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If you ask for a "table for five" or a question of similar nature where the number or adjective implies a noun following it such as "table for five (people)," should the number or adjective be in the nominative case or the accusative case (пять or пяти)?

  • This is an idiomatic expression and cannot be translated literally. While стол для пятерых or стол на пятерых seem grammatically correct, you'd never hear it spoken like this. In everyday speech the noun would not be omitted: [нам нужен] стол на пять человек/персон. – mustaccio Jul 28 '16 at 2:41
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    BS, "стол на пятерых" is perfectly common. It may sound a bit less formal than "на пять человек" and so may be eschewed in very formal/official cases, but exactly in spoken language it is probably more common than the latter. At least in my area/circles. – Zeus Jul 28 '16 at 2:51
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    Making a reservation we usually say Можно заказать столик на пять человек? – V.V. Jul 28 '16 at 4:30
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Genitive: "стол для пяти (человек/тарелок)".

There is a special form for numerals which is commonly used in Russian in such cases: стол для пятерых. This is called "собирательное числительное" (collective numeral):

двое
трое
четверо
пятеро
шестеро
etc.

They are a bit tricky: they can also be used with a noun (для пятерых человек), but only with an animate one and never feminine (для двоих братьев, но: для двух сестёр, для шести коробок). (There are exceptions for plural-only words). And, which makes it more relevant to your example, they more readily imply 'persons' as the noun, so "стол для пятерых" is a bit clearer and less potentially ambiguous (and more common) than "стол для пяти".

When used in the 'nominative' form (двое братьев), they formally require Accusative for the noun, but remember it's animate plural only, which is in practice often identical to Genitive.

However, in your example, the whole phrase (including the numeral) takes whatever form is required by the case: для + Genitive. We can put it in any other case:

Думаю о пяти/пятерых братьях (Prepositional)
Горжусь тремя/троими братьями (Instrumental)
Стол для семи/семерых братьев (Genitive)
Стол на шесть/шестерых братьев (Accusative)

etc.

  • Would this be okay for a group of all women or no? – casey Jul 28 '16 at 21:59
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    @Casey, no. But: only in the grammatical sense; that is, if you are going to use a feminine noun, like "для пятерых женщин" (correct: для пяти). However, if you just say "нам нужен стол на пятерых" while, in fact, representing a group of women, this is perfectly OK. – Zeus Jul 29 '16 at 0:12
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Never heard "стол для пяти" to be used in real life. In a context of, say, a restaurant reservation, it will be "стол на пятерых". In a context of something like explaining what size is your dining room, you will say: "может вместить стол на пять человек"

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