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"From America" translates to из Америки and I know that из will take the genitive case. Америка is a feminine noun (because it ends in а and is a place).

To form the genitive case of a singular feminine noun, you replace а with ы. Америка would become Америкы.

Why is this not the correct declension?

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    Generally, it is very unusual to see ы after к. The only example which is not a loan word that I can think of is кыш! – Dima Jan 20 '15 at 23:15
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For nouns which end by -кa, -а is replaced by -и:

  • маска - из маски
  • каска - из каски
  • рука - из руки
  • Америка - из Америки
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  • Cheers. Would this be correct then? Он приезжает из Америки. – Chris G. Jan 20 '15 at 8:14
  • @Chris G. - yes, its correct. – user31264 Jan 20 '15 at 8:18
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    The same rule applies (и rather than ы in spelling) after other consonants too: г, ж, х, ч, ш, and щ. Look up declension tables for книга, кожа, муха, задача, крыша, and пища. – KCd Jan 20 '15 at 9:53
  • Where does russian.SE go for declension tables? The places I've looked always seem to miss something... – Chris G. Jan 20 '15 at 23:13
  • @ChrisG. First, you can look the word up in Wiktionary. Second, you can find tables here: public.asu.edu/~deliving/russgram and at alphadictionary.com/rusgrammar/case.html – Shady_arc Jan 22 '15 at 2:58
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The sound shifts кы > ки, гы > ги and хы > хи date back to the 12th or 13th century and were unconditional, making кы, гы and хы prohibited sequences in Russian phonotactics. They only occur in a handful of mostly Turkic loanwords, such as хычин and акын, some toponyms, and гы, a slang onomatopoeia for crass laughter. This is a different phenomenon from the purely conventional spelling preference for жи and ши despite the vowel being technically [ы].

Thus an older genitive form of рука was indeed рукы rather than the modern руки, but the form *Америкы never existed because the sound shift predates Columbus.

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