I know about the use of dative case, or nominative case, as illustrated here: How does "следует" behave towards "должен", "надо" and "нужно" when talking about things 'one must/should/etc. do', and that is why I am confused about why this sentence;

Хлеб надо резать острым ножом.

shouldn't actually be;

Хлебу надо резать острым ножом.

Doesn't the bread need a sharp knife, like I need to drink water,

Мне надо пить воду.

  • 4
    What you're actually trying to say by "the bread needs a sharp knife" can be expressed in Russian "Для хлеба нужен острый нож." Maybe this would help you understand the meaning of the 1st phrase: "Вам (и вообще, всем) хлеб надо (нужно) резать острым ножом."
    – Avtokod
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 2:23

1 Answer 1


Хлеб надо резать острым ножом.

Хлеб in this sentence is an object of the verb резать and is in the accusative case.

Надо can take a dative object (To whom is it needed?) but in this sentence it is omitted meaning "everyone / anyone" should cut bread with a sharp knife.

  • same about the second sentence with water, perhaps u add it into the answer too
    – Arioch
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 11:47
  • @Arioch, I think you've just said it. :) Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 13:41
  • Both your answer and @Avtokod illustrate a difficulty - words being left out or implied. To approach this sentence (and others) possibly I should have recognized verbs need a direct object, which is always in accusative case, and from there look into words being left out?
    – nate
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 16:39
  • 1
    @ Nate. You can practice on these examples: Надо мыть руки перед едой//Инструменты надо держать в специальном месте// Книгу надо читать внимательно// Воду в аквариуме надо менять каждые шесть месяцев // Суп надо варить на медленном огне// Собаку надо выгуливать в наморднике//Дорогу надо переходить на зеленый свет светофора//
    – Elena
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 18:33
  • 1
    If we see ' надо+ the verb', then we look for the word in the dative case. Suppose this word is xxx. This means 'xxx must do'. If we do not find words in the dative, then this is 'we must do/ all must do' (everyone must cook the soup over low heat)
    – Elena
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 19:48

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