At first I thought short-form adjectives were quite easy after seeing how they are formed. But when to use them turned out to be more complex. Here I have 5 sentences that made me confuse since they are all similar in terms of structure:

Александр очень ленив.

Маша очень общительная.

Моя бабушка очень добрая.

Он очень глуп.

Итальянки очень красивы.

How do I decide which form to use when?

  • 2
    Traditionally, the long (full) forms mean a permanent feature/state, short forms mean a temporary, short-time feature/state. But most people use both forms indiscriminately. Also, some adjectives in the full form mean something completely different than in the short form. The rule of thumb for a beginner-level learner of Russian is always use the full form, with the course of time you'll learn when short forms are also possible. The short-form adjectives is a thing that's dying out in Russian right now.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 8, 2020 at 21:52
  • 1
    Short/long forms are interchangeable only then the adjective is a predicate (or postpositive adjective, as in all of your examples), but never interchangeable as prepositive adjective (always use long form). "Ленивый Александр" is quite different from "Ленив Александр".
    – Alexander
    Jun 9, 2020 at 18:56
  • @YellowSky, you should have posted it as an answer. Steve, at least in your five examples, you can certainly use either way.
    – Zeus
    Jun 11, 2020 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


All your examples can use short and long forms alike.

Short and long forms do have some very finely different stylistic shades: statements with short forms sound a little bit more certain and categorical. But it's not perceptible in isolation, outside of a larger context.

You should use short forms for:

  • Adjectives whose meanings have split for the short and long forms: малый, великий, живой etc: свитер мал; штаны велики; ребёнок жив

  • Past passive participles: я польщён, она влюблена etc.

  • All your examples can use short and long forms alike. With one exception: X добрая and X добра ко мне are perfect, but on reverse X добра and X добрая ко мне are quite off.
    – DK.
    Jun 16, 2020 at 18:33
  • @DK: your phrases are not mentioned in op's examples. Of course you can only use the short form with adjuncts, but I was writing specifically about bare subject + predicate sentences
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 16, 2020 at 18:39

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