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The grammar references I have read including my Russian textbook say на should be followed either by the accusative or prepositional case. But when translating "for lunch" and "for supper", the usages on context.reverso.net all seem to be "на обед" and "на ужин".

Can anyone explain?

  • Prepositions are often not translated literally or wrong from "content reverso", "google translate" from english to russian. Before обед or ужин на is correct. Maybe some native russian can explain this better than me. – Sarah Yokai Nov 27 '18 at 0:28
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In the russian language, "завтрак", "обед" and "ужин" have the same spelling in nominative and accusative cases.
And in your examples ("на завтрак", "на обед" and "на ужин") these words are in accusative case.

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На обед and на ужин are accusative, not nominative.

Accusative is quite a peculiar case in Russian.

In singular, its forms have merged with nominative for most nouns except those in -а, -я and a couple more exceptions.

In plural, even the nouns which do have a distinct accusative form in singular, lose it to genitive or nominative, depending on whether the noun is animate or not.

Except for a couple of edge cases, nominative cannot be used with prepositions in Russian at all. When you are seeing something that looks like a nominative after a preposition, consult with the declension table and you'll probably find the same form used in some other case.

  • "nouns which do have a distinct accusative form lose it to genitive or accusative" could you clarify or is it a mistype? – Баян Купи-ка Nov 27 '18 at 8:00
  • @баянкупика: yeah it's a typo, thanks for noticing! – Quassnoi Nov 27 '18 at 8:06
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    @баянкупика: есть креветку (sg. acc., distinct form), есть креветки (pl. inan. acc.= pl. nom.), есть креветок (pl. anim. acc.= pl. gen.) – Quassnoi Nov 27 '18 at 14:32
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    @БаянКупи-ка: sure, thanks! btw feel free to edit the posts if you think that will improve them – Quassnoi Nov 27 '18 at 15:05
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    @Arhad: Rosenthal et al, 153.2: "Возможные варианты: есть креветок, устриц, пулярок – есть креветки, устрицы, пулярки". I deliberately chose this word as an example because of its varying animacy. – Quassnoi Nov 27 '18 at 21:23

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