happy to help you!