The first example appears to be not flective at all, like in analytical languages. The second is sound more correctly to me, because it's using grammatical case... Am I right? The second is right and first is wrong? Thank you!

  • 1
    All of the examples are equally flective. The fact that certain oblique case forms coincide with the nominative doesn't make them "analytical". If you used a word from a different paradigm, say, колбаса, you'd have купи колбасу vs. купи колбасы. The "analytical" construction would be купи колбаса, and it's just ungrammatical. However, the accusative of сыр happens to be сыр. Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 17:00
  • "купи сыру" sounds a little bit outdated. "купи сыр" is a contemporary language. I can not say about old language, but nowadays suffices are used to build accusative only for animate substantives (but this rule is often violated even by native speakers)
    – Paul
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


The first one is "buy the expensive cheese", the second one "buy some expensive cheese".

As its English counterpart, the first one can only be used in context, since "the" implies we know what cheese exactly are we talking about.

It might be used in a conversation like that:

— Купи сыру.

— Какой сыр покупать? Есть дорогой и дешёвый, но дешёвый невкусный.

— У нас сегодня гости. Купи дорогой сыр.

This distinction, though, only works for uncountable nouns.

The first example appears to be not flective at all, like in analytical languages.

It's used in accusative, which is an oblique case. It's more obvious if we use a 1st desclension noun with different forms in accusative and nominative:

Вода (nom.) / купи воду (acc.) / купи воды (gen.)

  • The very first sentence: There is no "the" in Russian. "Купи дорогой сыр" could just as well be "buy expensive cheese" (since 'cheese' is uncountable). Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 11:57
  • Besides, the "conversation" you gave as an example, could just as well start with "Купи сыр.", and your entire "analysis" flies out the window. Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 11:58
  • 2
    @VictorBazarov I'm afraid you're missing the point about "the". Underlying English articles is a grammatical category of definiteness/indefiniteness, that usually but not necessarily expresses itself in a language as articles. It's an abstraction that can theoretically be reflected in any actual grammatical distinction. That category is generally absent in Russian, but купи сыр vs. купи сыру is a clear example of it; and that's what is meant by translating it as "buy the cheese" vs. "buy some cheese". Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 16:50
  • @VictorBazarov: yes, it could start with купи сыр, the same way it could start with "buy the cheese" in English. It would be understood, and probably attributed to a slip of the tongue or to general laxity in speech, but this is not the way people usually talk.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 18:37

Technically we may use three cases here.

  • Accusative Купи сыр
  • Genitive I Купи сыра
  • Genitive II (or Partitive) Купи сыру

Here the difference between Acc. and Gen. is referring to definite vs indefinite subject. That is купи сыр translates into buy cheese, while купи сыру into buy some cheese.

Choosing Gen. II over Gen. I is rather optional. Personally, I'd say "купи сыра" but it's probably the matter of dialect etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.