I was doubtful when I saw the words коровье молоко and козье молоко. Then I checked an electronic dictionary (Толковый словарь русского языка for Mac), and there -ья/-ье where referred as the replacements for -ий in their respective adjectives.

So far I knew that there are, in Russian, hard adjectives (красив.ый, -ая, -ое, -ые), soft adjectives (соседн.ий, -яя, -ее, -ие) and mixed adjectives resulting from the spelling requirements after some consonants (хорош.ий, -ая, -ее, -ие).

Is ья/ье an irregular soft ending? Does it decline just like the regular soft endings (in which feminine genitive is -ей and neuter genitive is -его)?

2 Answers 2


I would look at this from another angle. It is not irregular ending, but irregular stem - a soft sign is attached to it in most forms. It also replaces a vowel in the ending if it is duplicated (-яя, -ии, -ее, -юю).

So you have

средний - коровий

среднего - коровьего

etc., but

средняя - коровья

среднюю - коровью


There is an exception from this rule in nominative/accusative plural:

средние but коровьи

  • I see. So those possessive adjectives decline almost the same way as common soft adjectives, with the distinction that the letter ь appears in all oblique cases, and feminine accusative is ью instead of юю. If it were not for your example with коровий, I would think that -ий/-ье/-ья would be replaced by -его/-его/-ей rather than -ьего/-ьего/-ьей! And how does plural decline in that case? Is nominative коровие? Its respective genitive turns into коровьих?
    – swrutra
    Aug 20, 2018 at 14:11
  • 1
    @swutra Ah, that is the exception I didn't notice. In plural nominative/accusative it shall be коровьи.
    – AlexVB
    Aug 20, 2018 at 15:31
  • 1
    The key irregularity here, I think, is lack of the -н- suffix which is otherwise common in adjectives derived from nouns. Aug 20, 2018 at 20:57

Such adjectives are called притяжательные прилагательные, posessive adjectives. The ending ий-ье-ья is common for "animal" posessive adjectives. We can see two types of their declension:

корова - коровий - коровье
коза - козий - козье
овца - овечий - овечье
кошка - кошачий - кошачьe
обезьяна - обезьяний - обезьянье
птица - птичий - птичье
рыба - рыбий - рыбье
верблюд - верблюжий - верблюжье
слон - слоновий - слоновье
волк - волчий - волчье
заяц - заячий - заячье
лис/лиса - лисий - лисье
дельфин - дельфиний - дельфинье
крокодил - крокодилий - крокодилье

зверь - звериный - звериное    
оса - осиный - осиное
пчела - пчелиный - пчелиное
муравей - муравьиный - муравьиное
кура/курица - куриный - куриное
змея - змеиный - змеиное

Some declense both ways. For example, there are both соколиный and соколий, both стрекозиный and стрекозий.

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