The rule given here is that the accusative case is used for animate/inanimate objects. If animate that means using the genitive case, if the sentence is positive, right?


  • (Masculine) я вижу кота
  • (Feminine) я вижу кошки

But what about the negative?

  • (Masculine) я не вижу кота
  • (Feminine) я не вижу кошку

It seems that feminine nouns of animate objects in the accusative do not change to the genitive, or as in inanimate objects you have a choice. Is this true?

  • 4
    Sentence я вижу кошки is incorrect. Correct are я вижу кошек (plural) and я вижу кошку (singular). Which one did you mean?
    – Dmitry
    Dec 22, 2016 at 22:21

4 Answers 4


Well your assumption is slightly wrong. Correct feminine form of я вижу кота is я вижу кошку, so it it exactly like for negation я не вижу кота/я не вижу кошку.

Actually, it is the other way around, it's the form я не вижу кошку has an alternative form я не вижу кошки. So what you have notice is indeed something that exists.

As far as I know it's not that simple, it's not about feminine nouns, there are actually some set of rules when one should use accusative or genitive with some set of verbs in negative.

Here's a quote (and actually you can find there a big, yet not full, set of rules I've mentioned):

Трудность заключается в том, что в одних случаях тот или иной падеж является предпочтительным, а в других существует равная возможность употребления как родительного, так и винительного падежа.

So what you have noticed is exactly about some words that can be used in both cases. It's hard to me to provide a complete list of such words (or rules by which they are generated) but as of counter-example for your hypothesis: (non-feminine and non-animate) я не нашёл здание /не нашёл здания.

Some other counter-examples:

  • Вчерашнего дня не воротишь / вчерашний день не воротишь.
  • Не учуял запах газа / не учуял запаха газа.

Though indeed good point, I guess this should be investigated. Here are even more rules about this.

  • я не нашёл [никакой] кошки / я не нашел [конкретную] кошку. Первый ответ будет на просьбу типа "Сходи в подвал, поймай какую-нибудь кошку на шапку", второй - "у нас Мypка убежала, попробуй её найти"
    – Arioch
    Jun 20, 2017 at 8:52

Unlikely that rule works: if animate, it doesn't necessarily mean using the genitive (or vice versa). In your examples with the affirmative it's always accusative, while both cases are possible with negations.

Я не вижу здесь никакого кота (никакой кошки) - нет здесь котов (кошек)!

(strictly genitive)

Я сейчас не вижу своего кота (свою кошку, fem.): его (её) заслоняет монитор.

(preferably accusative)

Я не вижу своего кота (своей кошки): куда-то убежал(а).

(preferably genitive)

As you can see, sometimes only context helps to tell genitive (кота) from accusative (кота). You only need to choose between cases with feminine in the examples above. I wouldn't dare to define any general rule, but with those examples, genitive tends to be used with objects which are considered absent (from the fact they are not seen).

As for animate/inanimate objects, there is a difference in accusative case endings for plural (which usually coincide with those in the nominative for inanimate objects), while both accusative/genitive are still possible in sentences with negation.

Вы не кормите своих кошек?

(strictly accusative)

Вы терпеть не можете кошек?

(more likely, genitive)

Вы не будете есть огурцы?

(preferably accusative)

Вы никогда не ели огурцов?

(preferably genitive)

Another tendency can be noticed from the latter group of examples: genitive is more likely to be used with 'abstractly' mentioned objects, which are out of focus.


I believe it's easier to illustrate these differences by examples from English. Actually it's much like this:

Accusative: Я не вижу кошку --> I don't see (a / the) cat
Genitive: Я не вижу кошки --> I see no cat

So it's not about animate/inanimate nouns at all.


I believe it's not about animated/inanimated or feminine. It's just about ending of the word. Totally doesn't matter if one is animated or inanimated if it ends with a, like река, or палка. But definitely it's more common for Russian language that any word ending with a have feminine semantic. But not every word. You can take for instance word братишка - which means little brother (masculine, animated) and it will behave exactly like word кошка - the correct examples already presented to you above: братишки братишку - both are correct.

  • it's not about endings, at least it's not only about nouns ending with 'а'
    – shabunc
    Dec 28, 2016 at 1:57
  • it may happen that I take the question wrong. but even now, I can't say what was the other meaning of the question. I believe the question was all about the rules of creating negation form of nouns, i.e. which ending in negative sentence to choose. So basically, negative and positive doesn't differ, вижу кота vs не вижу кота; вижу кошку vs не вижу кошку AND the ending changes by cases (accusative, genitive) dictated indeed by the original ending а/я , see pictured tables: russkiiyazyk.ru/chasti-rechi/sushhestvitelnoe/…
    – Павел
    Jan 2, 2017 at 14:07

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