I understand that владеть takes the instrumental case e.g. Я владею русским языком. Does it take the genitive when negated e.g. Я не владею русского языка? Is this also true of verbs which take the dative case?

  • I thought intransitive verbs have no object and therefore couldn't govern any case since there is nothing to govern. If this is so, only transitive verbs could govern accusative, genitive, dative or instrumental objects. Therefore why could владеть not govern genitive negative just because it is transitive?
    – Bob Daley
    Jul 5, 2019 at 14:32
  • my apology, владеть is not a transitive verb, although it still can't govern Genitive negative Jul 5, 2019 at 16:01
  • Intransitive verbs cannot have direct objects, but they can have indirect objects in cases other than Accusative. Indirect objects don't change their cases in negative sentences.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jul 5, 2019 at 16:13
  • here's a non-exhaustive list of verbs which may govern Genitive negative, you're welcome to keep it for future reference Jul 5, 2019 at 18:16

2 Answers 2


It is only the direct object which is always in the Accusative case in the affirmative sentences that turns into the Genitive case after a verb in the negative form. All the rest of the cases including Instrumental and Dative remain as there were in the negative sentences.

There is a tendency in the Russian language to have the direct objects in the Accusative case even after the negative verb.

Я читал эту книгу. (Acc.) — Я не читал этой книги. (Gen.) / Я не читал эту книгу. (Acc.)

Я владею русским языком. (Instr.) / Я не владею русским языком. (Instr.)

Я доверяю людям. (Dat.) / Я не доверяю людям. (Dat.)

  • In affirmative sentences, where there is an object which is in the accusative case, then in the associated negative sentence, the same object is in the genitive case. For all other objects the case remains the same. However, for subjects, there are certain verbs where, in the affirmative, the subject is in the nominative case but, in the associated negative, the subject is in the genitive case. For all other verbs the subject is always in the nominative. So there is a distinction between objects in the genitive case and subjects in the genitive case. Is this correct?
    – Bob Daley
    Jul 6, 2019 at 13:29
  • @BobDaley - I don't support that way to analyse the Russian syntax where subjects can be in cases other than Nominative. The subject is always Nominative. What's not in the Nominative cannot be the subject. That's my personal point of view I came up with after 20+ years of teaching.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jul 6, 2019 at 14:14
  • Then what is the subject of the sentence Нашей любви не осталось?
    – Bob Daley
    Jul 7, 2019 at 7:38
  • @BobDaley - That sentence has no subject, it is impersonal, because there's no other way to explain the fact that the verb is in the neuter gender.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jul 7, 2019 at 8:47
  • Then is нашей любви in the sentence Нашей любви не осталось the object of the sentence? Or is it attached to the missing оно and is part of the subject? минутка нашей любви осталась, (оно) нашей любви не осталось
    – Bob Daley
    Jul 9, 2019 at 16:19

Does it take the genitive when negated e.g. Я не владею русского языка?

No. The correct sentence uses Instrumental: “Я не владею русским языком”.

Is this also true of verbs which take the dative case?

No. E.g.: “Дать ей еду.” — “Не дать ей еду.”

  • Еду is Accusative, not Dative. In the negative Accusative > Dative, as usually: Не дать ей еды, although Не дать ей еду is also possible.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jul 5, 2019 at 13:09
  • @YellowSky “Ей” is Dative. I simply added an object to make the example more realistic.
    – Ainar-G
    Jul 5, 2019 at 13:25

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