Девочки, по чем у вас на рынке свинина сейчас? Интересует цена в обычный непраздничный день. Пишите плиз свой населенный пункт.

In my experience, the preposition "по" is most frequently followed by dative case, and sometimes by accusative. I've never seen it coupled with prepositional case, so the meaning of "по чём" eludes me here.

What does "по чём" mean, and in what instances is "по" coupled with prepositional case?

  • 5
    This is a mistake. It should be written почем, it means "how much does it cost " – V.V. Sep 20 at 4:47

As I have already mentioned in my comment there's a mistake in your sentence. Почем should be written in one word, meaning (colloquial) how much does it cost. But we do use the preposition по with предложный /prepositional case.

При глаголах чувства (тужить, плакать, горевать, тосковать, скучать, соскучиться и т. п.) предлог по употребляется с дательным падежом, например: тужить по сыну, плакать по отцу, горевать по мужу, тосковать по родному селу, скучать по Михайловскому. Но личные местоимения 1-го и 2-го лица при указанных глаголах чаще ставятся в предложном падеже, например:

плачет по вас, горюет по нас.

Предлог по с предложным падежом употребляется со значением «после чего-нибудь»

по истечении срока, по прибытии на место, по окончании школы, по приезде в город.

  • 2
    "плачет по вас, горюет по нас." - strictly speaking some of recent dictionaries (e.g. 'Ожегов/Шведова, 1997') already mark this as an archaic form. – seven-phases-max Sep 20 at 9:50

Preposition по in the context of price implies that it's the price for each and every item individually.

But although the question почём? uses Prep. case, in the answer numeral is inflected in Nominal.

This is a remnant of an old paradigm. In the past, inflection of some numerals (or even all except those ending with 1-4, not sure about that) in the actual Prepositional case was common, eg.

<Монеты> приносить на Монетной Двор, которым за тѣ монеты наддавано будет, сверх настоящаго, по пяти копѣек на рубль.

Словарь русского языка XVIII в.

даютъ двѣ кади меду по шести пудовъ, а хмелю двѣ бочки

Акты, относящіеся к исторіи западной Россіи (1846) vol.1, p. 103, line 18 from the top

In fact even today Prepositional case is still occasionally applied to the numeral тысяча - по тысячи.

Участники Великой Отечественной войны получат по 5 тыс. рублей, труженики тыла по тысячи рублей.

newslab.ru March 16, 2010

В Забайкальском крае более 1 тысячи семей с детьми, находящимися в трудной жизненной ситуации, получат по тысячи рублей из бюджета

zabinfo.ru Feb 11, 2014

оба угнали из СССР по тысячи лошадей

Быков Н. А., Казачья трагедия (1940-1945-й г.г.). — Нью-Йорк: изд. автора, 1959.

I don't think it's just a mistake because there're far too many examples, although in Google results its occurrence is still significantly outnumbered by instances of the Dative case по тысяче.


по governs bona-fide Prepositional in the meaning after, upon

по прибытии/приезде/прилёте - upon arrival
по окончании - upon completion

However i subjectively feel the urge to use Dative (по прибытиЮ etc.), it feels more convenient, so it could indicate that in this use Prepositional is a paradigm which is gradually obsolesces.


Moreover i think that conceptually по governs Prepositional in most cases, despite the fact of inflexion assuming the form of Dative (maybe it's a heterodox point of view).

For instance it does so when it acts as Locative in which action is applied to or takes place on the surface of an object:

идти по мосту
ходить по двору
стучать по столу
гладить по голове
плыть по воде
ехать по суше/земле
бить по зубам

The ending of feminine nouns is identical with the standard ending of Prepositional, eg

о чём? - o голове/о воде/о суше/о земле
по чём? - по голове/по воде/по суше/по земле

To these phrases both questions по чём? and по чему? apply, however the former already sounds dated or vernacular.

Also in the sense of by means of

связываться по сети
говорить по телефону
показывать по телевизору

In Russian the difference between these special instances (in my opinion) of Prepositional on the one hand and Dative on the other has blurred, but in Ukrainian, in particular, in locative function, governance of Prepositional with по is maintained for plural forms.

  • "по governs Prepositional in most cases, despite the fact of inflexion assuming the form of Dative" - can you explain it... I thought that if some preposition "governs" i.e. demands certain grammatical case the following word has to be in the corresponding inflexion form, so it is kind of equivalent... – farfareast Sep 21 at 0:53
  • @farfareast i'm afraid i can't coherently explain it or refer to authoritative linguistic sources, that's why the reservation about heterodoxy of my proposition, but one example of such a phenomenon is the said Locative case, which for a host of words demands Dative ending yet remaining Locative or as it's also called Prepositional 2: в лесУ, в садУ, на мелИ, в степИ etc., admittedly here we have stress shift as a marker of different case and in his article about Russian Locative academician Plungian doesn't discuss the preposition по – Баян Купи-ка Sep 21 at 6:48
  • i've also added an illustration of identity of feminine nouns inflexion under both prepositions О (solid Prepositional) and ПО, and also my reference to Ukrainian could serve as some sort of inkling in this direction, since Ukrainian has retained more features of the common ancestor than Russian has – Баян Купи-ка Sep 21 at 6:54
  • of the phrases стоять на мосту and идти по мосту the 1st is Locative (Prepositional 2) and the 2nd is ostensibly Dative, but conceptually they're similar since both indicate a connection to a place, therefore i don't see why their cases should necessarily differ, especially given fully identical inflexions of мост and applicability of the question по чём? to the 2nd phrase, which was already mentioned in the answer – Баян Купи-ка Sep 21 at 7:12

The correct spelling is "почём". "Почём" is a phraseology (an exception). Means "how much?", "по какой цене?".

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