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Prepositions in Russia and their meaning

Hello, dear student! Today I would like to give consideration to such topic as prepositions. It is simple enough but rather challenging for foreigners. There are lots of prepositions in Russia and every one of them belongs to a certain group. We need prepositions to unite words in a sentence and to point out a certain place, time, space, cause or purpose.

Today we are going to discuss the prepositions which we use with the interrogative words "где" (where), "куда" (where), "откуда" (where fr om).

We usually use 2 prepositions with the interrogative word "где" in Russian - "на" [na] - "on" and "в" [v] - "in". But how should we know when to use this or that preposition? Speaking about space, where we can put something in, we use the preposition "в" (in), but when we speak about space meaning something extended, broad, with the surface, usually opened, we use the preposition "на" (on). Let's look at the examples:

Где вы работаете? Я работаю в большом офисе [Gde vy rabotaete? Ya rabotayu f bal'shom ofise] - Where do you work? I work in a big office.

Где вы живёте? Мы живем в маленькой квартире [Gde vy zhivyote? My zhivyom v malen'kaj kvartire] - Where do you live? We live in a small flat/apartment.

Где был концерт? Он прошёл на большом стадионе в Москве [Gde byl kantsert? On prashyol na bal'shom stadione v Maskve] - Where was the concert? It has been held in a big stadium.

Где играют дети? Они играют на площадке около дома [Gde igrayut deti? Ani igrayut na plashadke okala doma] - Where do the children play? They play on the playground near the house.

In these examples the words "квартира" (appartment) and "офис" (office) are enclosed spaces, that's why we use the preposition "в". And the words "стадион" (stadium) and "площадка" (playground) are opened spaces, on the surfaces of which people spend their time, that's why we use the preposition "на".

We also use the prepositions "в" or "на" with the interrogative word "куда", but in this case a noun followed by a preposition should be in the accusative case, for example:

Куда вы идете сегодня вечером с Антоном? Мы собираемся пойти в новое кафе [Kuda vy idyote sivodnya vecheram s Antonam? My sabiraemsya pajti v novae kafekh] - Where are you going tonight with Anton? We are going to visit a new cafe.

Куда ушла бабушка? Она пошла на улицу [Kuda ushla babushka? Ana pashla na ulitsu] - Where is granny? She went to the street.

These examples show the same principle of "enclosed" and "opened" space. The difference is that we use a noun with the question "куда" in accusative case, whereas in the situation with the word "где" a noun followed by a preposition is in prepositional case:

Пошла на улицу (куда? Улицу) [Pashla na ulitsu] - Went to the street (in Accusative case)
В новое кафе (куда? Кафе) [V novae kafekh] - In a new cafe (in Accusative case)

In the case with the interrogative word "откуда", we usually use the prepositions "из" and "с" in Russian.

To find out what preposition to use, memorize the following rule:

When we are talking about direction - "where is he/she going?" - we use the preposition "в" in answer, then the interrogative word "откуда" will mean reversed direction: to go/return fr om where? Accordingly, we should use the preposition "из" in our speech:

Куда она уехала? В Самару [Kuda ana uekhala? F Samaru] - Where did she go? She went to Samara
Откуда она приехала? Из Самары [ Atkuda ana priekhala? Iz Samary] - Where did she come from? Fr om Samara

Remember that schematically these examples are presented in the following way: "в" - "из"

But if in question: "Where did he do?" (Куда он пошел?), the answer will have the preposition "на", then we should use the preposition "с" with the interrogative word "откуда". For example:

Куда он пошёл так рано? Он пошел на работу [Kuda on pashyol tak rana? On pashyol na rabotu] - Wh ere did he go so early? He went to work

Откуда он пришел так поздно? С работы [Atkuda on prishyol tak pozdna? S raboty] - Wh ere did he come so late? From work.

Schematically these examples can be presented in the following way: "на" - "с"

Remember the words which we use with the preposition "из":

Из кабинета [Iz kabineta] - From study room
Из ресторана [Iz ristarana] - From the restaurant
Из театра [Iz tiatra] - From the theatre
Из города [ Iz gorada] - From the city

Words which are used with "с":

С работы [S raboty] - From work
С севера [S severa] - From the North
С площади [S ploschadi] - From the square

Remember that the word "стадион" is not used with the preposition "с" and interrogative word "откуда", we add the letter "о" to the preposition:

Откуда идут люди? Со стадиона [Atkuda idut lyudi? Sa stadiona] - Wh ere did this people come? From the stadium.

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