I just saw the following two sentences:

У мальчиков есть вода.

У мальчиков нет воды.

It seems that the meaning is something like The children have water. and The children don't have water.. However, why do the two sentences use different forms of вода or воды? (I don't know the proper form of those words, but maybe вода is the proper and воды is the plural form of it?) But then I'm not sure why the latter uses plural form...

What makes these two words different?

By the way is there any good dictionary to list all the conjugated forms of a noun? I searched both вода and воды and then got results in both times, but I even can't see which is the proper form!

  • 2
    possible duplicate of Direct object of negated verbs takes which case?
    – jwalker
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 23:11
  • @jwalker While the result might have ended up as a duplicate, the reason I posted the question was just that I didn't know the negation rule to begin with. Thanks for the good reference though.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 10:03
  • BTW. Воды is also indeed the plural form of "вода" which coincides with singular genitive case except the accent (there are quite a few words sharing this pattern). Yet the usage of the plural form "воды" is somewhat limited just like English "waters" is.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 12:47
  • @user4419802 thank you for the good follow-up. Yes that's why I suspected it at first.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 14:22
  • Note where the stress is: "нет воды́" is singular genitive, while plural nominative is "во́ды".
    – user244413
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


After the predicate word есть, 'there is', the noun is used in the Nominative case, that is in the dictionary form, but after the predicate word нет, 'there's no', the noun is used in the Genitive case, like the objects after other negative predicates.

The best dictionary to list all the conjugated forms of a noun is ABBYY Lingvo, but it cost some money, if you don't want to buy it, use Wiktionary, it lists all the case forms of most Russian words, here they are for вода.

  • Thanks. I just started Russian 5 days ago and didn't know that the genitive case must be used after нет. As to the dictionary, thanks for the suggestion. I still search for the good English-Russian dictionary, but might end up with purchasing it.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 21:40

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