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What's the difference between дверями and дверьми? My textbook states that «дверьми» is bookish, however upon searching more into this I found some articles claiming that they are completely interchangeable. So does it matter which one I choose?

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    if you wish to speak good Russian, дверьми is the right choice in my opinion – Баян Купи-ка Mar 11 '18 at 9:02
  • An article from a popular science magazine Наука и жизнь: nkj.ru/archive/articles/21442 The version дверьми is called to be 'closer to colloquial'. – Alex_ander Mar 13 '18 at 13:02
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Despite they are completely interchangeable, the latter is a bit bookish.

Ending -ьми in instrumental case plural is lost, except for these words:

  • дочери - дочерьми / дочерями,
  • лошади - лошадьми / лошадями,
  • двери - дверьми / дверями,
  • плети - плетьми / плетями (thanks @user31264),
  • звери - зверями (preferable) / зверьми (obsolete),
  • дети - детьми only,
  • люди - людьми only (thanks @БаянКупи-ка),
  • кости - костями, except the phrase лечь костьми.
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    @Trey and also людьми and never людЯМИ (unless one is grammarless) – Баян Купи-ка Mar 11 '18 at 9:04
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    @БаянКупи-ка Thank you. I've updated the answer. – Dmitry Mar 11 '18 at 9:28
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    Also бить (хлестать, наказывать, сечь и т.д.) плетьми – user31264 Mar 11 '18 at 22:48
  • In fact, when плеть is a flogging device, or when it is compared to lifeless hands/legs, плетьми is used in almost all cases. When плеть is part of a plant or similar inanimate object, плетями is used. – user31264 Mar 11 '18 at 23:04
  • @user31264 Thank you. Added to the answer. – Dmitry Mar 11 '18 at 23:11
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Stats from the Russian National Corpus:

  • Literary texts (Художественные тексты):
    дверями: 52%, дверьми: 48%

  • Non-literary texts (Нехудожественные тексты):
    дверями: 74%, дверьми: 26%

(Based on the first 100 documents.)

This confirms that дверьми is more bookish (48% vs 26%) and that in literary texts the two are interchangeable (52% vs 48%). In other genres (news, speech) дверями prevails (74% vs 26%).

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