In English one writes a label in plural if the answer might possibly be plural, even if it happens to be singular in the actual instance, as in “Houses: 1.” Is this how labels are typically written in Russian? Which case is used? Is the genitive plural used for a label like that, or does the genitive in a label imply English “of” the same as it does in a sentence?

I’m trying to translate this modern transcription of an 1897 document (presumably « » indicates a direct quote and the rest is a summary):

В переписных листах Первой всеобщей переписи населения Российской империи 1897 года значится семья Иванова Ивана Ивановича, проживавшая в собственном дворе (во дворе жилых строений – 1, «построено и крыто – деревом»).

Does the genitive plural of жилых строений imply that (a) there was more than one residential structure in the homestead, of which the Ivanov family owned the first one (and other families owned the others), or (b) there no implication that there is more than one structure: there might be one or might be more?

The Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov family is listed in the first general population census of the Russian Empire in 1897. They owned their own residence. (Of the residential structures in the homestead: they lived in the 1st, which was built and roofed with wood.)

or (c) жилых строений is a label asking how many structures there are, and the answer is 1:

The Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov family is listed in the first general population census of the Russian Empire in 1897. They owned their own residence. (Residential structures in the homestead: 1, built and roofed with wood.)

  • Your second translation is correct. When we write a list of things and then add сколько, the word сколько demands genitive case.
    – V.V.
    Sep 18, 2017 at 18:04
  • Hey, look at these labels! ibb.co/kaG6g5 BUT ibb.co/hH93Tk
    – SAH
    Sep 28, 2017 at 5:11

1 Answer 1


It's (c). "Жилых строений:" is a label and "1" is the exact quantity. Yes, genitive plural is normally used for the noun. However, the numeral is in the nominative, agreeing with the noun in gender and number, e.g.

  • Ножей: 2 (два)
  • Вилок: 2 (две)
  • Ложек: 1 (одна)
  • Ножниц: 1 (одни)

Ножницы (scissors) are pluralia tantum and thus один has to be plural as well (одни). Remarkable, isn't it? Russian has plural for the numeral 'one'.

  • Just a side note: English also has plural for 'one': ones.
    – Yellow Sky
    Sep 18, 2017 at 15:45
  • @yellowsky: yes, for the pronoun (What scissors? - The ones I gave you), but not the numeral (scissors: one, not ones). Sep 18, 2017 at 15:50
  • From the point of view of some grammarians you're right. But won't you agree there are different views on parts of speech? C.f. "we're the ones who can do it." Perhaps you'll say "ones" here is a plural noun? Or pronouns can be used with articles?..
    – Yellow Sky
    Sep 18, 2017 at 16:03
  • 1
    @YellowSky, Pronouns can be modified by articles. Random quote: 'But the you who you are tonight is the same you I was in love with yesterday, the same you I'll be in love with tomorrow.' Sep 18, 2017 at 17:35

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