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I have already learnt German as a foreign language and so have developed a good understanding of the case system [Nom, Gen, Dat, Acc] - my native language not utilising this system.

Russian, of course, uses different cases for some verbs compared to German. I have two questions:

1) are there any tips, rules, generalisations people can explain in order to obtain a 'feeling' for cases in Russian? Explained in terms of indirect/direct objects, motion, position and emotions even, perhaps?

2) can somebody recommend a few sources where I can look up verbs, where this information is also given? I have Big Silver Book of Russian Verbs, which does a great job, with all conjugations, examples and also the possible cases for each verb. However, there are sadly 'only' 500 verbs in the book, which is not quite enough.

P.s - I hate relying on Google Translate or other translators to translate my example sentences correctly into the correct case, as they are usually unreliable.

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  • Google Translate usually produces ungrammatical garbage when translation into Russian
    – Anixx
    Jul 24 '14 at 6:19
  • 2) As a first approach take look at Д. Э. Розенталь. Управление в русском языке. Jul 24 '14 at 14:00
  • That for cases, which can be taken by verbs. For conjugation and declination tables only see Грамматический словарь русского языка (also словарь Зализняка). Jul 24 '14 at 14:07
  • спасибо! The problem is that I am not yet at a level to learn Russian in Russian. Maybe I'll come back to it later.
    – n1k31t4
    Jul 24 '14 at 23:43
  • @DexterMorgan Well, you may encounter some difficulties in using grammar reference books for natives, but I would have tried if I were you (get the PDF version of Управление в русском языке by Rosethal). Using of словарь Зализняка (check the online version) does not require any level in Russian since is consist of nothing except tables. Jul 26 '14 at 13:36
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Unfortunately, there's no short answer to this question. In a lot of verbs, you'll find that English and Russian agree on an accusative (direct) object, and even on a dative (indirect) object. The latter are obviously verbs of giving, sending, transferring, etc. and won't be difficult to spot.

However, in other verbs, the case of the complement has to be learned. For instance, the verb помочь (help) takes a dative object in Russian (as in German), but an accusative one in English: Я могу помочь тебе с этим. I can help you with this. Interestingly, учить (to teach) takes an accusative student and a dative subject. Perhaps in the Russian logic, teaching is viewed as an instance of leading someone to(wards) something: Я учу его русскому языку. I'm teaching him Russian. Finally, the verb наслаждаться (to enjoy) takes an instrumental object: Наслаждайся моментом! Enjoy the moment! (Carpe diem). This all may seem random at first, but as you continue to learn verbs and read more Russian, you will develop a feel for the actions that are accomplished by means of (instrument) an object, for example, and it will make sense. I guess it helps to start thinking like a Russian.

As for sources, the dictionaries Яндекс, Abbyy Lingvo and PONS all give information on the objects and complements of verbs. Usually in the form of кого/что for accusative, кому/чему for dative, кем/чем for instrumental, etc. They also give perfective and imperfective pairs.

However my favorite conjugation website by far is Rifmovnik. You have to enter the verb, then choose СЛОВОФОРМЫ from the drop-down menu. It will conjugate one aspect, and provide a link to the conjugation of the corresponding perfective or imperfective. Additionally, you can enter any form of any part of speech and it will take you to the entire paradigm of the word in question. This is helpful when you see a conjugated or declined form, but have no idea what the citation (dictionary) form is. It also indicates stress throughout, which is invaluable.

As a course of further study, it helps immensely to have an understanding of the function and meaning of the plethora verb prefixes used in the Russian verb system. If your Russian is advanced enough, this is an extremely informative and easy to follow PDF on the subject: Изучение глагольных приставок.

Good luck and enjoy!

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  • Thanks, a lot of useful info and sources that will no doubt help me towards learning Russian! ;)
    – n1k31t4
    Jul 24 '14 at 18:15
  • My pleasure. How long have you been studying?
    – CocoPop
    Jul 24 '14 at 20:50
  • In total about 6 months, but only just starting to get dedicated as I am moving to Russia for 5 months!
    – n1k31t4
    Jul 24 '14 at 23:40
  • How exciting!!!
    – CocoPop
    Jul 26 '14 at 16:36

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