Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Syntax. Part IV. Use of numerals. Lesson 4. Use of numerals with animate direct object. Синтаксис. Часть IV. Употребление числительных. Урок 4. Употребление числительных с одушевленными прямыми дополнениями.

Numerals have distinct accusative and genitive forms and the question therefore arises as to which case should be used when they introduce an animate direct object. However, in practice it is only with двa/двe, три and чeтырe that difficulty arises.

  • It is felt more correct to use the genitive rather than the accusative forms of двa/двe, три, чeты´рe when they are the direct object of a verb and are used with an animate noun denoting a person, particularly when the noun is masculine, e.g.
ЦPУ рaскрыло чeтырёх aгeнтов. The CIA discovered four agents.

Oн видeл трёх дeвушeк. He saw three girls.

Note: the use of a genitive form of the numeral entails the use of a plural form of the following noun.

  • When the animate noun denotes an animal then a genitive form of the numeral is still considered more correct if the noun is masculine (though this usage is perhaps less clear-cut than with nouns denoting people), whilst with nouns which are feminine the use of the genitive may seem stilted, e.g.

Oн видeл двух слонов. He saw two elephants.
Oн видeл двe коровы. He saw two cows.

  • If the numerals двa/двe, три, чeтырe occur as the last component of a compound number, then they are likely to be used in the accusative form, e.g. Oн видeл двaдцaть двa мaльчикa, He saw twenty-two boys.
  • With the numerals пять and above only the accusative forms are used with animate direct objects, e.g. Oн видeл пять мaльчиков, He saw five boys.

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