1. Я ви́жу одного́ ма́льчика. (I see one boy.)

  2. Я ви́жу два до́ма. (I see two houses.)

  3. Я ви́жу двух ма́льчиков. (I see two boys.)

I often get confused with the cases. As far as I know, after "видеть", we need to use the Accusative Case. I really have difficulty understanding the cases of the numbers and the nouns after them in the above sentences. (what case are they and why?).

  • 2
    Hint: if we need to use accusative after видеть what could be the options here? – Abakan Nov 30 '16 at 9:37
  • @Abakan: so what are the nouns cases in the examples 2 and 3? Hint: neither is accusative. – Quassnoi Nov 30 '16 at 14:54
  • 2 is also accusative – Marat Nov 30 '16 at 16:06
  • What exactly is the difficulty? This is accusative (винительный падеж). You are seeing different word forms due to singular/plural and also одушевлённый/неодушевлённый category (not sure what's the correct English term for this). See also Article on одушевлённый/неодушевлённый – tum_ Nov 30 '16 at 17:35
  • @marat: so you would have said я вижу до́ма, if not for the numeral? – Quassnoi Dec 3 '16 at 9:40

Numerals in combinations with other words can act as main words and dependent ones.

  1. The numeral один (одна, одно, одни) and all ordinal numerals are dependent from the following noun and agree in gender, number and case like adjectives

третий ряд, третья комната, третье событие, третьи ножницы;

Nom. один год/мальчик, одна неделя/девочка, одно окно, одни люди.

Gen. одного года/мальчика, одной недели/девочки, одного окна, одних людей

Acc. один год, одного мальчика, одну неделю /девочку, одно окно, одних людей.

So один doesn't govern the following noun.

2.Most cardinal numerals require the genitive case of the noun (except один, 21, 31,etc.)

Два человека (gen. sing), сто двадцать пять человек.(gen.pl)

.All other numerals either govern the following nouns (in the nominative and the accusative ) or are dependent of them in other cases.

The numerals два, три, четыре (and all compounds like 22, 34, 42, 72,84,etc.) and collective numerals (двое, трое, четверо,etc. ) have the following animate noun in the accusative which coincides in the form with the genitive plural.

Nom. два, три, четыре мальчика, две девочки, двое мальчиков

Gen. Двух, трёх, четырёх мальчиков, двух девочек, двоих мальчиков.

Acc. Двух,трёх,четырёх мальчиков, двух девочек, двоих мальчиков.

Let's see what happens to inanimate nouns.

Nom. Два,три, четыре стола, окна, две,три, четыре недели

Gen. Двух, трёх, четырёх столов, окон, двух, трёх, четырёх недель.

Acc. Два, три, четыре стола, окна, две, три, четыре недели.

You can see that the acc. of the inanimate nouns after 2,3,4 coincides with the nominative which is in fact genitive singular

All other combinations ( from 5... ), except mentioned above, have a noun in genitive plural.

Nom пять мальчиков, девочек, столов, окон

Gen пяти мальчиков, девочек,столов, окон.

Acc. Пять мальчиков, девочек, столов, окон.

The case is determined by the verb, so it would be correct to say that the case is "accusative which coincides in its form with..."


A Wiktionary page for два helps:

два and две, when in the nominative case or accusative case, even in compounds (22, 32, 42, 102, etc.), govern the genitive of the noun.

In the accusative case, animate nouns become genitive plural and inanimate nouns remain in genitive singular.

And a few rules for adjectives (e.g. "Two red cats")

While the noun in a nominative construction is in the genitive singular following два or две, an intervening adjective or adjectival participle will be in the genitive plural or nominative plural

If два is in nominative case, the adjective will be nominative plural when the noun is feminine

If два is in accusative case, the adjective will be nominative plural only if the noun is feminine inanimate

These rules apply to три and четыре as well.

Sorry for basically copy pasting but I figured I would separate the rules from the examples.


An answer to this case question citing the cardinal numbers "one" and "two" can be found in most Russian grammars in sections on the genitive case and/or the declension of cardinal numbers. The confusion as to whether the case of a number or noun is in the genitive or the accusative can be resolved by checking those grammar texts.

The most succinct explanation (for beginners) that I have found in seven Russian grammar texts that I examined for the declension rules for the cardinal numbers "one" and "two" are the following from J.L.I Fennell's THE PENGUIN RUSSIAN COURSE (1961); copies are available from Amazon.com at exceptionally low cost. (Note: The ellipsis in my quote from text of that book indicate where I have not included the examples that are given by the author):

[quote] Nouns qualified by numerals:

(a) The number "one" (один, одна, одно) agrees in gender with the noun following it: ...

(b) два (for masculine and neuter nouns) and две (for feminine nouns) are followed by the genitive singular: ... The same applies to оба, обе 'both': ...

(c) три and четыре (all genders) are also followed by the genitive singular: ...

[ends quote]

The text also gives the rules governing the numerals "five" to "twenty", "thirty" etc. up to "100". All those numbers are followed by the genitive plural. For compound numbers the case for the noun is governed by the gender/case of the last numeral in the compound.

There are more advanced texts which list more rules governing the case and use of numerals, so I have more or less limited my answer to the numbers in the examples given for this question.

The only caveat I would like to add is that, serious beginning students should avoid books on "tourist" Russian, as they rarely deal with any form of this type of grammar question.

The more advanced student will, of course, find more detailed explanations in texts such as (available from Amazon.com) the often cited I.Pulkina and E.Zakhava-Nekrasova's "RUSSIAN: A PRACTICAL GRAMMAR WITH EXERCISES, or Borras and Christian's RUSSIAN SYNTAX: ASPECTS OF MODERN RUSSIAN SYNTAX AND VOCABULARY. These and similar grammars go on to further explain case and syntax for quantitative numeric nouns.

  1. Я ви́жу одного́ ма́льчика. (I see one boy.)

In this first case what you're seeing is accusative. What happens in accusative case when you have a masculine animate noun is that the object becomes genitive based on whether it's one or many (genitive singular or genitive plural).

  1. Я ви́жу два до́ма. (I see two houses.)

In this case what you're seeing is accusative with the word дом being in the genitive singular "дома". Why is this happening? Because you have to have agreement between your nouns and your numbers. There's a brief rundown here.

  1. Я ви́жу двух ма́льчиков. (I see two boys.)

Here we have the same case as #1, the only difference is that there are many boys meaning the object will take genitive plural.

  • I believe the 1st and the 3rd are mere accusative forms and only in the second example we have the genitive due to the numeral "два". – V.V. Dec 1 '16 at 7:32
  • 1
    @V.V. in 1) "одного́=accusative animate" "ма́льчика=genitive singular" in 2) "два=accusative inanimate" "до́ма=genitive singular" in 3) "двух=accusative animate" "ма́льчиков=genitive plural". Am i right? – xpr34 Dec 1 '16 at 9:33
  • Acc. sing.одного мальчика, одну девочку(nouns are in acc), один дом, одно окно.(acc sing inanimate coincides with nominative. – V.V. Dec 1 '16 at 14:09
  • @xpr34, yeah, guy, it's correct. – Шах Dec 2 '16 at 12:06
  • @Шах, два requires genitive singular, doesn't it? But in (3) ма́льчиков is genitive plural. why? – xpr34 Dec 2 '16 at 12:32

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