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I understand why the dative is used in this sentence, given the presence of the preposition по

"Я спала два раза по одному часу"

but I don't understand why it's not used in the following

"Я спала два раза по два часа"

I have become accustomed to speaking that way so it is not an issue in daily life, but I would like to know what the rule is that guides this apparent inconsistency, assuming there is such a rule. I struggled to even describe the problem, so if there is a more appropriate title please don't hesitate to edit.

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With один, тысяча, миллион, триллион (in other words, with all that numeral that can be combined with один) dative is used - is just a rule that should be memorized.

So:

По [одному] миллиону долларов попросили оба министерства

but

Министерства запросили по два миллиона.

Relevant quote from slightly outdated yet quite famous grammar reference:

Предлог по в так называемом дистрибутивном (распределительном) значении управляет дательным и винительным падежом числительного. Ср.:

по одному рублю, по тысяче книг, по миллиону жителей, по миллиарду рублей (при числительных один, тысяча, миллион, миллиард);

The other case when we need dative is when we used quantitative words like много, несколько like in по многу раз or по нескольку раз.

| improve this answer | |
  • So it's literally just a rule? I am of course willing to accept that, I've just been confused because I've never seen it addressed / written down anywhere. Well that's easy enough - thanks! – Kanga_Roo Aug 23 '18 at 13:42
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    @AudreyM well, native speakers just using some forms without even thinking what case they are using but as of rules, yes it is actually just a rule - I've added a reference to the answer. – shabunc Aug 23 '18 at 13:47

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