If you want to say there is only one unicorn in Moscow (just one in the whole city), you could use the expression "одни на всю Москву". Or other examples:

  • На всю Москву всего лишь сотня белых слонов
  • По всей Москве по пальцам можно пересчитать банкоматы в отделениях, при этом только один банкомат на всю Москву работает круглосуточно (source)

I think I can understand why this uses на instead of в Москве. But why does it use the accusative instead of prepositional? It describes a static situation, not motion into Moscow.

Also, what is the difference in usage between "по всей Москве" and "на всю Москву", which are used in the same sentence.

  • 1
    You can also say Во всей Москве лишь один единорог
    – alamar
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 9:34

3 Answers 3


На here means "per, for", as of a fraction denominator. It's used with accusative in this sense indeed.

Очень жаль, что на десять девчонок по статистике девять ребят // That's a shame that statistically there are nine boys for every ten girls.

И, значит, нам нужна одна победа, одна на всех, мы за ценой не постоим // So then we need one victory, one for all, whatever the cost.

По всей Москве means "all over Moscow".

This preposition is misused here, it would have been properly used if the author wanted to say there are plenty of ATM, so that there's always one close to you no matter where in Moscow you are:

По всей Москве в отделениях есть банкоматы // There are ATM in the offices all over Moscow.

If I were to complain about the lack of the ATM, I'd use во всей Москве.


"На всю Москву" means "the whole of Moscow", whereas "По всей Москве" means "all over Moscow". "По всей Москве" has a connotation of spreading by area, i.e. "По всей Москве всего лишь сотня белых слонов" means that all elephants are distributed over area of Moscow town. And "На всю Москву всего лишь сотня белых слонов" emphasizes to a quantity of elephants ("Oh, there are only hundred of white elephants to the whole of Moscow").

Also when we speak about one object, "На всю Москву" will mean just "There is only one object in Moscow", whereas "По всей Москве" will mean "The object is spread over Moscow" (like a smoke, a fog, etc.) or something like "The object can be found in various parts of Moscow" (Слон бегает по всей Москве — The elephant is running all over the city).


The meaning на всю Москву can be explained as existential or as you called it "static".Москва often refers to Moscow population or as an idiom "a lot of people". The translation might be "for the whole Moscow ".(один на всю Москву,шум на всю Москву, известен на всю Москву и т.д.).По всей Москве means spreading around or moving around, at least doing something in different parts of Moscow. (Слух обо мне пройдет по всей Москве великой...А.С.Пушкин) You can count terminals (moving)по всей Москве (though there's an idiom)but there's only one terminal (exists for the whole territory or population )на всю Москву which works twenty-four hours a day.

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