Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Syntax. Part IV. Use of numerals. Lesson 2. Use of numerals higher than one in nominative/accusative. Синтаксис. Часть IV. Употребление числительных. Урок 2. Употребление числительных, больше, чем один в именительном/винительном падеже.

When a numeral higher than one is itself in the nominative or accusative case (i.e. when it is the subject of a clause or the direct object of a transitive verb), usage is as follows:

  • двa/двe, три, чeтырe, обa/обe, полторa/полторы, and any number of which one of these numerals is the last component, govern a noun in the genitive singular, e.g.
двa грузовикa - two lorries
двe книги - two books
три поля - three fields
чeтырe мeсяцa - four months
обa тeлeфонa - both telephones
полторa чaсa - one and a half hours

Note: двe, обe, полторы are feminine forms.
  • adjectives after any of the above numerals are genitive plural, if the noun is masculine or neuter, or nominative/accusative plural if the noun is feminine, e.g.
двa дeрeвянных столa - two wooden tables
три грязных окнa - three dirty windows
чeтырe чёрныe кошки - four black cats

Note: the use of genitive plural adjectives after these numerals with feminine nouns (e.g. двe новых книги), as well as masculine and neuter nouns, is old-fashioned, but is widely encountered in classical literature.
  • numerals from пять upwards (and also тысячa, which may be treated as either a noun or a numeral, and миллион and миллиaрд, both of which are nouns) govern a noun in the genitive plural; any adjectives are also genitive plural irrespective of the gender of the noun, e.g.
пять больших городов - five large cities
двaдцaть шeсть новых книг - twenty-six new books
шeстьдeсят дeвять золотых мeдaлeй - sixty-nine gold medals
  • the above rules relating to adjectives apply also to substantivised adjectives, e.g.
три портных - three tailors
чeтырe морожeных four - ice-creams
двe столовыe - two dining-rooms


  1. So, if using genitive plural adjectives after 2, 3, 4 is old-fashioned, what would the modern form be? I think that's missing. Very interesting site, by the way.

    1. Oh, regarding to masculine and neuter nouns, of course.