For instance, I have the impression that the phrase "on the toilet" translates to "в туалете" or "на унитазе", but that switching "в" and "на" between either of these two phrases would be incorrect.

My workbook (задачник) has a list of about 50 or so set phrases with "в" and "на", which I have made flashcards of, and I have added some more, like "на пустыре".

Is there a comprehensive list of these phrases somewhere so I could complete my flashcards?

Related questions: "в теории" против "на практике", Difference between на and в in clothing

  • 1
    i think a more practical approach would be to isolate a principle of using either one preposition or the other (although i'm not sure such exists), because having a list of all imaginable locations to which they could be applied is unfeasible. Maybe if you specify the gist of your struggle with their correct usage, some principles could be worked out Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:04
  • Well for example both "в" in "в туалете" and "на" in "на унитазе" mean "on" as in "on the toilet", so I am not sure if there is really a general principle to be found. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:34
  • 1
    into Russian on the toilet is translated as на унитазе (or на очке which is still common in the former USSR), so the prepositions are identical in both expressions, в туалете on the other hand is the English in the loo/lavatory/rest room etc. in which case the prepositions are also correspondent; the first is an item meant for sitting on therefore НА, the second is a room, a space, wherein to be therefore В Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:48
  • @БаянКупи-ка OH that makes a lot of sense -- sorry about the confusion then Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 19:49
  • 1
    yet if we take на пустыре a legitimate question would be why here it's НА as also in на поле, but with в пустыне it's В so there must be certain logic here even though not necessarily of a consistent type Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


I’m not sure that it’s possible to compose such a list, since in some instances usage depends on the context. For example:

Корабли уходят в море;

Пастух вышел в поле


Мы едем на море отдыхать;

Футболист вышел на поле


I don't think there are too many exceptions to learn them by heart.We should just analyse the situation, whether it is the preposition of place or movement. Another stage is to consider the position like in your example. If you are inside or on the surface. If you group your 50 examples in such a way,you are sure to see some rules and you will have less exceptions to learn. A fotballer wouldn't go в футбольное поле, only на,because he plays on its surface.

  • Well, he wants a comprehensive list... there are two places where Russians direct these who asks annoying questions. One is used with "на" and another with "в" (иди на .... и иди в ....). The list is much more comprehensive now ;)
    – ddbug
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 1:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.