3

What's the correct ending in this situation?

я хочу пиво vs я хочу пива

О or А? I think it should be А because it's genitive.

4

Both are correct. It's just that two different cases are used.

This is just like "хочу чай" and "хочу чаю", "хочу сок" и "хочу соку". Это называется количественно-отделительный падеж, он же партитив. Его можно спутать с родительным, но тем не менее это отдельный падеж.

Всё дело в том, что есть как бы такие падежи, которые не универсальны, а используются только в каком-то ограниченном наборе конструкций. Подробнее - What are the lesser known Russian cases? и тут.

О партитиве можно почитать тут.

3

Хочу пиво = I want the beer.

Хочу пива = I want some beer.

If you want the definite cup of beer, you cannot use the second variant. If you just want some beer you can use the both. If you want to specify that you want a little beer, you use

Хочу немного пива. = I want a little beer.

You want a small quantity.

But

Хочу немного пивo. = I want beer a little.

You want slightly.

  • 3
    Although the answer is perfectly right, I should note that even native-speaking persons may sometimes choose the wrong case here. To make the things worse both "пиво" and "пива" sound quite similar. – Matt Apr 22 '15 at 7:09

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