In the Stack Overflow for Russian (beta), you can see the phrase на русском in the title, which I'm sure means in Russian.

However, I'm not sure why the site expresses the phrase as на русском. Specifically,

  1. It seems that русском looks like instrumental (not sure but just I guess), but why does на not take either prepositional or accusative, which I learned на should take.

  2. If you mean I speak Russian., you say Я говорю по-русски.. Is there any difference between the two word (по-русски and на русском)?

  • на русском is indeed prepositional, but русский is an adjective and declines like an adjective. For a language like иврит (Hebrew), the name of the language is not an adjectival form and the prepositional declines like a noun = на иврите Mar 29, 2016 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


Русском is prepositional. Masculine adjective prepositionals look like noun instrumentals. The instrumental here would be русским. The difference between на and по- with languages has been asked about here. In this particular case, по-русски would have been, at least theoretically, ambiguous — with an alternative reading of "Stack Exchange, Russian-style" — while на русском can only refer to the language.

  • Thanks. Does по- only take an adjective? Or does it sometimes take a noun, too?
    – Blaszard
    Aug 30, 2015 at 6:22
  • 1
    @Blaszard Adjectives only, I think. Aug 30, 2015 at 6:43
  • @Blaszard "По+noun" is just Dative case which must be written in two words. E.g. "Говорить по-русски" vs "Экзамен по русскому (языку)". Prefix "По-" (with dash) is used with adjectives and posessive pronouns only (e.g. "по-нашему").
    – Matt
    Aug 30, 2015 at 8:40
  • @user4419802 Actually it's not dative; it's old plural neuter instrumental of the short form. По-русски is a contamination of русски with по русскому or older по русску. Aug 30, 2015 at 9:07

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