Here is a question in a test:

Как корректно закончить следующие предложения?

  1. Налей мне ... .

(а) чаёк (б) чайка (в) чайку

  1. Отдай мне обратно ... .

(а) чаёк (б) чайка (в) чайку

I am at a loss as to how to answer this and why. With Sentence 1, I see that the third variant is much more common than the first two, but this by itself doesn't necessarily mean that the first two variants are ungrammatical. With Sentence 2, I suspect that the use of the partitive case, (в), is wrong because the entire tea is implied by отдай мне обратно. I guess the genitive case, (б), can be excluded likewise.

So I guess I should choose 1в and 2а as the only correct variants, but I am unsure.

Which variants should I choose?

  • 3
    #1 - every option seems correct, #2 - only option (a) - "Отдай мне обратно чаёк" (unless we are talking about a seagull).
    – Alexander
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 19:00
  • 5
    Given your previous example with the snakes, 2в is also a plausible answer here ("give me the seagull back")
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 1:16
  • 2
    If option (в) had stress sign it would be more obvious if it's seagull or some tea.
    – user28434
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 9:38
  • I would answer 2в because it is unlikely the diminutive to be used with such request. So it is about a seagull.
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 30, 2019 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


With "Налей мне..." any of the three options can be used:

  • ... чаек. Pour me THE tea.
  • ... чайку. Pour me SOME tea.
  • ... чайка. Same as чайку, more preferred if you are younger.

Partitive (чайку) and Genitive (чайка) have almost completely merged in modern Russian with the genitive taking over: in Купи сахару/сахара, меду/меда, порошку/порошка the ending -у sounds outdated (mid 20th century or earlier). The last words to retain the partitive ending -у are those ending in -к: чаек, коньяк, лучок, etc. Those can take either ending 50/50.

You are competely right: after "Отдай мне ..." only чаек is possible. Unless we are talking about seagulls :-)

(Thanks @Alexander!)

  • Is there some reason the partitive case cannot be used with отдать? Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 9:19
  • @Wilson, yes, отдай мне implies you want all of the tea back, not just part of it. Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 9:30

I would add my two cents to Sergey Slepov's good answer saying that although all three are possible I would personally use only the partitive case here. It sounds much more correct and it's not about age, it's about a good correct russian. I think it suits everyone no matter what age they are.

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