The only guide you will ever need to read on the Instrumental Case in Russian – творительный падеж

Questions: (С) кем – (with) whom) / (С) чем? – (by/with) what?

The instrumental case is used:

1. Without a preposition when showing the instrument of an action.

In this context, it bears the meaning ‘by (use of/using)’ or ‘with’. However, a preposition is not required.

For example:

I write with a pen. – Я пишу ручкой.

2. With a small number of specific prepositions that are always followed by the instrumental case.

a. Между – between, among

Unlike English, Russian simply uses one preposition, whether or not two or more objects are concerned. Although this preposition was often used with the genitive in the past, today, the use of между with the genitive case is almost entirely obsolete. However, it is preserved in a small number of metaphorical expressions.

For example:

He stood between the two men. – Он стоял между двумя мужчинами.

They were caught in [the middle / a crossfire] – Они оказались между двух огней

Distrust between the two parties is high. – Недоверие между двумя сторонами находится на очень высоком уровне.

We’ll only find out what really happened if we read between the lines. – Узнаем, что произошло, только если будем читать между строк.

He is sitting on a fence / can’t decide what to do. – Он “сидел между двух стульев”.

I heard a noise from among the trees. – Я услышал шум между деревьев.

b. Перед – in front of, ahead, before, prior to

In Russian, you may hear two variants of перед: впереди (meaning ahead) and спереди (meaning in front of).

For example:

The children were playing in front of the house. – Дети играли перед домом.
She heard a strange noise ahead. – Впереди она услышала странный шум.
The dog walked ahead* of his owner. – Собака шла впереди своего хозяина. (*Here, ‘ahead’ bears the meaning ‘at some distance in front of someone or something’.
The road ahead* may be difficult, but you must persevere. – Путь вперед может быть трудным, но вы должны продолжать. (*Here, ‘ahead’ bears the meaning ‘in the future’)
She did her homework before going to sleep. – Она сделала свою домашнюю работу перед сном.
The President stood before the nation and announced the change in policy. – Президент стоял перед нацией и объявил об изменении политики.
She had cried prior to meeting her friends. – Она плакала до встречи со своими друзьями.

This preposition is also followed by the instrumental case when it is used to mean ‘responsibility to/toward(s) + noun’ in English.

c. Рядом с – beside, near, next to

For example:

There is a post office beside the supermarket. – Рядом с супермаркетом есть почта.
The train station is near the bank. – Железнодорожная станция находится рядом с банком.

d. Над – above, at, for, on, over, on, towards, upon

Both of these prepositions have one equivalent translation in Russian, regardless of whether the verb is in motion or not. This is not the case in English where, although the two terms have similar meanings and are at times interchangeable, the appropriate choice of wording is largely dependent on the context . There are also some fixed expressions which make use of над.

For example:



above, over

With the function of an adverb in English with verbs of movement to describe someone or something being higher than something else

The plane flew above the houses. – Самолет летел над домами.

Raise your hand above your head to ask a question. – Поднимите руку над головой, чтобы задать вопрос.

With the function of a preposition to show that something stationary is positioned higher than something else

There’s a security camera above that door. – Над той дверью висит камера безопасности.

Occasionally, in an abstract sense, just as with certain English phrasal verbs

I think it is important to reflect [upon/on] the successes and failures of a programme. – Я думаю, что важно задуматься над успехами и неудачами программы.

The function of the manager is supervision [of/over] the activities of the employees of his team. – Функция менеджера – надзор над деятельностью сотрудников своей команды.

She requested time to think the job offer over before committing to moving abroad. – Она попросила время, чтобы подумать над предложением о работе, прежде чем отправиться за границу.

Why was she brought in over you to manage the firm? – Почему для управления фирмой над вами поставили её?

He exercises control over the company. – Он осуществляет контроль над компанией

She is a beautiful woman and has a lot of power over men. – Она красивая женщина и имеет много власти над мужчинами.

A cloud of uncertainty is hanging over the future of the country due to the military conflict. – Тень сомнения нависла над этой страной.

You could tell he wasn’t convinced; a shadow of doubt lingered over his face. – Вы могли бы сказать, что он не был убежден; тень сомнения нависла над его лицом.

The firm was threatened with litigation. – Над фирмой нависла угроза судебного разбирательства (Literally: Over the firm loomed the threat of legal action)

When referring to measurements which are higher than a particular level

It is 1500 metres above sea level. – Это 1500 метров над уровнем моря.


The girl cried because some boys were laughing at her glasses. – Девушка плакала, потому что некоторые парни смеялись над ее очками.


He destroyed my company, for which I have worked all my life. – разрушил мою фирму, над которой я работал всю свою жизнь

on, upon

I think it is important to reflect [upon/on] the successes and failures of a programme. – Я думаю, что важно задуматься над успехами и неудачами программы.


What are they working towards? – Над чем они работают?

I have been working towards this my entire life. – Я работаю над этим всю мою жизнь.

3. With с(о), под and за, which are used with the instrumental case (but not exclusively).

С(о) – with

As you will see, the Russian preposition с carries out several functions in the instrumental case.

a. To clarify with whom a verb action is carried out.

С simply means ‘with’. However, as is the case for a/an in English, the choice between с/со depends upon whether the following word begins with a consonant or a vowel sound. Use с for consonant sounds, and со where the subsequent word begins with a vowel sound.

For example:

My [brother/sister/friends] and I went to the park. – Мы с [братом / сестрой / другом] пошли в парк.
She was at the cinema with her (female) friend. – Она была в кино со своей подругой.

b. When describing accompaniments to food.

For example:

I would like coffee with milk. – Я хотел бы кофе с молоком.

I ate a sandwich with egg for breakfast. – Я ел бутерброд с яйцом на завтрак.

c. When speaking about the physical appearance of a person, the features of a property, or the contents of something (e.g. the contents of a piece of furniture, or a bag).

For example:

The girl with long hair. – Девушка с длинными волосами.

A villa with seafront views. – Вилла с видом на набережную.
An apartment with a balcony. – Квартира с балконом

A cupboard with cooking utensils. – Шкаф с посудой.

d. For the purposes of describing the manner in which something is done, often where ‘with + [noun]’ would be the corresponding expression in English.

For example:

With pleasure! – С удовольствием!

She looked at her daughter with pride. – Она смотрела на свою дочь с гордостью.

He listened to the lecture with great interest. – Он слушал лектора с большим интересом.

He looked at his wife with sadness. – Он посмотрел на свою жену с грустью.

He is certainly a man with taste. – Он, безусловно, человек со вкусом.

There are a few exceptions to the rule that the preposition с is required, which are in essence of a very similar nature to the examples provided above:

She spoke in a whisper – Она говорила шепотом

He drove at full speed – Он ехал на полной скорости.
They walked at a fast pace – Они гуляли в быстром темпе

e. Out of concern for the health of someone, or in questions regarding the condition of something.

For example:

You don’t look well – what’s wrong with you? I have a stomach ache. – Ты плохо выглядишь – что с тобой? У меня болит желудок.

The washing machine isn’t working again. What’s wrong with it? – Стиральная машина снова не работает. Что с ней не так?

f. With certain phrases.

For example:

The student spoke (to/with) the teacher. – Студент говорил с учителем.

The girl left with the books. – Девушка ушла с книгами.

g. When giving season’s greetings or congratulating someone.

For example:

Happy birthday! – С днем рождения!
Happy New Year! – С Новым Годом!
Happy Easter! – С Пасхой!
Merry Christmas! – С Рождеством!
Congratulations on the birth of your son! – Поздравляем с рождением сына!


The preposition is used in a variety of circumstances, the bulk of which are outlined below.

a. Под – beneath, below, near, under(neath) (location in the sense of physical position, or proximity to something else)

Where под bears the meaning beneath, near, or under and no verb of motion is present, it should be followed by the instrumental case.

For example:

The magazines are under the bed. – Журналы находятся под кроватью.
The cat is hiding beneath the blanket. – Кот прячется под одеялом.

The boy sought shelter under a tree. – Мальчик искал убежище под деревом.

I waited for the bus in the rain. – Я ждал автобус под дождем. (Literally: I waited for the bus under the rain)

Australia is located beneath the continent of Asia. – Австралия расположена под континентом Азии.

She lives in the apartment below mine. – Она живет в квартире под моей.

He lives near London. – Он живет под Лондоном.
He has a house near Paris. У нее есть дом под Парижем.

Where a verb of motion is involved, под must be followed by the accusative case . The accusative case is also required where под is used in a temporal sense, referring to a period of time.

b. Под – under (in an abstract or metaphorical sense)

For example:

I felt under pressure. – Я чувствовал себя под давлением

I was under the impression that you were leaving today! – был под впечатлением, что вы уезжаетеь сегодня!

Citizens were under surveillance by the secret services. – Граждане находились под наблюдением спецслужб.

The first syllable is stressed (i.e. marked by an accent). – Первый слог под ударением.

She publishes books under a pen name. – Она издает книги под псевдонимом.

He was arrested [on/under] suspicion of murder. – Он был арестован под подозрением в убийстве.

The new employee is still under supervision. – Новый сотрудник все еще находится под наблюдением.

He swore under oath that he was telling the truth. – Он поклялся под присягой, что говорит правду.

The region is currently under occupation. – Регион в настоящее время находится под оккупацией.

Beneath his rugged exterior there was a soft–hearted and loving man. – Под его суровой внешностью был мягкий и любящим отцом.

c. Под – for (the use of)

For example:

It is adapted for use by a person with no experience. – Это адаптированными под использование человеком без опыта.


Like под, за has a multifunctional purpose. It’s meaning can vary wildly depending on the context. This preposition also has many other meanings which do not require the use of the instrumental case, although they are not explored here.

a. Where за means behind, or beyond something and no verb of motion is involved, it should be followed by the instrumental case.

For example:

The wardrobe is behind me. – Шкаф за мной.
Beyond the forest you will find a lake. – За лесом вы найдете озеро.
He lives outside the city centre, in the suburbs. – Он живет за городом, в пригороде.

Where a verb of motion is involved, the accusative case is generally required following the preposition.

b. With verbs of motion such as пойти, идти, выйти, отправляйся, сходить, ходить along with за + the instrumental case in one specific context outlined below.

Although the use of за with verbs of motion is generally limited to accusative case, there is an exception to this rule where the preposition is used to express for or to get as in the examples below.

For example:

I went (for/to get) the newspaper. – Я вышла за газетой
John stopped by for you earlier today. – Джон заехал за тобой раньше сегодня.

He went to get fuel. – Он вышел за горючим

c. Where за means at, occupied with, or provides a translation for the English concept of a gerund as an object.

For example:

He often finds his dogs playing. – Он часто застает своих собак за игрой.

I often find my daughter studying. – Я часто застаю моя дочь за учёбой.
The children always watch TV at dinner. – Дети всегда смотрят телевизор за ужином.

d. In contexts where a preposition of place would be used in the English translation.

For example:

She walked along the shore. – Она шла берегом.
We drove through the city centre. – Мы ехали центром города.

These sentences may also be rewritten using prepositions along with the accusative case .

She walked along the shore. – Она шла вдоль берега.

We drove through the city center. – Мы ехали через центр города.

4. In reference to periods of time.

For example:

a. When referring to parts of the day.

In the morning – Утром
In the afternoon – Днём
In the evening – Вечером
At night – Вечером

b. With singular nouns specifying a period of time.

Early Monday morning – Рано утром в понедельник
Late Sunday afternoon – Поздним воскресным днем

c. With the following adverb of time.

Tonight – Сегодня ночью

d. When using seasonal adverbs.

In spring – весной

In summer – летом

In autumn – осенью

In winter – зимой

e. In phrases describing repeated and long–lasting actions, or which trigger the use of plural nouns.

She never sleeps at night. – Она никогда не спит ночью
At night she studied. – Ночами, она училась.

f. In time phrases relating to elapsed time periods, times or dates fixed for the future, when telling stories about events where time is of relevance, when describing repetitive actions and when comparing age difference.

An hour earlier – Часом ранее
One hour later – Часом позже
Two hours later – Двумя часами позже
By the hour / every hour – С каждым часом
Hour after hour – Час за часом
Day after day – День за днем
Week after week – неделя за неделей
Month after month – Месяц за месяцем
Year after year – год за годом
A year older – Годом старше

He arrived an hour later. – Он приехал часом позже.
It gets more difficult to work with every hour that passes. – С каждым часом работать в сложнее.
A typical working week ends on Friday. – Типичная рабочая неделя заканчивается пятницей.
The programme was fraught with difficulty. – Программа была чревата трудностями. (Time is of relevance here because the programme repeatedly presented challenges)

Many of these expressions can also be conveyed through the use of the preposition на + accusative (although, note that the preposition is also used with the accusative and prepositional cases).

The examples below use на + accusative.

She asked me to come an hour earlier. – Она попросила меня прийти на час раньше.
She arrived two hours earlier. – Она приехала на два часа.
He is a year older than me. – Он на год старше меня.

g. When using the passive voice to highlight the person or object receiving the action of the verb, rather than the person or object that performs the action.

The dual concept of perfective and imperfective verbs (which are far more important in Russian than the concept of tenses, of which there are essentially just three) is important when using the passive voice, as the choice often transforms the meaning of a sentence entirely. Learn more about this in the note below.

Perfective verbs are used to describe actions which have been or will be completed successfully.

For example:

He wrote the book in 1950. – Он написал книгу в 1950 году.
The book was written by him in 1950. – Книга была написана им в 1950 году.

The first example employs the perfective verb написать, meaning to write in a show of the active voice .

The second example uses a short past passive participle construction consisting of an adjective paired with the instrumental case, in order to convey something which took place in the past.

With regard to imperfective verbs, the focus is on the process of what is being done (e.g. writing, reading, painting etc.). When using the imperfective, the passive voice is achieved by adding the reflexive suffix – ся (after consonants) / сь (after vowels) to the end of the verb.

The first sentence above, which was written in the active voice using a perfective verb, has quite a different meaning when using the imperfective form of the verb, as demonstrated below:

He wrote the book during the course of 1950. – Он писал книгу в течение всего 1950 года.

So too would the second sentence, written in the passive voice using a short past passive participle as was done earlier:

The book was written by him during the course of 1950. – Книга писалась им в течение всего 1950 года.

Note that им, the pronoun used in the passive voice examples, is the instrumental case form of the nominative case masculine personal pronoun он, meaning he. The would–be grammatical object of an active voice sentence becomes the grammatical subject of a passive voice sentence, demonstrating agreement with verb conjugations and adhering to grammatical case (well, provided the writer or speaker is a conscientious student and studies Russian grammar dutifully! 😉).

Of course, just as in English, there is no need for the subject to remain in the sentence, thereby negating the need for the subject to be written in the instrumental case. The sentences above could therefore be written as follows:

The book was written in 1950. – Книга была написана в 1950 году.
The book was written during the course of 1950. – Книга писалась в течение всего 1950 года.

h. For comparison, as in established idioms and both recognised and novel similes.

For example:

A wolf in sheep’s clothing – Волком в овечьей шкуре.

To die (like) a hero. – Умереть героем.

i. For standard units of measurement.

For example:

Four metres [long/in length]. – длиной Четыре метра

Two inches thick. – Два дюйма толщиной.

Weighing five kilograms. – Весом пять килограмм.

j. When using nouns as form of measurement.

For example:

The liquid was delivered by the bucketful. – Жидкость была доставлена ведрами.

The books were sent out in batches. – Книги были разосланы партиями.

Nouns always take their plural form when used in this way.

k. When: (a) describing the trajectory of a journey using verbs of motion such as ехать – to go (by transportation), or to travel and идти – to go by foot, to walk; or (b) describing the mode of transport used to get somewhere where by would typically be used in English.

You can find conjugations for the infinitive verbs below using a great website with a modern interface called Cooljugator.

For example:

to go by bus / to catch a bus / to take a bus – ехать автобусом
to go by train / to take a train – ехать поездом
to go by plane / to fly by plane – лететь самолетом

These can also be expressed using the preposition на + accusative, the use of which is more common.

For example:

to go by bus / to catch a bus / to take a bus – ехать на автобусе
to go by train / to take a train – ехать на поезде
to go by plane / to fly by plane – лететь на самолете
Sometimes, the на + accusative form is the only acceptable form for a noun.

For example:

to go by bicycle – [ездить / ехать] на велосипеде

to go by [boat / ferry / ship] – плыть на [лодке / корабле / пароме]

to go by car / to take a car – ехать на машине
to go by cart – ехать на телеге

to go by metro – ехать на метро

to go by taxi – ехать на такси

l. When talking about jobs / occupations with the verbs Быть, Становиться and Работать.

For example:

to be – быть (only used in the past and future tenses)
I was a doctor. – Я был врачом.

My friend will be a scientist. – мой друг будет ученым

to become – становиться
I want to become an engineer. – Я хочу стать инженером.
I wanted to become a musician. – Я хотел стать музыкантом.

to work as – работать
He works as a teacher. – Он работает учителем.

She worked as a receptionist. – Она работал регистратором.

m. In some fixed expressions:



As quickly as possible

чем скорее, тем лучше

So much the better, all the better

тем лучше

Sooner rather than later

чем раньше, тем лучше

all the more, especially, particularly, much less

тем более

by some miracle, miraculously, somehow

каким–то чудом

X (is/was) mainly due to, X (is/was) mainly attributable to…

главным образом

First thing, first of all, in the first place

первым делом

how, the way in which, the manner in which, in what way…

каким образом

in a word, in a nutshell, to sum up, in summary

одним словом

in other words, in short, that is to say, simply put, in summary

иными словами, другими словами

mostly, largely, mainly, most of, much of, the majority of, the bulk of, for the most part, primarily

большей частью

however, nevertheless, nonetheless, that being said

тем не менее

Too bad, even worse, the worse…

тем хуже

thus, therefore, accordingly, in this way, consequently, as a result, as such

таким образом

n. When talking about hobbies and interests using verbs such as заниматься, увлекаться and интересоваться.

For example:

I like doing sports. – Я люблю заниматься спортом.

He is keen on literature. – Он увлекается литературой.

She is interested in art. – Она интересуется искусством.

o. After the adjective довольным, meaning pleased or satisfied (with something).

For example:

The president was pleased to hear that the economy was doing well. – Президенту было приятно услышать, что в экономике все хорошо.

The teacher was satisfied with their results. – Учитель был доволен их результатами.

The rules above cover a large number of situations in which the instrumental is used. However, there are many verbs for which there may be no rhyme or reason for its application beyond that of common or historical use. Below, you will find a long list of words commonly used with the instrumental case in Russian.


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