A step-by-step guide to mastering the Prepositional Case in Russian – предложный падеж


(1) О ком – about whom? / О чём – about what?

(2) Где – where?

The prepositional case is only ever used with the prepositions: (1) в, во; (2) на; (3) о, об, or обо; (4) по; and (5) при. It is used:

1. To describe location, i.e. where something is or is taking place with the prepositions в, во* – in, at, на – on, at, followed by the prepositional case.

If you are referring to someone or something being within an enclosed building (an inanimate structure people enter, or go inside of), or a place with a border (such as a country), use в. If you are referring to someone or something being on a surface (on a street, or a square), or attending an activity (e.g. a concert, a lesson, or a lecture), use на.

For example:

She lives in Paris. – Она живет в Париже.

He works at the hospital. – Он работает в больнице.

The bird sat on the roof of the house. – Птица сидела на крыше дома.

She lives on a street with a supermarket. – Она живет на улице с супермаркетом.

When talking about being at somebody’s place, you should use the preposition у, followed by the genitive case , which applies where animate objects are involved.

For example:

I am at my friend’s. – Я у моего друга.

He is sleeping at John’s tonight. – Он сегодня спит у Джона.

There are some exceptions to the rules governing the use of the prepositions в and на. These nouns require the preposition на, despite the fact that they are enclosed places (and would therefore be required to take в).

At the post office

на почте

At the train station

на вокзале

At the station

на станции

At the factory (for machines, car parts)

на заводе

At the factory (for food, clothes, drinks)

на фабрике

*Unfortunately for beginners, there is no reliable way of determining when to use either в, or во and it may take some time to develop an intuitive ability to combine either preposition with other words as a native would. Read more about that here .

2. To explain what the subject is sitting on with the prepositions в – in and на – on.

For example:

The teacher is sitting on her chair. – Учительница сидит на стуле.

The bird is sitting in her nest. – Птица сидит в своем гнезде.

3. To describe when something occurred (e.g. day of the week, month, year, or time of day) with the prepositions в – in and на – on.

On which day?

В какой день?

In which week?

На какой недели?

In which month?

В каком месяце?

In which year?

В каком году?

On the first day

В первый день

This week

На этой неделе

In the first week

В первую неделю

This month

В этом месяце

This year

В этом году

In the time of… (e.g. during a particular century)

Во время

At dawn

На рассвете

At noon

В полдень

In the evening*

*No preposition is used with this adverbial phrase.


At night time*

*The preposition в is only used if ‘night time’ is intended, rather than simply ‘at night’. However, as in English, it is more common to use the shorter phrase ‘at night’.

В ночное время

Compare with :




























For example:

I am going to see my friend in London this week. – На этой неделе я собираюсь увидеться со моим другом в Лондоне.

They are moving to Spain next year. – Они переезжают в Испанию в следующем году.

4. To describe what someone is wearing with the prepositions в – in and на – on.

For example:


Translation with the preposition в – in

He is in a hat.

Он в шляпе.

She is in a silk scarf.

Она в шелковом шарфе.

She is in earrings.

Она в сережках.

He is in a t–shirt.

Он в футболке.

He is in a jumper.

Он в джемпере.

She is in a cardigan.

Она в кардигане.

He is in a hoody.

Он в капюшоне.

She is in jeans.

Она в джинсах.

He is in trousers.

Он в брюках.

She is in a skirt.

Она в юбке.

He is in boots.

Он в ботинках.

She is in ballerina flats.

Она в балеринах.

She is in high heels.

Она на высоких каблуках.

He is in trainers.

Он в кроссовках.

He is in flip–flops.

Он в шлепанцах.

She is in a bra.

Она в лифчике.

He is in blue shorts.

Он в голубых шортах.

She is in an expensive necklace.

This cannot be used with the prepositions.


Translation with the preposition на – on

He is wearing a hat.

На нём шляпа.

She is wearing a silk scarf.

На ней шелковый шарф.

She is wearing earrings.

На ней серьги.

He is wearing a t–shirt.

На нём футболка.

He is wearing a jumper.

На нём джемпер.

She is wearing a cardigan.

На ней кардиган.

He is wearing a hoody.

На нём капюшон.

She is wearing jeans.

На ней джинсы.

He is wearing trousers.

На нём брюки.

She is wearing a skirt.

На ней юбка.

He is wearing boots.

На нём ботинки.

She is wearing ballerina flats.

На ней балерины.

She is wearing high heels.

На ней высокие каблуки.

He is wearing trainers.

На нём кроссовки.

He is wearing flip–flops.

На нём шлепанцы.

She is wearing a bra.

На ней лифчик.

He is wearing blue shorts.

На нём голубые шорты.

She is wearing an expensive necklace.

На ней дорогое ожерелье.

5. To express the means of transport used.

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

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

to go by bus / to catch a bus / to take a bus – ехать на автобусе

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 plane / to fly by plane – лететь на самолете

to go by taxi – ехать на такси

to go by train / to take a train – ехать на поезде

6. To describe the instrument that someone can play, or is playing.

I can play the piano. – Я могу играть на пианино.

She plays the flute. – Она играет на флейте.

7. To clarify compass directions using the preposition на.

He lives in the north of England. – Он живет на севере Англии.

They are from East Germany. – Они из Восточной Германии.

The south of Italy is financially weaker than the north of Italy. – Юг Италии финансово слабее, чем север Италии.

The west of Ukraine has beautiful landscapes. – Запад Украины имеет прекрасные пейзажи.

8. With the preposition в to indicate the direction in which the subject is moving.

She is going into the car. – Она идет в машину.

He is entering the bus. – Он входит в автобус.

They are walking into the building. – Они идут в здание.

9. With the prepositions о, об, or обо* – about, concerning, regarding, to clarify the object of the said preposition (whether communicated orally or mentally).

The questions you should ask are ‘about whom, or about what?’.

For example:

He spoke about his business at the conference. – Он говорил о своем бизнесе на конференции.

I am thinking about going to France this summer. – Я думаю о поездке во Францию этим летом.

I wrote about my holiday. – Я написал о моем отпуске.

I dreamt about lavender fields. – Я мечтал о лавандовых полях.

When the verb following the preposition begins with a vowel, о becomes об. Before consonants, о becomes обо.

The students need to think about their future. – Студентам нужно думать об их будущем.

I’m really sorry about everything that happened. – Я очень сожалею обо всем, что случилось.

10. With the preposition in certain contexts.

a. Where по bears the meaning on, upon, or immediately after.

Where по means on, upon, or immediately after, it may be used with the prepositional case.

For example:

А visa can be requested on arrival. – Визу можно запросить по [прибытии / приезде].

b. With certain pronouns where по bears the meaning for.

In the 19th century, the prepositional case was preferred with the pronouns кто – who, что – what, – тебе – you *, он – he, она – she, оно – it, мы – we, вы – you (formal, or plural), они – they. For example: по ком – for whom?, по чем – for what?, по нас – for us, по вас – for you (formal, or plural).

During the 20th century, these terms were still in use. For example, the Ernest Hemingway classic ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ (1940), was translated in Russian as ‘По ком звонит колокол’. The use of the prepositional case with the pronouns above is largely outdated, with the exception of the pronouns мы – we and вы – (formal, or plural), which may still be found using the prepositional case construction (по нас – for us, по вас – for you respectively), although not often.

c. T o describe missing somebody, feeling sadness, or yearning (for) somebody when followed by the prepositional case.

In this case, the prepositional case pronouns following по would be по тебе – you, нём – him, ней – her, нас – us, вас – you (formal, or plural) and них – them).

For example:

I miss you. – Скучаю по тебе. (informal)

I miss you. – Скучаю по вас. (plural, or formal)

I miss them already! – Я уже скучаю по них!

We miss you guys! – Мы скучаем по вам, ребята!

*Although written in the same form as the dative case personal pronoun, the prepositional case pronoun is intended.

You can read more about the uses of по over at Gramota here (webpage in Russian).

11. With the preposition при in a number of constructions outlined below.

a. In the sense of having something on one’s person.

I don’t have enough money on me. – У меня нет денег при себе.
He has his wallet on him. – У него при себе бумажник.
I had my phone on me earlier and now I have lost it. – Раньше у меня был телефон при себе, а теперь я его потерял.

b. With the meaning on, upon, or immediately after.

For example:

Signature is required upon receipt. – Подпись требуется при получении.

Both cash and bank card payments are possible upon receipt of the order. – При получении заказа, возможна оплата, как наличными, так и банковской картой.

c. With the meaning upon, in (the process of), whilst, or during X action, where there is a sense of one action interrupting another .

For example:

Upon leaving the building, the alarm system should be turned on. – При выходе из здания охранная сигнализация должна быть включена.

A former employee has made an allegation of discrimination in (the process of) the termination of his employment. – Бывший работник сделал заявление о дискриминации при увольнении.

The passenger tripped whilst boarding the ferry. – Пассажир споткнулся при посадке на паром.

Do not forget your belongings whilst descending from the train. – Не забывайте свои вещи при выходе из поезда.

d. With the meaning in the time of, during (the time of) , or under .

For example:

There were restrictions on admission to universities during the USSR.* – Действовали ограничения при приеме в вузы действовали ограничения при СССР.

Hotel Ukraina in Moscow, is one of seven examples of Stalinist skyscrapers, built under Stalin’s rule. – Гостиница “Украина” в Москве – один из семи образцов сталинских небоскребов, построенных при Сталине.

*Read more about this here .

Words commonly used with the prepositional case


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