THE CYRILLIC ALPHABET

The Russian alphabet is generally effective at conveying the sounds necessary for the correct pronunciation of Russian. Unlike French, for example, every letter in a word is pronounced, and unlike English, they are pronounced according to set rules to which there are rarely any exceptions. In order to write Russian correctly, however, there are certain concepts, and three spelling rules (which are rules because they are not logical) that must be mastered.

1. Russian builds words by adding endings onto base forms, or roots, which carry a (sometimes very) general meaning. For example, the base form ВОД relates to "water", and adding an -А results in ВОДА, which is the Russian word for water. Adding the ending makes the root into a noun. Russian consonants, such as the Д in ВОДА, are either hard consonants or soft consonants. Whether an ending ends in either a hard or soft consonant is historical luck, but it can change the meaning of the word. Russian considers the default to be a hard consonant, so the letter -Д- on its own is hard. If it is soft, then Russian adds a soft sign ("Ь") to indicate it: "-ДЬ"- is now the soft variant (the actual soft sign is not pronounced). This only works is there is no vowel following the consonant. If there is, then the choice of vowel will reflect whether the consonant preceding it is hard or soft. Vowels generally come in pairs -- one pair to reflect the hard and soft variants of the basic sound. This is an important concept, because generally when adding or changing the endings of words in Russian you cannot change the hardness or softness of the affected consonant -- so hard stays hard, and soft stays soft (with the exception of the prepositional case and some dative endings). Below is a chart of these pairs.

SOUNDHARD VARIANTSOFT VARIANT
(no ending)consonant onlyЬ, Й*
AАЯ
EЭЕ
OОЕ**, Ё
UУЮ
IЫИ

*Й follows a vowel.
**Е replaces only unstressed О; Ё replaces stressed О.

Because of these equivalences, Russian has three spelling rules to explain away the times when there are exceptions. These spelling rules must be memorized.

SPELLING RULE #1 -- The 8 letter spelling rule (used mainly in verb conjugations):

AFTER Г, К, Х, Ш, Щ, Ж, Ч, Ц, WRITE У NOT Ю AND А NOT Я

SPELLING RULE #2 -- The 7 letter spelling rule (used mainly in the declension of nouns and adjectives):

AFTER Г, К, Х, Ш, Щ, Ж, Ч, WRITE И NOT Ы

SPELLING RULE #3 -- the 5 letter spelling rule (used mainly in the declension of nouns and adjectives):

AFTER Ш, Щ, Ж, Ч, Ц, DO NOT WRITE UNSTRESSED O, WRITE Е INSTEAD

Once these rules have been memorized, you will be able to write Russian correctly.

THE ALPHABET AND ITS TRANSLITERATION

Though in Russia (and in class!) we use the Cyrillic alphabet when writing and speaking Russian, there has to be a way to render Russian words in our alphabet (the Latin alphabet) as closely as possible. This is called transliteration and comes in remarkably handy -- especially with computers. If you're needing something in Russian at the library, you can't exactly type the title or author in Cyrilliic, so you do it in our alphabet. The switch from Cyrillic to Latin is done according to certain rules, and all countries do not transliterate Cyrillic in the same manner. For English speakers, there are two forms of transliteration which are most common -- the European (or German, or Czech) system, and the Library of Congress system and its simplified variant. Each system requires accents, which aren't convenient, except for the simplified Library of Congress system, which does not require accents at all and is the system most commonly used in computers as a result. If we didn't have a set of rules, then some people would write Пушкин's name as "Pooshkin" instead of the more common "Pushkin."

Below are all the letters of the Russian alphabet and their Library of Congress simplified transliteration on the right.

Аa
Бb
Вv
Гg
Дd
Еe*
Ёe*
Жzh
Зz
Иi*
Йi*
Кk
Лl
Мm
Нn
Оo
Пp
Рr
Сs
Тt
Уu
Фf
Хkh
Цts
Чch
Шsh
Щshch
Ъ"
Ыy
Ь'
Эe*
Юiu
Яia

*The transliteration of these letters is the same though they are different in Russian.

When transcribing a word from Russian into English, it is generally advisable to follow the transliteration system, unless there is a convention on how to write the word. For example, Толстой would be transliterated as "Tolstoi" according to the Library of Congress system, and this form is indeed used. However, "Tolstoy" is more familiar.


Verbs and their Conjugations in Russian

Verbs are the perhaps the most difficult element of Russian grammar for Americans to learn, because Russian organizes the concepts of verbs in a way different from that of English. Once the student masters the basic concepts underlying how verbs are used, then those concepts can be applied to virtually any Russian verb.

Let's start with the categories. The first concerns the very beginning students of Russian more than the remaining ones. There are only two types of Russian verb conjugation (the way a verb changes to agree with the person it's referring to -- in English we say "I am" but "you are." The difference in the verb form is its conjugation.). The conjugation patterns sometimes have different names, but we'll simply call them conjugation I and conjugation II (another way which might be good is the "-ё-" conjugation and the "-и-" conjugation, respectively). Other than the conjugation patterns, there are also two main types of verbs: Imperfective and Perfective. In addition to being either of these, motion verbs are also broken down into two groups: Determinate and Indeterminate. The reason why this is complicated for English speakers is that we think of the verbs purely in terms of tense (or the time frame of the verb itself). For example, we have the present progressive -- "; I am writing a letter", "I write a letter" the simple past -- "; I wrote a letter" and the past progressive "I was writing a letter...". Russian doesn't have these tenses; it is more concerned with whether the action is completed or not.

THE "-Ё-" CONJUGATION (CONJUGATION I)

This is normally the first conjugation pattern to which the student is introduced. It is the only conjugation pattern which is being placed in newer Russian verbs such as "кликовать" (to click -- a computer mouse). Most Russian verbs, which in the infinitive (the "to" -- as in "to do" -- form and the Russian dictionary form) end in "-ать" -- but not all -- are conjugation I verbs. So are most verbs in "-ыть" and all verbs in "-ывать", "-овать", "-авать", "-ивать" and "-евать". There are others too (even one of the examples is an "other"). In this section, we won't be covering the specifics of how all these verbs actually conjugate, but rather will simply be covering the endings. One rule must be remembered, though. In Russian, the letter "-Ё-" can only exist when it is under stress, and every Russian word has only one stress. If the letter "-Ё-" is not under stress (the stress is somewhere else in the word -- stresses, by the way, simply have to be memorized, though there are helpful patterns and rules) then it becomes automatically "-Е-". Let's use two examples of conjugation I verbs, "жить" and "читать" ("to live" and "to read"). To form the verb conjugation, the infinitive ending (the "-ть") must be removed. If there's a change in the verb, it'll occur now. In our example "жить" suddenly a "-в" appears. In conjugation I verbs, if there's a change in the verb, then it exists throughout the entire verb conjugation pattern. Here's what happens (the actual verb endings are bolded and the translation in on the right):

яживуI live
тыживёшьyou live
он

она

оно

живётhe/she/it lives
мыживёмwe live
выживётеyou live
ониживутthey live

ячитаюI read
тычитаешьyou read
он

она

оно

читаетhe/she/it reads
мычитаемwe read
вычитаетеyou read
оничитаютthey read

There is a commonality in the consonants used in the endings (other than in the "я" form). In the verb "to read", the ending is not under stress, so it follows the rule mention above about stress. Note the differences in the "я" and "они" forms. This can be explained by spelling rules. For now, when adding endings, "ю" and "я" follow vowels.

THE "-И-" CONJUGATION (CONJUGATION II)

The consonants used for this conjugation are exactly the same as in conjugation I; it's the vowels that are different, and the rule about any changes in the verb form. In conjugation II verbs, if there is a change, it occurs only in the "я" form of the verb. Most verbs ending in "-ить" and "-еть" are conjugation II verbs. Our examples will be "говорить" and "видеть" ("to speak" and "to see").

Here's what happens (the actual verb endings are bolded and the translation in on the right):

яговорюI speak
тыговоришьyou speak
он

она

оно

говоритhe/she/it speaks
мыговоримwe speak
выговоритеyou speak
ониговорятthey speak

явижуI see
тывидишьyou see
он

она

оно

видитhe/she/it sees
мывидимwe see
вывидитеyou see
онивидятthey see

There is still the commonality in the consonants used in the endings (other than in the "я" form). Here, however, the base vowel is different. Notice as well a crucial difference in the "они" form -- a "-я-", not an "-у-" or "-ю-" is used to construct the verb (the consonant, however, is the same). Notice that the regular "я"-form ending is "-ю", not "-у" (though the latter occurs for spelling rule reasons, as shown above).

Ready to try some verb conjugations? Go to the verb exercise page.

Imperfective

For now, we will only delve briefly in this verb topic. There's more to come later. In Russian, imperfective verbs are those that denote habitual or incomplete actions (or when an action's completion is not the point). For example, using the verb to write, "I write a letter" or "I am writing a letter" mean pretty much the same thing in English. We don't know whether the action has been completed.

The best way to think about your choice in Russian, is to decide whether the action has been completed or not but including all the information you can. For example, " I am writing this letter (right now and but I haven't finished it yet)."

The habitual action is a little more complicated, because the action can be completed, but the person often does this action. "I am writing this letter (and will soon finish like I have in the past.)

Key words to look for are: always, never, often, every (hour, day, week, month, year), etc. These words tell us that the action are done over and over again.

Russian imperfective verbs are most often unprefixed.

Perfective

Perfective verbs are reserved for actions that have been completed, or, at least, when the speaker wants to emphasize the completion of the action. The most important question to ask when deciding which aspect to use is "Has the action been completed?"

"I wrote the letter (and completed it)" would use the perfective, prefixed form of the verb.

"I will buy the groceries today" would use the perfective aspect because the speaker is planning on completing the action, but "I will buy groceries every week" uses the imperfective aspect because that action is habitual.

When choosing your aspect, think the action through - will it be complete? do you do that action habitually, or is it a one-time action? are there any key words like every or always?

Determinate Verbs of Motion

This section will also be developed further at a later date. This set of verbs (determinate vs. indeterminate) has many different names. Some textbooks also call this actual vs. habitual. If you think of this set in both terms, it may help, because habitual is obvious - it's a habit that is done often, while determinate, for example, means that there is a previously determined destination.

Verbs of motion can be similarly characterized as the imperfective/perfective set. Some verbs mean habitual motion, round-trip, or meandering trips, like going to and from school, and other mean a one-way, straight, one-time trip, like walking to the corner store.

Determinate verbs are the one-way, definite destination type. "I go to school" means a lot for English speakers. It implies a habitual action and a round trip, because we assume that the speaker will also be returning from school. In Russian, the meani ng can be quite different. If one uses the "idti" form of the verb of motion, it means one thing, and the "khodit'" form means another. The former form means a one-way trip, on foot to school. The latter form means a habitual, perhaps round-trip variant, also on foot.

Again, the best way for you to decide which verb to use is to complete the sentence you are creating as much as possible. "I go to school (every day, by the same route on foot)" tell you exactly which verb to use. "I carry a bookbag (on my back, every day as I walk to class" can help you decide between "nesti" and "vesti" as well.

Indeterminate Verbs of Motion

Again, there'll be more on this at a later date. Indeterminate verbs are simply the verbs that are habitual or that have no previous-decided upon destination. "I drove around the city" means that there was no destination, but that you and the car wandered aimlessly around the city. "I go to school every day" - this is a habitual motion, so the indeterminate verb would be used - whether the speaker goes on foot or by car.

The Nominative Case

In the hallway, Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan. В коридоре, Анна дала Ивану книгу Игоря.

Anna ("Анна") is the subject of the sentence; she is the one doing the action. Anna is in nominative case, which is in fact the dictionary form of the word.

In English, the subject is usually in the first position in a sentence, unless the first position (as in our example sentence) is in another case like the prepositional, or is maybe a verb.

In the singular, most feminine Russian nouns end with either "a" ("а") or "ia" ("я"). The endings depend on the hardness and softness of the preceding consonants (or a spelling rule: see the Russian alphabet page -- in progress -- for more information). Most masculine nouns end in a consonant (also called the "zero ending"). Most neuter nouns end in "o" or "e" ("о"/"е"), likewise depending on the hardness or softness of the preceding consonant (or a spelling rule).

Compare these two sentences:

Igor hits Ivan.
Игорь бьёт Ивана.

Ivan hits Igor.
Иван бьёт Игоря.

In the sentence above, the subject is in the first position. The meaning only changes when not only the position of the words change, but the case they are in changes with them. In English, we express these changes by word order. In the Russian version of the sentences, look at the endings of the two men engaged in bellicose behavior. Depending on who is getting hit, the endings change from consonants to "a" or "ia" ("а"/"я"). They do not become feminine, rather there is a limited number of endings available to Russian words to reveal their function in the sentence, and it just so happens that the primary endings for singular animate masculine nouns in the accusative are the same as the primary endings for feminine nouns in the nominative.

Most Russian nouns can become plural. For most masculine and feminine nouns, the plural is formed by adding "y" ("ы") to a hard consonant stem (the part before the ending -- this includes the "zero-ending" of masculine nouns!) or "i" ("и") to soft consonant stems and certain spelling rule stems. The neuter plurals are formed similarly, except that "a" ("а") replaces "o" ("о") and "ia" ("я") replaces "e" ("е") and "ie"/"io" ("ё"). Giving our example sentence a plural subject would therefore give us the following:

The Igors hit Ivan.
Игори бьют Ивана.

The Ivans hit Igor.
Иваны бьют Игоря.

ADJECTIVES IN THE NOMINATIVE

Russian has a system of complete agreement between adjectives and nouns -- the adjectives reflect perfectly the case, gender, and number of the nouns to which they are referring. If we added an adjective to our first example sentence, we might get:

In the hallway, young Anna gave Igor's blue book to Ivan. В коридоре, молодая Анна дала Ивану голубую книгу Игоря.

"Молодая" ("young") agrees with the word "Анна" ("Anna") -- it shows that the noun it is referring to is feminine, nominative, and singular -- just like the word "Анна" is in the sentence. The following chart provides the adjective endings in the nominative case. A discussion of some forms follows, along with a link to some exercises on the nominative as a whole.

MASCULINEумн-ый*
FEMININEумн-ая
NEUTERумн-ое**
PLURALумн-ые***

Special commentary: all of the above endings, which are hard-stemmed endings, can vary with their soft-stemmedcounterparts if needed, such as in the following adjective "последний" ("last"):

MASCULINEпоследн-ий
FEMININEпоследн-ЯЯ
NEUTERпоследн-ЕЕ
PLURALпоследн-ИЕ

*If a masculine singular adjective ends with the stress, then the ending is automatically "oi" ("ой") as in "молодой" ("young"). Also, spelling rules may require that some adjectives have the apparent "soft" variant ending: "хороший" ("good").
**Spelling rules may require the apparent "soft" variant ending: "хорошее" ("good").
***Spelling rules may require the apparent "soft" variant ending: "хорошие" ("good").

Pronouns in the nominative reflect the gender and number of the nouns they replace. In the thrid-person, this is particularly clear. Whereas English uses "it" Russian uses whichever suits the gender of the original noun:

MASCULINEОН
FEMININEОНА
NEUTERОНО
PLURALОНИ

In each instance, the translation into English of the pronoun above could be it/he/she/they, depending on the context.

The Genitive Case

In the hallway, Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan. В коридоре, Анна дала Ивану книгу Игоря.

Igor is the owner of the book (and hence possesses it). Another way to say this in English is "the book of Igor" (which corresponds more closely to the standard Russian word order, though the word which is changed in Russian is the same word which takes the 's in English). "Of" is often a key word for this case.

prepositional case!).

of that," or "I don't understand any of it." The English is a bit inaccurate and a bit forced, but French has some closer equivalences: "Il n'y a pas de manger a la maison." In Russian, negation of what would be a positive statement of possession (ie., "У меня есть тепевизор" -- "I have a television") is placed in the genitive ("У меня нет телевизора" -- " I don't have a television"). As well, nouns which would occur as a direct object in the accusative case (such as "я вижу книгу" -- "I see the book") can be placed in the genitive when negated: "я не вижу книги" ("I don't see any/the book").

стол-аFEMININEмашин-

кровать

а

("zero ending")

машин-

кроват-

ы

и

NEUTERокн-оокн-а

Now for the genitive plural of nouns. These endings are the same as the accusative plural of animate nouns. The word in the middle is in the nominative singular; on the right it is in the genitive plural. This is the most complicated set of endings in Russian.

-- nouns ending in a consonant (not a -ь!!)

-- nouns ending in -а; -я; -о; -е

-- nouns ending in -ь, -ж, -ш, -щ, -ч

студент-

машин-

лаборатори

карандаш-

("zero ending")

("zero ending")

студент-ов

машин-("zero ending")

лабораторий (really a "zero-ending")

карандаш-ей


ADJECTIVES

Nominative Case page and the alphabet page for more information).

MASCULINEумн-ыйумн-ого
FEMININEумн-аяумн-ой
NEUTERумн-оеумн-ого
PLURALумн-ыеумн-ых

nominative and the accusative.

s"). After the number one, the adjective and the noun which follow are in whatever case is required by the sentence. After the numbers 2-4, the adjective is in the genitive plural and the noun in the genitive singular (there are other possibilities for feminine nouns, but we won't get into that for the sake of standardization). Yes, this is weird. So "I have two large tables" is "У меня два больших стола." After 5-20, both adjective and noun are in genitive plural ("I have six large tables" -- "У меня шесть больших столов"). The pattern begins anew for 21, then 22-24, then 25-30 and so on. Tricky yes, but fascinating.

The Dative Case

In the hallway, Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan. В коридоре, Анна дала Ивану книгу Игоря.

Ivan is the indirect object, which takes dative case. Verbs like "give" need both an indirect object and a direct object, because something is being given (the action is being performed on the object -- in this instance the book), and someone is being given that something (in this instance Ivan). This sentence would not be able to express its meaning without both cases.

Anna gave the book.
Анна дала книгу.

This sentence, though it is a complete one, only tells us that Anna performed the action of giving on a book -- one step more complicated than the sentence "Anna gave." We might want further information: to whom did Anna give the book?To whom (notice how the English changes "who" to "whom") is in the dative case. The sentence is written "...Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan." It could also read "...Anna gave Ivan Igor's book." "To" is not necessary, but it is easier to formulate the Russian if you can place the "to" in a sentence.

Some prepositions and some verbs also require the dative case in Russian. Among the verbs are "помогать/помочь" ("to help"), "(по)нравиться" ("to appeal to/like"), and "советовать" ("to advise"). Among the prepositions, a few actually do mean "to" ("к", for example). Some set expressions also require the dative, such as sentences where there are no subjects ("можно здесь курить?" -- "Is it permitted to smoke here?") and expressions of age ("Ивану 20 лет" -- "Ivan is 20 years old").

Below is a chart of the dative case endings, with nouns listed first, and adjectives second in each gender. Please note that the nominatives are listed in the middle, and the datives are on the right. Remember, too, that each ending can vary according to set rules depending on the hardness or softness of the stems, and on the spelling rules.

MASCULINEстудент-

умн-

(zero-ending)

ый

студент-

умн-

у

ому

FEMININE*студентк-

умн-

а

ая

студентк-

умн-

е

ой

NEUTERокн-

красив-

о

ое

окн-

красив-

у

ому

PLURALстудент-

умн-

ы

ые

студент-

умн-

ам

ым

NOTE: The masculine and neuter endings are the same for both nouns and adjectives.
*This ending is for feminine nouns ending in "-а, -я" only, and is the same ending as those of the PREPOSITIONAL case for feminine adjectives and nouns. However, for feminine nouns ending in "-ь", such as "новость" ("news") the ending is "-и" (which is the same ending that these nouns use for the nominative plural, and all case endings -- including the prepositional -- in the singular except for the INSTRUMENTAL case). The adjective, of course, remains the standard feminine dative case adjective.

The Accusative Case

In the hallway, Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan. В коридоре, Анна дала Иванукнигу Игоря.

Book" ("книгу") is in the accusative case, functioning here as the direct object of the verb "to give" ("дать"). The direct object means that the action of "giving" is being performed on the object in question (here "книга"). There are very few instances in English when we change the endings of words to reflect their accusative case role in a sentence. One example is "Whom do you see on the street?" "Whom" is the direct object version of "who" (which would probably be used more frequently in less formal English today).

Usually, the direct object immediately follows the verb.

Ivan hits Igor.
Иван бьёт Игоря.

Igor hits Ivan = Игорь бьёт Ивана = Ивана бьёт Игорь.

Anna gave Ivan the book. What did she give Ivan? What (the book) is in the accusative case and in English generally corresponds to the direct object.

MASCULINE INANIMATE*

FEMININE NOUNS IN -Ь

стол-

кровать-

("zero ending")стол-

кровать-

("zero ending")
ALL OTHER FEMININEмашин-амашин-у
ALL NEUTERокн-оокн-о
PLURAL INANIMATE*стол-ыстол-ы

alphabet page for more information on hard and soft consonants and on the Russian spelling rules). Hence the accusative of "тётя" ("aunt") would not be "*тёту", which would suddenly change the final "т" from soft to hard, but rather "тётю", which maintains its softness.

GENITIVE case), as summarized below:

MASCULINE SINGULAR ANIMATEстудент-("zero ending")студент-а
PLURAL ANIMATE
-- nouns ending in a consonant (not a -ь!!)

-- nouns ending in -а; -я; -о; -е

-- nouns ending in -ь, -ж, -ш, -щ, -ч

студент-

машин-

карандаш-

("zero ending")

("zero ending")

студент-ов

машин-("zero ending")

карандаш-ей

ADJECTIVES

Nominative Case page and the alphabet page for more information).

MASCULINE INANIMATE

MASCULINE ANIMATE*

умн-ыйумн-ый

ого

FEMININEумн-аяумн-ую
NEUTERумн-оеумн-ое
PLURAL INANIMATE

PLURAL ANIMATE*

умн-ыеумн-ые

ых

The Instrumental Case

To describe this case, which is perhaps the most difficult for English speakers to understand, we'll need to start with our admittedly terse example sentence.

In the hallway, Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan [with her] hands.
В коридоре, Анна руками дала Ивану книгу Игоря.

By what means did Anna give the book to Ivan? The example makes it a bit literal, but it is "[with her] hands" ("руками"). (We need to put "with her" in brackets because the Russian doesn't need those extra words to convey the meaning of the sentence.) The instrumental case answers the question "by what means." When someone uses an instrument to accomplish something, then this case is used, and that instrument can be physical or more abstract. like an emotion ("with joy"):

Anna writes with a pen.
Анна пишет ручкой.

"With a pen" ("ручкой") is in the instrumental case because that is the tool she uses to write -- the means by which she is writing.

Certain prepositions and certain verbs likewise take this case -- it's a very used case in Russian which when mastered makes you sound elegant and cultured. There are a whole slew of prepositions: "за", "перед", "под", "над", "между" ("behind", "in front of", "under", "above", "between") -- these are obviously mainly spacial and some of them only take the instrumental when talking about static location, but take the accusative when talking about motion to that position. The most commonly used prepositional which uses the instrumental is the preposition "с" ("with" -- note that the same preposition, if it is followed by the genitive case, means "from"). Be careful not to over use this "с", however. It means literally "with." If we use our example above with the preposition "с", we would be saying "Anna writes with a pen" ("Анна пишет с ручкой"), which means that "pen" is something sitting beside her and writing -- she is writing with a pen (as inwith David).

Verbs which take the instrumental abound, though they tend to have one thing in common -- they are making a subjective judgement on something. So we have the future form of the verb "to be" ("быть") often taking the instrumental: "He will be a professor" ("Он будет профессором") -- it's a judgement because it's a subjective opinion (he may never become a professor after all -- it's speculation). Verbs of this type include "являться", "считаться", "выглядеть", "стать" ("to be/appear", "to consider", "to appear", to become") and their counterparts, as well as many other verbs.

Below is a chart of the instrumental case endings, with nouns listed first, and adjectives second in each gender. Please note that the nominatives are listed in the middle, and the datives are on the right. Remember, too, that each ending can vary according to set rules depending on the hardness or softness of the stems, and on the spelling rules.

MASCULINEстудент-

умн-

(zero ending)

ый

студент-

умн-

ом

ым

FEMININE*студентк-

умн-

а

ая

студентк-

умн-

ой

ой

NEUTERокн-

красив-

о

ое

окн-

красив-

ом

ым

PLURALстудент-

умн-

ы

ые

студент-

умн-

ами

ыми


NOTE: The masculine and neuter endings are the same for both nouns and adjectives.
*For feminine nouns ending in "-ь", such as "новость" ("news") the ending is "-ью" (so "новость" becomes "новостью" in the instrumental singular. The adjective, of course, remains the standard feminine instrumental case adjective.

The Prepositional Case

In the hallway, Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan. В коридоре, Анна дала Ивану книгу Игоря.

"In the hallway" ("в коридоре") is a prepositional phrase (also named after the Latin grammar term "locative" to describe position or location -- a frequent use of the prepositional case in Russian). The prepositional case requires a preposition, though not all prepositions require the prepositional case (most, actually, require other cases). Usually, the prepositional case is used to describe location in two instances, and is used to express "about" as in to talk about something.

There are three prepositions which can require the prepositional case:

"В" ("v") meaning "in" ("in the hallway"/"в коридоре")

"НА" ("na") meaning "on" or "at" ("on the table"/"на столе")

"О" ("o") meaning "about" (this is not location!) ("about the student"/"о студенте").

These three prepositions are among the few that use this case -- a case which is often taught first in Russian classes, even before the nominative!

Below is a chart of the prepositional case endings, with nouns listed first, and adjectives second in each gender. Please note that the nominatives are listed in the middle, and the prepositionals are on the right. Remember, too, that each ending can vary according to set rules depending on the hardness or softness of the stems, and on the spelling rules.

MASCULINE*студент-

умн-

(zero-ending)

ый

студент-

умн-

е

ом

FEMININE**студентк-

умн-

а

ая

студентк-

умн-

е

ой

NEUTERокн-

красив-

о

ое

окн-

красив-

е

ом

PLURALстудент-

умн-

ы

ые

студент-

умн-

ах

ых

NOTE:The masculine and neuter endings are the same for both nouns and adjectives.
*There is also another set of endings, not as common, for some masculine nouns in the prepositional. This ending is "у" instead of "е" and is used only after "в" and "на" when talking about location. If the word is following the preposition "о" ("about" -- not a locational preposition), then the word takes the normal prepositional ending "е". So, for example, "в саду" ("in the garden"), but "о саде" ("about the garden").

**This ending is for feminine nouns ending in "-а, -я" only, and is the same ending as those of the DATIVE case for feminine adjectives and nouns. However, for feminine nouns ending in "-ь", such as "новость" ("news") the ending is "-и" (which is the same ending that these nouns use for the nominative plural, and all case endings -- including the prepositional -- in the singular except for the INSTRUMENTAL case). The adjective, of course, remains the standard feminine dative case adjective.


Thanks to http://www.du.edu/langlit/russian/index.html for letting us use their resources