A quote from a native speaker of Russian:

Мужчина, который хочет надёжных отношений и семью.

Question: Why did they use the genitive case in "надёжных отношений"?

As a side note, regarding "семью", which is in the accusative case, I think it may be just an error and it should also be in the genitive case. Please correct me if I am wrong.

To double check myself, I looked it up on Google Translate:

A man who wants a reliable relationship and family.

is translated as (I corrected it a little):

Мужчина, который хочет надёжных отношений и семьи.

So Google Translate says both nouns are in the genitive case.

  • 1
    the verb хотеть often governs Genitive case when the object is abstract, animate or edible Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 21:19
  • A marriage in Russia is never a reliable relation. Being in the state of paying child support after divorce is a reliable relation though.
    – Anixx
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 10:17

3 Answers 3


I am not sure about the exact rules. But maybe with example it can be more understandable. For instance, if you want to say "A person who wants an apple", it can be

Человек, который хочет яблоко.


Человек, который хочет яблока.

First one is accusative case, second - genitive. They both mean that a person wants to have an apple. But there is a slight difference in meaning. In first case, it means that there is one full apple that a person wants. It might even be a specific apple. But it is a one. In second case, it means the person wants an apple as a fruit, but not specifically one and maybe not even full one. Maybe just a slice of it.

In your case, (I am not sure if there is a grammatical explanation for that) since it is indirectly implies that the man wants ONE family as a whole, it is usually said

Мужчина, который хочет семью.

But if you say

Мужчина, который хочет семьи.

it means that the man wants just some kind of family, in general. Both cases can be used. Just with a slight tilt of meaning :)

Regarding the надежных отношений.

In this case, there is no ONE specific relationship, but it is more of relationships in general, that's why it is in genitive. It also worth to mention that in Russian in contrast to English people use the word relationship in plural form in this situation.

But it is more my logical understanding of it.

  • Is it just like definite (Russian accusative) and indefinite (Russian genitive) articles in English? Or not exactly?
    – rapt
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 6:38
  • @rapt it kind of is, although no one really conceptualize that in these terms and there's no formal rule when to use one or the other Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 7:19
  • @rapt I think it is mostly like in German, when it depends on the verb that you use before this noun (if I am not mistaken).
    – RadioLog
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 8:08
  • @RadioLog Hmmm... German... could you give an example for the equivalents in German?
    – rapt
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 9:28
  • It's interesting that in the original quote I cited, one of the nouns is in genitive and the other in accusative. Does it not look weird to you?
    – rapt
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 9:47

It's a legacy of "ждательный" case (sorry, I don't know its Latin name). It is used in the sentences after the verbs "ждать", "хотеть", and others that have similar sense.

Sorry to say, but in modern Russian, there is no strict rule of using it. You just have to memorize.

Sometimes you can use both accusative and genitive forms

  • 'Я хочу мороженое' or 'Моя подруга хочет мороженого'

  • 'Я жду зарплату' or 'Я ждал зарплаты'

  • 'Я ожидаю письмо' or 'Я ожидаю письма'

Sometimes the accusative just sounds awkward and is never used by native speakers.

  • 'Я жду приёма у доктора' but not 'Я жду приём у доктора'

  • 'Я хочу воды' but not 'Я хочу воду' (unless you don't speak of some specific water)

Sometimes you can't use the genitive at all.

  • 'Я жду/хочу новый стул' but never 'Я жду/хочу нового стула'.
  • Do you agree with what has been said here by others about the difference in meaning between the two cases?
    – rapt
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 19:54
  • Mostly but not quite. Using the accusative form after "хотеть" sometimes implies that you want some specific, but not necessarily. For example, 'Я хочу жареную картошку' and 'Я хочу жареной картошки' are totally interchangeable. Even if you say 'Я хочу этой жареной картошки' (exactly this fried potato but using the genitive form) it doesn't sound awkward.
    – VaNdal
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 20:21
  • 1
    Regarding your initial question. For me, it sounds bad (I'm a native speaker). I would rather say 'Мужчина, заинтресованный в серьёзных отношениях и создании семьи'.
    – VaNdal
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 20:27

This is partitive case which is a sub-case of genitive.

In English it can be translated with "some" or "a" article as opposed to definitive "the" article if it was accusative.

So she says "a man who wants (some) reliable relations" as opposed to "a man who wants the reliable relations".

For more information about lesser cases in Russian, look here What are the lesser known Russian cases?

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