I'm studying numerals and I found this example: У меня есть 2 старших брата, и одна старшая сестра far as I know after У меня есть It should be an nominative, so for the rule of the numbers the 2 should need the genitive singular (and thats ok cause брата is right) but why the adjective does not respect this rule? It seems to me in plural (Genitive or Accusative). Can you help me?

  • BTW "двое старших братьев" is correct too.
    – Abakan
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 15:33

3 Answers 3


My understanding of the various facets of the numeral-case system is like this:

1--Both masculine and feminine countable nouns and the adjectives that describe them are in the nominative case. Ex: один чёрный кофе, одна прекрасная принцесcа

2-4 Masculine--Noun is in the genitive singular, adjective in the genitive plural. Ex: два сильных спортсмена, or as in your case: два старших брата

2-4 Feminine--Noun is in the genitive singular, adjective is in the nominative plural. Ex: две сильные спортсменки

5-20--Noun is in the genitive plural, adjective is in the genitive plural Ex: двадцать сумаcшедших людей

  • 1
    neuter кофе is acceptable but still considered poor style by many.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 22:59
  • so один чёрный is preferable? I edited it accordingly. Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 0:11

Well, it's just like that. You have to remember this.

The long story: here "брата" is actually a relict of dual number, not singular. Some time ago it must be kind of "два старша брата", yet adjectives didn't keep any trace of dual form until nowadays, so for 2..4 it is now like this: "plural adjective" + "singular noun".

  • Thanks for reminding us about this dual business. This sort of comment provides "Aha!" explanation, which is much more memorable than a plain list of the fake case names used to simulate the relics of the dual. Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 16:27
  • Yes, it's always nice to know a bit about the history of something if it's available. I actually just finished reading the usage notes for "два" over at Wiktionary. Whoever wrote it does a nice job of it I think, so if you want a few more details about the history (and the usage of this word), here's the link: Wiktionary's Usage Notes for "два." HTH
    – Lisa Beck
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 4:11

Unfortunately I really do not know much English. But the reference to the rules. Maybe someone will be able to translate them. §193. Определение при существительном, зависящем от числительных два, три, четыре

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