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Yesterday I visited a friend in Oxford. At some point we stopped at his favourite pub, where, as he said, was "большой выбор пив". This didn't sound right and got me thinking, but I soon realised that I have no idea what the plural form of пиво is, let alone its declensions.

Anybody can shed a light on this?

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Some Russian uncountable nouns do not allow plural (молоко, рис, икра) while others do (табак / табаки́, водка / во́дки, вино / ви́на).

In modern language пиво is not used in plural, though Shakhmatov did provide this form (пив) as grammatical.

Rosenthal in А как лучше сказать? writes:

Отсюда, казалось бы, простой вывод: если есть грузинские вина, то почему не могут быть «чешские пива», тем более что в природе они действительно существуют? И все-таки вы были бы правы в своего возражении: одно дело – теоретическая возможность, а другое – практическое использование («чешские или другие пива» – так не говорят). (emphasis mine. Q.)

Оказывается, приведенное выше правило не является универсальным. Не образуют формы множественного числа такие вещественные существительные, как молоко, просо, рис и др., а также названия элементов (золото, серебро, азот, кислород, калий, натрий и т. д.).

Though almost all Russian nouns are paradigmatically able to form plurals, not all of these plural may be used in language.

Misusing the plurals may even lead to confusion, since some uncountable words which don't form plural have homophones in what would be their plural paradigmatically. Compare молоки (milt), икры (calves of the legs), рисы (builders' slang for ancillary marks on elements of construction)

In this very sentence, you may just use sg. gen. even with the words which do allow plural: большой выбор пива / табака / водки

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    Obviously this is because in вино-вина there is a change in stress which indicates plurality. In пиво the stress is already on the first syllable, so the plural form is easy to confuse with the singular. – Anixx Jul 11 '13 at 11:18
  • @Anixx: огниво forms plural without any problems. – Quassnoi Jul 11 '13 at 13:47
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Пиво is uncountable, so there is no plural form. In your case, you may have used: большой выбор сортов пива (there are many brands of beer here).

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It's possible to use form "пив" in colloquial speech as, for example, "мечт" (dreams, that don't have plural form in Russian either). You may use it to be irony or sarcastic.

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  • Welcome to Russian.SE. Please make sure that your answers add some information not already present in the question itself or other answers. Please refrain from reposting existing answers without further expanding on them. – Aleks G Nov 22 '12 at 8:29
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    @AleksG Which answer does this post copy? I cannot see it. – Olga Dec 31 '12 at 2:20
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Actually you can say "большой выбор пива" or "Вчера я выпил три (3) пива". It's informally implied that you drank up 3 bottles (or mugs) of beer.

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  • "...три бутылки пива" sounds MUCH better :) – Roman Yankovsky Nov 19 '12 at 15:46
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Если говорится о порции пива, то можно сказать в множественном числе: "Дайте, пожалуйста, два пива." (Если речь идет о двух бокалах или двух бутылках пива, например.)

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    The "пива" form in this sentence cannot be considered plural. – Viridianus Jan 13 '17 at 23:02

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