Accusative Case of Nouns: Complicated Cases

Before telling about exceptions, I will remind you a rule.

So, accusative case is the fourth case, nouns in accusative case answer the questions "что?" /what?/ (inanimate) and "кого?" /whom?/ (animate).

Let's see how endings of nouns change in accusative case.

Inanimate Nouns  Animate Nouns
Что это?
/What is this?/
Что вы любите (покупаете)?
/What do you like (buy)?/
Кто это?
/Who is this?/
Кого вы знаете (любите)?
/Whom do you know (love)?/

Masculine gender

Это сыр /This is cheese/.
Я люблю сыр /I like cheese/.

Это чай.Я люблю чай.
/This is tea. I like tea./

Feminine gender
Это капуста.
/This is cabbage/.
Я покупаю капусту.
/I buy cabbage/.

Это кастрюля.
/This is a saucepan/.
Я покупаю кастрюлю.
/I buy a saucepan/.

Neutrun gender
Это море.
/This is the sea/.
Я люблю море.
/I like the sea/.

Masculine gender
Это сын /This is my son/.
Я люблю сына /I love my son/.

Это учитель. 
/This is a teacher/. 
Я знаю учителя.
/I know the teacher/.

Feminine gender
Это мама.
/This is my mom/.
Я люблю маму.
/I love my mom/.

Это тётя.
/This is my aunt/.
Я люблю тётю.
/I love my aunt/.

This is the rule, however, there are exceptions to any rule.

 1. There are nouns of feminine gender ending in -ь (площадь /square/, вещь /thing/, мать /mother/, дочь /daughter/), which don't change in accusative case. Что это? - Это площадь /What is this? - This is a square/. Что вы видели в Москве? - Я видел (а) Красную площадь /What did you see in Russia? - I saw Red Square/. Кто это? - Это моя мать /Who is this? - This is my mother/. Кого вы часто вспоминаете? - Мою мать /Whom do you often call to memory? - My mother/.

 2. Animate nouns of masculine gender ending in -а/-я (папа /dad/, дядя /uncle/), which denote a person, are declined like nouns of feminine gender. Кто это? - Это мой дядя /Who is this? - This is my uncle/. Кого вы встретили вчера? - Моего дядю /Whom did you meet yeasterday? - My uncle/.

 3. Some nouns denoting toys change in accusative case. These are names of the toys, which have image of a person (doll) or animals (teddy-bear). Что это? - Это кукла (мишка).  /What is this? - This is a doll (a teddy-bear)/ Что взял ребёнок? - Ребёнок взял куклу (мишку) /What did a child take? - A child took  a doll (a teddy-bear)/. Pay attention: we ask "what", not "who"!

 4. Some forms of nouns denoting dead people and those creatures, who don't belong to the world of alive, are changed in accusative case: покойник /decedent/, вампир /vampire/. Why? Firstly, they possess an image of a person. Secondly, it can be explained by  ancient people's believes concerning life and death. Кто это? - Это вампир /Who is is? - This is a vampire/. Кого вы увидели в фильме? - Вампира /Whom did you see in a movie? - A vampire/.

 BUT! Words "труп" /corpse/ and "зомби" /zombie/ are not changed in accusative case!

 5. The words "кальмар" /calamar/, "краб" /crab/ and some other may be understood both as animate and inanimate. It depends on situation. For example, in the sentence "Рыбаки поймали огромного краба" /Fishermen caught a huge crab/, crab is an animal, animate noun, that's why it changes its ending in accusative case. But in the sentece: "Я ем крабы" /I eat crabs/, the word "крабы" /crabs/ denotes food; it is inanimate and can be used without changing its ending.

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