Russian cases seem to be the hardest part of the Russian grammar for non-Slavic speakers. Today I will try to explain what the cases are and share with you my tables of all cases with endings and usage.
So the CASE is a grammar category which expresses the position and the role of a word in a sentence. Let me explain you what I mean. Let’s use as an example a simple sentence like,
Дочка любит маму.– Daughter loves her mother.
So we can say that “the daughter” is a subject (she makes an action), and “the mother” is an object because she is the object of her daughter’s love. And when we speak English we cannot change the order of words. Because if I say:
Маму любит дочка Mother loves her daughter.
We can see that the subject and the object have changed (Now the daughter is an object). But they haven’t changed in Russian. Because the word “мама” is in the accusative case (it has the ending -у ). And we use the accusative case for objects (things or people we love, hate, look at etc.).
So thanks to the cases we can change the order of words in a sentence and the meaning will be the same.
Now you are going to learn all 6 cases and when we have to use them.
Look at the example and find three nouns. Which of these three nouns is a subject (the person who makes an action), an object (a person or a thing which others make actions with) and an addressee (the person who receives something).
Of course, you are right:
Michael is the subject (he makes an action)
Tamara is the addressee (she receives the flowers)
Flowers are the object (they don’t do anything, but they are given by Michael)
So the rule says – if there is an addressee (the person we give something to, we say something to, we promise, explain, recommend, tell or advise), they should be in the dative case. Which means we have to change the ending of the word to the dative case.
The dative endings for masculine and neuter nouns are -у or -ю. Feminine nouns have the endings -е or -и in the dative case. And the ending for plural nouns is -ам or -ям. And if a masculine noun ends like feminine with the -а or -я (Usually it happens with animated nouns or male names), it is changed like feminine nouns: Я сказал это папе – I said it to my dad.
Я сказал другу – I said it to my friend
Я дал слово маме – I gave a word to my mother
Я позвонил друзьям– I called my friends
Я рассказал всё Марии– I told everything Maria
Мы подарили подарок директору – We gave a gift to the director
Thanks to cases you can change the order of words in a sentence and it will be always clear who /what subject, who/what object and who/what the addressee is. For example these 4 sentences mean the same (I said the truth to my friend): 1. Я сказал правду другу. 2. Я другу сказал правду. 3. Правду я другу сказал. 4. Другу сказал я правду.
I also recommend you to learn some verbs that always need an addressee. Which means you always have to use the dative case with them:
говорить – to say, to speak
рассказывать – to tell
дать – to give
дарить – to give a gift, to make a present
рекомендовать – to recommend
советовать – to advise
звонить – to call
обещать – to promise
помогать – to help
объяснять – to explain
отвечать – to answer
желать – to wish
показывать – to show
If you feel that you are ready to learn all the other situations when you have to use the dative case (besides “the addressee” situation) visit here.