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According to my dictionary (Kenneth Katzner, link), see attached pic,

dictionary entry for pf. првредить

I think I should use the dative case after this verb. BTW, the повредить entry basically directed me to the вредить entry. Because of 'feeling cold', or indirect objects I can see why one would use dative case. But my friend from Kiev said to use the accusative case.

So, should I use accusative for inanimate objects and dative for animate objects? For example :

I accidentally damaged one of my bedroom windows.

Я случайно повредил одному из окон своей спальни. ... или... Я случайно повредил одному из окон в своей спальне.

and for animate beings...

I accidentally damaged one of my plants in my garage.

Я случайно повредил одному из растений в своём гараже.

Aside question: is there a reference for which case of nouns go with which verbs? I usually rely on my dictionary but sometimes that fails and I don't want to ask the same question over and over, with just a different verb...

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This verb accepts both accusative and dative, but its meaning depends on the case used.

повредить кому-нибудь (чему-нибудь) means "to hurt or harm smb./smth.", as opposed to "to help smb./smth.". This is about indirect, circumstantial or long-term damage.

повредить что-нибудь means "to damage something". This is rarely if ever used with animate objects, and means directly inflicting some damage as an immediate result of the action.

  • Не заправляй автомобиль некачественным бензином, не то повредишь двигателю.

    Don't fill up your car with low quality gas. This will hurt the engine.

This is about long-term damage. If you fill your car with low quality gas, it likely won't stall or damage the engine immediately, but will shorten its life if you keep doing this.

  • Не заправляй дизельный автомобиль бензином, не то повредишь двигатель.

    Don't fill up your diesel car with gasoline. This will damage the engine.

This is about immediate damage. If you fill a diesel car with gasoline, you'll damage the engine and will have to tow the car to the garage.

In both your examples you used the word "damaged", this means your friend was right and you have to use the accusative here: повредил растение. This would mean that you broke or burned it, or inflicted some other kind of immediate damage.

If you were to say that you hurt your plant, like in put it away from the sunlight or were keeping forgetting to water it, then you should have used the dative: повредил растению.

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  • I was not expecting the meaning to change with the case of the noun, instead of something maybe more typical such as aspect... interesting! – nate Jun 28 '18 at 3:18
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    Не заправляй дизельный автомобиль бензином, не то повредишь двигатель автомобиля и тем самым повредишь владельцу автомобиля. // the verb was duplicated here to reflect the shift of the meaning, and to avoid humorous effect like "за окном шёл снег и рота красноармейцев" – Arioch Jun 28 '18 at 8:17
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1. In addition to Quassnoi's reply it can be said that повредить + Dative WITHOUT Accusative (unlike in my example below) means to (cause/inflict) harm, whereas повредить + Dative WITH Accusative (like in my example below) means to damage

According to my experience in the sense of to (cause/inflict) harm (that is without a direct object) it is the perfective form НАвредить of the verb вредить which is used more frequently, rather than ПОвредить.
In its imperfective aspect the verb always has the meaning of to (cause/inflict) harm and can't incorporate direct object, thus being intransitive.

Now the verbs вредить & навредить form an imperfective/perfective pair of the same intransitive verb.

повредить on the other hand despite partially overlapping with them in meaning can be transitive and has its own imperfective form повреждать which semantically sets it apart from the above mentioned pair.


To me the data in the dictionary from which the screen shot is taken, indicating повредить as the perfective form of the verb вредить, seems inaccurate.


There're many verbs with multiple case governance depending on the type of their relationship to an object, it is only in relation to a DIRECT object that transitive verbs govern Accusative (and sometimes Genitive).

Повредить can have at least 3 objects in one sentence

Во время задержания полицейские повредили дубинкойindir. object, Inst. плечоDIR. OBJECT, ACC. демонстрантуindir. object, Dat.

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is there a reference for which case of nouns go with which verbs?

There's one source of such reference i'm aware of, which is "Словарь сочетаемости слов русского языка" by П. Н. Денисова, В. В. Морковкина (it's available online as pdf, the exact address is searchable with Google)

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  • good answer that adds even more nuance than I was expecting... – nate Jun 28 '18 at 3:19
  • I've been thinking about your sentence. Why not демонстранта? If seems its role as indirect object is rather... distant, especially seemingly backseat to its role as a possessor of плечо. – nate Jul 10 '18 at 4:37
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    @nate good question, these are just two different ideas, in your suggestion the emphasis falls on плечо making it into something autonomous apart from демонстрант, while turning демонстрант into a feature of плечо, which sounds somewhat absurd because our focus is on a person rather than their body parts, it's a person who suffered injuries, which affected their certain pody parts, this is the import of my phrasing, which is idiomatic for Russian, the questions что? кому? both are perfectly valid for the verb повредить – Баян Купи-ка Jul 10 '18 at 18:50
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Is it really necessary to deep dive into such nuances for a person learning Russian? Повредить is in most cases used in accusative case and in most cases is used with inanimate objects. Like:

Повредить окно, повредить двигатель, повредить плечо, повредить растение.

Я случайно повредил одно из окон в своей спальне

I personally don't think it can be said 'повредить двигателю', but 'повредить двигатель' or 'навредить двигателю'

For animate objects use 'навредить' with dative case. For example: 'Навредить человеку, навредить животному, навредить здоровью(inanimate)'

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