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Noun declension. How to avoid mistakes in endings of nouns of 1 declension

Hello, dear student!
Today we are going to talk about typical mistakes which make foreigners who learn the Russian language. One of such mistakes is the confusion connected with endings of declined nouns. But first of all, I would like to remind you that all Russian nouns are divided into 3 declension types. Declension is changing of nouns in numbers and cases. There are 3 types of gender in Russian: feminine, masculine and neuter. In previous articles I have already written about common gender which also poses a challenge to foreigners. To decline a noun in cases correctly, you should define its gender and type of declension. There are 3 types of declension in the Russian language which include nouns of the following genders:

1st declension Ending Example
Feminine gender: -а, -я : Акула / Земля [akula / ziml'ya] - a shark / a ground
Masculine gender: -а, -я : Дядя / Дедушка [d'yad'ya / dedushka] - an uncle / a grandpa

2nd declension Ending Example
Neuter gender: -о, -е : Седло / Море [Sidlo / More] - a saddle / the sea
Masculine gender, zero ending: Бык / Угол [Byk / Ugal] - a bull / a corner

3rd declension Ending Example
Feminine gender, zero ending : Ветвь / Гладь [V'etv' / Glad'] - a branch / a smooth surface

To decline a noun correctly, at first you should define its gender and look at its endings in nominative case, singular (it is the form given in dictionary). In that way, we define the declension, for example, our table shows that the word "земля" [ziml'ya] (ground) is feminine: it has the ending "я" [ya] - and we know, the endings -а/-я are usually refered to feminine gender in Russian. This word remains the form "земля" in nominative case, singular. Thus, the ending -а/-я is feminine and refered to the 1st declension.

And now let's look how nouns of the 1st declension are changing in cases and what endings they get in one or another case. There are 6 cases in Russian. We provide you with the following sentence to memorize them easier:

Иван Рубит Дрова, Варвара Топит Печку [Ivan rubit drava, Varvara topit p'echku] - Ivan is chopping wood, Varvara is heating an oven.

Look at the first letters of each word in this sentence - they begin with the same letters as the cases in the Russian language. One has made up this funny Russian sentence to help you memorize all of them. Here are our cases:

Именительный [iminit'el'nyy] - Nominative
Родительный [radit'el'nyy] - Genitive
Дательный [datil'nyy] - Dative
Винительный [vinitil'nyy] - Accusative
Творительный [tvaritil'nyy] - Instrumental
Предложный [pridlozhnyy] - Prepositional

Every case in Russian has its own question, to make the declension easy. To my mind, foreigners should know them, even more if you know the language well enough, it would be very useful. I advise you to use the words-assistants, for example:

Case Word-assistant, Question
Nominative есть (быть) (there is/are) Кто? / Что?
Genitive нет (there is/are no) Кого? / Чего?
Dative дарю (give) Кому? / Чему?
Accusative вижу (see) Кого? / Что?
Instrumental горжусь (be proud of) Кем? / Чем?
Prepositional думаю (think) О ком? / О чем?

Let's to decline the word of the 1st declension, feminine (with ending -я) - "заря" [zar'ya] (dawn):

Nominative есть Что? (the word is inanimate) Заря
Genitive нет Чего? Зари
Dative дарю Чему? Заре
Accusative вижу Что? Зарю
Instrumental горжусь Чем? Зарёй
Prepositional думаю О чем? О заре

Thus, the example shows that the noun "заря" changes its ending depending on a case. Let's look at the endings of words of the 1st declension, feminine:

Case Ending Examples
Nominative -а,-я Мама, земля - mom, ground
Genitive -ы, -и Мамы, земли
Dative Маме, земле
Accusative -у, -ю Маму, землю
Instrumental -ой, - ёй Мамой, землёй
Prepositional, О маме, о земле

Now let's turn to the endings of nouns of the 1st declension, masculine, ending with -а/-я:

Case Endings Examples
Nominative -а,-я Юра, судья - Yura, a judge
Genitive -ы, -и Юры, судьи
Dative Юре, судье
Accusative -у, -ю Юру, судью
Instrumental -ой, - ёй Юрой, судьёй
Prepositional, О Юре, о судье

So the table shows, nouns of the 1st declension masculine have the same endings as nouns of the 1st declension feminine - this fact undoubtedly makes the task easier for foreigners who learn the Russian language.

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