I'm doing the Pimsleur Russian audio course and I've come across some sentences that I'm not sure about.

Example 1:

I have money = у меня́ есть де́ньги.

So far, so good. "At my place, there is money." It seems intuitive that money is in the nominative here. But then:

I have enough money = у меня́ доста́точно де́нег.

Although the sentence is almost the same the money is now in the genitive.

Is that really the case here or am I misidentifying cases?

And then Example 2:

Can you give me a little money? = Вы мо́жете дать мне немно́го де́нег?

This is really confusing, I'm not sure I'm hearing it right. But it sounds like here money is also in the genitive. But I expect it to be in the nominative because "give something" and the something would be in nominative. Or what am I missing?

Большо́е Спаси́бо for your help.

  • Why was the other answer deleted? – user1622 Mar 26 at 11:24
  • "I have a lot of money" - can you explain why there is "of" here? In English "of" signifies Genitive. – Anixx Mar 31 at 22:09

You got the cases right in all three sentences.

I'll try to provide English translations which would be as close to the literal meaning of the Russian phrases as possible.

Please note that they are not actual translations, they are English approximations of grammatical structure of the original Russian phrases.

У меня́ есть де́ньги. // There are money next to me.

Russian uses proximal possession: Russians don't say "I have something", they say "there is something next to me" to convey the same meaning.

In English, you would have said "I have him" but "he's next to me".

If you look closely you can see that you use "him" in the first sentence but "he" in the second one.

This is because grammatically, "him" is an object in the first case, but a subject in the second case. Similar logic applies to Russian, except that in Russian almost all nouns decline, not just personal pronouns.

У меня́ доста́точно де́нег. // I have enough of money.

In English you would normally use "I have enough money", but there are cases when you are actually using "of": "I've heard enough of this nonsense".

If we go back to the personal pronouns analogy, you would have said "I have enough of him" in English. "Of something" mostly (not always, but mostly) translates to Russian genitive, and that's why you're seeing it here.

Вы мо́жете дать мне немно́го де́нег? // Can you give me a little of money?

Same logic as above here.

But I expect it to be in the nominative because "give something" and the something would be in nominative

In Russian, a direct object to дать ("to give"), or to any other verb for that matter, is never nominative. However, it's not the reason денег is put into genitive here. The real reason is that it's not денег that is the direct object, but немного.

Денег complements the немного and it's the latter which governs the case of the former. And немного requires a genitive.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Quassnoi Mar 15 at 14:38
  • Thank you, I think I understand it now but I have one question. Then would this be correct? у меня́ де́ньги (= I have money) Because there is no quantity, regardless of есть, the money is in the nominative? – user1622 Mar 15 at 14:51
  • 1
    @user1622: exactly. If you use the proximal clause, what you're having (= what's next to you) is in nominative. Note however that у меня нет денег (the negation) puts it in genitive. – Quassnoi Mar 15 at 14:54

I expect it to be in the nominative because "give something" and the something would be in nominative

This is wrong, "give something" goes with accusative, not nominative. It's actually not wrong to say "дать деньги" for "give the money", when you refer to a predefined sum of money identified by the context.

Additionally, there are quantifiers used with mass nouns, such as "достaточно" or "немнoго". These require genitive (as you have seen), independently of the verb you used:

у меня́ есть де́ньги -> у меня́ доста́точно де́нег (nominative -> genitive)

Вы мо́жете дать мне де́ньги? -> Вы мо́жете дать мне немно́го де́нег? (accusative -> genitive)

де́ньги may be a poor example because it has the same form in nominative and accusative.


You undestand it right. You just need to ask the right question to understand.

It's easy here:

"I have (what?) money" - "У меня есть (что?) деньги"

And a little bit more complicated here:

"I have enought (of what?) money" - "У меня достаточно (чего?) денег"

Same thing with "little". Because when you give an additional word to explain "how much", it's always "how much of what", not "how much what"


To complement Quassnoi’s answer:

У меня есть (что?) деньгиNOM.

У меня [есть] (что?) достаточно[e количествоNOM] (чего?) денегGEN.

Вы можете дать мне (кого? что?) кучуACC (чего?) денегGEN?

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