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Whilst learning the Russian language I stumbled upon this sentence:

Хорошо, когда будете в аэропорту в Лондоне, позвони ещё раз.

Good, when you are at the airport in London, call me again.

And I'm wondering why it is аэропорту (dativ / masculine)? During my classes I learned that the preposition в 99% with the prepositional case. So what do I miss here at this point? I would appreciate any kind of hint, thank you!

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    It is not Dative, it is the Locative case. Look here: russian.stackexchange.com/questions/1630/… – Yellow Sky Sep 28 '15 at 21:50
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    You mix plural (будете) and single (позвони). This is only possible if you mean: "When you (and your companions) are at the airport, (you only) call me again". Otherwise, you have to use either both single (будешь, позвони) or plural (будете, позвоните). – Matt Sep 29 '15 at 5:44
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    I learned that the preposition **в** 99% with the prepositional case Not really. 50% prepositional; 50% accusative. – Matt Sep 29 '15 at 6:07
  • @user4419802 : about mixing plural and singular, it's possible when "будете" refers to, say, a group with which the individual travels. – Victor Bazarov Sep 29 '15 at 17:55
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There are several dozen nouns, 2nd-declension masculine and overwhelmingly monosyllabic (аэропорт is on this list because it mimics the declension of порт), that have two propositional forms; a regular prepositional used with о, при, and figurative instances of в and на (Что особенного в этом аэропорте? Вполне обыкновенный на вид), and an (or ) prepositional used with в and на when they literally refer to location, as in your example. On a side note, the / ending is always stressed, making it inherently different from dative in many cases. Dative, in fact, has nothing to do with this whatsoever.

This is all you need to know in order to use these forms correctly (apart from the actual word list; that link in the first comment is comprehensive enough, though one always forgets a few when one tries to list them).

And now I'll ramble on a little more about the theoretical stuff.

You might hear the expression "locative case" thrown around, and there's some potential confusion there. What's known in Russian as the "prepositional case" is, historically, the locative case, and it goes by that name in several other Slavic languages.

In Russian, however, we have a non-standard case ending that refers to location, hence it gets called the "locative case". But like I said, there was a time when "prepositional" was locative, and then Russian has a limited-use "locative" case on top of its locative-renamed-prepositional. The tricky thing here is that while forms like в аэропорту are archaic, the distinction between в аэропорту and в аэропорте is innovative. In Proto-Slavic, these nouns would either always have an -u locative or always have a locative (or always have something else entirely), depending on their paradigm, which was much more complicated than the Russian declension we have now. In Russian, the () ending supplanted all others, but a few leftover -u forms remained, and eventually were grammaticalised in a new role as "the locative locative", as opposed to the "general" locative now called prepositional.

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  • Except those nouns are of 2nd declension... – Victor Bazarov Oct 13 '15 at 14:46
  • @VictorBazarov Are they officially now? Because I was taught at one point to swap the 1st and the 2nd because that was how the academics numbered them, as opposed to mere mortals. Zaliznyak's name was mentioned if I remember correctly. I'm the first to agree it's confusing and pointless. – Nikolay Ershov Oct 13 '15 at 14:53
  • У Зализняка - "тип склонения", а не "склонение". "Порт" по-прежнему во втором склонении, а тип склонения 1е... Или что, уже первое, второе и третье склониния отменили? – Victor Bazarov Oct 13 '15 at 14:56
  • См., например, Викисловарь. – Victor Bazarov Oct 13 '15 at 14:56
  • @VictorBazarov понял, исправил, спасибо. – Nikolay Ershov Oct 13 '15 at 14:58
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Hard to believe, but this modern word is used with archaic местный (locative) case. It is supposed to not exist nowadays but it actually does. Another example, could be в лесу. Locative case mostly assimilates (uses same inflection) with prepositional, but for some words - with dative.

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    Locative and prepositional were always one and the same; dative has nothing to do with this at all. This isn't an archaic case but the remnant of an archaic paradigm, and the literal/figurative distinction of в лесу vs. о лесе is an innovation that doesn't go back to Proto-Slavic. (Which just had -u in the prepositional for some masculine nouns and for others, same as it had -u in the dative for some masculine nouns and -ovi for others.) – Nikolay Ershov Oct 13 '15 at 13:50

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