As far as I know you just have to know which words go with "на" and which with "в" concerning "going to".

However I was wondering isn't it possible for certain words to be used with both prepositions?

For example:

Я иду на театр. - I am going to see a play (in the theatre)
Я иду в театр. - I am going inside the theatre building for whatever reasons


5 Answers 5


Я иду на театр. - I am going to see a play (in the theatre)

Nope. No one says so. Should be "Я иду на спектакль (пьесу)".

isn't it possible for certain words to be used with both prepositions?

Well, yes, but the meaning could differ a little. For example,

Я иду на поле --> I go on the field (any field: meadow, battle field, playing field etc.)
Я иду в поле --> I go on the field (only in primary meaning: meadow / wheat field)

  • So, how would I go about saying "I went to the theater.", meaning "I went to see a play", and "I went to the theater.", meaning "I went to the theater building"?
    – mathgenius
    Jul 23, 2016 at 18:02
  • @mathgenius Certainly "Я иду в театр" means both, but primarily it means "I go to see a play", so you don't need to add anything in this case. And if you want to say "I go to the theater building" you can say "Я иду в здание театра".
    – Matt
    Jul 23, 2016 at 18:11

Other answers pointed out to the possible semantic difference between these prepositions (в/на балет) in some cases.

But there are a few cases where the usage comes down to personal preference.

For example, about half of the Russians I know say

Я иду на кухню

while others

Я иду в кухню

Such things can also be regional or historical. For example,

Я иду на концерт

is today's prevailing norm, but a few decades back

Я иду в концерт

was in more common use, and was used exclusively this way in the XIX century. Yet, I know people who prefer в концерт even today.

P.S. And let us not start about в/на Украину :)


We hardly say "Я иду на театр", but I think it's possible to say both "Она ушла на балет" - "She went to ballet" (meaning a performance) and "Она ушла в балет" - "She went for ballet" (meaning an occupation, like in "Её тренер предлагал тяжёлую атлетику, но она ушла в балет" - "Her coach has suggested heavy lifting, but she went for ballet"). Note however that in second case "ballet" means the whole enterprise/form of art/whatever you call it, and thus may not qualify as the "same" word.

And as I wrote it, Matt gave a much better example above...


Я иду на театр

This means either you are going to the theatre's roof or you are going to attack theatre (such as in "I am going to attack theatre with my army" or "I am approaching the theater to bulldoze it with my bulldozer").


In Russian you can say only "Я иду в театр" - "I'm going to the theatre." It doesn't use this in Russian: "Я иду на театр". it sounds very strange.

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